Viewpoint: Not another Heresy: Wittgenstein, Urban Games and Planning Ideology

  • Alexander R. Cuthbert The University of New South Wales
Keywords: Urban Planning, language, professional vocabulary


A topic seldom discussed within the field of Urban Planning is the question of language and how our search for solutions to urban problems is locked into and limited by words and ideas that may have outlived their usefulness. Professions as a whole deploy specialized languages which embody concepts appropriate to the symbolic representation of their particular field of engagement. Languages in general are not static formulae but dynamic social events, which change with changing circumstances. Because of the innate conservatism of professions as a whole, their conceptual apparatus is frequently out of date-more aligned to past problems than future circumstances. In this respect, I suggest that the most neglected region in updating our activities is our professional vocabulary. For too long we have ignored that in continuing to use the same terminology, we inhibit our capacity to conceptualize problems in new ways. This in turn encourages the reproduction of old problems in new forms, rather than providing important answers to society's key questions.


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