Professor Klaas Kresse has recently published a book chapter in the University of Amsterdam Press publication ‘Ancient and Modern Practices of Citizenship in Asia and the West’.
The text explores the relation between philosophical ideals in East and West and relates these to corresponding land use patterns, using the case of Seoul to illustrate the manifestation of philosophical ideals in the built fabric.
'The crowded, lively, and diverse cities of East Asia are a fascinating experience for the Western visitor. What some perceive as chaotic is actually the result of a set of values derived from Confucian culture that are reflected in the organization of the city. While Western philosophy believes in the dialectic idea that truth can be found through reason and ultimately leads to the resolution of contradictions, Eastern philosophy follows an aesthetic notion of order, which uses contradictions as a means of understanding the relationships among objects and events. Confucian aesthetics value harmony among differences more than rationality and uniformity, and it is this notion that seems to be reflected in the diverse and lively urban centres of East Asia. In this chapter, the relation between philosophical ideals and urban expression is explored through the investigation of a series of developmental steps in the history of Seoul. … '
About the book: Ancient and Modern Practices of Citizenship in Asia and the West
Cities are not merely buildings and the spaces between them; cities are people and their networks of interaction. Cities, in other words,are society, and indeed many of society’s finest attributes can be found in the city. It could, in fact, be argued that society is at its best in the city. It is the place that acts not only as the arena for society’s achievements, but also enables them to come into being in the first place, by being a catalyst for them.