Keyword - Auspicious
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- The Latin word auspicium, referred to someone who looks at birds.
- This was practiced in order to discern omens from the way that birds flew.
Why is it useful?
- Today it carries the sense of something propicious, favourable, well-disposed, or kind.
- Where our rather scientific, rational train of thinking tends to separate the random from the causal, this word unifies them.
- Designers may like to reflect on the role of 'luck' in the successful management of complex situations.
Is design thinking auspicious?
- Design thinking works differently from managerial, bureaucratic or legislative methods.
- Bureaucracy leans heavily on rules and regulations (see Aristotle's logic of categories).
- This formalistic approach tends to justify itself via internal logic, rather than external outcomes.
- See Greg Craven's analysis of truth-based assumptions in climate change discourse
- Design is more outcome-centred and pragmatic than 'truth-oriented' and critical.
- It changes the world by creating, and improving the affordances of things.
- Thinking via affordances can produce a more consensual, outcome-oriented type of reasoning.
Altruistic approaches to design
- Adam Smith's Invisible Hand theory exemplifies an outcome-oriented mode of reasoning.
- However, it seeks to enhance the global by focusing (selfishly) on the local.
- This makes it inauspicious because it lacks symbiotic, or altruistic qualities.
- An altruistic mode of design would therefore seem more auspicious.
- Altruism is often depicted as being diametrically opposite to (individual) selfishness.
- But it could, alternatively, be seen as a way to protect the (collective) self.
- At the social level, altruism is usually characterised as an ethical/political issue.
- At the ecological level it makes our humanistic, anthropocentric tendencies seem parochial.
- Download John Wood's article Auspicious Reasoning
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