The Wise Designer [Book Review]
Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 6 (2):98-106 (2022)
AbstractPreview: /Review: Brian S. Dixon, Dewey and Design: A Pragmatist Perspective for Design Research, 200 pages./ Brian S. Dixon’s book Dewey and Design provides, as the book’s subtitle declaims, a pragmatist perspective for design research. Design research is an academic field that specifically deals with the design process. Its domain-specific knowledge led to the establishment of design as an independent discipline of study in the second half of the last century. According to Dixon’s description, design research consists of three major areas of investigation: the design process, the artifacts that result from this process, and the relation of these artifacts with the end-user. Dixon exposes the fruitlessness of drawing a clear dividing line, and argues that design research would be better off as a continuous, not necessarily linear, process involving “practically” all three. Concurrently, the author emphasizes the practical aspect of this continuity; on the one hand as a stark contrast to the idea of purely theoretical research, on the other, from a pragmatist viewpoint, intending the knowledge of the world as full of the practical consequences of acting within it. Specifically, the pragmatist slant of Dixon’s proposal is that of John Dewey, centered on the ideas of “an experience,” “inquiry,” and “imagination”; notions aiming at providing “a robust epistemological narrative” for design research. The choice of this perspective necessarily leads Dixon to deal with problems such as the ontology of the specifically creative act of designers, distinct from the artistic one, the communicative potential of industrial artifacts, and their ethical import.
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