Homo faber, Homo ludens and the city: A SIRNIA view on urban planning and design

Juval Portugali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The common way to refer to human species is by means of the term homo sapience, where the adjective sapience is derived from the Latin sapientia, meaning “wisdom”. The homo sapience’s core property is thus the ability to think and act using reason, knowledge, commonsense, understanding and the like. And yet, in his Creative Evolution Henry Bergson (1911/1998, 139) claims that “we should say not Homo sapiens, but Homo faber”, as the core property that make us humans “is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects.” A different view was suggested by Johan Huizinga (1938): “in the course of time we have come to realize that we are not so reasonable after all” and that Bergson’s homo faber is “even less appropriate, seeing that many animals too are makers.” “It seems to me”, continues Huizinga (ibid), that “next to Homo Faber, and perhaps on the same level as Homo Sapiens, Homo Ludens, Man the Player, deserves a place in our nomenclature.” The view put forward below is that the three “homos” do not negate, but rather complement, each other as aspects of human nature, and, that the complementarity between the three homos is central to urban dynamics in general and to the role of urban planning and design in that dynamics, in particular. This view is elaborated by reference to humans’ cognitive properties of agency and chronesthesia and from the perspective of the theories of SIRN, IA and their conjunction SIRNIA.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Cities and Complexity
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781789900125
ISBN (Print)9781789900118
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


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