WHO IS AFRAID OF PARA DOXEN? ABYSSES AND THE DESIGN OF CAUSES. TEN WARM-UPS
by Matthias Götz
,Kein Gebiet kann sich selbst einschliessen.'
A. N. Whitehead
Design a "causeless" discipline? maybe and why not? but: often enough, the allegation that there are deficits in justification is not so much a sceptical objection but more of an alibi for one's own disorientation, which is trying to create guardrails. It seems to be inherent to the nature of especially the designer and of the design theoretician, as well to point out missing fundaments and to lay all kinds of foundations. There is a good reason for pointing out the lack of foundations. The mechanics of a method on safe footing removes the burden of having to make decisions in uncertainty, decisions of which one can't even determine to what degree they were "right" or "good". In case of doubt there always lurks the trap of doubts. Seen in that light, there exists a particular design of foundations which is found in design itself and elsewhere. And if this design of basics should not exist: the never-ending discussion about it does. And if one takes this fact for granted, too, then such a foundation design corresponds less to something you could call fundamental design (which a desiderate (?) might actually find desirable) but more to longing for or even an addiction to creating foundations. This craving has totally different causes. One has to distinguish between not doing anything without a reason and a cardinal demand that every action be justified. And if one opposes such a general addiction to or a longing for foundations, then this opposition is still a far cry from pleading for action without any motivation. If you criticise the planning, you do not automatically plead for planless action. "Groundlessness" by itself is not per se a strong objection against an activity. Some of the most essential things known to us happen in some extent without any reason. There are only poor reasons for some of them to happen, while others can only barely be justified or not at all: love, beauty, graceThe "certain something" is in fact far from certain while the "je ne sais quoi" nothing short of draws its power from ignorance. Nobody would ever think of considering the idea of beauty a weak entity on the basis of a lack of justification maybe a fragile one. Certain disciplines of a deontic or a "duty to bring" nature design is elementary counted among them are subject to a special state of emergency as far as their substantiation is concerned. One of the reasons for this may be that design itself is a causative activity. Causative action can not as a general rule be further justified on its part. Or: Most of what is considered to be externally founded (heteronom) is really just founded in and by itself (autonom). And only that which is founded in itself can in turn create external foundations.. But this is a different subject. (except for the fact that auto-reference and auto-reflexivity, autonomy and heteromony, autology and heterology certainly play a prominent part in the context of paradox). As far as design is concerned, a tentative experimental claim can be made: design does not need any foundations since it already is one itself. Design causes more than that it is caused. A theory of design which is supposed to lay down these foundations can by itself only be a designed one. Theories are designed, too. But a theory of design which is itself designed loses its constitutional power and gives it back to the field it was supposed to give reasons for: design. To demand a Cartesian fundamentum inconcussum, an unshakeable foundation starting from which every action can be thoroughly justified, is an old aspiration of the age of enlightment which is as understandable as it is archaic. Archimedes' spot, where one could supposedly unhinge the world if one could only reach it, complies with an ancient/antiquated design of ideas focussed on the "last reason". Design is an indeterminate process. Neither is design a deductive system of theorems which logically relate to one another, and can ultimately be traced back to a true and final reason, nor is the process of creating a design layout a systematic step-by-step-procedure, whose highest criterions are rock-solid foundations or truth. Apart from that: if one searches and needs reasons, one can usually find an arbitrary repertoire of them. And should they for once not be there, then one can still design some swiftly. To put it nicely, reasons can also be designed. Nobody knows that better than a designer trying to push through a certain design. So first of all, groundlessness does not necessarily always mean the same thing, and second of all it is not all that bad as far as design is concerned.
Inverted: Accusing a discipline of having insufficient foundations usually does not happen without good reasons, as one generally has to use arguments that stem from the attempts to achieve such foundations. This means that every search for fixed foundations results in the discovery of discrepancies, which in turn can be used to debunk the discrepancies of such a system of ideas as inconsistent. Such fundamentalism in most cases leads to fundamental difficulties of thought. Although these difficulties rarely result in abandoning the fundamentalism, they almost always strengthen the demand for foundations. Every regression used in the justification is in principle infinite. This series of arguments can only be terminated or if that should be possible "justified in transcendental finality", whatever that may signify. Striving for final things, one often finds himself in a situation once characterised by Hans Albert as the "Münchhausen-Trilemma": Infinite regression of statements, Circulus vitiosus, dogmatic termination of the process. This triple blind alley is the consequence of theoretical fundamentalism. Similar to Gödel's theorem (On completeness and consistency), which does not actually come through until an universal proof of the consistency of mathematics itself has been attempted and this does not mean the small multiplication-tables , difficult problems only emerge if one searches for the certainty of an universally valid canon basis. This does not only apply to the problems of a certain discipline, but rather to the problem of foundations of almost every discipline. In this respect, one could conclude that foundation problems of design are rather fundamental problems than problems of design in particular. Assuming that design did have only a self-contradictory foundation (so not really a foundation in the common sense of the word), then this attribute would surely not be restricted to design alone. This does not go to say that there are no problems in design itself. Far from it. But many of the paradoxes one supposes to spot in designing action are paradoxes introduced by the search for foundations. Fundaments of "must do", basic rules of action, or fundamental standards for aesthetics or whatever create a bundle of problems while not solving any problem at all. Seen in that light, this is not or hardly a problem particular to design. The fact that unsolvable self-references and contradictions result from such deliberations is almost self-evident. It already results from the fact that having reached the bottom level of something, one is deprived of the ability to switch to another level as there is no level left to switch to. If Thomas Albert Teomaka McKinnon as it was reported by the "New Zealand Truth" admits in front of his judges: "To tell you the truth, I'm a regular liar", then this is not only a variation of the paradox of the Cretan liar, but rather a variation that by its context makes it possible to believe the judges might actually believe the delinquent. This is because the steps of the court of justice create a new level, and based on this one can presume that he may finally be speaking the truth here. If one can do this, then the whole matter is no longer one of paradox. So to avoid paradoxes one needs to be able to shift to a different level "meta" is the magic word , but this is per definitionem no longer possible on the very last level. This is the classic fundamental problem with fundamentals.
Is design a basic paradox? To begin with, design is neither more of a paradox nor more basic nor more fundamentally paradox than anything else. As I said it is rather threatened to become a paradox where principles are concerned and if these principles are to be substantiated in principle. In design many people think to liberate themselves from this nasty burden of proof by postulating the use, the intended use, the practical value, the usability, the utility, and so forth as the final purpose of designing action. This seems to be a legitimation for everything except the superfluous. If one applies the paradox statement of Ortega y Gasset who states that only the superfluous is a real necessity for humans ("nur das Überflüssige sei dem Menschen notwendig"), one reaches another foundation that can not be dissected further. This statement presents itself as a paradox. For example: Russell's paradox has become a classic. He came across it in June 1901 while working on foundations, namely the "Principia Mathematica". Once he found it his unclouded felicity of a logician was irrevocable gone, as he phrased it. A more popular example of paradox is the "barber paradox", which describes the dilemma of a hairdresser who is supposed to shave all men who do not shave themselves. He is left with the problem of whether or not to shave himself. If he does, he is one of the men who do not shave themselves (???), and if he does not shave himself he has to shave himself. In Russell's text the question is not about barbers but tea spoons, resp. the definition of the so-called normal set: The set of all sets which do not contain themselves. Does this set contain itself? Yes and no. "Unter den Voraussetzungen, an denen ich bisher nie gezweifelt hatte, durfte man annehmen, dass es Klassen gab, die in ihrer Gesamtheit eines ihrer eigenen Elemente bildeten, und andere Klassen, bei denen dies nicht der Fall war. So ist z.B. die Klasse sämtlicher Teelöffel selber natürlich kein Teelöffel; aber die Klasse sämtlicher Dinge, die keine Teelöffel sind, ist ersichtlich selber eines von den Dingen, die keine Teelöffel sind. Und wie mir schien, gab es im letzteren Fall auch Klassen, die nicht - wie unser Beispiel - nur mithilfe der Verneinung definierbar waren: z.B. die Klasse sämtlicher Klassen, die wiederum eine Klasse ist." (Bertrand Russell, Philosophie. Die Entwicklung meines Denkens, Munich 1973, page 76). So does this class of all classes which do not contain themselves as an element, contain itself as an element or does it not? "Wenn man annimmt, dass sie sich selbst als Element enthält, muss sie natürlich der Definition dieser Klassen entsprechen, nach der sie sich nicht selbst als Element enthalten darf. Und wenn man annimmt, dass sie sich nicht selbst als Element enthält, entspricht das genau der gegebenen Definition, d.h. sie gehört zu den Klassen, die sich nicht selbst als Element enthalten, und muss sich folglich selbst als Element enthalten. Aus beiden Annahmen folgt also zwingend das genaue Gegenteil der Annahme; und wie wir uns auch drehen und wenden, wir kommen aus diesem Widerspruch nicht heraus." (Bertrand Russell, Philosophie. Die Entwicklung meines Denkens, Munich 1973, page 76). Russells's and Whitehead's attempts to create a logical fundament of mathematics by using the theory of sets are upset at a point where Georg Canter himself, who excogitated the theory of sets, would have proceeded in a totally different manner. He surely would have advised to leave unsolvable things to God. Not only Russell's and Whitehead's principles get sucked into the maelstrom of paradox, this very same paradox doomed Gottlob Frege's "Grundlagen" to failure, and thus doomed Frege as well. He failed much more dramtically than it did the Survivalist Russell, for whom the disaster was just an episode. Just when Frege's "Grundlagen der Arithmetik" were supposed to go into print, Russell informed him in Jena of the "catastrophe" which then became a real catastrophe for Frege. So dealing with fundamentals is a little tricky. The fundamental fundamentally allows only one foundation. And if one comes across a paradox there then this also contains something good. One may say that paradoxy is the most effective protection against orthodoxy, as it relativises the fundamental fundamentally.
So paradoxes are by no means only logical catastrophes. Nevertheless, paradoxes in general do not have a good reputation, not in design, either, and least of all in the particular area of design that considers them as a problem solver ("Problemlöser", Simon), just as if it was a merely a matter of solving a crossword puzzle. Without restating all the accordant design-positivist positions, one can simplifyingly say that paradoxes certainly are least popular where design is understood as a strategy to solve problems. Since paradox is the escalation of the problematic, the concept of design that is aimed at negating problems has to be especially keen on avoiding paradoxes. The fact that paradoxes appear especially during recourses on the fundamental and that design, too, is no more groundless than anything else does not allow the conclusion that design consists of nothing but the trouble-free solving of problems. As a matter of fact, design is characterised by a whole set of very particular difficulties that are different from the usual dilemma of fundamentals. Hence it is somewhat comprehensible that the profession prophylactically tries to keep safe from problem-allergic reactions. This, by the way, is in accordance with the conventional handling of paradoxes. The usual way of treating a paradox (if one is not able to resolve and thus remove it) is to simply deny it or to viewing it not as a catastrophe, but as something irrelevant, which is not worth a serious inspection (Russell), which is basically the same. Paradoxes are only rarely appreciated, even though its logical inconsistency is not its sole attribute. For example, a paradox can have aesthetical qualities if it possesses a kind of logical elegance; it may have rhetorical qualities if it is at least iambivalent and therefore interesting; or it may even exhibit practical qualities, as far as it is of heuristic value. This value was defined by Kant in his "Anthropology" as the ability of the paradox, "das Gemüt zur Aufmerksamkeit und Nachforschung (), die oft zu Entdeckungen führt", (to awaken the mind for attention and inquiry ., which often leads to discoveries). Nothing is more interesting about a paradox than its consequences. And even a mathematician can appreciate the brilliance of paradox, even though he will cherish not logical lapse, but rather the "brilliant failure", so much that "mancher, der sich eine funktionierende Theorie ausgedacht hat, froh wäre, wenn sie so brillant wäre wie Russells Paradox" ("many a one who invented a working theory would be happy if it only were as brilliant as Russell's paradox") (Nicholas Griffin). Brilliance however is not a logical category anymore. In the discussion about paradox one tends to overemphasize the fear of everything being build on sand and to underestimate the other functions of paradox. This fear surely arises from the fact that an all too fundamentalist point of view leaves no loophole out of the logical and illogical dead ends. A less fundamental, more superficial point of view considering the context between design and paradox may offer more chances. It would be superficial to underestimate the superficial. Shape for instance is in our world of gravity always the last, the outermost or just the top layer. Even if one does not like to hear it, and even if in design the discussion has achieved such a hybrid level of decadence that design is defined rather as a journey than as shaping (this almost makes one long wistfully for the old "good shape"): No matter how it is defined, design is in this and very explicit sense a surface phenomenon, be it as an interface or as a tool or more generally as an intermediating facility between world and consciousness, be it as an aesthetic phenomenon or something else. Design can easily be understood as an (inter)active or user interface, as has already become fashionable, without discounting this definition as superficial. So it is not entirely illegitimate to look design superficially, for this is the way most people see it, as I said without doing it wrong.
If design solves problems at all then it solves mostly its own problems, so to say: problems in design as problems in design. And this is a problem of design. For the most part design consists of substituting an existing design concept with a new one; the problem is always the design. Lawson already pointed this out. Circulary speaking, problems of design are problems of design, or: design solutions are design problems, speaking contradictorily. That is somewhat paradox, and this paradox is apparent at a glance. Granted, this paradox is of such a superficial nature that it rather reminds of a sophism than of a paradox. But since the antique it has always belonged to the tradition of paradoxy to count the art of phrasing, baffling statements, startling sayings or self-contradictory phrases among its ranks. Phrases like the following still constitute the punchline of every other joke: "The solution is the problem". Here, too, the paradox thrives on the changing and the possibility of confusion of the action levels, the confusion between object and language level for example. And that the stating of a fact is more than the mere stating of a fact, especially in the field of design, is demonstrated in the following transformation: If design solves anything at all, then it is the phrasing of problems. This means that the way a circumstance (which is understood as a problem to be solved) is perceived, displayed, and phrased largely determines what the solution will look like. This is a problem of a certain magnitude, as first of all it casts gentle doubt on the objectivity of circumstances generally, and second of all relativises not only the solution but also the problem itself. The choice of what model is used for analysis or presentation of a problem determines what kind of possible solutions come to the fore at all. If one can say: "A problem is no problem.", then the situation instantly turns into a paradox. How can a problem, whose difficulty mainly depends on its phrasing, be problematic? Or: If the way of looking at a problem is more or less arbitrary, then what does apply to its solution? Quodlibet ex falso! If as postulated by Horst Rittel (Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning, in: Policy Sciences 4, (1973), 155-169, IGP University of Stuttgart, S-77-1) the formulation of a problem actually constitutes the problem, if the question can only be found once it has been answered, then this is paradox to an extent that questions have to be asked: What does actually follow from this? What now? What is to be done? Do what has to be done. Malgré tout, nevertheless act, nothing else is possible, for either it is a matter of a paradox and then it has no solution. Or there is a solution, and then it was never a matter of paradox in the first place. By the way, the same can be said for problems: Problems that can be solved were no problems in the actual, dogged sense. Thus insolvability belongs to the term of problem as well as to the term of paradox. Still that is not of great help to anyone. It would be more helpful to say that adequately handling a paradox does not consist of solving it, but rather of suspending it. That is even more suspenseful: "suspense!"
To answer the question as to how this is supposed to work, it may be sufficient to have a glance at the usual designing action. The situation there presents itself as follows: One of the most innocent but also prevalent problems of design that occurs on each garden fence and not only on design of suspension bridges, a problem which haunts every design between Sellotape dispensers and skyscrapers (Henry Petroski), is the disproportionate proportion between the target conception and realisation, between shall be, can be and be as it is. For instance, what myriad of things is a table supposed to be good for. It should be big enough to have enough room yet small enough for a candle light tête à tête, washable and easy in maintenance but not clinically smooth , suitable for children as well as for adults, sturdy but not plump, easy to move about but not rickety, and needless to say the table legs should not restrict the legroom. In addition to all of that, such a table, which should not be more than a "table in itself", should be inexpensive, nevertheless handsome which is not necessarily a contradiction at all, but occasional still is. And so on this example comes from David Pye, and he lists some more and different "table manners". In a word: Designing a simple object such as a table may prove to be an impossible task especially for the rigid believers in theory. Certainly, orthodoxy is helpful against paradoxy, but most of the time it suspends the paradox too early. However we all do have tables, of many different kinds, and we can live with them without any problem. Nevertheless our thought and action is unswervingly aimed at creating new, other, better tables. The logical-geometrical incompatibility of contradicting "thou shall" keeps us to this day from having ultimate, universal table. In an object defined as a relation of properties, it is not possible to realize any number of or arbitrarily constituted attributes. It is doubtful whether Pye's table is a paradox or not. In any case however, it describes a number of paradox requirements to a possible table as they contradict one another, but still they have to be treated in an "integrating manner", "somehow". Basically, there are three possible approaches to constructing the magic table: 1. the hand axe-method, that is the reductive or abstract method, which increases the possible uses by reduction of the form a trivial (???) answer, but one which is for that reason feasible for many situational possibilities, 2. the "Swiss Army Knife-method", that is a multifunctional summation of most different functions up to a point where using the object becomes complicated or downright impossible, as well as 3. the paradox possibility, which I cannot describe here as it has to be made up for each particular problem. Generally it is called "ingenious", as it always contains a dose of invention, but it really means nothing less than the successful handling of a paradox resp. a "paradox shape". Here a transfer of paradox directives into the object, which at first seemed impossible to achieve, actually takes place. In other words: One may choose between installing certain criteria and excluding certain others which are not taken into account. There is also the possibility of realising some sort of compromise, where as many aspects contained in the directives as possible are integrated. And then there is the third approach: namely an innovative transfer of the paradox into an object, which quasi sustains these paradoxes and keeps them alive. Finding all the paradoxes which could possibly arise in design is not the point. It's all about showing that design exists among such a plethora of paradox that one almost has to say: Design is a paradox, not in a fundamental but rather in a phenomenal way. Since design undisputedly is nearly always the transformation of a compromise formula and a compromise always is the attempt to arrange incompatible positions by lowering one's sights, and since a compromise is thus something like a atrophied paradox, a design solution is either a compromise or paradox. A design object which is a compromise comprises the worst-case scenario, while a design object which is paradox constitutes the best case. So far so good. But can an object be paradox at all?
"Most advanced, yet acceptable" Raymond Loewy's "Maya-Formula" offers a different way of comparing optimisation and compromise that is as well known as it is typical. It is similar to the widely used theoretical quotient of information (information = innovation/redundancy e.b. order/complexity). Antagonistic terms such as "innovative" and "redundant" for example can often be domesticated by looking at them as though they were a quotient. Thus, compromise formulas are generated in design, albeit the formula itself does not say much about the way the final product will actually look. But the hope for a formal compromise makes a solution seem possible, whereas the despair corresponding to a paradox situation makes such a solution appear nonexistent. However, it may be just this improbable improbability which can lead to an uncommon solution, if it does indeed lead to any solution at all. For while the prospect of reaching a compromise does not force one to leave the level on which the contradictions became virulent, a situation defined as being paradox urges one to leave this level to, for instance, get from a logical level to an aesthetic one or to get from a judgement level to an action level and then make the wing spread of polarity to the object of design. Whether an object with such a genesis can be termed "paradox", however, remains to be seen. For things that were made do not reveal their genesis to hindsight. "Paradox objects" in the true sense of the term do not exist. If one considers "paradox objects" to be those that contain obviously incompatible attributes, Follies or Gadgets probably come to mind first. They are nonsensical objects such as as Lichtenberg's "Knive Without Handle and Blade" which only exists in verbalization, or Carelman's Hammer with Illumination, which does exist in reality but really is of no use, or the Japanese "Chindogu" objects or even Hermann Finsterlin's "Carriage of Doubt"(???) ("Zweifelswagen"). Of course, the borders of the term "object" are stressed up to absurdity time and again. One need only remember Brentano's discussion of the "golden mountain" e.g. And it is design's job to test this, as well. Of course, a paradox object could be introduced using an appropriate set of definitions, but as far as conventional use of the word and general imagination is concerned, a paradox object remains in the mental world. Sensu strictu a "paradoxical thing" remains a "thing of impossibility". The aforementioned "Carriage of Doubt", which is laden with symbolic images for the sceptic as well as for the designer, can only be called "paradox" in the context of what possibilities and impossibilities can be imagined in addition to the item itself. So talking about paradoxical objects makes sense only if the context of its making is object of the discussion, too, even if a transparent process of creation cannot be taken for granted. But what does "sensu strictu" mean, anyway? Design without paradoxes would not be design at all. And all of this has as I said nothing to with the standard dilemmas of foundation, which everyone knows from all disciplines and which everyone puts aside to be able to cope with real life. Such paradoxes on the surface of design do not necessarily appear as curiosities. On the contrary, the more curious contrafacts(???) or objects of contradiction are presumably only visual aids for the fact that all artefacts are made of contradictions. Paradox is the stuff that design is made of, by hook or crook. Maybe one should recall the fact that after all, "modern" industrial design historically developed from a coordinating function, which was a rather organizational arrangement function and became necessary at a point in time when different work routines within one process of manufacturing could no longer be surveyed by a single individual anymore. Adrian Forty describes this in "Objects of Desire".
It is if one wants to look at it this way - in the nature of paradoxes particular to design that they turn up as surface paradoxes wherever they exist, and through this they differ from the aforementioned general fundamental paradoxes. Whilst the latter can lead from doubts to despair, the former seem to be able to lead from doubts to action. There is a big difference between a room you want to exit having two closed and two open doors. The dilemma of not knowing which door will be the right choice remains in either case. But the possibilities to act are in one case nil while the other one in fact offers two choices. This necessitates reminding of Aristoteles' version of the paradox: "To become paradox means: loss of determinability, thus the possibility of connection for further operations." (Niklas Luhmann, Soziale Systeme. Grundriss einer allgemeinen Theorie, 1984, 59) However, the loss of the ability to connect characterises the paradox only with regard to the system-inherent disruption, but not with regard to a possible course of action. On the contrary: Even though the classical attribute of paradoxy is that it breaks off a string of conclusions or other associations of ideas and leads to an abeyance in which one is at a loss at first. Aristoteles called this amphiboly, while the sceptics called it isostheny (Gleichmächtigkeit???), and Jean Buridan, as is generally known, coined the although apocryphal parable of a donkey who starves because he cannot decide between two equidistant bottles of hay. This inability to make a decision yet is the moment that after the halting break and the disruption of the matter-of-course procedure launches the breakout from the cogitable and from what can be expected and the start to something unexpected. This is the way the rhetoric of the 4th century AD views it. In this respect, paradoxes specific to design may be a problem on the theoretical level yet in a general way they can also benefit the practical experience, at the time when decisions have to be made out of uncertainty. Indeed, decisions are only real decisions if it is made in uncertainty, since Kierkegaard says that situations lacking uncertainty do not require decisions. He who knows himself to be in possession of the truth does not need to decide. That is why an unwillingness to choose almost always implies a high degree of orthodoxy, and vice versa. Orthodoxy is the opposition of paradoxy. While the orthodox dogmatism as a matter if principle permits only one single truth, the simple contradiction (p not equal to not-p) already contains an "either-or" decision which has to be made. The paradox then again offers either an "either-or" or a "neither-nor" thus the matter can not be decided by choosing either way, it rather stays expressly undecidable the classical "Yes and No". "Marry or do not marry, you will regret it, either you marry or you do not marry, you will regret both" it is said in Kierkegaard's "Ecstatic Lecture" in "Either-Or", which verbosely acts out this example further. It is one of the defining characteristics of paradoxy that it is not up for decision. It is both a task and (where appropriate) an achievement of design to bring this situation into a shape. This demonstrates the specific nature of the problems of design (cp. Rittel, Dilemmas, l.c.). Design processes do not have a "stop-rule", one can not as in arts otherwise as well tell just when the optimal result has been achieved and when the process is finished. They likewise and for that reason do not have a countable solution set. Design processes are never "completely" "solved", but rather always interrupted at a more or less suitable point. Each problem of design is essentially unique even if it is the matter of the hundred thousanth table one has to design. Place and time and context are in each case very singular. This affects modalities of design processes. Each suggestion causes a "one-shot-operation"; there is no chance to learn by trial and error, each attempt counts in a significant way. Making protective pretests is not or only partly possible as a matter of principle. That again implies that the designer does not have the right to err and that within the scope of an activity which is not based on truths but on probabilities at best probabilities with an element of uncertainty that surpasses every weather forecast. Design is an only weakly determined, open process including all the involved uncertainties and process of evaluation. Target questions are questions not only of logic and technology, but of evaluation, as well even if in an undetermined process all kinds of determinations are rather desired than unwanted. In compliance with this design is not true or false, but rather good or bad, better or less good, bearable or hardly bearable and so on. A layout could always be different. These are all characteristics of a procedure which bears more or less paradoxical features. With evaluations another problem of design comes into focus which symptomatically demonstrates the iterative tendencies of planning and illustrates the inherent paradoxies at the periphery already. Each design problem is "basically" a symptom of another problem. This means that every solution to a problem is at best a partial solution.
The discrepancy between the nominal and actual state asks for explanations. Causal backtracing of the reasons for this gap shows that there are always more far-reaching reasons for the fact that a cross-way is especially prone to accident, and that some planning measure or other will just not be enough. The singular cross-way is a symptom of many other and totally different factors: The number of vehicles, the potential of the available infrastructure, the education of the vehicles' drivers, the situation of the world economy and so on. In the hierarchy and genealogy of the world's problems, design problems are indeed normally not more than symptoms of other problems, namely problems that lie beyond the designer's sphere of influence. Perhaps this problem is not so prominent with the design of eggcups or tea-sets. Yet this is admittedly not a very serious problem. A planning process is not a tea party. Even if one has replaced a cross-way by a roundabout, one will never be able to ascertain how many accidents were prevented by this action, as Gilbert Ryle once typified in "The Concept of Mind". Basically, the extent to which a planning measure has even covered the defined problems is unknown. And we even do not know how to evaluate the individual models. And just this leads us back to the basic problem of design and to how design copes with paradoxy. It leads us to the question of what we can relate to (expressed optimistically) or lean on (expressed a little more pessimistically) at all.while designing. And this question can hardly be displayed differently from the following. It is striking how seldom creative verdicts admit to being creative verdicts (richtig verstanden?). This happens for a reason. It is an attribute of the phenomenon of surface paradoxies in design that a draft is rarely justified by formal or aesthetic arguments yet it has to be justified if it is to be realised. Not even within the design process are choices made for "purely aesthetic" reasons. The designer is always looking for "stronger" determinants, technical, pragmatic or others that are in any way more binding (oder "compuslsory"?) than the "purely aesthetical" ones. There are reasons for that which shall not be pursued here any further than stating that first of all, one cannot always be sure of having decided "correctly" in uncertainty and therefore one searches for more objective standards. Second of all, to gain a minimum of approval, the designer is expected to demonstrate his concepts in a way others are at least able to follow. The problem with that is, however, that the more differentially one tries to explain design as design, the more certain it is that one will end up in justifications which deal more with one's own basic convictions than with the impending actual design problems. The more deliberate a process of judgement is, the larger the number of spontaneous, undeliberate judgements becomes (cp. Rittel, Urteilsbildung und Urteilsrechtfertigung, IGP, University of Stuttgart, A-77-1). These numerous and not deliberated justifications, which stem from the serious effort to justify seriously, finally lead to a type of justification that can be termed a design of reasons and which perhaps is illustrated best by the concept of a "handrail". Since after long and elaborate deliberation one will surely reach the point at which one can no longer make use of actual justifications, but rather has to take refuge in fundamentals or basic convictions not belonging to the field of design in the style of "That is just not done", "That's just the way it is done", "It was always like this", "I have seen it with my own eyes" and so forth. Handrails of common morals, ancient usage, tradition, evidence, authority, legality and legitimacy, religiosity and so on act from there on as ultimately justifying, (spontaneous) judgements and substantiate the preceding construct of justifications with deliberate judgements. Of course, these decision handrails are seldom openly named as such, since even though they may be strong reasons for the decision maker, the same need not be true for the people to whom the decision is to justified. The fact that the "aesthetic judgement" acts out a particular role in this context need not be punctuated explained in depth here.
So in the end, these handrails are the foundations the decision-making in creative processes is based on it's just that they are not "creative" reasons or arguments, or only to a very limited extent. It rather is a case of abysses of a last hope for certainty in uncertainty. If reasons are non-reasons or abysmal lapses of reason (geht das mit dem Wortspiel so???), then this is already sufficiently paradoxical. These handrails are neither creative justifications, nor are they legal, medical, or sociological ones. In general they do not ortiginate from any profession at all, but rather from a plethora of other sources. It is a case of a basic design of unclear origin. (etwas sehr frei, aber die Redewendung konnte ich nicht finden) Yet to refer to such a foundation as "arbitrary", "subjective", or merely "an opinion" would fall short of catching its point, since the recourse to the final authorities of deepest convictions is a distinct expression of an emphatic desire for something like objectivity. Hence at least parts of it are more of an "objectifying" than of a "subjectifying" nature. Another question seems to be of more importance: Are these handrails ideological dogmas that stifle activity, or are they signals of freedom that open up new possibilities? They are both. (Ich weiß, im deutschen Text steht ein Singular, aber das ist falsch.) At this point, orthodoxy becomes paradox and paradoxy becomes orthodox. But to say this is in turn: paradox. And: that is design. Thus design is paradoxical. The paradox remains dominant, despite all orthodox temporary constructs it seems to require. In this context, design is nothing but an expression of this want for justification resp. dilemma of justification and at the same time a strong reason substituting reasons that are becoming weak and weaker: the concept of design itself. In other words, it does not depend on finding a basis for design. The other way round: Design is a foundation for managing paradoxes. The suspension of paradoxy is the draft. But since paradoxies can never really be suspended, they live on in the draft, characterising it more or less obviously: either as an arithmetical mean of all parameters, smeared to a compromise, or, of course more seldom, as an intelligent elegance or elegant intelligence. So it is not so much about entirely justifying design concepts; sufficient(ly) is sufficient. It is rather important although this admittedly is an exaggeration to avoid such justifications, as they lead out of the field of design and more closely resemble pretexts than reasons. Design has to lay its own foundations, as afflicted with weaknesses such a concept may be. Insofar design is never just merely design, but rather a design of reasons, as well. Besides, the best draft never was the one that could be justified most precisely. It may sound paradoxical that something unfunded can fund another thing. But a closer inspection reveals that this is not even the case. It is quite normal. The contemplation of design itself as a reasonless reason would be well worth another discussion. Yet this discussion can not be provided here, it is only possible to encourage it. A relaxed handling of contradictions and a certain foible for the paradox would sure enough be prerequisites for such a discussion. Both can only rarely presupposed. That is why the discussion stagnates. "Es gibt zu jedem wahren Satz mindestens einen weiteren, der das genaue Gegenteil behauptet, aber nicht weniger wahr ist' ("for everey true senctence there is at least another one that claims just the opposite, but is not less true"), Sextus Empiricus claims in ,Grundriss der pyrrhonischen Skepsis' ('Outline of the Pyrrhonic Scepticism'). Adapted to design, this sentence could be rephrased approximately like this: "For every possibility there is another one that means the exact opposite, but is possible as well". That is the everlasting dilemma of design but it also contains the unmistakable and outrageous potential of design as well, since: we are talking about possibilities. And that is a whole lot. So what purpose does question of coherence between design and paradoxy serve? As: Design is paradoxical yet, but in its own, very non-fundamental way, which has nothing to do with the usual problems of foundations a surface phenomenon. And this makes the whole matter paradoxical all the more. While paradoxes of foundation are as I said before "normal", considering the underlying normal case paradoxes is where it really gets interesting, as they are not all that normal. Paradoxes bear apart from the logical hotspot they demonstrate another attribute that should not be neglected: They are basically interesting, more interesting and thus in a certain sense sometimes more important than truth, authencity, reality. A rhetoric of design would be able to show this in greater detail. But it is not only a question of "words", it is also a case of "deeds". Paradoxes have the effect of encouraging actions. A clear conscience is a guilty conscience and a guilty conscience is a clear one. A clear conscience is the best headrest in so far as it prevents activity. A guilty conscience, on the other hand, is a clear conscience in so far as it clearly stimulates activity. (Auch etwas gewagt, aber mal schauen J) Paradoxes perhaps are neither true nor false or both at the same time, but they encourage actions. And even if they do not help to establish the truth, they serve to the establishment a form (shape?). The paradox enables design to function as design, and design gives a shape to the paradox, sometimes even a beautiful one. Thus: Don't fear of contradictions they even have a reviving effect.