Sunday, February 10, 2008

Otto Neurath (1882-1945)

The American philosopher and architectural theorist Nader Vossoughian investigates in this presentation the possibilities for a democratic and participatory approach top urban and social planning. He will devote specific attention to the work of the Austrian philosopher, sociologist and economist Otto Neurath (1882-1945).

Nader Vossoughian: Otto Neurath - Information and the Global PolisAbstract of the lecture (De Balie, Amsterdam, February 8, 2008).
Urban and military planning have been virtually indistinguishable for most of history. Ancient Roman towns such as Timgad and London were first conceived as military encampments. In the nineteenth century, Georges-Eugène Haussmann constructed his boulevards in Paris with the aim of stemming civil unrest. Given this past, are participatory or democratic approaches to urban and social planning possible? They are, at least in principle, and this lecture explores one such example.This presentation looks specifically at the ideas and achievements of the Austrian sociologist and planner Otto Neurath (1882-1945), a long- neglected giant in the history of the Information Age. A founder of the Vienna Circle and the Unity of Science movement, a collaborator of figures as varied as Paul Otlet, Cornelis van Eesteren, Gerd Arntz, and Le Corbusier, he had an indelible impact on discussions about the modern metropolis. He advocated informal or participatory approaches to urban and social planning and attempted to find ways of democratizing public space in the contemporary city. In this lecture, he is presented as a theorist of the global polis – as someone who attempted to reconcile the tangibility and intimacy of the ancient Greek city-state, a place that according to Aristotle fostered community and democratic exchange, with the anonymity and heterogeneity of the global metropolis.
More information and links:
Website of the exhibition After Neurath – The Global Polis at Stroom, The Hague:

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