Tim Ingold: reflections


In response to the session today when we looked at the reading from Tim Ingold, I found Reading the introduction of his book a very useful tool to understanding his positions and logic on the subjects discussed, these quotes below are lengthy, but seem to  offer a concise sense of his overall stance toward learning and knowledge, and therefore give us more than clues as to why he breaks down the concept of design in the way he does


‘our task, is one of learning to learn.’
‘Gregory Bateson – anthropologist, cybernetician and general intellectual maverick – called it ‘deutero-learning’ (Bateson 1973: 141). This kind of learning aims not so much to provide us with facts about the world as to enable us to be taught by it. The world itself becomes a place of study, a university that includes not just professional teachers and registered students, dragooned into their academic departments, but people everywhere, along with all the other creatures with which (or whom) we share our lives and the lands in which we – and they – live. In this university, whatever our discipline, we learn from those with whom (or which) we study.’ (Ingold, 2009)

We can see in this straight away a resistance to the idea that design or another form of thinking is an established and set practice or should be looked at from a set position of knowledge, we are looking at an interrogation of assumptions of knowledge and it’s attainment itself.
If we apply this to the design process we see how the two models he uses both of the divine creation or the scientific bag of DNA are played against each other to suggest that neither is correct, it is not a wholesale rejection of either, more a suggestion that neither offers a whole or complete answer.
In my own reading of his text his use evolution and Dawkins arguments was rather elegant as he clearly brings this back to the idea of design being in the making as well as in the preconception.
This doing or making is well illustrated by processes that evolve, and necessitate adaptation. It is clearly a circular route but one that interrogates the preconceptions of the term and meaning of design.
Perhaps he sums up how we need to do or to inhabit a thing to really know it and therefore reach our goal best with this second quote. Here he is foreshadowing the ideas in the chapter about needing to think forwards whilst doing although he mentions later the necessity to keep the link with the present also.
for me this would suggest fro us as makers a need to track and keep in touch with our own process, for the current and future benefit project/s.
‘learning to learn, for them as for the practitioners of any other discipline, means shaking off, instead of applying, the preconceptions that might otherwise give premature shape to their observations. It is to convert every certainty into a question, whose answer is to be found by attending to what lies before us, in the world, not by looking it up at the back of the book. In thus feeling forward rather than casting our eyes rearwards, in anticipation rather than retrospection, lies the path of discovery’.(Ingold, 2009)


Ingold, T. (2009) Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. London: Taylor & Francis.


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