The Rock Philosophy

Omnipotence paradox
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These metaphors cannot be paraphrased into literal statements, yet they are indispensable because they describe the way in which we imaginatively engage with music. His strategy is to appeal to the secondary meaning taken by emotion terms when they are used to describe the outward manifestations of emotions. Emotional descriptions of music work in a similar way. There are two main issues related to the emotions aroused by music in listeners.

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The first is the question as to whether instrumental music may arouse emotions at least some emotions and how it may do so. The second is the question as to whether any of these emotions are relevant to the appreciation of music qua music. I start from a sceptical view of emotional arousal defended by Peter Kivy Music Alone ch. While he does not deny that listening to music regularly arouses garden-variety emotions happiness, sadness, and so on , Kivy denies that any emotion of this sort is relevant to the appreciation or understanding of music as music.

Pure music is deprived of the propositional content or extra-musical references necessary to supply a relevant intentional object and belief. So music alone cannot arouse such emotions in us. It is these that, according to Kivy, provide the material necessary to the arousal of happiness, sadness, and the like. It is a short step from here to a sceptical position: if garden-variety emotions are aroused by music because of associated content brought to mind by the listening experience, then it is, properly speaking, that content that does the arousal and not the music.

Moreover, if the emotional arousal in question is prompted by content that is contingently related to the piece that calls it to mind, then the emotions aroused are irrelevant to the appreciation of the piece. They may in fact be of a completely different character to two different listeners who associate different contents with the piece in question.

There is only one sort of emotion that, according to Kivy, is connected to our appreciation of music. Unsurprisingly, this emotion fits the cognitive view of emotions in that it has an intentional object and a corresponding belief. More precisely, this nameless emotion is one that takes the music as an object and, correspondingly, the belief that the piece is beautiful, well-crafted, skilful, and so forth.

Among the properties of the piece that may give rise to such emotional response are also expressive properties. A sad musical work may be beautifully sad, that is, it may express sadness in particularly poignant and well-suited musical means. But this is not to say that the appreciation of such a characteristic is going to arouse sadness in us.

Rather, the emotion aroused in these cases is the very same nameless emotion mentioned earlier, a response that takes the music as an object and is sustained by the belief that the music is skilfully, beautifully, and powerfully expressive. Against the sceptical view, some philosophers hold that arousal of garden-variety emotions is possible without the aid of extra-musical associations.

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This is the position defended by Stephen Davies, who rejects the cognitive theory of emotions. While some emotions may fall neatly in the template described by the cognitive theory, others do not. For instance, we may experience an objectless anxiety or a phobia that lacks the support of any relevant belief.

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According to Robinson, things are quite the opposite, as music is able to induce the emotional states it expresses both before we may realise it expresses them and independently from our capacity to do so. Robinson provides an intriguing and empirically informed account of the contagion process.

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First, music expressive of e may elicit psychological and physiological changes typical of certain moods. Subsequently, the listener may latch onto environmental cues that may supply an intentional object to her emotion. For instance, I may be listening to a happy piece of music, and this may arouse a cheerful mood in me. The mood will convert into a full-blown emotion of happiness when I see something on my desk that reminds me of a friend who is far away but who I will soon get to see.

If the music merely occasions physiological changes and the corresponding objectless mood, and if these need to be supplemented by environmental cues in order to result in the arousal of an emotion, then the object of our emotion is whatever feature of the environment aroused it. In the above example, if the happiness is prompted by seeing the picture on my desk, then it would seem that we are in the presence of a standard emotion of the cognitive sort, one that does not take the music as an object.

Recall that one of the standard objections against the arousal theory questions the willingness of listeners to put themselves in negative emotional states by listening to music expressive of such states. And, as we have seen, various philosophers who reject the arousal theory claim nonetheless that music may in fact arouse in the listener the emotions it expresses.

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I examine two prominent answers to this problem. This falls short of what is required to have a full-blown emotional state, which would require an intentional object and a relevant belief. It is exactly this that makes the musical arousal of emotions a rewarding experience, as the absence of the usual contextual implications for our lives of negative states allows us to relish and explore the phenomenological aspect of these emotions, that is, the feeling component aroused by the music. Davies is drawn to a more modest but perhaps more effective solution. He observes how many human activities that are valuable and sought after possess an intrinsically unpleasant or painful element—think of weight training or running.

Listening to music expressive of negative emotions is one such activity: one of the ways in which we listen to music with understanding is by reacting emotionally to its expressive character, such as when we are made cheerful by happy music or sad by sad music. Because he describes the negative emotional response to sad music as an integral response of our understanding of such music, Davies avoids characterising negative emotional responses as something we endure in order to pursue some goal.

Philosophical reflection on the ontological status of music has tackled three main problems: the fundamental ontological nature of musical works, the possible differences in ontological status of works belonging to different musical traditions, and the issue of what counts as an authentic instance of a piece. The three following sections examine these issues. We know that the Mona Lisa is a canvas in a large room in the Louvre; likewise, we know that the Palazzo Vecchio is a building in Piazza della Signoria in Florence.

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These objects seem relatively easy to locate and classify. Musical works, however, are elusive entities. Fundamental ontology is mainly concerned with the question as to what sort of entity musical works are, that is, to what ontological category they belong. Are works of music collections of particulars, or are they types that are instantiated by various performances?

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The former deals with identity conditions: when are we to consider two works as the same? Is identity of notation sufficient? Should we include historical factors, such as its date of composition? Do composers create works, or do works exist prior to their composition, in which case they are merely discovered? And under what circumstances, if any, would a musical piece cease to exist? Views of musical ontology are normally grouped according to the way in which they answer the categorial question—a practice I follow here.

This view is appealing to those who, like Goodman, intend to avoid commitment to entities other than particulars. However, it runs into rather obvious problems.

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For instance, suppose I write a piece of music for guitar this afternoon. I then perform it three times, but every time my performance contains a wrong note on bar 8, as the passage exceeds my technical abilities. The nominalist view would seem forced to draw the absurd conclusion that the piece itself contains a wrong note, as the composition exists only as the set of my three defective performances.

Alternatively, the nominalist might embrace the equally counterintuitive view that the work in question has never been performed, for all of the available performances are defective and so do not really count as performances of the work. A second, even more serious worry, takes the form of a modal objection. It is arguably contingent for a work of music to have been performed a certain number of times.

But if we construe works of music as sets, a problem arises, for sets necessarily have just the members they do.

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The incapacity of accounting for this modal characteristic of the relation between a work and its performances seems to doom the nominalist project to failure. Kivy has proposed what may be considered the most elegant way to account for the relation between a work and its performances. First, we would consider two pieces identical in their sound structure but composed at different times to be two different pieces.

This intuition is arguably grounded in the different properties we would ascribe to these two pieces the earlier piece may be ground-breaking, the later one scholastic. Jerrold Levinson has suggested his alternative proposal that it is to better accommodate these intuitions. Consider first a non-musical example: the case of the Tarte Tatin. While this type of cake is certainly instantiated by a variety of tokens, it does not serve our intuitions well to hold that this model has always existed in the Platonic realm of eternal forms alongside mathematical entities and the like.

The Tarte Tatin is a repeatable entity that was created at some point in time by someone who specified its ingredients, preparation, and so on. The case of musical works may be ontologically akin to the one just presented. We need to make sense of a musical piece as something that has been specified in its sound structure and performance means by some agent at a certain time. Dodd takes this objection to conflate the psychological notion of creativity with the metaphysical claim that something is created by composers. While the view that composers are creative is arguably correct, this view is simply expressing the idea that composers are engaging in a creative process, not that they are bringing something into existence.