Philosophical Urbanism of Walter Benjamin

  • Abraham AkkermanEmail author


This chapter is an overall introduction to the topic of this monograph, namely, the relationship between the urban environment and consciousness. Walter Benjamin had introduced the notion of ongoing interaction between mind and the environment as an underlying theme of his vast collection of writings, known as the Arcades Project. The supposition of dynamic, indeterminate interaction between mind and city-form is explored here through the premise that since the Upper Paleolithic (c. 50 kya–2 kya) humans have projected femininity and masculinity upon their natural surroundings. Formative in the built environment of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age (c. 12,000 BP–5000 BP) were the archetypal myths of the Garden and the Citadel, the conceptual building blocks of built form that have coevolved in interaction with the built environment onto urban voids and volumes of the contemporary metropolis. In mobilizing considerations of the urban crowd and weather, Benjamin’s Arcades Project, and some of the contemporaneous work in psychoanalysis are the underpinnings for the notion of the environ/mental composite as a hybrid of minds, the built environment, demography and climate.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and PlanningUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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