Klaus Krippendorff responded to my post on
"Three kinds of questions on theories of design"
with some interesting notes.
One of these questions puzzles me.
In response to the category of questions on theory,
Klaus wrote, "regarding these, let me suggest to
replace the verb 'to be' by 'could we agree to call.'
it would render theories as human-centered constructions
without a nature of their own."
While I see the purpose of suggesting this, I'm not
certain that this would do what Klaus intends.
A theory is a human construction. So is a house
or a hammer or an automobile. Once these
artifacts are placed in the world, they do have
their own nature. It is the nature we give them,
and it is the nature we give these artifacts with which¨
other human beings interact.
In that sense, I think it reasonable to use the verb
To use a longer locution -- "could we agree to call" --
would add words without shifting the meaning. In
some sense, this phrase can also serve to hide
the qualities Klaus intends it to clarify.
I find the other questions intriguing, and worth
adding to my own list of questions. These questions
help to sharpen the issues and clarify them in
an effort to shape and understand theories of
It is important to note that some of these
new questions address theory, while others
address the creation or social context of theory.
These seem to me distinctions worth preserving.
I will query one of Klaus's questions and
challenge or query deeply one statement.
QUERY ON A QUESTION
Klaus's question occurs under the
heading, "(2) Criteria for evaluating theories"
Klaus asks, "does a theory have the consent of
Is this always necessary? How can one ask the
consent of a computer or a mathematical
artifact or a series of artifacts?
CHALLENGE TO A STATEMENT
The statement occurs under the heading,
"(3) Theories of design."
Klaus states, "we earlier distinguished theories
of design, for (contributing to) design,
within design (or similar distinctions)."
This range of issues points back to Chris
Frayling's reinterpretation of Herbert Read's
distinctions. It's not clear to me that everyone
recognizes these distinctions -- and it's not
clear to me that those who offer these
distinctions are clear about them.
They haven't been made clear in this thread,
nor have they ever been well defined. Rather,
I have seen these distinction offered in the form
of unexplained phrases to which many of us
have apparently agreed.
I am not one of those who has yet accepted
this tripartite disinction.
Every time I have seen these phrases, I have
asked for a clear definition of the distinctions
these phrases are intended to represent.
No one has yet responded, not on this list,
not on the DRS discussion list, not on IDForum,
and never at a conference.
I now invite clarification of these distinctions
once again. I'll welcome and or all of three
I will welcome a clarification of the meaning
of the phrase "theories of design, for
(contributing to) design, within design
(or similar distinctions)."
I will welcome a clarification IN THE FORM OF
A CLEAR STATEMENT of what Christopher
Frayling meant by his distinctions
I will welcome a proper elaboration of Read's
It will be remembered that Read's original
distinctions were issued in a book on art
education and created in relation to teaching
and practicing art.
So far, the phrase has been analogized and
reconstructed for design research and used
I have not yet seen these discintions applied
successfully to design research or design
theory in an articulate way.
I'll welcome all three clarifications if possible.
I'm not saying these issues are impossible to
make clear. I do say they have not yet been
ëxplained in an articulate way.
Rather, they have been used in a metaphorical
or sloganeering sense.
Ken Friedman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Leadership and Strategic Design
Department of Knowledge Management
Norwegian School of Management
+47 22.98.50.00 Telephone
+47 18.104.22.168 Telefax
+46 (46) 53.245 Telephone
+46 (46) 53.345 Telefax
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