Medieval Philosophy and Categories

Medieval Philosophy and Categories:

Dad29 has a fine post tying together three apparently disparate topics: gay marriage, the use of the pipe organ in church, and the Scottish philosopher Alisadaire McIntyre. Dad notes:

"What is missing in [so much of modern philosophy] any sense that BEAUTY has any objective quality whatsoever."
The other day, while discussing music, we had a musician point to what such an "objective quality" might look like.
Not long after Wagner, those who wrote 12-tone and other serial music, unfortunately wrenching Western music away from its tonal roots, were trying to make "new" art, defining themselves and their work as "not what has gone before." Now this is a frequent tactic employed by anyone searching for new things, but in this case they were abandoning the fundamental mathematical relationships that produce tonality itself, and the new structure created was insufficiently based in reality to resonate more than academically with human beings.

It is entirely possible, given the horror of WWI, that they were actively fleeing from the emotional leverages exerted by tonal music, perhaps looking to escape the ravages of passion althgether.
Emphasis added.

Dad goes on to talk about whether Truth has any objective reality. Aristotle and Aquinas certainly believed it did:
Aristotle taught that the ability to make correct judgments was about more than simply amassing the necessary data. It involves the training and formation of the person in virtue, so that he has the kind of mind and soul that can apprehend the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
Such 'proper formation' is necessarily based on objective reality, or that which is True. Aristotle and Aquinas taught that knowledge of the Truth is simply conforming one's mind to reality.
The music gives us a concrete example of what is meant. Certain mathematical relationships produce tonality; and it is possible to learn these, and thereby to compose great, soaring music of the sort Wagner used.

It is also possible to abandon them; and you can still compose music. It will not be as beautiful, however, because it is further from the reality of what beauty is.

This is true even though one person or another may actually like it better. You, personally, may find rap music to be more stirring than Wagner. Some of this may be because of how you have been trained, and other parts of it may arise from ways in which you, personally, are different from what is usual. There's nothing inherently wrong with liking rap music better than Wagner. Personal preferences are fine, and a free society will make room for them.

The mathematics continue to exist, however, in spite of your preferences. Reality is still there, regardless of what your mind perceives.

I bring this up because of Mr. Sheldon's assertion:
I guess I'm not going to understand the need for a one-size-fits-all name if there is a dangerous possibility that it won't fit somebody.
Personal preferences can't swallow our ability to discuss things in common. I'm glad to make room -- gracious plenty of room -- for the individual Pursuit of Happiness. By all means, do what you think is right.

The fact that there are individual differences and personal preferences, however, shouldn't forbid us from looking for greater truths. Some things are bigger than we are. That was part of my point, below: because we know reality chiefly through what our brain reports to us, sometimes we need to listen to someone whose brain works differently than ours does. They may have had a wholly different experience of reality than we have had.

We should be able to try to sort out what is right between us, rather than say, "We can assert no lessons, because there is a dangerous possibility that someone else may not fit." Well, fine: let them bring their own lessons to the table, and we can add them to our debate about what the truth really is.

They should not preclude the debate. We should not refuse to try to understand, because we might leave out someone whose experience is different. I welcome them to the discussion, but we must have the discussion. It is their duty, as it is ours, to stand up and fight for what we believe.

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