Christopher Alexander

In Book One, The Phenomenon of Life, Alexander (2002a) proposes a scientific view of the world in which all space-matter has perceptible degrees of life. In his view, this provides an intellectual basis for a new architecture and enables one to ask precise questions about what must be done to create more life in our world. He introduces the concept of living structure based on the concepts of centers and wholeness, and he identifies 15 fundamental properties from which all wholes are built. In his view, this approach extends and supplements the arena of permissible scientific observation in such a way that “the self of the observer is allowed to come into the picture in an objective way” (p. 352). More specifically, he suggests that wholeness can be tested empirically through what he calls the Mirror-of-the-Self Test: “Comparing A and B, which one makes me feel the most wholeness in myself, which allows me to come closest to my own life, which makes me experience life most deeply?” (p. 354). “When something works, or is ‘functional,’” he claims, “its space is awakened to a very high degree. It becomes alive. The space itself becomes alive” (p 427).

Book Four: The Luminous Ground (2002c) claims his new vision of architecture enables a unification or synthesis of the material, the cognitive, and the spiritual. When one uses living processes (unfolding) to create living structures and thereby enhance wholeness (both in reality and in human feeling), one can catch a glimpse of something that unites all matter into a single wholeness. At times he refers to this as “the I,” “the eternal self,” “the plenum,” or God. He writes, “I assert that this domain exists as a real thing; that it is parallel to the material world, but that it is inherently incapable of having structure, because it is pure ‘one.’ But it is occasionally visible.…It becomes visible when the structure of a strong field of centers gently raises the lid, lifts the veil, and through the partial opening, we see, or sense, the glow of the Blazing One beyond” (p. 150). His 100-page chapter on color lavishly illustrates and dramatically conveys the way that consciousness and spirit (“inner light”) can make their appearance in the world. “When I make something which has wholeness or life,” he writes, “I become more alive in the act of making it. When I make something which is dead, or contribute to the making of something which is dead, I become less alive.…People are deeply nourished by the process of creating wholeness” (p. 263). This unfolding of the field of centers and the self “is the most fundamental awakening of matter” (p. 331).

christopher alexander

“I assert that this domain exists as a real thing; that it is parallel to the material world, but that it is inherently incapable of having structure, because it is pure ‘one.’ But it is occasionally visible.…It becomes visible when the structure of a strong field of centers gently raises the lid, lifts the veil, and through the partial opening, we see, or sense, the glow of the Blazing One beyond”

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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