Part 1: The Theory and its Context

It is the premise of this thesis that there exists an ongoing paradigm shift within Western culture and that architectural culture has direct involvement in this shift. Essentially the argument is that our culture, comprised of individuals and institu-tions, is emerging from a fragmented cosmology - a dualistic worldview - and moving, growing toward a more holistic cosmology, one which promises a more healthy human experience. Alexander had an understanding early in his career of the nature of our fragmented cosmology and its effects on the culture of architecture. He has made a conscious effort to push the culture in a particular direction, toward a more holistic per-spective. It will be shown that AlexanderÕs theory is both a return to and revalua-tion of the lessons of history, as well as a new step into the future, which incorporates recent advances in science, social and political structure, psychol-ogy, and building technology. The following essay illuminates AlexanderÕs work not only in terms of the pre-Industrial, pre-Enlightenment cosmology which informs it, but also in terms of the contemporary cosmology, which is its context and which it seeks to influence. The methodology of illuminating AlexanderÕs work will be the following: a brief introduction to key aspects of the theory, which will be presented as four main themes: Beauty, Geometry, Process, and Feeling; comparison with similar theories from both the past - with an emphasis on those which were not direct influences on Alexander - and with contemporary theories and practises. The goal is to understand AlexanderÕs theories in a position relative to what is argued to be an ongoing shift of paradigm. In order to do this, a discussion of the nature of this shift will be undertaken.