Comments and suggestions are most welcome, both on substance and wording.
Please bear with us that none of the (current) authors is native English language-abled.
Theory is a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained., e.g. Darwin’s theory of evolution. Its origin is rooted in the Greek term ‘theōria’, from ‘theōros’ (‘spectator’). Synonyms include terms as hypothesis, opinion, view, belief, principles, ideas and concepts. [Wikipedia]
When we talk about ‘theory’ it will be mostly related to international frameworks with guiding principles for urban and territorial planning, while the ‘praxis’ will be mostly about the implementation of these principles in our concrete living spaces – the ‘localisation’ of those universal principles. Occasionally we might also relate to planning theories rooted in academic research and applied practices, such as theories related to territorial governance, strategic planning, planning participation, urban growth models, etc.
‘Praxis’ (from Ancient Greek πρᾶξις) is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized. Praxis may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practising ideas. This has been a recurrent topic in the field of philosophy, discussed in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Immanuel Kant, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Paulo Freire, Ludwig von Mises, and many others. It has meaning in the political, educational, spiritual and medical realms.
In Ancient Greek the word praxis (πρᾶξις) referred to activity engaged in by free people. The philosopher Aristotle held that there were three basic activities of humans: theoria (thinking), poiesis (making), and praxis (doing). Corresponding to these activities were three types of knowledge: theoretical, the end goal being truth; poietical, the end goal being production; and practical, the end goal being action. Aristotle further divided the knowledge derived from praxis into ethics, economics and politics. He also distinguished between eupraxia (εὐπραξία, “good praxis”) and dyspraxia (δυσπραξία, “bad praxis, misfortune”). [Wikipedia]
From our perspective, ‘praxis’ will also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, practising or co-creating ideas. ‘Engaging’ is crucial, hence the stress on co-creating urban and non-urban territories in a more interactive way than the traditional one-way ‘consultation’ of people and stakeholders. Hence, Placemaking is considered as the voluntary act on co-creating better places for humans and other species to thrive, harnessing and bolstering its capital assets. While we can learn a lot from both good and bad praxis, we prefer to focus on ‘inspiring practices’ of placemaking.