The paper mentioned below — "In Praise of Ambiguity: Musical Subtlety and Merleau-Ponty" — is now published in Contemporary Aesthetics. This is an open access journal; here is the link to the paper. The abstract is below.
My paper of that name is forthcoming in the journal Contemporary Aesthetics. This is a longer version of a paper I delivered at this conference in London, last summer, at Kings College—also at Bucknell and elsewhere.
Abstract When a jazz, rock, or hip-hop drummer strikes certain notes in each measure slightly late, instead of hearing the degree to which those notes are late, we typically hear the effects of those variations; namely, a groove, the "feel" of a rhythm. Slight variations of pitch function similarly. In this essay, I argue that certain analytic theorists go astray due to their preoccupation with the variations themselves. By invoking Maurice Merleau-Ponty's insights into subtle visual perceptions, and his notion of perceptual indeterminacy, I avoid an account of musical subtlety suggested by Daniel Dennett that is too coarse-grained, as well as the bleak conclusion that certain musical subtleties are ineffable, Diana Raffman's view. I conclude that elements of music that are perceived ambiguously can perform a positive function in such aesthetic experiences: they can mediate or foster emergent qualities; moreover, they must be perceived in this way to do so.
I am in the thick of writing Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance (Bloomsbury, 2014). I am looking for some musical examples of a very specific nature. (Although I am looking for examples from any style of music, and not only drums, I'll describe what I am looking for in drum terms.) Please refer me to any two recordings of one song in which (a) the tempos are approximately the same, (b) the drummer is playing the same rhythmic pattern in both, but (c) the groove in one recording is noticeably different from the other. I have some examples of this sort but I would love more!
Email me: <email@example.com>
By "groove," I mean (roughly) the "feel" of a rhythm. The groove in one performance, for example, may "lean" forward, while the groove in another may "lean" backward.
[This is an older post that I occasionally update and move to the front]
There are countless benefits to studying philosophy that cannot be measured in practical terms. And an undergraduate degree in philosophy is obviously a useful degree for graduate study in a number of fields. Setting these issues aside, some students—and their parents—wonder about the practical benefits of an undergraduate philosophy degree itself. Below are a handful of recent and semi-recent articles and interviews that might help in considering the potential benefits.
1. "Philosophy is Back in Business" (by Dov Seidman, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of LRN; appeared in Business Week, January, 2010). Seidman claims that insights from philosophy are valuable in the business world, and argues in favor of hiring philosophy majors: "Forget economics. Philosophy offers a deeper, broader way of thinking to help guide companies through times made tougher by overspecialized experts."
2. This is salary survey data from PayScale Inc. (2008), which suggests that people with undergraduate degrees in philosophy fare quite well financially—especially in mid-career. The Wall Street Journal refers to this study:
Your parents might have worried when you chose Philosophy or International Relations as a major. But a year-long survey of 1.2 million people with only a bachelor's degree by PayScale Inc. shows that graduates in these subjects earned 103.5% and 97.8% more, respectively, about 10 years post-commencement. Majors that didn't show as much salary growth include Nursing and Information Technology.
There are some surprising numbers in this study; for example, the mid-career median salary for those with philosophy undergraduate degrees is $81,200; while it is $72,100 for those with undergraduate degrees in Business Management.
5. A 15 minute audio interview from 2009 with the UK's Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy, Dr. Angie Hobbs, Warwick University. Dr. Hobbs discusses the benefits of studying philosophy.
I'll be teaching Philosophies of Art (Phil 260) in spring 2012. This will be a very fresh course, as it will be influenced by my work this summer and fall on my book, Key Terms in Philosophy of Art (Continuum, 2013). So far, I am obsessing about the most basic question—what is the value of art? And I am becoming more and more interested in the details of various attempts to define art. A further theme of the book—and the course—has to do with disconnections and connections between analytic (Anglo-American) and continental (European) philosophy of art.