By Jonathan G. Katz (Editor)
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Extra resources for Architecture as Symbol and Self-Identity
I think that the functionalist approach can also guide us in the study of the city and not just monuments. Cities are complex organisms which offer a setting for the fulfillment of vital functions such as housing and food as well as religious needs. If we approach the double problem of architecture and urbanism from this angle, style becomes a secondary issue. I would also like to propose that we take into account the problem of knowledge. When we discourse, and therefore confer knowledge, is it a representation of the world we express in our discourse, or does our speech express the reality of things?
If you take away man, there will be nothing. We can always put inscriptions on the pillar of a mosque or on the door of a house, but without man there will be no symbol. A symbol is rich and essentially open, whereas a sign, because we are dealing with literal meaning, represents a lessening of the virtual significations linked to a symbol. A signal is something that releases an immediate movement without reflection. A symbol, on the contrary, by its function inspires meditation. As a consequence, a symbol is linked to a time and a place.
Finally, is symbolism as an idea Illegitimate in Islamic thought from the point of view of its constituting an analytical separation? Is it simply evidence of a Western mode of thinking applied to Islam or, alternatively, is symbolism idolatrous within the framework of Islamic thought? Let me start by making some remarks about the relationship between people and forms. Prof. Grabar asserted that diachronic meaning-meaning that exists across time-was not possible because symbolism is only evident in form for a particular place and time.
Architecture as Symbol and Self-Identity by Jonathan G. Katz (Editor)