Das eingebildete Building

von Braun, Christina
January 2009
werk, bauen + wohnen;Jan2009, Issue 1/2, p4
Trade Publication
Many philosophers have dealt with the question of what is natural and what is artificial. Ultimately, it is the human imagination that forms the bridge between the natural and the artificial. But imagination not only allows us to believe in things, it also produces reality. The word imagination is derived from image and refers from the very start to a designing force. Whether imagination means error and illusion or the design force that generates reality it hardly differentiates between facts and "felt things". Our "artificial paradises" -- whether they are called shopping centres, opera houses or "second life" -- are logical designs that can lay claim to immortality because, borrowing from Plato, they are subject to the law of reason, calculability, "remaining the same". The philosopher becomes the actual "image maker" of society. The Christian Church brought Plato's logic into a new dimension of imagination by declaring the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection to be "truths". "Assured truth" or "empty imagining"? (Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109)). Whether we feel something to be natural or artificial is largely dependent upon our powers of imagination. Our reason, our ability to calculate, build and think out something with the "construction science" mathematics, indeed even to design the imaginary, is helpful here. (Nicholas of Cusa, 1401-1464). Finally, the invention of the mechanical clock illustrates our ambivalent relationship to the artificial and the natural. Like the eternal law of thought that always "remains the same" in the case of Plato, like mathematics in the case of Nicholas of Cusa, the mechanical clock, too, has nothing to do with nature. It created an imaginary time. Western history is a history of the power of imagination over the real or the natural, to it we owe the media techniques of illusion created by the West: not just the clock but also nominalist money, and visuality techniques such as central perspective, camera obscura, photography and film, ultimately all worlds that we like to describe as artificial.


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