Topping my list of great men who mastered the written word as well as their individual fields and who knew how to express their ideas clearly are Gilbert Ryle, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, George Steiner, Isiah Berlin and Arthur Koestler. Readers of my books by Architectural Press will find ample references to these writers' ideas and works in my own essays.

However, more generally, what I learnt from all these thinkers is that the complexity of the subject matter is of itself no necessary barrier to communication. All deal with the most complex ideas imaginable: Ryle's primary subject was nothing less than how the human mind itself worked; both Kuhn's and Feyerabend's was objectivity in science, or rather, the frequent lack of it; Steiner's was the diversity of human language and culture forms; Berlin's was the essence of liberal politics and culture, while Koestler's was the process of human creativity. All, however, were in turn able to communicate their thoughts and the thoughts of others on related topics to novices like myself in thrilling language and turns of phrase that left deep and lasting impressions. Ryle and Feyerabend in particular also flavour their writings with occasional flashes of wit, usually in the process of skewering some hapless opponent for his or her flawed logic, or some other failure of argument.

Koestler, of course, was a novelist before he turned to psychology and other fields, while both Berlin and Steiner are what used to be called 'men of letters', well versed in the art of communication. One suspects that, as professional philosophers, the others in turn also had their own personal sources of literary inspiration. How very different they all are from the now fashionable Derrida school of philosophers and critics! Tortured prose and willful obfuscation, it seems, are now obligatory indicators of the writer's supposed 'seriousness' and 'depth', in architectural theory and criticism as well as in other fields of culture.

From: 'Let us be clear'. Architectural Press E-News, December 2004.