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Posts Tagged ‘heidegger’

Music and Metaphysics

In academia, philosophy on July 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Philosophers have such a high regard for music that even Arthur Schopenhauer, supreme pessimist of the West, ascribes to music the being of the Will. Friedrich Nietzsche, in his first important work entitled The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, interprets this by saying that music is never just an expression — for that would reduce it into an appearance or phenomenon. For him, music is the thing-itself.

Metaphysics is the quest for this irreducible there-ness of entities. The simplest way to understand it is imagining a tree in the middle of the forest, and imagining you are not there — what remains in the forest, while one is absent, is the thing-itself unmediated by consciousness and perception. Any metaphysics is concerned about the tension between appearance (or mere “physics”) and this fabled thing-itself.

Professor David Jonathan Bayot’s 2007 Professioral Chair Lecture talked about music and ontology (a branch of metaphysics) in The Alter Egos of Music, Real Presences, or Being inside a Ripe Green Grape: A Rhapsody on a Theme of Pedagogic Interfaces. The article can be accessed on IDEYA, a journal of humanities published biannually by De La Salle University. The following excerpt develops the arguments of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche using the ideas of Heidegger and Steiner.

What is music, then? What could it be? Steiner, with Heidegger’s Sorge / care within the givenness of Being as Being-towards-Death, declares that “music would stand as the alpha and omega of Sein, of being itself.” Steiner’s allusion to Heidegger’s distinction of Sein as Being “the ‘thereness’ or ‘being of’ an entity, in contrast to Seinde as being that is there as an entity” is not a mere glib to skirt the subject of music out of rational sight. The allusion to such metaphysics of distinction enables Steiner to claim for music an ontic plane of existence that “demonstrates . . . the reality of a presence, of a factual ‘thereness’ which defies either analytic or empirical circumscription,” while, at the same time, an ontological level of existence that opens itself up to “the ‘thereness’ of what lies beyond it.” The ‘thereness’ beyond circumscription has the obstinate texture of Schopenhauer’s ‘will-to-live’ and the invincible aura and aural ‘lightness’ pointing to the ontology of transcendence. And to characterize to one that irreducible ‘thereness’ of music is, for me, to extend an invitation for one to traverse the inscape of a ripe green grape while one dwells on the ‘isness’ of that Being. To put Steiner’s thought in another set of expression, one can say that music, for him, is a phenomenon while, in simultaneity, a phenomenology. In Steiner’s words, in music, “there is a there there.”

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In academia, philosophy on June 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The day I attempted to write in the esoteric language of Heideggerese, this is what came out:

We will show how the ontological structure of every Lasallian student, denoted as ‘Being-in-DLSU’, discloses itself in that mode of Being that is ontically and proximally closest to Dasein-as-student — its average everdayness, and by using the ‘midterm week’ as a temporal horizon of the readiness-to-hand of the World-as-DLSU.

By denoting DLSU-during-midterm-week as ready-to-hand, we mean that the entities in our dealings (which thrust aside the circumspective character of Dasein) do not show themselves proximally as they are for themselves — we deal with entities-in-DLSU not in ontological terms, but in the mode of concern (e.g. we do not encounter DLSU as a building with white walls, but a place to take our examinations). Hence, my present preoccupation with midterm examinations in Development Economics, Law on Partnership and Corporations, and Quantitative Techniques in Business and Economics, as one having an ontic character, often stands in the way of looking at the structure of Being which these examinations possess.

Now, the lessons in my books, in their equipmentality and readiness-to-hand, suddenly bring to the fore their presence-at-hand in dealings cut to their own measure. Such dealings include the activity of reading them in Starbucks and finding out that I cannot understand the concepts. This incapability to understand disrupts my concernful absoprtion with my equipment (pages, text, graphs, pens). I then find myself along with entities which are in the mode of obtrusiveness — those concepts I failed to comprehend, which I may still understand at some other time, put me in a deficient mode of concern. This allows me to see the ‘whole workshop’ of studying, to which the equipmentality of my books and other instruments of studying belongs. It is then that the World-as-DLSU announces itself and my Being-in-DLSU is brought to the fore.

The character of insideness of Being in ‘Being-in-DLSU’  is not defined as a property of space. Rather, it refers to the formal existential expression that I am always already in a relation with my equipment which are made meaningful in the context of the totality of DLSU-as-World. This relation gives rise to dealings which either conceal or disclose the Being of entities, and in that play of concealment and disclosure, the world announces itself.