[lit-ideas] Re: The Philosophy of Music

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2011 23:18:12 +0100 (BST)

This touches of course on very large and important areas, so just some small 
points for now..

--- On Thu, 7/7/11, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:

> But I
> agree with McEvoy that it is 
> 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.

It is not merely the "acoustic and auditory levels" but the metaphysics of 
these levels, which themselves involve further different "levels", that we are 
considering: for those "levels" have a physical or World 1 aspect that may be 
distinguished from their World 2 and World 3 aspects. Even if we had the same 
_physical_ acoustics and auditory "levels" of a dog, as a matter of 'sensory 
apparatus', what is music to us might be very different if our cognitive 
apparatus in relation to those acoustics were very different - that is, if our 
World 2 of mental states [both conscious and unconscious] were very different 
despite a similar sensory apparatus. We might guess that a person whose sensory 
apparatus for sound was normal, but who was cognitively impaired in some way, 
would have a different grasp of music to a person who was not so impaired; in 
addition, response to music depends on learning and exposure - engagement with 
World 3. 

Additionally, for Popper, World 3 is only accessed by humans not by animals 
(though I doubt he would be dogmatic on this, as he leaves it as a fundamental 
problem that remains very open "To what extent human knowledge is continuous or 
discontinuous with animal knowledge?"). 

> 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.

As indicated above, even the "perception of the performance" may involve 
physical as well as mental events, and also World 3 'content' as the object 
that is grasped by World 2. It is not all one 'level'.

> 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.

Am I right in thinking this should conclude, "it should _not_ be reduced to a 
World I level"? Otherwise I'm at a loss to how you are agreeing.


> McEvoy:
> "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.

Somewhere afair (I think in his Emory Lectures) he is asked a similar question 
- about whether ethics should given its own 'world'. He seems very open that we 
might distinguish any number of 'worlds', and even worlds within worlds, but is 
sticking to World123 as sufficient for his purposes as far as they go in those 
lectures. There is enough standing in the way of accepting a World123 analysis 
for World123 to be enough to be going on with: but if we accepted at least that 
tripartite division, we might then ask what further divisions or sub-divisions 
might properly be made.

> What we need from Popper is a modal
> argument against the  
> possibility of World IV and beyond.

As indicated, far from offering any such modal argument, Popper is very open to 
increasing the divisions beyond 12&3 as we develop the arguments: he is a 
metaphysical pluralist and comments that Occam's Razor, even if accepted, 
raises the question of what is _unnecessary_ multiplying of entities and what 
is not. The World 123 division is a minimum necessary division in his view.

> 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  Eccles 
> (and J. J. C. Smart) perhaps did not help?

I think the influence is much more the other way, and that Eccles (like 
Medawar) is much less astute than Popper on what is at stake philosophically 
(as might be expected). "The Self And Its Brain" is another of his great books, 
worth reading just for Popper's historical survey of approaches to the 
mind-body problem. And beautifully written. It is a defence of (v. 
unfashionable) mind-body dualism (indeed of World123 interaction) but not of 
untenable Cartesian dualism with its idea of a mental "substance" and causation 
by push (that cannot be reconciled: for how can an immaterial substance 'push' 
a material one?). That many philosophers tend to assume that a modern mind-body 
dualism must be dualism in its Cartesian form is as egregious as if they were 
to assume that a contemporary physical monism must take the form of asserting, 
a la Descartes, that there are physical "substances" and that all causation 
between these is by push, though modern science has
 overthrown these Cartesian assumptions. Though it is a deep problem to explain 
how a mental event could interact with a physical one, as Popper points out we 
do not have a very good explanation for how different physical events interact 
- for example, how an immaterial force like gravity can affect the behaviour of 
material objects. But no one argues that because we cannot quite explain how 
this physical interaction is possible, it therefore does not happen - yet, in 
effect, it is one of the chief arguments used against mind-body dualism that we 
cannot explain quite how such interaction is possible and so we should deny it 

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