Doğan Kuban In Terms of Philosophy of Art: From The History of Architecture to The Principles of Turkish Art

Sanat Felsefesi Açısından Doğan Kuban




Doğan Kuban, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, History of Architecture, Turkish Art


In this article the possibilities of expanding the boundaries of the knowledge and tradition of art philosophy in Turkey through
the works of names outside the discipline of philosophy are investigated. For this purpose the production of architectural
historian Doğan Kuban is discussed. Kuban’s works are evaluated from a philosophical perspective and it is tried to justify
that they should be included in the philosophy of art literature.
It has been accepted by the researchers that aesthetics/philosophy of art in Turkey started with the effect of westernization
after the Tanzimat. The main problems of the few studies that follow the development of aesthetics are that they examine
aesthetics, which developed mainly through literary figures and philosophers who had less space than them, until the
establishment of the Republic, only through the works of professional philosophers since the Republic, and they exclude the
idea of tradition by not establishing a connection between the local thinkers they have examined and ending their development line with İsmail Tunalı. Common problems in research create the impression that the acceptance of aesthetics or philosophy of art as an activity that only the philosopher can do is accepted as a prejudice. However, philosophy of art is not a field specific to philosophers and limiting the development and accumulation of philosophy of art in Turkey to the work of philosophers narrows the scope of discussion.
When a philosophical approach to the subject is sought other than philosophers, the opportunity to meet important names in
different disciplines and to read them with a new eye increases. When approached from this perspective, Doğan Kuban’s
(1926-2021) works deserve to be questioned in terms of art philosophy. It is noteworthy that Kuban’s production which started
in the 1950s and lasted for about 70 years presents a wide field of data and interpretation and that he often attempts theory by
reminding the absence of criticism and philosophy in our culture. There are also thinkers who refer to Kuban’s interest in
philosophy, aesthetics and philosophy of art. However, Kuban’s relevance to philosophy and aesthetics/art philosophy has not
been studied extensively.
In the article firstly answers will be sought to the questions of what philosophy and philosophy of art are, and then Kuban’s
philosophy of art will be revealed according to the criteria to be determined here. Kuban’s philosophy of art will be examined
in three stages. His own theoretical approach will be analyzed by reviewing his objections to the tradition of philosophy of art.
In the next step, his views on the philosophy of architecture and the philosophy of Turkish art, which he pursued throughout his production as a quest, will be examined. Finally the problems in Kuban’s philosophy of art will be pointed out and its
possibilities will be emphasized.
Philosophy is the ability to redefine the concepts starting from the most basic/original problems in any field where one doubts
the answers, to determine the principles of the field, to answer the sub-questions with principles in line with consistency and
validity, and to construct his own explanation model for the structure of the field by associating these answers. In order to
make philosophy of art and philosophy of architecture it is necessary to answer the basic questions of the relevant field, to
reach conceptual and principled goals, and to present a model of explanation of the structure of the field within a certain
method. In the context of the criteria of art philosophy determined here, Kuban’s thoughts can be questioned in terms of
philosophy of art.
The philosophy of art, the philosophy of architecture and the philosophy of Turkish art, which became evident by the bringing
together of different pieces in Kuban’s works, is a continuous and mutually determined effort. The thinker who criticizes the
thinking styles and provisions of Western aesthetics, has created his own concept map with redefinitions and
conceptualizations. Kuban redefined the concepts in the field of study, based on these he constructed his understanding of art,
the philosophy of architecture and tried to create a model of explanation of Turkish art in which he revealed its history,
evolution and basic features. Criticizing the views of C. E. Arseven, J. Strzygowski, E. Diez and O. Aslanapa, Kuban tried to
define Turkish art in his own way and tried to explain the basic principles of Turkish art through monumental and civil
architecture. Even though this model of explanation has deficiencies it offers new research opportunities to history of art and
philosophy researchers with the questions it asks, the concepts it highlights and its unresolved aspects.
With his philosophical awareness, criticisms of the philosophy of art, the philosophy of architecture and the attempt to
construct the theory of Turkish art, Kuban should be included in the subject area of the philosophy of art studies in Turkey.
Evaluation of Kuban’s thoughts by including them in the accumulation of art philosophy in our history of thought will both
broaden and diversify the horizon of the field of art philosophy and will enable the philosophy of art to be considered in the
context of new relationships between individuals and disciplines by following the traces of thinkers from such different fields.