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Thread: The Possiblity of Neuroscientific Universal Music and Conducting

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    1. Is what is "universal" must be true across all cultures? Is there a difference between a phenomena holding true for say, 99% of cultures but not true for the 1%?
    By definition, it must be 100%.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    2. If I'm "misunderstanding" of the meaning "universal", then everyone who touts music as a "universal language" is, because English, French, etc, can all be learned by any human being of any ethnic group, so calling "music" the "universal language" is meaningless then.
    You still misunderstand it, and anyone who makes that analogy misunderstands it too (note that no scientist would make that analogy, because they actually know what the term means!). I'm not quite sure what's difficult to grasp about what I said earlier. English, French, Russian etc. are not universals because they don't exist everywhere. However, they all share grammatical and syntactical structures - the units of language that they are built on. Therefore, it is the underlying grammar that is universal, not the emergent language. We're not talking about things that people can learn, we're talking about things that are coded inside the brain from Day 1. One of them is a universal grammar, another is a set of musical parameters.

    It is true that when people say "music is a universal language", they often mean something that is not quite true. It is normally intended that because music doesn't carry information, it can be understood and appreciated by anyone from any culture. Well, that's not strictly true - there are learning barriers, as evidenced by the point about Western listeners understanding Gamelan and vice-versa, they are just more subtle and more easily overcome. It is only the things that we do not have to learn that count as universals, and it is not a piece of music or a musical system that will be a universal, but an underlying neurological capacity for understanding and appreciating pitch (for example).

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    1. Really? The more you probe, the more you realize that there's an underlying pattern? According to whom?
    In relation to language, which is what you quoted me on, every sane linguist on this planet in the last few decades will tell you that there are underlying patterns to all languages. It's an established fact, and you can read any number of introductory books on the subject to find out more about it. You, like other laymen, may not see the similarities between English, Russian, Afrikaans and even American Sign Language, but they do exist, and we even know the regions of the brain in which they function.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    2. What if something "upsets" the universal theory?
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...fact_colapinto
    If something upsets the universal theory, then, as with all science, the theory must be revised. This isn't dogma we're talking about - this is the scientific process. I haven't looked at the full article yet, but I'm not convinced how much it affects Chomsky's views. There are two brief things to say on it: 1) I would be surprised if the man's research is thorough enough to fully discount the things he says he can discount, but that's just my intuition for the moment so I'll with-hold judgement; 2) Even if the things he discounts are genuine, that does not mean therefore that all universality goes out the window. It is beyond any doubt whatsoever that the brain comes into the world with predispositions to certain kinds of linguistic structures; it would just mean that what we consider as universals would have to narrow.

    Again, I have to ask you, if you're trying to suggest that universals don't exist, then explain how language exists at all. The only other explanation that has been proposed is the one of the blank slate - that a mind is utterly bare, and can be shaped in any way by any thing. That has been thoroughly debunked, demonstrating that children are born with innate capabilities, and these capabilities affect emergent culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    4. Why is only what's "universal" in disparate societies the most important? Wittgenstein showed that there is no "universal" definition of "game", does that mean that "games" don't exist?
    I didn't say that was the most important, I just said that the evidence is most compelling there. If you compare the U.S. and the UK, your basis for asserting a universal is going to be slim because of the cross-cultural influence. As for your Wittgenstein example, you again demonstrate that you don't really understand what is meant by a universal. Wittgenstein's contention is in fact in favour of the idea of universals. The analogy here is that the individual games are to English, French and Russian, as the common rules, intents and 'family resemblances' are to grammar and syntax. This second tier is the level of the universal. You keep making the error of assuming that the universal is at the level of the complex, emergent cultural feature - it's not. The universals are at the level of the unconscious, pre-cultural predispositions. If you drew a ven diagram of everything all those games have in common, it is where every circle intersects (one example, with games, being the spirit of competition) that would signify the universals.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    I'm referring to the uses of "universal" in the link i.e. I am not using the word "universal" in the sense of anthropology, but in the colloquial sense.
    Well, I'm afraid whatever sense you're using is unhelpful, and, having followed Jonah Lehrer for some time, I know he is not using "universal" in the colloquial sense. You're just being taken along by the misapprehending masses. This is evident from the fact that two out of the three quotations you used after the above statement were NOT from Lehrer. Lehrer does not use the phrase "universal language", and he would not agree with the poster who says that music is "universally understood". You can't attempt to interpret Lehrer's article by relying on the comments of people you don't know.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    6. My argument is that for a particular work of music, it is far less universally accessible than works of literature. Even if you hate Shakespeare, you can get a good idea of not only what Hamlet was about, but what the individual words and phrases, the plots, themes, references, drama, etc, is about. You can't "explain" the "expressive" and "expression" of a music in the same way. For example, a Bach fugue, although it doesn't require learning a language "to know" or "to get", it is ultimately far more inaccessible for many people who can listen to it for eons and not "get it".
    This argument is confounded by the fact that you're using an extremely unhelpful metaphor. You are trying to equate accessibility with the ability to communicate thoughts in language. The fact that you cannot express the nature of music in words has no bearing on this discussion whatsoever. It's utterly irrelevant. This is about the neuroscience of music - we're considering this at the level of the brain, NOT conscious discussion. What is meant, at the level of the brain, is that you take people from all across the world and expose them to Bach and their minds will be much more collectively capable of understanding the music than if you took people from all across the world and handed them a book of Shakespeare. That's obvious, it's intuitive, it's common sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    1. Can you elucidate what you mean by "phenomenon of culture and history" and "artistically similar in quality"? Do you mean "artistically similar in quality" to Shakespeare?
    By "phenomenon of culture and history", I mean that your example is a quirk of our particular cultural heritage. Given a different culture and different history, it is quite easy to conceive of some literary greats being more contentious than a monolithic musical figure. By "artistically similar in quality", yes, in comparison to Shakespeare, many well-read people would say that he had his equals, and even his betters!

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    2. What does the fact that you need little time to understand it have to do with the violent disagreement over merits of relative works and the inaccessibility of music relative to literature?
    The little time needed to understand is related to my point about education levels ('education' being both traditional education, and self-education). You can become familiar with the oeuvres of the musical greats much quicker than you can with the literary ones. Because of this, people are much more likely to form hard, contentious, intuitive, visceral opinions, because music does not have the intellectual and cerebral qualities of spending hours over a written text.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    I think you're misunderstanding my appropriation of the word from the article. They claim that there is the possibility one day that every piece of music can be explained in terms of "universal nerves", but I said that methodologically impossible because the same piece of music evokes wildly different reactions.
    Yes, I'm misunderstanding your misappropriation. But here's the 'rub': why do you think that a single piece of music evokes wildly different reactions in different people? Is it because we have 'souls' that inform our aesthetic values? Is it because we have a ghost in the machine controlling our free-will? No, it's because of brain structure, it's because of pre-natal environment, it's because of childhood exposure, it's because of cultural exposure, it's because of peer groups, it's because of a complex array of environmental factors, all of which will one day be explicable in empirical terms. A Chinese man assesses Bach differently to you not because he has some mysterious ethereal quality within him that prevents him from hearing it the same way, but because he is a product of a different culture, with different understandings. In other words, place any other person on this planet in an identical life-history timeline to you, and they would have near-identical reactions to the same music, the variation being accounted for in individual physiological variation.

    Once again, you fail to offer a replacement. You say science can't do this, or this, or this - well what is doing it then?!

    ------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Dodecaplex View Post
    The dogmas of empiricism are still alive and doing well. Quine be damned.
    Sometimes, the intentions behind comments like these are unclear, because I think I understand you fairly well, and they don't sit right with my idea of your worldview. It seems to me that you hold a remarkable set of cognitive dissonances, and you perhaps rely too much on using philosophy as a way to rebel against prevailing human endeavours and opinions.
    Last edited by Polednice; Feb-19-2012 at 03:11.

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    You answer yourself on at least one point.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    3. Why sin't YouTube view count indicative of popularity? There are exceptional cases, but isn't it the case that higher view counts = great universality/popularity?
    --->

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    1. The audience is self-selecting.
    2. Most people have never heard of it.
    3. The self-selecting nature of people who would find this piece and listen to it on YouTube means that its universal acclaim on the comments is as indicative that obesity is attractive in women in a forum devoted to fatty chasers.

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    I only saw your second post when I responded, so some of the things I raised in my last post have already been countered by you (in all instances with: "it's not my job to think of that"). It's clear that this will go nowhere new, so I'll leave my comments as they stand. The only thing I will say is that it's very misleading and disingenuous to try to sully the value of modern scientific consensus with criticism of Ptolemaic astronomy given that the scientific method on which we base our current scientific thought has only been around since the time of Galileo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    Sometimes, the intentions behind comments like these are unclear, because I think I understand you fairly well...
    You don't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    ... and you perhaps rely too much on using philosophy as a way to rebel against prevailing human endeavours and opinions.
    I don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dodecaplex View Post
    I don't.
    Hmmmmmmmm.

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    You still misunderstand it, and anyone who makes that analogy misunderstands it too (note that no scientist would make that analogy, because they actually know what the term means!). I'm not quite sure what's difficult to grasp about what I said earlier. English, French, Russian etc. are not universals because they don't exist everywhere. However, they all share grammatical and syntactical structures - the units of language that they are built on. Therefore, it is the underlying grammar that is universal, not the emergent language. We're not talking about things that people can learn, we're talking about things that are coded inside the brain from Day 1. One of them is a universal grammar, another is a set of musical parameters.

    The search for a universal grammar presupposes that there is a universal grammar, but hitherto none have been found. Of course there will be commonalities, since relations stop nowhere, but what makes no commonalities the essential, paramount aspect of language? All human beings eat and sleep, but we can't derive what's paramount about human beings or particular human beings by those facts. It presupposes there there is something built into the brain, and all study is confined within that presupposition since anything that isn't universal is discarded as irrelevant.

    It is true that when people say "music is a universal language", they often mean something that is not quite true. It is normally intended that because music doesn't carry information, it can be understood and appreciated by anyone from any culture. Well, that's not strictly true - there are learning barriers, as evidenced by the point about Western listeners understanding Gamelan and vice-versa, they are just more subtle and more easily overcome. It is only the things that we do not have to learn that count as universals, and it is not a piece of music or a musical system that will be a universal, but an underlying neurological capacity for understanding and appreciating pitch (for example).
    By point is that music is less universal than language; all Americans without seriously cognitive deficiencies can learn English, but most will never appreciate Brahms to the minimum degree.

    Music transcends geography and language insofar as people who speak different languages and come from different cultures can appreciate the same word-less music, but that doesn't make it universal.

    In relation to language, which is what you quoted me on, every sane linguist on this planet in the last few decades will tell you that there are underlying patterns to all languages. It's an established fact, and you can read any number of introductory books on the subject to find out more about it. You, like other laymen, may not see the similarities between English, Russian, Afrikaans and even American Sign Language, but they do exist, and we even know the regions of the brain in which they function.

    And any sane professor of philosophy in 1920 in the Anglo-phone world that Nietzsche didn't have anything important to say. This presupposes the authority and veracity of present academic linguistic research. Of course you could say, "who are you to say that the linguists are wrong?" and I will reply "who are you to say that they're right? Because they hold tenure at esteemed institutions?" But the same people who held these positions before have had their asses handed to them by the next generation.

    It is beyond any doubt whatsoever that the brain comes into the world with predispositions to certain kinds of linguistic structures; it would just mean that what we consider as universals would have to narrow.
    A dog, a cat, also eats and drinks. Again, there's no reason why the universal aspects are paramount. If Chomsky's views are disproven that means that certain aspects of language which are the most paramount are not universal and thus while the brain does come into the world with certain predispositions it doesn't mean perforce that those predispositions determine everything or everything that is important and that all we need to know can be found by looking into what's universal.

    Again, I have to ask you, if you're trying to suggest that universals don't exist, then explain how language exists at all. The only other explanation that has been proposed is the one of the blank slate - that a mind is utterly bare, and can be shaped in any way by any thing. That has been thoroughly debunked, demonstrating that children are born with innate capabilities, and these capabilities affect emergent culture.

    Science isn't a competition for the best alternative, since often times it takes thousands of years for the right theory to come into being; for example, Ptloemaic astronomy provided the best explanation for the movement of the heavens, and with the help of epi-cycles it was pragmatically also the best to use. There's no reason why I have to provide a counter explanation and no reason why the absence of a counter explanation justifies a faulty explanation. I only have to point out that the current theories don't meet the rigorous standards the true science must meet and have historically met.

    You presuppose that language must necessarily "exist" and could be pinned down and examined like an object; you are making a philosophical error, because you suppose that a metaphysical ontology.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1IScOonGMQ

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/derrida/#SH2a

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    The search for a universal grammar presupposes that there is a universal grammar, but hitherto none have been found. Of course there will be commonalities, since relations stop nowhere, but what makes no commonalities the essential, paramount aspect of language? All human beings eat and sleep, but we can't derive what's paramount about human beings or particular human beings by those facts. It presupposes there there is something built into the brain, and all study is confined within that presupposition since anything that isn't universal is discarded as irrelevant.
    What do you mean no universal grammars have been found? Yes, there are no universal complex structures like subject + verb + object with specific inflections, but all languages appear to be recursive, and have various fundamental syntactic features.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    By point is that music is less universal than language; all Americans without seriously cognitive deficiencies can learn English, but most will never appreciate Brahms to the minimum degree.
    This is a very bad example. You could compare all Americans without serious cognitive deficiencies learning English and learning to listen to or sing any variety of music, or you could compare some Americans appreciating the works of Dickens with some Americans appreciating Brahms, but you can't cross those categories.

    My most general point in response would be that you are underestimating the advances of the field. There are no grand suppositions going on in modern linguistics, and, unlike the sciences and linguistics of the past, current established knowledge is far less likely to be overturned because it has not arisen out of armchair philosophy, it has arisen out of proper scientific research. Although I have pointed to it, the chief evidence that certain language features are universal is not that we can enumerate the features in all known languages, it is because of linguistic neuroscience - we know of brain areas and brain structures that specifically deal with language processing and nothing else. This necessitates that humans are born with certain linguistic capabilities while cats and dogs are not. It is beyond doubt that there are universals, just as it is universal that the pituitary regulates certain hormones. The hard task is finding what the universals are; no longer whether they are.

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    I didn't say that was the most important, I just said that the evidence is most compelling there. If you compare the U.S. and the UK, your basis for asserting a universal is going to be slim because of the cross-cultural influence. As for your Wittgenstein example, you again demonstrate that you don't really understand what is meant by a universal. Wittgenstein's contention is in fact in favour of the idea of universals. The analogy here is that the individual games are to English, French and Russian, as the common rules, intents and 'family resemblances' are to grammar and syntax. This second tier is the level of the universal. You keep making the error of assuming that the universal is at the level of the complex, emergent cultural feature - it's not. The universals are at the level of the unconscious, pre-cultural predispositions. If you drew a ven diagram of everything all those games have in common, it is where every circle intersects (one example, with games, being the spirit of competition) that would signify the universals.


    Let me take this out in bold.

    If you drew a ven diagram of everything all those games have in common, it is where every circle intersects

    This is exactly what family resemblance is NOT.

    Wittgenstein said

    For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all,

    http://books.google.com/books?id=wm6...all%22&f=false

    Well, I'm afraid whatever sense you're using is unhelpful, and, having followed Jonah Lehrer for some time, I know he is not using "universal" in the colloquial sense. You're just being taken along by the misapprehending masses. This is evident from the fact that two out of the three quotations you used after the above statement were NOT from Lehrer. Lehrer does not use the phrase "universal language", and he would not agree with the poster who says that music is "universally understood". You can't attempt to interpret Lehrer's article by relying on the comments of people you don't know.

    I'm not referring to Lehrer's use of "universal" - Lehrer is quite modest and uses his language carefully, but of the person who 1. quoted and 2. his commentators.

    I'm critiquing the notion of universal as being used by the masses, that's part of it, yes.

    This argument is confounded by the fact that you're using an extremely unhelpful metaphor. You are trying to equate accessibility with the ability to communicate thoughts in language. The fact that you cannot express the nature of music in words has no bearing on this discussion whatsoever. It's utterly irrelevant. This is about the neuroscience of music - we're considering this at the level of the brain, NOT conscious discussion. What is meant, at the level of the brain, is that you take people from all across the world and expose them to Bach and their minds will be much more collectively capable of understanding the music than if you took people from all across the world and handed them a book of Shakespeare. That's obvious, it's intuitive, it's common sense.

    This is patently false. If you give me 10,000 toddlers at random from across the world and let me raise them with the English tongue and have them all listen to Bach from an early age, the disputes on this forum would indicate that in the last they could agree on what Romeo and Juliet means to a degree far greater than they could agree on what a Bach fugue means or whether Bach is even worth listening to. You mistake what I mean when I say universal, I'm using it in a different sense than you're using it; you assume it's universality in the present, while I mean potential universality.

    My argument is that many people who are raised on classical music and come from a musical culture still cannot "get", say, Wagner, at all, but anyone with a competent grasp of English can read Romeo and Juliet and get a sense of what it's "about", even if they don't appreciate it, so while music can transcend language and geographical barriers, music has more intrinsic barriers that cannot be crossed, and is thus less universal than language.


    The little time needed to understand is related to my point about education levels ('education' being both traditional education, and self-education). You can become familiar with the oeuvres of the musical greats much quicker than you can with the literary ones. Because of this, people are much more likely to form hard, contentious, intuitive, visceral opinions, because music does not have the intellectual and cerebral qualities of spending hours over a written text.
    But disagreements don't cool when people become more experienced, they rise in fact. Contempt becomes more acute with the rise in knowledge and experience.

    http://medicine-opera.com/2009/10/anything-but-wagner/
    http://www.soundsandfury.com/soundsa...-response.html

    All this shows that music is less universal than language.

    But here's the 'rub': why do you think that a single piece of music evokes wildly different reactions in different people?

    I honestly don't know, and I have examined all hitherto theories and found them unsatisfactory. There's no reason why I have to proffer up an explanation or that I must have "an answer".

    Suppose we have a black un-transparent box, steel and impenetrable, a thousand pounds, 100 meter cubed, and you make up some theory about what's in it that sounds better than any other theory; the black box is of a certain size, of a certain weight, and you make conjectures and theories about the object in the box that doesn't contradict the size of the box or the weight of the box. That doesn't mean that just because I haven't come up with a better explanation for what's in the box means that your theory is true, and if there is a single part of your "theory" that doesn't "fit" the facts we know about the black box your theory is false even if I don't come up with an alternate theory of what's inside the box.


    Is it because we have 'souls' that inform our aesthetic values? Is it because we have a ghost in the machine controlling our free-will?

    "Souls" and "ghost in the machine" doesn't explain the divergence in taste either. Again, "souls" don't "explain" anything.

    No, it's because of brain structure, it's because of pre-natal environment, it's because of childhood exposure, it's because of cultural exposure, it's because of peer groups, it's because of a complex array of environmental factors, all of which will one day be explicable in empirical terms.

    That's a materialist presupposition; you have no evidence that proves that those things are all that there is.

    all of which will one day be explicable in empirical terms.


    Again you have no way of knowing this, this is a philosophical presupposition and not an empirical conclusion.

    A Chinese man assesses Bach differently to you not because he has some mysterious ethereal quality within him that prevents him from hearing it the same way, but because he is a product of a different culture, with different understandings.
    People brought up in the same home, born of the same mother, assess the same music differently, so it's false to attribute all differences in assessment to geography and culture difference.

    In other words, place any other person on this planet in an identical life-history timeline to you, and they would have near-identical reactions to the same music, the variation being accounted for in individual physiological variation.
    Except that this is empirically false. People who go to the same school and the same workplace, speak the same language and are of the same race have wildly diverging taste in music and understand music differently.


    Once again, you fail to offer a replacement. You say science can't do this, or this, or this - well what is doing it then?!


    Again, there's no reason why I have to offer a replacement; the question at hand is that "what is the best theory" but "what is the true theory".
    Last edited by brianwalker; Apr-14-2012 at 00:01.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    What do you mean no universal grammars have been found? Yes, there are no universal complex structures like subject + verb + object with specific inflections, but all languages appear to be recursive, and have various fundamental syntactic features.
    1. We have found a language that is not recursive - see the New Yorker article.
    2. If you find everything in common and then say that define those commonalites as universal then you can find universals among anything; you can say that cats and dogs are the same because they are mammals and all mammals share trait X. If you define language as what is common to all languages then you assumption presupposes that your end.

    This is a very bad example. You could compare all Americans without serious cognitive deficiencies learning English and learning to listen to or sing any variety of music, or you could compare some Americans appreciating the works of Dickens with some Americans appreciating Brahms, but you can't cross those categories.

    I didn't cross categories, I'm comparing language and music, not literature and music; see: 10,000 children example.

    My most general point in response would be that you are underestimating the advances of the field.
    I have not because I have not given an estimation of the advances in the field, I have merely stated what the field in its current direction can and cannot do.

    There are no grand suppositions going on in modern linguistics, and, unlike the sciences and linguistics of the past, current established knowledge is far less likely to be overturned because it has not arisen out of armchair philosophy, it has arisen out of proper scientific research.

    Everything rests within the "proper".

    Although I have pointed to it, the chief evidence that certain language features are universal is not that we can enumerate the features in all known languages, it is because of linguistic neuroscience - we know of brain areas and brain structures that specifically deal with language processing and nothing else.
    Again, what does that say about language? That says something about biology, but if we want to study what music is we study music and not the section of the brain that processes music; we can't derive milk from the human stomach.

    This necessitates that humans are born with certain linguistic capabilities while cats and dogs are not. It is beyond doubt that there are universals, just as it is universal that the pituitary regulates certain hormones. The hard task is finding what the universals are; no longer whether they are.
    And the field presupposes that language is an object that can be studies in the way that physicists study atoms. Yes, it makes "advances", but it's a mistake to think that these advances mean that the ultimate goal can be achieved or that the present advancements are all there is to know.

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    And this is where my part in this grand play ends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    << My general reaction to the piece: yes, of course music is explicable in wholly scientific terms, and in terms of brain function. Everything about humankind is explicable in terms of brain function, because that's what we are, that's what consciousness is: an expression of our brains and bodies in relation to our environments
    Again, this is a philosophical conclusion, and not a scientific or empirical one. [I know you're quoting Poledice].

    Obviously, some people might suggest that we are something else, something 'more'. Well, as witnessed by the airy-fairy, fanciful and fantastical comments in reply to the piece, no one has a shred of evidence to the contrary - it's just deceptive human intuition that cannot be substantiated. Don't tell me that music isn't about neuroscience until you've got some data to the contrary. Neuroscience is far, far, far from explaining music completely, but it's already done more than any spiritualist theory. >>

    (had to quote something)

    Hey Poley, That is a focused, intelligently argued post. I am not surprised, but I am delighted.


    Again, I didn't say that spiritualism has "explained" anything, or that it competed with science at all, but that the current research cannot meet its own goals.

    If you posit that all of human behavior is explicable in terms of diet you will find lots of evidence, correlations, etc, findings that link diet to various human behavior, but if you suppose and limit your research to diet only then you'll of course find "evidence" that supports that what you have for breakfast "determines" your behavior, but that fact that correlations exist is no proof that that's all there is.

    Neuropsychology presupposes its own success, and that presupposition rests on philosophical grounds, and is in no way the result of research. It's as scientific as phrenology.

    http://www.sentimentaltoday.net/CUP/...s.Jun.2006.pdf

    An agent, for example (my example, not Hegel’s), may find himself
    performing a set of multifarious individual actions. Becoming conscious
    of the character of these, he becomes aware that his over-all conduct is
    jealous, let us say, or cowardly. But now he is able to place, indeed cannot
    but place, his conduct qua jealous or qua cowardly in relation to what
    Hegel calls “the given circumstances, situations, habits, customs, religion,
    and so forth,” i.e., in relation to the relevant norms and responses of
    his culture. But to do this is to provide himself with reasons, perhaps
    decisive reasons, for altering his conduct in the light of those norms and
    responses and of his own goals. It is of the nature of the character traits
    of a rational agent that they are never simply fixed and determinate, but
    that for the agent to discover what they are in relation to his unity as a
    self-conscious agent – that is, what they are in his personal and social
    context – is to open up to the agent the possibility of exchanging what he
    is for what he is not.
    Moreover, the agent who does not change his traits may change their
    manifestations. Indeed, for him to become conscious that he manifests
    certain traits and so appears in a certain light, is to invite him to do just
    this. The relation of external appearance, including facial appearance, to
    character is such that the discovery that any external appearance is taken to
    be a sign of a certain type of character is a discovery that an agent may then
    exploit to conceal his character. Hence, another saying of Lichtenberg, in
    Uber Physiognomik, which Hegel also quotes: “Suppose the physiognomist
    ever did have a man in his grasp; it would merely require a courageous
    resolution on the man’s part to make himself again incomprehensible for
    centuries.”


    What would the corresponding theses about dispositions be? Let us consider points from two of Hegel’s examples – those of the murderer and of the poet. A given murderer, for instance, commits his crime because he fears his own humiliation by losing his beloved. If we are to look at the traits and other qualities manifested in his action, they do not include a disposition to commit murder, but such things perhaps as a general intolerance of suffering, a disposition to avoid specific kinds of humiliation, his love for the young woman, and so on. The same dispositions might explain to precisely the same extent the same person’s outbidding others in giving to a deserving cause in order to impress the same young woman. But just this fact puts in question the use of the word “explain.” Hegel makes this point in relation to phrenology: “And again his murderous propensity can be referred to any bump or hollow, and this in turn to any mental quality; for the murderer is not the abstraction of a murderer . . .”

    It concerns the question: if history is not a matter of general laws and of
    theories, in what sense does it give us understanding at all? The Hegelian
    reply is that the self-knowledge of a self-conscious rational agent has
    always to be cast in a historical form. The past is present in the self
    in so many and so important ways that, lacking historical knowledge,
    our self-knowledge will be fatally limited. Moreover, this type of selfknowledge could never be yielded by theoretical sciences that aspire to explain behavior in terms of physiological structures and processes. It is in
    fact just because our history constitutes us as what we are to so great an
    extent, that any explanation that omits reference to that history, as did
    and do the explanations of phrenology and neurophysiology, may explain
    the aptitudes and conditions of the human body, but not those of the
    human spirit.


    Again, I'm not ruling out that neuropsychology cannot explain music, but that under its current sphere of research and with its current vocabulary regardless of the empirical correlations they can explain very little, and that it amounts really to sociology and not neuroscience at all, for all the "antinomies" given in the OP that cannot be explained in terms of any neuroscientific terms.

    My objections to the neuropsychology of music are empirical ones. Your justification for its success for philosophical ones. In this instance I am decidedly the more scientific one, for I did not reject neurospychology tout court, but surveyed it and concluded that it cannot meet its own standards, the standards necessary for it to prove the conclusions, any conclusions, that it seeks.
    Last edited by brianwalker; Apr-14-2012 at 00:26.

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    If all you want to do is state very verbosely that current scientific theories do not explain everything, you might find that everyone already knows that...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    If all you want to do is state very verbosely that current scientific theories do not explain everything, you might find that everyone already knows that...
    What I'm saying is not equal to the generic "science can't explain everything", but that the current neuropsychology doesn't explain why we appreciate music at all and is nothing more than sociology, and that they arrive at "truths" and "Findings" that could've been arrived at through thoroughly unscientific means and that these "findings" in no way validate that there are universal traits in music that corresponds to certain neurological "states" and that music has quality x, y, and z and can be explained biologically.

    Chemistry doesn't "explain everything", but it explains what it deigns to explain. Our current "scientific" analysis of music fails on its OWN terms.

    Everyone knows that science can't explain everything, my point is that neuroscience cannot explain music at all and that it fails to achieve and if it remains on its current course it will never achieve its goal.

    The rub is that it bites off more than it can chew.
    Last edited by brianwalker; Apr-14-2012 at 00:32.

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    I think you're accusing the neuroscientific community of making claims that it doesn't actually make.

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    All the math and physics applied to study of how the bumblebee flies have, to date, only determined:
    1.) the creature cannot fly
    2.) if it could fly, it could only fly backwards.

    I'm waiting for the fuzzy logic now being sought in hardware / software computing to catch on with the Science and literary logic folk, since that is what is really needed to get anywhere near a grip on what music is and how it works.

    The math / science crowd truly believe EVERYTHING can be reduced and explained using the language and principles of those disciplines, and therefore will forever be 'outside' of art until they realize their disciplines will have to also come up with revolutionary maths and scientific principles to 'catch up' to what music is, how it is made, and the impulses which make us make, consume and respond to it.

    A friend of mine put on a CD of a Messiaen piece for his four year-old niece to listen to. She said, "It sounds like BIRDS."

    Regretting not a whit my eternal shallowness, but reading along in this sort of 'dense' textured treatise and stumbling across the word 'song' where piece was surely intended had me discount the entire body of the text by about 70%.

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