Reflexive Modernism and Weak Thought

by

Cosmin Caciuc

Keywords

  • reflexive Modernism
  • weak thought
  • pragmatism
  • hermeneutics
  • conceptual historiography

After 1990, anthologies of architectural theory changed the way of interpreting the history in architectural education by amplifying readers’ hermeneutic awareness, inspired (by no means determined) by the competing currents in post-war philosophy. The present essay interprets the strategic role of general anthologies of weakening disciplinary boundaries _and _axiological repositioning, _highlighting several meanings of a reflexive Modernism, resonating with Gianni Vattimo’s “weak thought” principles and Richard Rorty’s pragmatism at four levels: hermeneutic, historiographic, rational and cultural. Reflexive Modernism is inspired by a weakened metaphysical thought as a _critical, counter-ideological discourse. _Its concepts are interrelated with the ones of the inaugural Modernism, engaging _explicit revisionist attitudes toward rethinking history itself. Reflexive Modernism invokes neither our submission to the inescapable force of generic technology, nor the exclusive appreciation of human genius in pursuing great aesthetic ideals but relies firmly on tolerance to the diverse conditions of society, valorization of place instead of technology _and _self-consciousness about its historicity, contingency and limitation.

Charles Jencks and Kenneth Frampton represent two revisionist perspectives on Modernism that stand out against our post-metaphysical background. In a “weak thought” hermeneutical horizon, where Jencks fails in “radical eclecticism” and “cosmogenic” axiology, Frampton still resists through a pertinent model of “surplus experience,” place valorization, arrière-garde _and _reflexive practice. _A reflexive Modernism still has to find its balance between Rorty’s _ethics of re-description, by exploring new paradigms, and Vattimo’s ethics of continuity, by reinterpreting the past in the horizon of traditions.