In Thinking in an Emergency (2011), Elaine Scarry exposes a fallacy: that in emergency situations thinking must cease for quick action to prevail. She returns to this false opposition of thinking and acting in the closing chapter of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom (2016). While the thrust of her argument is that weapons of mass destruction are fundamentally incompatible with democracy, her underlying premise – that thinking does not oppose action but orients action – is significant for the democratic art of architecture. Deliberative thinking enables action in the right direction. This capacity for deliberation, which Aristotle called bouleusis and aligned with phronēsis (prudence or practical wisdom), is essential for good decision-making, where the goal is not simply to act, but to act well in the midst of particular complex situations.
Scarry’s call for thinking resonates with Hannah Arendt’s insights on action and the faculty of judgment, as sketched in The Human Condition and The Life of the Mind;and as elucidated by Jacques Taminiaux in The Thracian Maid and the Professional Thinker (1997). At a time when architects are advocating for more immediate and impactful agency in view of global crises, and calling for less talk/more action, it is timely to patiently reflect on the agencies of careful and imaginative architectural thinking, and to recover thoughtful speech as a form of architectural action.
This Call for Thinking, for the sixth volume of the Montreal Architectural Review, invites papers exploring crucial manifestations, modalities and milieus of architectural thinking.
Contributions may probe any combination of the following themes, considered through analysis of specific discursive practices and/or built works from around the world and across time:
- the inherently embodied, situated, social and material modes of architectural thinking;
- ensemble thinking, or thinking in concert (and in tension) with plural agents in dramatic situations;
- places for thinking, which, as Marco Frascari argued, enable quests for wonder, truth, justice, happiness and a beautiful life;
- philosophical models for architectural thinking, such as interpretations of what Aristotle called in Nicomachean Ethics “architectonic phronēsis” [see MAR, vol. 2 (2015)]; and
- habits of thinking fostered via architectural education. Alberto Pérez-Gómez has argued that the architectural education should focus not on solutions, but on “tactics for thought” nurtured through creative dialogue and critical debate. What are the best pedagogical strategies to cultivate these tactics for thought, so as to best prepare future architects to think and act well – even in an emergency?
We hereby invite submissions related to the history and philosophy of architecture on the above theme in one of three formats: scholarly essays (5,000 – 7,500 words, including endnotes); book reviews (1,000 – 1,500 words); or discursive experiments in deliberative or poetic dialogue (1,000 – 1,500 words). Each submission should be accompanied by a 100-word biography, and, in the case of an essay submission, an abstract of not more than 300 words.
The Montreal Architectural Review welcomes illustrated submissions but stresses the responsibility of the author in both providing the images and securing permissions to reproduce them. Please read the Review’s Copyright Notice before making a submission.
Submissions must be made through the Montreal Architectural Review website:
http://mar.mcgill.ca/about/submissions#onlineSubmissions, where you will be asked to register and to complete the online submission process. A guide to the online submission process is available on our website. All submissions must be in English and adhere to the Montreal Architectural Review Author Guidelines, also available on our website. You will be asked to follow a Preparation Checklist before making a submission.
Any queries should be made through the Montreal Architectural Review website