Sacred dance, festival

In the background, others prepare while she performs. The drummer can be seen in the back left.

Back to basics with music – buy a “stereo” stereo

I believe we have forgotten the fundamentals of music.

Sound is three-dimensional, and embodied. We have not one but two ears for a reason. Sure, stereo headphones will produce stereo but not three-dimensional sound. The stereophonic sound remains the same even if you move your head to face any direction. Not so with live performances or speakers spaced apart.

While it can be argued that an all-in-one unit player/speaker is located in a space it does not produce stereophonic sound very well. Firstly, the speakers are too close together. Whatever stereo sound you have it may as well be a single speaker. Secondly, today’s digital streaming music is less detailed and dynamic than the original recordings. The combination of these make for a flat and unenjoyable music experience.

It is a mistake to think playing music loud will make it more dynamic or detailed. If the data is missing detail (and therefore dynamic) no matter how good your equipment is, it will output only what it is input into it.

This means there are at least four factors which will determine how good the music will sound. These are 1) the recording equipment; 2) the amount of data preserved; 3) the processing unit or amp; and 4) the speakers.

I have a recording of Rachmaninoff playing his own Piano Concerto No. 2 but because it was recorded in the early 20th century the amount of detail is low. Similarly, the standard digitally streamed music is of a lower sample rate as well as bitrate. Both of these impact on what can be reproduced. Today while I have a decent stereo in the form of the Kenwood K-515 it still produces, in the eyes of an audiophile, well under the kind of sound that can be considered optimal or perfect. But then again, I am not spending thousands but hundreds of dollars here. For the price I paid that is good enough for me.

Buying a DSD recording of Norah Jones’s Don’t Know Why and playing that on the stereo made it so wonderful that I must say that it was value for money.

Within the limits of a game of tennis is philosophy

Idealism suggests that there is the mind only. If this being the case then the world (things, space, and time) could and would be known without the senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin). Clearly, to know the world we need the senses and also a capacity for thought – the mind. Berkeley argued for a reason-only position. Again, the same problem can be pointed out against him or her.

Bu the materialist position is not any better. If there is only matter then how do account for knowledge? Obviously, we need the senses and reasoning of sense-experiences. Here, Kant is correct that we need to combine knowledge from the senses with interpretation from reasoning. But the reasoning should lead us to ontological question again of what exists, not only that we have only phenomena (representations) to work with. Ignoring what actually exists is to live a life not fully engaged with the world.

This is why I bring up a game of tennis as example. Tennis players, umpires, spectators all know the qualities and properties of the world and engage in competition, judgement and enjoyment of it. Without this trust of the world we would be forever wondering if the laws of the game would change, or will the ball disappear and reappear elsewhere on the court. And that would not be enjoyable for anyone involved.

The things and qualities of the world have been consistent in my life time. And my lifetime is not a particularly special or different one to any other person’s in any time or place. And if it is different, then, that is the reality, and that this difference must be accounted for. What remains is the thing, the body. What cannot be account for is the mind, soul, or spirit. If it not there to begin with, it wasn’t there then either.

And for this reason I argue the material monist position. What is called, in the least, the mind, soul, and spirit supervenes to the body. In all likelihood the mind, soul, and spirit does not exist, that is, they are illusions.

white paper from the start

a blank slate
or white paper –
our minds are
from the start
like this.

a mind
without sense-experience
will continue to be
a blank slate.
no perception,
conception, or signification
is possible
we have
the initial

Life is not without meaning

Life is without inherent meaning, but is not without meaning. It is not meaningless, as in a waste of time or without value. Rather, we make meaning as individuals and as collectives.

The structure of meaning and existence

There are things. And there are processes of things. The epistemological process of a body-thing is conceptualisation. The communicative/functional process of a body-thing is symbolisation. Let us label these meaning-structure words referent, concept, and symbol respectively.

Picture 1

The above diagram is the standard Ogden/Richard triangle of reference.

But it is possible to have:

  1. a referent with a concept and symbol for it;
  2. a referent with a concept but without a symbol for it;
  3. a referent without a concept or symbol for it;
  4. a concept without a referent or symbol for it, and;
  5. a concept with a symbol for it.

The symbol for a referent-less concept in (5.) is substituted for its referent. And it is here that often our understanding of the world breaks down.

For example, the process of invention usually begins with the conceptualisation something which does not exist (study case: iPhone). Eventually this is given a name and the physical product of the iPhone is manufactured and the referent iPhone is brought into existence. In other cases this creation process may not be possible (study case: Harry Potter). The only way it is brought into being is through the process of literature (writing and publishing a novel). Harry Potter only exists as a character in a novel, and not as a person as such. In this sense Harry Potter remains in (5.) never to become a real thing as in (1.). Only fiction about Harry Potter in the form of physical novels becomes (1.).


Innate ideas

Think about the innate idea of the iPhone. If we take innate ideas on face value, then the innate idea of the iPhone should have existed during Plato’s lifetime (or eternally according to the theory).

If this is true, then why didn’t we have the iPhone then, or even mention of it somewhere? Clearly this is nonsense. Innate ideas do not exist. We only have things as they come into existence and then known when experienced.