Tag Archives: Bennett

“Intensify this Awe”:Threeness, the Triad, and Christopher Alexander

[Original longer title: Identifying the Conceptual and Practical Power of Christopher Alexander’s Theory and Practice of Wholeness: Clues as Provided by British Philosopher J. G. Bennett’s Systematics of the Triad]
David Seamon
Department of Architecture
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
triad@ksu.edu
www.arch.ksu.edu/seamon
Excerpt: |

Bennett provides a simple example of the triad of interaction in everyday experience: “I am sitting in my study on a cold winter evening and do not notice that the fire has burnt low until my body experiences a sensation of cold. My attention being thus drawn to the fire, I get up, take a poker and poke the fire. When I see that it is burning up, I return to my chair and continue reading.
“The whole event is a cycle of interactions, beginning and ending with the bodily sensations of cold and heat. It can be broken down into a series of triads, starting with my reaction to the sensation of cold. Here the physical sensation links the fall of temperature with my getting up and taking the poker. The environment is active and my body is passive; sensation is the reconciling impulse. When I get up and poke the fire, my body is active, the fire is passive, and the poker transmits the reconciling impulse. When I begin to feel warm again, the fire is active, my body is passive and the radiation of the fire and the wamr air of the room transmit the reconciling impulse.
“The roles of the different objects—air, body, poker, fire—change from one triad to the other. There is neither expansion nor concentration but a change in the distribution of energy. The event can be thus analyzed in greater or less detail, but it will always prove to consist of a nexus of triads in which one entity is acting on another through the medium of a third.

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