Scoping a Justificatory Narrative for Design Practice in Research: Some Epistemological Intersections in Dewey, Wittgenstein and Heidegger

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Abstract

This article reports a series of epistemological insights relating to the area of design research methodology. The research was grounded in a systematic analysis of two key theoretical domains: the contemporary methodological-epistemological positioning of research involving practice (i.e., practice-based and practice-led research), on the one hand; and the philosophical perspectives of three of the early twentieth century’s most radical philosophers—John Dewey; Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger—on the other. The article first articulates the contemporary methodological positioning of design research involving practice and, in this, highlights the apparent absence of a clear epistemological narrative. Following on, the epistemological offerings of the latter philosophers (i.e., Dewey, Wittgenstein and Heidegger) are each explored in turned through the coupled themes of experience-being, language-meaning, and knowing-truth. Lastly, an early outline of how the insights drawn from these philosophers (via the coupled themes) might enrich contemporary articulations/contextualisations of design involving practice is presented as the article’s key contribution. The rigour of the work is demonstrated in the broad-based referencing of all three philosophers’ works, the pertinent secondary literature as well as the careful integration of these references is set against the contemporary methodological positioning of design research involving practice. The text’s argument received the immediate ascent of Design Issues’s editors (i.e. the number-two ranked journal in the field). It is significant in that it widens and extends the contemporary presentation of the relationship of design research and key important strands of twentieth century philosophy—a currently under-theorised and generally under-explored area in design. Further, and leading on from the latter point, it offers the field of design the beginnings of a comparative analysis of particular philosophers’ work, from which a richer, more general understanding might be established through additional comparative studies; possibly allowing for (gradual) moves towards a general consensus in the longer term.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Issues
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • design research
  • design philosophy
  • Dewey
  • Wittgenstein
  • Heidegger

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