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Subjectivity vs Objectivity

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 19, 2011, 12:34:13 AM
Develop your own ear for what is good.

Ignore everything else. Words have never convinced anyone to disagree with their ear -- and never will.

True, we do not all hear the same things.

This is not because the "same thing" is in fact "many things," but because some ears hear more than others.

The details are there to be heard, some ears just are not attuned to the details.

Developing your ear

Get a quality sound system. These are not expensive. $70 for good heaphones. $150 for a decent stereo.

Make listening a primary activity.

Only music. Only listening. No other sensory distractions. Close your eyes. Sight is a distraction.

No computer up. No car to drive. No dishes to run. No dog to walk.

A good time for this is at night, in bed, before falling asleep.

In this state of darkness and concentration, one hears music most clearly.

$$$$

PROFIT

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 19, 2011, 07:19:50 PM
If there were no objective basis for a subjective experience, we would not have a subjective experience.  Even when you imagine things, there is a real, objective basis to what's going on in your brain and in your mind - things that you have experienced are recombined into new concepts.  However, even these inventions are simply reconfigurations of things which already exist.

How many times have you seen wind?  None.  How many times have you seen the effects of wind?  Many.  Thus, even though we can't observe the "objective quality" of music, could we not observe the effects and attempt to backtrace?  Possibily not, I'm not sure about this method, though it seems feasible to me.  It would be explained partially by the existence of people who like the music that we think of as being "objectively good" (Best Classical, Metal, Electronica, Folk, Ambient, and so on), who spend a lot of time listening to music, as opposed to putting crap on in the background while they dance/drink/work/fuck.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
January 20, 2011, 12:43:54 AM
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Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 06:30:28 AM
There is no way to scientifically measure how "good" music is.

There are no equations in formal logic to prove that a certain song or band has 'X' degree of music quality.

"Quality' and 'goodness' of music are not rigorously or scientifically defined.

Music is not measured like temperature is.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 06:57:47 AM
There is no way to scientifically measure how "good" music is.

There are no equations in formal logic to prove that a certain song or band has 'X' degree of music quality.

"Quality' and 'goodness' of music are not rigorously or scientifically defined.

Music is not measured like temperature is.

And where is your argument backing all these claims up?
No.

Having reviewed the thread, baby Jesus is most definitely weeping at this point.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 07:08:31 AM
There is no way to scientifically measure how "good" music is.

There are no equations in formal logic to prove that a certain song or band has 'X' degree of music quality.

"Quality' and 'goodness' of music are not rigorously or scientifically defined.

Music is not measured like temperature is.

And where is your argument backing all these claims up?
If the scientific community has a formal method (meaning with empirical evidence or mathematical proofs) of measuring the "quality" and "goodness" of music then I am wrong.

The scientific community does not have a formal  method of measuring the "quality" or "goodness" of music.

Therefore I am not wrong.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 12:07:28 PM
The scientific community does not have a formal  method of measuring the "quality" or "goodness" of music.

1.  How do you know this?  Sources, please.

2.  Why does it necessarily have to be the scientific community that must have a "formal method of measuring the 'quality' and 'goodness' of music"?  Surely the music community should be the people to go to, given that music is their field of expertise, and not that of scientists.

3.  If you look around these forums long enough, you'll realise that we do have formal methods for judging the objective quality of music, people just tend to ignore them.

Consider this: what we call "music" is, really, just a collection of data (like pretty much everything else).  Data are unchanging.  More importantly, data are comparable.  Regardless of whether or not we know musical data are comparable, or how we can compare them, they remain objectively different between pieces of music, thus there is objective difference between pieces of music.  "Quality" is a quality of music, and it must be coded into the data that make up the "music" (or sound in general) being heard - failing this, we can establish "quality" by looking at various different types of data, such as the music itself, the method by which the music was heard, details about the listener and his/her state at the time of listening, and so on.  Even if these things are difficult (or even impossible) for humans to measure, they still exist, and are measurable.  I would suggest that, being fundamentally able to understand music, we must fundamentally be able to understand the quality of music, even if we block out such intuitive understanding from time to time.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 07:25:55 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?

This is so true, people will wrap themselves in contradictions trying to answer your question, because they don't realize the question is wrong and they're compelled to defend their own personal views about music.

It's similar to how people get confused about free will, whether or not it exists. I like Karl Popper's quote on this subject, when he says in reference to the thesis of Hume and Schlick that perfect chance is the only altenative to perfect determinism "What we need for understanding rational human behaviour and indeed, animal behaviour is something intermediate in character between perfect chance and perfect determinism -something intermediate between perfect clouds and perfect clocks."

Is music (metal) subjective or objective?

The music itself is obviously objective, it consists of sound waves as translated by the human body into sensory input, or more specifically it consists of etchings onto big round disks or whatever the process is for making a compact disk.

Are good and bad merely relative descriptions that cannot be quantified?

They are relative descriptions, and as such they *must* be quantified in order to be functional and meaningful. This is a big part of the problem, the mythic concepts of "better" and "worse" independent of any specific criteria. It's like how the military dehumanizes the enemy when they teach their soldiers, the mystified, abstracted concepts of "better" and "worse" dehumanize their targets precisely because they have no basis in reality - unless they're quantified. It's sort of like the myth of infinity, how people believe in the divine unrealistically as being literally infinite in all possible ways, when in reality we can prove by mathematics that as soon as you qualify infinity with a specific value it ceases to be infinity, so in truth the divine couldn't be 'infinity' unless it were also non-existent (as soon as it exists it would have a value). However, the divine can certainly be infinite in many ways, emphasis on *ways*, for example it can have unlimited capacity to create--this is totally different from saying every single thing that could possibly be created must come into being.

The word "tree" doesn't have roots or leaves, and similarly the words "better" and "worse" don't pertain to an actual spectrum of betterness and worseness, rather they refer to other things. So a person could be better than another person, at a given (quantified) task. So what if I'm better than you at shooting a gun, maintaining a farm, and tracking animals in the wilderness? What does this *mean*? Well, again, it's important not to get swept away in the mystification of language's symbolic nature--all it means is that if I have to shoot a gun, I would be more likely to do it better than you. The meaning refers to the actions themselves, past, present or future. With a set of X skills, I could realistically accomplish a corresponding set of Y feats, and that's all it means.

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?

What do you mean, "valid"? Do you mean "better" or "worse"? Asking out of nowhere if something is good or bad is a terrible way to begin a line of questioning, it's like saying what is the solution to equation X, where X is specifically undefined - the first step is to define the question.

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."

They accidentally said something true in their excuse, when they said it should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. But it's not so much a matter different cases of music to be critiqued as much as it is a matter of different cases of criteria frameworks to be used in critiquing whatever music. To wit, I can ask if music is good or bad and quantify it by specifying is it good or bad according to my own personal tastes and musical preferences--objectively speaking, how much do I feel I enjoy listening to the music? Or I could ask similar equations: in what ways do I feel the music moves me? How likely do I think I would be to enjoy the music some years in the future, considering how I'm growing and evolving as a person?

Or, I could ask an altogether different question, I can ask if music is good or bad and quantify it by specifying is it good or bad according to the average personal tastes and musical preferences of all people on the planet? Or I could ask similar questions: what types of people prefer what types of music, how does music effect different people in different ways? Etc.

But does it make sense to ask: if nobody listened to the music, then would this person who doesn't exist like the music? How does the music move them? Would they like the music if they listen to it three years from now?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder because it's a response to observation / sensory input, so beauty can't exist any more than a painting can be painted without a painter. Ultimately it's true that we're all human beings, so we do all share some degree of similarity and what's true for one person may conceivably to be true to some extent to other people as well. And to the extent one understands intimately the nature of the human condition, then one can be more accurate in making generalizations about how different people may react or be effected by different sorts of things... but don't expect one's intimate understanding of the human condition to be something easily expressible summarily to others, any more than a philosopher can completely convey in a few paragraphs the exact same ideas they convey in an entire book of text.

Also it's interesting to consider that perhaps all sentient consciousness, by virtue of being sentient, would also necessarily share a certain degree of similarities in how they perceive things like beauty, and in that case to this degree of similarity things like music could in effect be qualified in terms of their beauty, for all intents and purposes.

To conclude, as it applies to my response in this thread, Popper's mention of "perfect clouds" isn't in the sense of the Zen adage that no snowflake can fall in the wrong position, rather it's in the sense of how different sorts of cloud formations would be perceived by humans or sentient consciousness in general. If beauty is a measurement, then it's not referring to a fixed system of measurement where a millimeter is always a millimeter, rather it axiomatically pivots around sentient individuality and patterns therein (astrological archetype if you believe in it, for example).
www.TheMetalDiscourser.com
The universe is naked, attack its corpus, take a real stab at your life and let the blood flow — RIP the sound of the very fabric tearing.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 09:26:51 PM
.
do[/quote]
1. You are asking me to provide sources and evidence for the non-existence of something.  This is not possible since my claim is that such a thing does not exist, I would not be able to find such non-existent material.  Its like an atheist having tofind evidence that there is no metaphysical deity when the non existence of such a thing requires that there bewould be no relavent evidence. It is the christian who must prove the existence of god, not the atheist who must prove his non-existence. Find a scientific system to the contrary and then you will prove me wrong.  It is far easier for you to find the one peice of evidence required to prove me wrong than for me to cite every single scientific finding in order to show that "quality" and "goodness" of music are never empirically measured. 
2. The music community does not have a standard method of evaluation like science does, and the music community does not have empirical repeatable tests for "quality" and it does not have any mathematical equations to prove these claims either.  If they did, then the scientific community would recognize them, or at least be able to run the same experiments and come to the same conclusions. 
The reason science and math need to be the way of "objective" measuring is because they are the only objective systems humans have.  Trying to pose a question on music quality to a group of metalheads is like asking about literature quality in an english class, you will get all sorts of stupid theories and flowery (or metallic?) ideas, and consensus is far from garunteed without forcably removing differing opinions (like by blocking a user from a website).  In a science class when you ask what physics equation can project the trajectory of a missile, their will be definitive equations that work and equations that do not.  Pythagorean theorum will never project a missal trajectory.  in math, 1+1 will never equal 3.  In formal logic "A" will never equal "Not A".  There are indesputable facts that can be drawn from science and math.  I agree with you measuring certain characteristics and differences in music is possible such as dissonance, tempo, volume ect.  But there is no objective thing that exists in the music called "quality" to be measured.  Dissonance is the way two notes vibrate together, tempo is the speed( which can be physically measured), and volume can be measured in decibles.  What type of measurement system measures quality and what (physical)measurable characteristic does it notate?  Is quality detectable in sound waves?
Provide some evidence that I should even believe in some objective thing called "quality".

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 10:17:25 PM
1.  I'm asking for the fruits of the research you personally carried out to ascertain that no "scientist", ever, has developed a system by which music can be judged objectively.  Also, as something of a side note, for ontological proof for the existence of God (which may or may not be palatable for you), please read this essay.  I think my earlier argument in favour of the existence of objective bases for the qualification of music is something along the lines of this essay - we can be sure of the existence of such a thing by observing these facts and the manifold yet logical implications of these facts; coming up with a method of fully understanding or examining the phenomenon is another matter entirely.

2.  Fair enough, on this, if you're look for an empirical/non-rational origin for objectivity in aesthetics.

I accept your stance that nobody, yet, has developed a universally accepted set of criteria by which to objectively judge the quality of music (though the one used here suits my purposes just fine).  However, I must stress the following: if things such as dissonance, tempo, volume, and so on, can be measured, and an individual's responses to different levels/combinations of these qualities can be measured, then it follows that an individual's reactions to various pieces of music can be measured (or even foretold), which would suggest that all individuals' reactions to all pieces of music could, potentially, be measured.  Then, given a rubrick to follow by which "quality" can be ascertained - does the music induce emotional response, conceptual response, if so then how much, etc. - the quality of music could be measured as an accumulation of more basic principles of music and the processes of listening to and understanding music.  This leads to the quality of music being relative, but not subjective, though the subject is certainly important.  There is still an objective basis for quality in music.

You bring up some interesting points in your last paragraph, about the nature of science and mathematics.  The most interesting is "there are indesputable facts that can be drawn from science and math" - surely, it is more correct to say that "mathematics and sciences draw upon indisputable facts"?  Mathematics and science do not "create" anything by themselves which then become existent in the physical world; rather, they merely explain, in mathematical/logical/algebraic language, various processes/objects which already exist.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 07, 2011, 11:34:12 PM
If there were no objective basis for a subjective experience, we would not have a subjective experience.

I agree. Some people are sorely lacking in their understanding of physics and biology. I believe this is the root of the problem. It is at the uninformed public level, not at the academic or scholarly level that confusion about the nature and value of subjective perception takes place.
”The Revolution ends by devouring its own children” – Jacques Mallet du Pan, 1793

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 08, 2011, 12:18:57 AM
In science dictionaries and encyclopedias there is no mention of 'quality' in relation to music.

As for the ontological argument, that has been criticized by many different philosophers for many different reasons.  Some famous objections are that it uses circular reasoning, the "existence precedes essence" argument, the argument by David Hume that no being's existence can be proven a-priori, the 'perfect island' objection, the fact that the same argument form can necessitate gods non existence and many others.

I am not impressed by the ontological argument for gods existence.
But back to quality.

What you are talking about is a hypothetical rubric in a hypothetical future.
Even then, there are problems with your idea, we can measure chemicals and brain waves, and electrical interaction.  If there were such things as 'quality particles' in the brain then you would have something.  Instead we have dopamine, serotonin, kappa opioids, hormones and things that are not the more abstract concept of 'quality'.
So far there is nothing showing up as quality in neuroscience research (nowhere in the book: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior by Bryan Kolb and Ian Q. Whishaw. nor is it in: An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology, by Randy J. Nelson.  I know you are picky about sources and research, I have read both of these and taken classes in neuroscience and neuroendocrinology.)  If we found that people have high dopamine and serotonin levels in the pleasure centers of the brain then we can conclude or predict pleasure related brain activity in people.  But if we are being rigorous all we can make conclusions about is the brain activity since that is what we can measure.  We cant say the music is "good" or "bad" based on peoples serotonin levels.  Serotonin is serotonin, much like a larger cluster of particles, like a rock for example, saying that it is good or bad does not make any scientific sense.  These experiments would do nothing to further the case that any particular music is good or bad, it will only tell us what kind of chemical interaction we can expect to see from it. 

Any other conclusions would be unscientific.

Your final statement though about the semantics of my saying science and math 'created' objective truths is sound.  I was not careful in how I worded it, it is true that science did not make gravity or anything like that.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 08, 2011, 12:28:06 AM
2.  Fair enough, on this, if you're look for an empirical/non-rational origin for objectivity in aesthetics.

I accept your stance that nobody, yet, has developed a universally accepted set of criteria by which to objectively judge the quality of music (though the one used here suits my purposes just fine).  However, I must stress the following: if things such as dissonance, tempo, volume, and so on, can be measured, and an individual's responses to different levels/combinations of these qualities can be measured, then it follows that an individual's reactions to various pieces of music can be measured (or even foretold), which would suggest that all individuals' reactions to all pieces of music could, potentially, be measured.  Then, given a rubrick to follow by which "quality" can be ascertained - does the music induce emotional response, conceptual response, if so then how much, etc. - the quality of music could be measured as an accumulation of more basic principles of music and the processes of listening to and understanding music.  This leads to the quality of music being relative, but not subjective, though the subject is certainly important.  There is still an objective basis for quality in music.

I believe the record industry itself has done just this.  How many hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent since the 50's on market research?  I have no idea myself but surely the motive to do so is there.  They KNOW and can DEMONSTRATE that most peoples' metabolism will increase at 120BPM... so all those prepackaged hits are at 120BPM.  They know that most people can most easily hit the notes around "middle C" so most pop songs are centered around that open C chord on guitar.  The low C on a 5-string will elicit certain physiological effects on women, hence it presence in dance music.  Those and all the other criteria the marketing departments at all the record companies have come up with objectively show that certain music will result in certain (profitable) behaviours from most people and why most pop music sounds exactly alike.  The musical career of the band "Me First and the Gimme Gimmes" is a direct result of all that research.  So I think that Mr. Dontburnthewitch was mistaken insofar as there has been extensive research into what DOES NOT make quality music, haha.
"Just like your ancestors
you will fight today."

-Rob Darken

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 12, 2011, 12:56:20 AM
"Theory":

- It can be said to be objectively good to have meaningful/deep/satisfying experiences, as opposed to shallow ones

- Music creates experiences in the mind
- Experiences are mediated through communication
- To mediate great experiences, music must have something relevant to communicate, have a lot to communicate and it must communicate well
- Some music has more relevant things to communicate than other music, has more things to communicate than other music and communicates better than other music
- Hence, some music creates more meaningful/deep/satisfying experiences than other music

"Example":

Imagine making all the people of the world enjoy and fully understand

1) a Bach piece, and
2) a Britney Spears song.

Comparing the experiences that all these people would have from listening to these two, I'm quite certain that all of them would say the Bach piece created a more meaningful/deep/satisfying experience than did the Britney Spears song.

Subjectivist response: "What if I, now, get a more satisfying experience out of listening to Britney Spears than to Bach? Doesn't that imply the subjectivity of music after all?"

- Your experience does not affect the objectivity of the music itself. The Bach piece will still be the music that has the capacity for the greatest experiences.
- It is also objectively good to strive for this quality, since otherwise we proclaim that it doesn't matter what music sounds like. Even the most uncommitted listeners would suffer from this since musical quality would dwindle overall.

Re: Subjectivity vs Objectivity
March 12, 2011, 05:34:15 AM
My original reply was blocked by the spam bot, but it's been restored now, so in case you didn't notice it I'm just letting you know. It's at the top of this page a few posts back (in the position it would have originally been if it was not blocked by spam bots). Ha, it was a long reply...
www.TheMetalDiscourser.com
The universe is naked, attack its corpus, take a real stab at your life and let the blood flow — RIP the sound of the very fabric tearing.