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Subjectivity vs Objectivity

Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 04:14:44 PM
Is music (metal) subjective or objective?  Are good and bad merely relative descriptions that cannot be quantified?  If not, how do we logically or scientifically prove whether a piece of music is good or bad?  If so, then does that mean that all claims about music quality are equally valid?  I've raised this question to others before, and they almost all immediately agree that music is subjective.  But then I challenge them by throwing out a band that is downright awful, and they contradict themselves by saying, "Well yeah, in some cases it is objectively just shit."  When asked to explain the contradiction they merely shy away from real answers with things like, "It's a complex thing that you need to look at case-by-case."

What do you think?

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 07:06:51 PM
What tastes good and what is good are two entirely different things. You could make a mound of lard taste like chocolate ice cream, but that wouldn't make it good food; so it is with anything experiential in life.

Music has multiple functions, and whether its creators are aware of this is irrelevant to whether any particular combination of sounds is functional. In addition to being able to more or less say "This piece of music is fast" with certainty, it is also possible to ascertain, in the absence of bias, whether said piece of music is successful at anything in particular -- inducing a trance, helping someone fall asleep, evoking an atmosphere, producing some physiological effect, creating cognitive associations with analogous physical structures, modes, etc.

Of course, music's ability to be judged for its effectiveness is meaningless in the face of meta-efficacy, which would be the science of deducing whether any particular function is, in fact, "good" for some agent or society. Does the music communicate something relevant to reality -- in the sense of transcending cultural norms, biases, aversions to horror and death, etc. -- or is it simply fun to listen to? If it's fun to listen to, does it also promote (regardless of lyrical content and image) apathy, mediocrity, and/or lowest-common-denominator socialization? These things can be measured just as readily as music's effects on alpha and beta wave states in the brain, or what percentage of the target demographic isn't useless (accounting for ulterior motives for listening and other variables, of course).

To simplify: Music can be demonstrated to be "good" at doing something; that "something," in return, can be demonstrated to be "good" for the reality in which we live, though this latter demonstration is more complex, and easy to overlook. There is some "subjectivity" in to what degree a piece of music is good, but not really in whether it's good at all.

I get that everyone wants to show off how tolerant they are, but really, when something is obviously a ripoff, lazy, or something else in disguise, it should be fairly obvious what to do with it -- that is, unless you're okay with "tolerating" pedophiles, because, hey, it's their opinion that raping children is good. The only difference is that musical memes spread unusually fast, so if you allow a few bad ones to laze around for a bit, they're going to multiply at an astronomical rate in a relatively short amount of time, throwing the ratio of good to bad out of whack and consequently making it harder for you to sift through the turds.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 08:16:45 PM
What tastes good and what is good are two entirely different things. You could make a mound of lard taste like chocolate ice cream, but that doesn't make it good food; so it is with anything experiential in life.

Fair enough.  Makes sense.

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Music has multiple functions, and whether its creators are aware of this is irrelevant to whether any particular combination of sounds is functional. In addition to being able to more or less say "This piece of music is fast" with certainty, it is also possible to ascertain, in the absence of bias, whether said piece of music is successful at anything in particular -- inducing a trance, helping someone fall asleep, evoking an atmosphere, producing some physiological effect, creating cognitive associations with analogous physical structures, modes, etc.

Inducing those physical and mental reactions such as sleeping and trance is difficult to apply universally.  One piece of music may cause an individual to sleep, while another may be put into trance by the same music, while the other may begin dancing to the music.  If we were to do a brain scan of those individuals, we would see very different reactions going on in the brain.  The question is, who's brain sets the standard for what defines a piece of music as sleep-inducing, trance-inducing, dance-inducing, etc.?

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Of course, music's ability to be judged for its effectiveness is meaningless in the face of meta-efficacy, which would be the science of deducing whether any particular function is, in fact, "good" for some agent or society. Does the music communicate something relevant to reality -- in the sense of transcending cultural norms, biases, aversions to horror and death, etc. -- or is it simply fun to listen to? If it's fun to listen to, does it also promote (regardless of lyrical content and image) apathy, mediocrity, and/or lowest-common-denominator socialization? These things can be measured just as readily as music's effects on alpha and beta wave states in the brain, or what percentage of the target demographic isn't useless (accounting for ulterior motives for listening and other variables, of course).

It would seem that if this is true, we would need to agree what the ultimate goal of society is.  A fascist, libertarian, hedonist, Christian fundamentalist, Muslim, anarchist, and modern American liberal would all have very different ideas of what is best for society.  So, it would seem that music becomes subjective in the sense that it depends what you believe in politically/socially/spiritually to determine what is good.

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To simplify: Music can be demonstrated to be "good" at doing something; that "something," in return, can be demonstrated to be "good" for the reality in which we live, though this latter demonstration is more complex, and easy to overlook. There is some "subjectivity" in to what degree a piece of music is good, but not really in whether it's good at all.

Well, as said before the music can have different effects on different people, as scientifically verifiable by analyzing the human brain.  Secondly for the next part, once again we would first need to agree what is good for reality, which if you notice, people don't generally do.

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I get that everyone wants to show off how tolerant they are, but really, when something is obviously a ripoff, lazy, or something else in disguise, it should be fairly obvious what to do with it -- that is, unless you're okay with "tolerating" pedophiles, because, hey, it's their opinion that raping children is good. The only difference is that musical memes spread unusually fast, so if you allow a few bad ones to laze around for a bit, they're going to multiply at an astronomical rate in a relatively short amount of time, throwing the ratio of good to bad out of whack and consequently making it harder for you to sift through the turds.

You mention wanting to show off tolerance.  There have been movements in history and still are some which advocate tolerance for the sake fashion, in a similar way to how there are movements which advocate nihilism or even intellectualism simply because it is the social trend in a given group of individuals.  I think it's best if we ignored such people in this conversation as they are irrelevant; only the views of those who sincerely believe their espoused views are relevant in this thread.

You may be surprised how difficult it is to get people to agree on whether a given piece of music is a ripoff or lazy.  Anyway, if it is I must say that it is not obvious what to do with it.  Should it be legally banned?  Should it be simply discouraged?  Should it perhaps only be ignored, given the cold shoulder?  Of course, advocating the first raises the issue of the political views of an individual.  For some, such governmental control over culture would be ethically permissible, while for others not.  Again, we end up with subjectivism.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 09:00:21 PM
One piece of music may cause an individual to sleep, while another may be put into trance by the same music, while the other may begin dancing to the music.

Although true to a fault, you're taking this to an extreme conclusion. Dance music is called dance music for a reason, as is trance music, as is Impressionism, as is "atmospheric black metal."

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If we were to do a brain scan of those individuals, we would see very different reactions going on in the brain.  The question is, who's brain sets the standard for what defines a piece of music as sleep-inducing, trance-inducing, dance-inducing, etc.?

Does it matter to a shaman whether a random member of his tribe is capable of entering the necessary trance to perform the ritual, or does it only matter that he is capable himself? The ultimate issue is whether the music has some relevance to society, not whether that relevance is resultant from everyone's capacity to participate. I don't know the first thing about building bridges, but I'm okay with bridge builders being a part of society, and see their work as "good."

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It would seem that if this is true, we would need to agree what the ultimate goal of society is.  A fascist, libertarian, hedonist, Christian fundamentalist, Muslim, anarchist, and modern American liberal would all have very different ideas of what is best for society.  So, it would seem that music becomes subjective in the sense that it depends what you believe in politically/socially/spiritually to determine what is good.

What's true = what's good

What's really going on, here -- evolution or creation? Using the scientific method gives us a fairly good idea, just as it does for most empirical claims. Logical claims, on the other hand, although just as important, needn't be predicated on the empirical, as in the cases of a priori knowledge, math, et al. This can also include statements like "This is good for society" -- in this case, based on previous experience with the more directly empirical.

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You may be surprised how difficult it is to get people to agree on whether a given piece of music is a ripoff or lazy.  Anyway, if it is I must say that it is not obvious what to do with it.  Should it be legally banned?  Should it be simply discouraged?  Should it perhaps only be ignored, given the cold shoulder?  Of course, advocating the first raises the issue of the political views of an individual.  For some, such governmental control over culture would be ethically permissible, while for others not.  Again, we end up with subjectivism.

I think that consensus among informed, educated, unbiased people free from cultural preconceptions takes precedence over blind enforcement of policy, so I'd be alright with everyone* familiarizing themselves with art prior to a decision being made about what to do with it. In most cases, I'd imagine that simply not supporting it or precluding it from a canon would be adequate. In an ideal scenario, this would be a unanimous decision among the populace as part of some kind of overall selection process, though I don't place nearly as much importance on this process as I do the processes of more critical social issues.

* Only where everyone is qualified; otherwise, this means "everyone who is qualified"

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 09:28:12 PM
One piece of music may cause an individual to sleep, while another may be put into trance by the same music, while the other may begin dancing to the music.

Although true to a fault, you're taking this to an extreme conclusion. Dance music is called dance music for a reason, as is trance music, as is Impressionism, as is "atmospheric black metal."

It's actually not very extreme when you think about it.  A lot of people do not like dance music, and it would irritate them, making them not want to dance at all.  Others would be bored and simply fall asleep.  I guess you could say in the latter two cases that the individuals "don't get" the dance music?  And would that be a fault or a good sign?  I guess that would depend on what role you see dance music playing in society, and if its contributions are noble?

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If we were to do a brain scan of those individuals, we would see very different reactions going on in the brain.  The question is, who's brain sets the standard for what defines a piece of music as sleep-inducing, trance-inducing, dance-inducing, etc.?

Does it matter to a shaman whether a random member of his tribe is capable of entering the necessary trance to perform the ritual, or does it only matter that the he is capable himself? The ultimate issue is whether the music has some relevance to society, not whether that relevance is resultant from everyone's capacity to participate. I don't know the first thing about building bridges, but I'm okay with bridge builders being a part of society, and see their work as "good."

That's putting music on a very personal level, isn't it?  I can listen to shitty music and say, "It does not matter if this gives you nothing but annoyance.  It has a profound effect on me and I will use this enlightenment to contribute to society positively"

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It would seem that if this is true, we would need to agree what the ultimate goal of society is.  A fascist, libertarian, hedonist, Christian fundamentalist, Muslim, anarchist, and modern American liberal would all have very different ideas of what is best for society.  So, it would seem that music becomes subjective in the sense that it depends what you believe in politically/socially/spiritually to determine what is good.

What's true = what's good

What's really going on, here -- evolution or creation? Using the scientific method gives us a fairly good idea, just as it does for most empirical/logical claims -- including "This is good for society."

Sounds like begging the question.  The scientific method gives us very limited insight to the greater philosophical truths.  What is true?  That's what we are trying to figure out.  Science can't prove objectivity in the quality of any art form on a universal scale.

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You may be surprised how difficult it is to get people to agree on whether a given piece of music is a ripoff or lazy.  Anyway, if it is I must say that it is not obvious what to do with it.  Should it be legally banned?  Should it be simply discouraged?  Should it perhaps only be ignored, given the cold shoulder?  Of course, advocating the first raises the issue of the political views of an individual.  For some, such governmental control over culture would be ethically permissible, while for others not.  Again, we end up with subjectivism.

I think that consensus among informed, educated, unbiased people free from cultural preconceptions takes precedence over blind enforcement of policy, so I'd be alright with everyone* familiarizing themselves with art prior to a decision being made about what to do with it. In most cases, I'd imagine that simply not supporting it or precluding it from a canon would be adequate. In an ideal scenario, this would be a unanimous decision among the populace as part of some kind of overall selection process, though I don't place nearly as much importance on this process as I do the processes of more critical social issues.

* Only where everyone is qualified; otherwise, this means "everyone who is qualified"

Sounds like a fantasy.  The idea of a society with unbiased people is unrealistic, although it is a nice idea.  Also, aiming for music to be unbiased and reach a goal for society would result in more utilitarianism than creativity, which may or may not be a problem depending on what you want out of art.

There is also the question of why music should benefit society.  Some might believe that music should not benefit society, or perhaps even harm society.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 10:10:07 PM
It's actually not very extreme when you think about it.  A lot of people do not like dance music, and it would irritate them, making them not want to dance at all.  Others would be bored and simply fall asleep.  I guess you could say in the latter two cases that the individuals "don't get" the dance music?  And would that be a fault or a good sign?  I guess that would depend on what role you see dance music playing in society, and if its contributions are noble?

I think it's entirely possible that, if you change the values of society to reflect the way that you want to live, just about any participant who'd otherwise harbor an aversion to some type of music which upholds those values will consequently enjoy it -- if it accomplishes what it attempts to accomplish. In other words, does a society value apathy, self-indulgence, and cheap entertainment? Obviously, music reflecting these values will be enjoyable to members of the society. If you were a cultural relativist, you could also state that any music which reinforces the values of the society is "good" for it.

But that would be silly. Don't you think so? The next step, then, would be to determine what values are best for cultures overall, which goes beyond the scope of this discussion.

If you can tell that a piece of art reflects your values -- and reflects them well -- you'll enjoy it to some degree. If you don't think of music as art or some reflection of value, then you'll instead frame it in this "subjective/objective" binary. As stated above, whether a society's values are themselves "good" is a separate issue, though also one with a firm basis in reality.

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That's putting music on a very personal level, isn't it?  I can listen to shitty music and say, "It does not matter if this gives you nothing but annoyance.  It has a profound effect on me and I will use this enlightenment to contribute to society positively"

Can you provide an example of where this would actually occur in life? Does P antera express some sense of order or beauty, for example? Who has turned toward contributing to society because of such music?

It also wouldn't be fair of the person in your example to place himself as an individual so far before his peers by blatantly ignoring their demands to not be annoyed. Not sure why that part was relevant, in any case.

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Sounds like begging the question.  The scientific method gives us very limited insight to the greater philosophical truths.  What is true?  That's what we are trying to figure out.  Science can't prove objectivity in the quality of any art form on a universal scale.

"Because we're not gods, we can never absolutely prove the quality of a piece of music."

"Because we're not gods, we can never absolutely prove that 2+2=4."

Why aren't you bringing this extremely critical issue up at elementary schools? It sounds important! After all, until everyone realizes it, we'll all think that we're occasionally right about stuff, which would be bad for equality -- especially equality of ideas.

To be fair, I agree that empirical/logical claims are potentially limited, but that does not mean that they do not have their place.

Also, prove your assertion (with or without science) that science cannot prove things objectively. What tools will you use for this exercise?

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Sounds like a fantasy.  The idea of a society with unbiased people is unrealistic, although it is a nice idea.

Probably. And obviously, utopianism is myopic -- but that doesn't mean that we can't be productive contributors to society. The fewer biases and exemplars of crowdism, the better.

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Also, aiming for music to be unbiased and reach a goal for society would result in more utilitarianism than creativity, which may or may not be a problem depending on what you want out of art.

Not necessarily. Analysis and creation are separate acts with different rules. I don't necessarily see a problem with crap being generated -- just with it being generated aimlessly, without much intent, and subsequently tolerated.

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There is also the question of why music should benefit society.  Some might believe that music should not benefit society, or perhaps even harm society.

And some might argue that the universe exists inside of a snow globe atop the desk of a god. So what?

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 15, 2011, 11:22:02 PM
Agreed with the first Dedrater post for the most part. However, fuck all the "subjective vs. objective" hurr durr arguments.

It should be noted that everything is relative, in the sense that it depends on the particular relation between what is effecting and what is being effected. The effect the music has on the individual (and thus beyond the individual, as per the laws of karma) differs between individuals, so, similarly to any other situation, it is not the music itself but the particular act of listening to it which can be judged as good (you could characterise the music as being good based on this, but you would need to make reference to this fact). Shit is nutritious when you're a fly.

Transcendental metal is good when you're an underground warrior revolting against the modern world. /~\

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 01:36:01 AM
But I'm not an underground warrior revolting against the modern world, and I prefer solely transcendental music.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 05:14:00 AM
Is music (metal) subjective or objective?

Everything is objective:

* It occurs outside of us, in the space in which we and all other objects interact with natural laws in action.
* Results are objective, meaning we cannot change them by subjective willing.
* While history is up for interpretation, the interpretation does not change history, except through the hands of humans.
* Our own minds are the product of objective forces honing us for adaptivity (this is Darwinism).

Is metal objective? Yes: in 500 years, we'll know (a) what the crowd liked and (b) what the best was.

Music is data; music is information. Information can be compared to other information. What is most like the rest, and what is independent from the rest, without becoming random? We judge metal not by how socially acceptable it is, or how good its surface level traits (aesthetics) are, but by the arrangement of notes into phrases. Some music is more coherent than other musics because it has a higher degree of internal order.

Here is how metal/music can be good objectively:

* High internal coherence.
* Relevance to human condition.
* Content, or something it's about, that is non-trivial
* On a scatter diagram, is different than the norm

Most rock music fits into almost overlapping plaes on a scatter diagram. It is very similar, even if written in different keys or starting on different parts of the scale. It consists of a few intervals used in strategic ways, and a variation on a simple song form, to make people like it. But art is more than pandering. Art is communication between an author and an audience through an atmospheric experience; an immersion. Otherwise, they'd write philosophy, which is linear. To deny that this is objective is to slight every artist ever and claim what they're doing is random.

That approach works well if you listen to rock music, because then you don't want to admit that you are basically tuning in to the same crap everyone else is. So you want to pull down that which escapes the norm and replace it with the norm, so you feel content in your own approach. But if you are listening to underground metal, that approach makes no sense, since there's no way your music fits within the normal rubric and consequently, no way it will be respected.

You need to go your own way. And much as kids in a classroom separate by ability, and people in life separate by both specialization and ability, metal has separated from the herd, and that's why it has resisted assimilation for so long.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 03:19:33 PM
It's actually not very extreme when you think about it.  A lot of people do not like dance music, and it would irritate them, making them not want to dance at all.  Others would be bored and simply fall asleep.  I guess you could say in the latter two cases that the individuals "don't get" the dance music?  And would that be a fault or a good sign?  I guess that would depend on what role you see dance music playing in society, and if its contributions are noble?

I think it's entirely possible that, if you change the values of society to reflect the way that you want to live, just about any participant who'd otherwise harbor an aversion to some type of music which upholds those values will consequently enjoy it -- if it accomplishes what it attempts to accomplish. In other words, does a society value apathy, self-indulgence, and cheap entertainment? Obviously, music reflecting these values will be enjoyable to members of the society. If you were a cultural relativist, you could also state that any music which reinforces the values of the society is "good" for it.

But that would be silly. Don't you think so?

I'm not sure I understand why it would be silly.  Wouldn't it be true?  Also, even if society agrees on certain values, individuals will still deviate from the norm.

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The next step, then, would be to determine what values are best for cultures overall, which goes beyond the scope of this discussion.

It does, which implies that musical quality, whether objective or subjective, is so complex that it depends on the conclusions reached from debating politics and philosophy.  Since answers to questions in these fields have eluded us, it sounds like we are far from determining what makes quality music.

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That's putting music on a very personal level, isn't it?  I can listen to shitty music and say, "It does not matter if this gives you nothing but annoyance.  It has a profound effect on me and I will use this enlightenment to contribute to society positively"

Can you provide an example of where this would actually occur in life? Does P antera express some sense of order or beauty, for example? Who has turned toward contributing to society because of such music?

Ehm, I'm sure many individuals after listening to the lyrical message of P.antera have felt more confident, arrogant, cocky, or strong.  Perhaps they embraced violence as a solution to certain social situations.  Whether these primitive contributions are good or bad is subjective, depending on where a person want society and/or his/her life to be.

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It also wouldn't be fair of the person in your example to place himself as an individual so far before his peers by blatantly ignoring their demands to not be annoyed. Not sure why that part was relevant, in any case.

Why?

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Sounds like begging the question.  The scientific method gives us very limited insight to the greater philosophical truths.  What is true?  That's what we are trying to figure out.  Science can't prove objectivity in the quality of any art form on a universal scale.

"Because we're not gods, we can never absolutely prove the quality of a piece of music."

"Because we're not gods, we can never absolutely prove that 2+2=4."

Why aren't you bringing this extremely critical issue up at elementary schools? It sounds important! After all, until everyone realizes it, we'll all think that we're occasionally right about stuff, which would be bad for equality -- especially equality of ideas.

I'm discussing making claims about things with no evidence of being objective as being objective, not math equations.

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Also, prove your assertion (with or without science) that science cannot prove things objectively. What tools will you use for this exercise?

The evidence is against science because it has yet to prove anything or even offer significant evidence that anything like the topic of this discussion is objective.

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Sounds like a fantasy.  The idea of a society with unbiased people is unrealistic, although it is a nice idea.

Probably. And obviously, utopianism is myopic -- but that doesn't mean that we can't be productive contributors to society. The fewer biases and exemplars of crowdism, the better.

Perhaps, but is it relevant if we can't ever reach it or even predict what it would be like?

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There is also the question of why music should benefit society.  Some might believe that music should not benefit society, or perhaps even harm society.

And some might argue that the universe exists inside of a snow globe atop the desk of a god. So what?

The snow globe thing is an objective statement though, whereas musical quality is arguably subjective.  At least, we can say that it is a mainstream belief that music is subjective and this belief has not been disproven or shown strong evidence against.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 04:03:58 PM
Is music (metal) subjective or objective?

Is metal objective? Yes: in 500 years, we'll know (a) what the crowd liked and (b) what the best was.

A prediction which could be right or wrong.

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Music is data; music is information. Information can be compared to other information. What is most like the rest, and what is independent from the rest, without becoming random? We judge metal not by how socially acceptable it is, or how good its surface level traits (aesthetics) are, but by the arrangement of notes into phrases. Some music is more coherent than other musics because it has a higher degree of internal order.

Here is how metal/music can be good objectively:

* High internal coherence.
* Relevance to human condition.
* Content, or something it's about, that is non-trivial
* On a scatter diagram, is different than the norm

Two problems:

1.  Not everyone would agree that those are the criteria that should be applied.
2.  Not everyone would agree which examples of music best manifest those traits.

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That approach works well if you listen to rock music, because then you don't want to admit that you are basically tuning in to the same crap everyone else is. So you want to pull down that which escapes the norm and replace it with the norm, so you feel content in your own approach. But if you are listening to underground metal, that approach makes no sense, since there's no way your music fits within the normal rubric and consequently, no way it will be respected.

What is underground metal?  Mainstream bands like Burzum and Deicide are somehow disqualified from being beyond the definition of crappy rock because they are mainstream?  Why should popularity matter?


By the way, if anyone's wondering, I'm not a subjectivist in practice.  I have firm beliefs that I am willing to impose on others and will stand by.  I'm just intellectually a subjectivist.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 04:31:57 PM
Agreement is not the issue.  Some people know that they've been probed by aliens.  We know that they haven't.  There's an objective reality, and a large number of subjective experiences of that "reality", not all of which coincide, but enough of which coincide on a great many subjects that we can be relatively sure of how objectively "real" the majority of physical things are.

Also, unless you're playing Devil's Advocate with your "Bumzur and Decide are mainstream trololololol" thing: I would say that Extreme Metal, in general, is "underground".  Most of the "normal" people I know, who aren't into Metal at all, are neither aware nor interested in the difference between Goth, Emo, Metal, Punk, and so on, until they want to know my opinion on some godawful band like Bullet for My Valentine or whatever, at which point I'll explain to them that there are vast differences between the different kinds of "heavy" music.  I've met one non-metalhead in a whole year who had heard of Burzum.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 04:44:08 PM
How do we know they haven't had these alien encounters?

Also, if by mainstream he only meant very mainstream, then I guess I understand.  I still think popularity plays little role in suggesting the quality of something.  I think the first 6 Black Sabbath albums are masterpieces despite being way more famous than Bullet for My Valentine.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 05:33:05 PM
How do we know they haven't had these alien encounters?

This seems to be the driving force of your argument.

What's the better choice -- going for what we "know" is right, or going for what is most likely right, based on probability? Some people differ from me in supposing that, when I throw an object into the air, it will come down again. Are our suppositions equal, simply because we're not omnipotent? Does it matter, in the face of needing to make a choice? By living, you are continuously acting.

Even if we were to agree on the "what if"s, that's only the first step; the next step is to make an informed decision, because if you don't, the default will be an uninformed decision. We're both on a plane that's about to crash. You think that what looks like rocks and trees is, in fact, marshmallows, and that we'll have a relatively soft landing. I disagree with this notion, based on past experience, math/logic, etc. Do we just throw our hands up and say, "Well, who knows? All ideas are equal and subjective," or do you acquiesce and help to maneuver the plane to a safer area?

If you claim that music is somehow magically removed from empirical/logical claims of this kind, and is thus somehow a part of some separate reality, then this will have become redundant -- though I imagine that's where you're going with this.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 16, 2011, 05:59:58 PM
How do we know they haven't had these alien encounters?

This seems to be the driving force of your argument.

What's the better choice -- going for what we "know" is right, or going for what is most likely right, based on probability? Some people differ from me in supposing that, when I throw an object into the air, it will come down again. Are our suppositions equal, simply because we're not omnipotent? Does it matter, in the face of needing to make a choice? By living, you are continuously acting.

Even if we were to agree on the "what if"s, that's only the first step; the next step is to make an informed decision, because if you don't, the default will be an uninformed decision. We're both on a plane that's about to crash. You think that what looks like rocks and trees is, in fact, marshmallows, and that we'll have a relatively soft landing. I disagree with this notion, based on past experience, math/logic, etc. Do we just throw our hands up and say, "Well, who knows? All ideas are equal and subjective," or do you acquiesce and help to maneuver the plane to a safer area?

If you claim that music is somehow magically removed from empirical/logical claims of this kind, and is thus somehow a part of some separate reality, then this will have become redundant -- though I imagine that's where you're going with this.

The difference is, when it comes to aliens, we cannot make educated guesses about how technologically advanced they are and what their nature is.  It is already scientifically accepted that extraterrestrial life is a highly probable possibility.  However, we are quite familiar with basic geography, and we know there are no marshmallow valleys.

I'm saying that as of now, no scientific evidence exists to suggest that an ideal society is possible, or even to define what that society is.  Therefore, if music quality is related to how it pushes toward this hypothetical society, there is no objective truth about music quality.