The problem with matter

Sandra Costa Santos

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


Where does meaning reside? Is it separate from the material? Is matter totally mute before being worked by man? The problem with matter (-mater) is that it is reduced to mere material when reason is understood as the only source of meaning. Classical thinking after Aristotle understands matter according to materials: things are formed matter and matter is a container for form. Matter is understood by classical philosophy as a receiving subject: it is undetermined and it has properties only potentially.Often matter appears as mute material until it is given meaning through form by the artist or architect. But, is really the artist the ultimate charger of meaning or just the awakener? Modern speculation defends that matter is not formally undetermined. The big departure from the Aristotelian philosophy is that the receiving subject is not passive but determinant: matter is active. This new perspective is clarifying. A second etymological meaning through the root –mater presents material as an agent of development. Instead of the idea of determination, we are elaborating now the idea of understanding.This workshop aims at exploring the second reading of matter as active determinant and architect as generator of meaningful situations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventThinking Through Making - Newcastle University
Duration: 1 Jan 2015 → …


WorkshopThinking Through Making
Period1/01/15 → …
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