Scholium on Architectonic Philosophy

I have always found Aristotle’s statement that metaphysics is an ‘architectonic science’ right on the mark. I certainly think of philosophy architectonically, as opposed to ‘dialectically’. Actually, I fancy this may account for my own fascination with classical architecture; both philosophy and architecture are manifolds of the peculiar orientation of my own mind.

Now, this does not mean that I am opposed to open questions, idle speculation, or ‘dialectic’. But neither is architectonic philosophy opposed to these, and architecture itself provides us with a sublime pictorial metaphor for this kind of philosophizing:

Philosophy begins with first principles as a work of architecture begins with a foundation. The foundation cannot be moved or disputed; it is that which is built upon. On the foundation are erected the walls, posts and lintels, portals, arcades, and everything else which defines the enclosure, just as the truths of philosophy follow from logical inference from first principles. This edifice is shelter as well as enclosure. But within this enclosure there is space. It is within this predefined space that dialectic and ‘free inquiry’ is carried out; the shape of the interior determines the limits of inquiry. Even so, at times legitimate ‘renovations’ can and must be made: the foundation sometimes needs to be extended — as when principles hitherto unknown are discovered—or a wall fortified—as when a doctrine needs to be redefined — but the edifice, ultimately, retains its fundamental identity.

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