Footprint 36: Who’s Stupid Now: Architecture, Intelligence and Transdisciplinarity
Halfway through his book Difference and Repetition (1994), Gilles Deleuze poses a startling question: how is stupidity possible? While stupidity notoriously eludes descriptive analysis, it has been a major concern for thinkers and philosophers for millennia. The Stoics formulated sapientia (intelligence) as an ongoing struggle against stultitia (stupidity). However, as Miguel de Beistegui (2022) recently underscored, stupidity is not the opposite of intelligence, and it is not reducible to ignorance. According to Avital Ronnell (2002), stupidity is neither a pathology nor an index of moral default, and yet it is linked to the most dangerous failures of human endeavour. It is both the reason for and the consequence of what Bernard Stiegler (2001) has diagnosed as today’s universal condition of proletarianisation, defined as a generalised loss of knowledge. Stupidity, therefore, is not to be confused with a cognitive or psychological shortcoming. It is systemic insofar as it has become a planetary condition that is as produced as it is maintained, sustained, and occasionally actively promoted.
Stupidity has arguably become ubiquitous despite, or perhaps because of, the dominance of terms that belong to what Orit Halpern and Robert Mitchell (2022) call the ‘smartness mandate’ (smartphones, smart cars, smart homes, smart cities). While stupidity has traditionally been the object of criticism, the acute self-referentiality of the sciences, philosophy and the avant-gardes has effectively rendered them inadequate to this task. We are no longer in the realm of critique, as the critical moment itself seems to be occurring behind our backs, threatening to obliterate the vital possibility of thought itself. Terms such as ‘uncertainty,’ ‘risk,’ ‘complexity,’ and ‘crisis’ fail to convey the irreversibility of the end of an era that used to define itself through ‘rational’ processes. The question of stupidity is thus not exhausted by the discovery of a negative limit to knowledge. If we agree that – apart from climate thermodynamics and the anthropogenic deterioration of habitat and welfare – there is also an informational loss of potential that leads to cultural destruction and behavioural standardisation, then stupidity as proletarianisation comes close to entropy or a gradual decline into homogeneity.
Footprint 36 invites contributions that examine how the discipline of architecture can contribute to resisting stupidity and relearning how to think by moving beyond disaffected apocalyptic forms of reasoning, imagining, and creating. In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Sixth Extinction, Footprint 36 welcomes contributions that reconsider stupidity as the inability to discern between the singular and the ordinary, and that do not confuse it with a failure to offer the ‘right’ solution. Instead, the concept of stupidity that we would like to examine – following Henri Bergson’s understanding of problematisation – is understood as the incapacity to properly determine a problem. Its near synonym ‘idiocy’ by definition prevents us from seeing beyond narrow interests and ready-made solutions, thereby blocking environmental awareness and the possibility of trans-individuation, that is, living and transforming collectively.
Building on the legacy of Gilbert Simondon, Footprint 36 calls for contributions that examine how humans relate to and transform their environments through technology, and how these relations transform humans, technology, and the environment – a concept known as technicity. The issue seeks to explore architectural technicities that overcome poorly defined problems and reinvigorate (post)critical thinking, requiring a transdisciplinary mode of operation that breaks with the anti-intellectualist tradition of specialisation, professionalisation, and knowledge fragmentation. Conversely, reductionist tendencies exacerbate the impasse of the knowledge economy by turning research into self-fulfilling projects produced by commodified consortia, perpetuating the anti-disciplinary aspirations and misapprehensions of policymakers who are eager to offer overly simplistic solutions to the complex problems of our time. This confronts us with the following urgent questions that we ask authors to consider:
- What are the architectural prerequisites and ramifications of saving intelligence from the stupidity inherent in fragmented circuits of knowing and experiencing?
- Which technicities facilitate the formulation of architectural problems that address the pressing needs of our time rather than mere solutions for the sake of solutions?
- How can we understand transdisciplinarity as the coming together of diverse and heterogeneous disciplines based on their joint effort to take care of an architectural problem?
Rather than focusing on the essentialist question of what architectural intelligence is, Footprint 36 is interested in the pragmatics of how it occurs, who institutes it, and through which technicities it is archived and disseminated.
Authors of full articles (6000–8000 words) can submit their contributions via Footprint’s online platform before 31 March 2024, with all submissions undergoing double-blind peer-review.
Review articles (2000–4000 words) will be selected by editors based on a 500-word summary emailed to the editors before 31 March 2024.
Authors should include a 100-word bio with their submissions and secure permission to use any images or copyrighted materials.
For more information, please consult Footprint’s Author Guidelines at:
Correspondence should be directed to editors Stavros Kousoulas and Andrej Radman at email@example.com.
Footprint 36 is scheduled for publication in Spring/Summer 2025.