[Home]ThePhenomenonOfLife

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Book by Wiki:ChristopherAlexander, first in the 4 volume series of Wiki:TheNatureOfOrder (ISBN 0195106393 (alternate, search)).

Its content may be relevant for CommunityBuilding because Christopher Alexander is striving to understand structures that support life. Although Christopher Alexander is mainly interested in architecture, his theory takes the form of a general philosophy to understand the world and ThePhenomenonOfLife.


Although the book is a philosophical book about it is also a very aesthetical book that contains about 1-2 images per pages that support Alexanders arguments. Most of them are very beautiful and they alone justify the rather steep price of the book. -- HelmutLeitner


p.77, chapter 1-7 / MY FUNDAMENTAL HYPOTHESIS

Over the years, the observation of this chapter - and others like them which my colleages and I have made repeatedly during the last twenty years - have led me to believe that the difference in degree of life that we discern in things is not a subjective assessment, but an objective one. It describes something about the world, which exists in the world, and resides in structure.

I state this by means of the following hypothesis: What we call "life" is a general condition which exists, to some degree or other, in every part of space: brick, stone, grass, river, painting, building, daffodil, human being, forest, city. And further: The key to this idea is that every part of space - every connected region of space, small or large - has some degree of life, and that this degree of life is well defined, objectively existing, and measurable.

The hypothesis means that every part of a building - every windowsill, every step, each speck of dust, the space between this chair and that wall, the roof, the space under the eave, this concrete path, the parking space, the line between the parking spaces - each one has its degree of life. The hypothesis is simple. But it is certainly not something that we can consider established. As we shall see in later parts of the book, even the scientific techniques for deciding, empirically, whether indeed this is true or not true are subtle and refined. I cannot therefore expect the reader to assume that this hypothesis is true. I simply ask that the reader consider that it might be true. I shall then try to present an accumulation of evidence and experience which will persuade the reader that indeed it is true.

The hypothesis appears novel, perhaps because it is so much at odds with the currently popular mechanistic conception of the world which we accept almost without thinking. But I shall try to show that my hypothesis is not a romantic bit of wishful thinking, but that it is an idea which can be formulated precisely in structural terms that can take their place as a normal part of the scientific world-picture.


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