Architectural Meaning as of Relative and Absolute Value, by Maria Tsatira

In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein clearly states that in the act of thinking no boundaries can be put, but only in the expression of the thoughts. Expressing thoughts is limited, the limits of our language means, the limits of our world, and the clarification of what can and cannot be said leaves a clear outline of what is outside that world, the realm of the mystical, where ethics, aesthetics and meaning ultimately lie.

 In building the house for his sister Margaret in 1926, Wittgenstein attempts to theorize architectural elements to words and designing to speaking, Architecture language has the same principle with language By clarifying what can and cannot be designed, clarifying the architectural language, is the only way to achieve the design of the Work of Art, to reduce a house to a residence for Gods. What Wittgenstein asserts is that we can only be descriptive in what can be designed- qua said, in considered architecture as language.

In the Philosophical Investigations, meaning resides not in clear and definite descriptions, but in the ‘atmosphere accompanying the word, carried with it into every kind of application’ (PI- 117). This imagistic/picturesque, rather than linguistic analogy of meaning marks a remarkable shift in his theorizing of meaning from fixed description to playful use, as exemplified in his discussion of relative and absolute values. This kind of theorizing architecture illuminates the function of use as the missing link between fact and value.

Architecture constitutes not only the imagistic analogy of meaning, but even more a factual reality in itself. Considered as a specific use of meaning on one hand and as a medium to value it partakes to two kinds of uses; its own as a specifically showcased factual game and its reference to the possibility of similar games out of its specific built utterance. Based on this conceptualization, this paper will attempt to showcase this twofold meaning of use in the design decisions of Wittgestein for the Kundmangasse house.

Maria Tsatira

Harvard Citation Guide: Tsatira, M. (2015) Architectural Meaning as of Relative and Absolute Value, International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, [blog] 21 June 2015, Available at: [Accessed: 21 June 2015].

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