By Anthony O'Hear

The fourteen essays during this publication boost a perception of human tradition, that's humane and traditionalist. Focusing relatively on notions of attractiveness and the cultured, it sees inside of our tradition intimations of the transcendent, and in essays the character of faith is at once addressed. a couple of essays additionally discover the relation among politics and tradition.

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We can make our choices from style or place in the world, past or present. But precisely because our choices are weightless, loaded down with neither [14] Ibid. [15] Richard Rogers, ‘Pulling down the Prince’, in The Times, 3 July 1989, pp. 10–11 38 The Landscape of Humanity authority nor seriousness, any reference we make to a style, be it classical or modern, is bound to be self-conscious, ironical, ‘doubly coded’ as Jencks and his mentor, Umberto Eco, would put it. The Post-Modern architect uses a style in the same way a lover versed in the teachings of Roland Barthes, say, might utter the clichés of lovemaking to express his love, but in quotation marks, so to speak, to signify his superiority over the man who unconsciously speaks in cliché.

An evolutionary theorist like Miller could grant some of this. He could admit that to see a given behavioural trait as having had a certain function in its evolutionary history is not equivalent to its having that function now. On this view, in prehistory virtuosic artistic 26 The Landscape of Humanity performances, by their rarity and skill, demonstrated rarity and skill in their possessors, who were thereby, like peacocks with luxuriant tails, preferred by potential mates; and because of this the taste for art and ability in it got into our genes.

Given Beethoven (and a few other factors such as Byron, Shakespeare and the French Revolution), we might just about have been able to foresee the emergence of a phenomenon such as the music of Berlioz, but one hardly begins to understand how even the profoundest knowledge of Haydn, Mozart, Hummel, Cherubinin and the rest could have led to a genuine prediction of the work of Beethoven himself. Talk of revolutionary romanticism here is the Historicism and Architectural Knowledge 33 merest hand-waving; an innovatory movement like the Romantic movement is brought about by men like Beethoven who are laws unto themselves, geniuses in Kant’s terms, which is partly why they have the influence they have.

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The Landscape of Humanity: Art, Culture and Society (St Andrews Studies in Philosophy and Public Affairs) by Anthony O'Hear


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