Human Studies

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 229–256 | Cite as

Femininity and Masculinity in City-Form: Philosophical Urbanism as a History of Consciousness

  • Abraham AkkermanEmail author


Mutual feedback between human-made environments and facets of thought throughout history has yielded two myths: the Garden and the Citadel. Both myths correspond to Jung’s feminine and masculine collective subconscious, as well as to Nietzsche’s premise of Apollonian and Dionysian impulses in art. Nietzsche’s premise suggests, furthermore, that the feminine myth of the Garden is time-bound whereas the masculine myth of the Citadel, or the Ideal City, constitutes a spatial deportment. Throughout history the two myths have continually molded the built environment and thought, but the myth of the Ideal City – from Plato to Descartes to modernity – came to dominate city-form and ensuing aspects of contemplation. This relationship seems to have shifted during the twentieth century. Intellectual dispositions have begun to be largely nurtured by an incongruous city-form emerging from the gap between the incessant promise for an automated, well-functioning city, on the one hand, and looming alienation, coupled with the factual, malfunctioning city, on the other hand. Urban decay, a persisting and time-bound urban event that is a byproduct of this configuration, suggests the ascent of the Garden myth in post-modern city-form.


city-form deconstruction existentialism femininity masculinity myth neoplatonism philosophical urbanism urban decay urban planning 


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I wish to thank Lenore Langsdorf and two anonymous referees of this journal for valuable comments on the earlier version of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Saskatchewan SaskatoonSaskatchewanCanada

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