[lit-ideas] Re: The Philosophy of Music

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2011 16:26:42 EDT

In a message dated 7/7/2011 12:59:09 P.M, donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx  writes:
>This new title thread contains points by JLS of [interesting]  merit.
Incidentally, the title is an essay by Mazzini, "Filosofia della musica", I 
 was recently coming across.

Giuseppe Mazzini, Filosofia della musica (1836), Pisa, Domus  Mazziniana, 
We were considering a melody, and McEvoy was talking 'body' -- "the body of 
 the operas by Wagner is immense" (or words to similar effect). I objected 
to the  use of 'body' in musical parlance. McEvoy re-attacks, to the effect 
that 'body'  is
>[N]o more a metaphor than saying something is matter, or 
material or physical. When we say a lump of clay is matter 
we do not mean it metaphorically, i.e. that it is merely like matter. We  
it is matter. Of course, we may also say that it is not merely matter - it  
make a striking sculpture."
I see. Perhaps 'function' vs. 'form' is what we are looking for. We say  
that _form_ is what Wagner composed. What he _meant_ is 'function'.
He repeats his point:

>music qua sound is physically embodied - i.e. it is something that  has 
physical presence, indeed a >presence that it measurable in physics - we  are 
not just speaking metaphorically.

I see. "Form" perhaps does not lead us too far, either. We say that  
'symphony' is a musical "form", which is a meaningless thing to say. The 
of 'form' is too abstract to digest to some, Plato included. "Shape" is 
perhaps  what we mean. Shape can be physical. But I agree with McEvoy that it 
the  acoustic and the auditory levels were are considering here. What is 
music to me  cannot be music for a dog, since a dog's acoustics differ from a 
homo sapiens  sapiens, etc.

"I put my post in terms of music qua sound in order to show  that, even 
when considering music as something physically embodied, we can still  
distinguish a World 3 content within what is embodied: so that a piece of 
music qua sound is a World 3.1 object, that exists in both World 3 and World 1 
 and has content in both realms."
It's odd that, as I saw things, it's mainly a psychological event, i.e.  
world II. The performing and the perception of the performance.
"We can measure its World 1 content by using the techniques of a physicist  
but its World 3 content is not reducible to these measurements, even if it 
may  be expressed by way of these specific physical properties and may be 
said to be  (in some sense) "supervenient" on them. But we can also refer to 
'music' in a  way that is not embodied as physical sound - such as the music 
playing in the  imagination or that is rehearsed "mentally". For Popper 
these World 2 contents  are not reducible to World 1 anymore than the World 3 
content of played sounds  is reducible to World 1: in a case of music playing 
in Beethoven's imagination,  or rehearsed "mentally" by Sutherland, we are 
referring to music as a World 2.1  object, that has content in the realm of 
World 2 and also perhaps content in  World 1, insofar as that World 2 content 
is embodied in World 1 brain  states."
I follow you there. I agree that if music is psychological, and has some  
'substance' at the World II level, it should be reduced to a World I  level.
"In addition to 'music' as "mentally" existent yet non-existent as physical 
 sound, there is also 'music' that is physically embodied in a soundless  
I think we covered this ground, confusingly, when we were considering  
Wittgnstein's obscure thoughts on 'sound'. It's best, in anglophone parlance, 
 stick with 'hear'.
"We hear noises".
"We hear sounds".
A sound is something that is heard. Strawson individualised these sounds  
("Individuals: an essay in descriptive metaphysics"). Grice didn't ("Some  
remarks about the senses" -- e..g. the sense of 'hearing').
In Latin, 
what is heard
would be
--- Surely we can abstract the 'form' of what is heard --. An unperformed  
(or 'soundless', as McEvoy punnily put it) score just displays the 
possibilities  of "audita" (plural of 'auditum') -- as much as a sentence, e.g. 
"You're the  cream in my coffee" displays all possible implicata).
"If we were to discover a lost work by Bach in some manuscript, we would be 
 discovering an object that might have no existence any longer in anyone's 
head,  or as "sound", but which had been left to us as a soundless World 3 
object  encoded in the form of musical notation. A World 3.1 object".
But if it's not just gibberish, it means that the notation is understood as 
 "possibilities" of performances. I.e. audita. We have to see what 
instrument it  is meant for. What type of harmonies are involved, the tempo, 
melody itself.  Just to consider 'melody' for example. Consider "Danny Boy" -- 
the melody line  of this, the "Derry air", so-called, is perhaps a 'form' in 
that it represents  or displays just ONE possibility of audita. A minor 
issue would be to determine  what counts as the complete 'air'. It's not one 
auditum at time t1, but a  contiuum from t1 to t8, say, which is what it takes 
to 'hear' (even mentally)  the, say, first musical segments of the air. 
"Though Popper does not pursue this very far, in his Schilpp volume he  
makes clear that as well as these sorts of W3.1 and W2.1 objects [that is  
objects whose respective World 3 and World 2 content is simultaneously embodied 
in World 1] and of W3.2.1 objects where the content is simultaneously in 
each  realm, he also would defend the view that there are World 3.3 objects 
and that  these indeed can have a causal affect on the mental and physical 
worlds. He  describes these W3.3 objects as a kind of shadow-world."
I wonder why, when in such an imaginative phase, he did not come  out with 
World IV, too. A shadow of a shadow, as I think Shakespeare  has it.
(In other words: the Meinongian challenge to Popper is: why stop at World  
III? For Grice this is no problem -- "Mundi non sunt multiplicanda praeter  
necessitatem"). What we need from Popper is a modal argument against the  
possibility of World IV and beyond.

"My comment:- of course, we cannot give an example of  a World3.3 object 
without thereby rendering it in World 2 [as an object of  conscious thought] 
or in World 1 [insofar as that content is embodied  physically]. But we could 
give examples of 'creative discoveries' in art and  science where we might 
plausibly see these as discoveries of some pre-existing  and as yet 
unthought and unembodied World3.3 object. Popper's standard  examples here 
odd and even numbers and prime numbers:- 'prime numbers'  may be said to have 
existed as World3.3 objects to be discovered once we had  invented the 
sequence of natural numbers (they do not exist, for Popper, prior  to the 
invention of such a sequence). That is, once we have invented our  sequence of 
natural numbers, then primes do not require invention but are there  to be 
discovered within the sequence (what may require 'invention' is the World  2 
'thought' to look for these inbuilt and ineradicable and invariant properties  
of our number system); and insofar as a mathematician develops a way of  
identifying primes and theorising about their properties, we may say the  
mathematician is being affected by the W3.3 object, 'the prime', that is there  
to be discovered prior to be being identified or consciously thought as  such.
The affect of this W3.3 may be seen as the explanation for why, when  
knowledge has developed to a certain specific level of problem, the solution to 
a specific problem will be the subject of a race between competitors who 
rightly  believe that if they do not get the solution soon enough then others 
apprised of  the same problem-situation will get there; they may be right to 
believe this  because that solution is there to be discovered in W3.3. This 
may make W3.3  appear somewhat less shadowy than it might otherwise seem."
I see. Since I see these "world III" phenomena as 'forms' out of displays  
of world-2 and world-1 phenomena, I'm still curious as to why not posit  
something like a world-4, say, for metamathematics. If prime numbers were out  
there to be discovered (in the world 3 limbo) why not assume that the THEORY 
of  these numbers was lying at even a higher, limbo of metamathematical 
inventions.  Lakatos may have thought along those lines.

We then get at
"what Wagner may have meant" by "dah-dah-dah-dah" (the nuptial hymn).

"Depending on what we mean by meaning, we might be able to  avoid that 
territory, with its excessive taxes and heavy-handed border  patrols."
Too true. Plus, Wagner would have "meinen" something. In German, 'meinen'  
means 'believe', rather than 'mean'.

"JLS raises the important and interesting relation of 'supervenient'.  By 
mentioning W3.3 objects, we are indicating objects that are not  
straightforwardly supervenient on World 1 or World 2. For some indication of  
views on the role of 'supervenience' in explaining the relation of mind  and 
body, there is his work in "The Self and Its Brain", and in particular his  
criticisms of so-called 'identity' theories. Popper seems to be of the view 
that  the way philosopher's typically use 'supervenience' is either 
unsustainable when  used in a strict sense or is used so loosely that it puts 
little, if any,  limit on the character and downward causal affect of what is 
posited as  'supervenient'".
Thanks. I was discussing elsewhere Popper's view vis a vis the idea of  
'freedom of the will', and can't say I have digested most of Popper's  
"philosophical psychology". The fact that he was perhaps overinfluenced by  
(and J. J. C. Smart) perhaps did not help?

"It is also Popper's view that World 3, though it emerges from  World 2, 
has some autonomy from World 2; and that World 3 has downward causal  affect 
on World 2 (as the prior existence of a 'prime number' has a causal  effect 
in producing the human thought that discovers it, by being, as it were,  that 
object in the dark that the conscious mind then is able to bring to light). 
 This autonomy and downward causation of World 3 greatly limits the sense 
in  which we can say World 3 is merely supervenient on World 2 and World 1."
I see. R. M. Hare, a colleague of Grice's at the Saturday mornings, also  
has a few things to say about 'supervenience'. On the whole I don't use the  
term. But I agree it's a fascinating one.
Perhaps the whole idea of 'world' is confused here. "Mundus" is  possibly 
just as confused, but in the Germanic languages (that use  "world" or "Welt" 
as in Popper), the idea is too anthropomorphic for me to  digest. I prefer 

When I speak of Meinong, I don't mean I subscribe to his views, but at  
least he found that it all belongs in "ontologia specialis" as it was called.  
Grice refers to Meinong in his "Vacuous Names" and indeed, notes, that  he 
wants his systems "not to create a (Meinongian) jungle", which is a  phrase 
that fits with his parsinomy alla Ockham. He went as far as to coin an  
"ontological Marxism". A prime number, say or stuff like the  philsoopher's 
'proposition' (qua 'abstract entity' even without much determinacy  to it)  may 
be deemed to _exist_, qua entity, provided it works ("They  work; therefore, 
they exist -- entities").
And so on.
Then we should revise how Mazzini fits in. I think he was meaning 'opera',  
not just sounds, and he was reading too much patriotic 'bullshit', as 
anglophone  speakers put it, to it.
Or not.

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