Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An Ear for Philosophical Questions

There can be no authentic music where there is no ear for hearing. But let us beware of the unfortunate ambiguity of the word "ear". I do not mean simply to repeat the truism that music presupposes the existence of a particular organ of hearing. The word "ear" in its aesthetic sense means something infinitely more subtle, a certain faculty for appreciating relationships, or perhaps again a certain attitude of consciousness in the presence of what is given for hearing. For a person lacking ear in this sense there is no difference between a noise and a sound, and what we call a melody may seem to be just a succession of noises.

The philosophical attitude is perhaps not all that different from "ear" understood in this way.

Gabriel Marcel, Tragic Wisdom and Beyond, p. 6.

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