4.640
Advanced Study in Critical Theory of Architecture: Systems: An Intellectual and Cultural History

Prerequisites: 
Permission of instructor

A survey of systems theories since the seventeenth or eighteenth century. As a rule, system theories privilege exchanges, relations, and equilibriums between control and freedom. This “regulatory” impetus makes them particularly useful for the institutional, disciplinary, state and market building processes that go into the make-up of modern power. Picking up from its modern inception in the cosmological disputes (“The Newton debates”) and postkantian, Romantic ideas of poesis, this course looks at the reasons by which systems theory—and its sibling sciences of structuralism and cybernetics—became so significant and essential in a range of disciplines: from literature, art, psycho-analysis, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology to communications, warfare, architecture, urbanization, economics, and our present-day constructions of “environment.” The course will pay specific attention to four different phases in the history of systems: the eighteenth-century debates (anticipating Kant); the Cold War; post-WWII state expansion in developed and developing worlds; post-1980s state “contraction” with a view to urbanization and environmental crises.

Course requirements: readings, class presentation, final research paper.