Thursday, December 22, 2005

Footnote of Complaint

The book discussed above, "Music: A Very Short Introduction", is thoroughly post-modern in it's approach. For the most part I liked that, but one time the author explicitly brought out the one thing that irks me in post-modernism -- the great bugbear of post-modern thought.

As he is introducing the concept that language shapes our perception of reality, he makes the following statement:
[M]aybe, [Benjamin Whorf] suggested, language doesn't simply reflect the different ways in which different cultures see the world, but actually determines how they do so. Maybe, in short, language constructs rather than represents reality.
Does he not see the change he's introduced between the first sentence and the second sentence? Does he not make a distinction between reality and perception of reality? This would seem to involve Berkeleyian subjectivism taken to the extreme. Can the author really intend this?

I don't think so. Throughout the book, Cook rejects the idea that music points to some external reality. This is in line with the standard post-modern ploy of downplaying the importance of objective reality. My complaint against post-modernism is that it is too often taken in some triumphal sense to "prove" that there is no objective reality just because we have no unbiased access to such reality. Correcting this flaw will be the point of entry-of-the next big philosophical movement, I suspect.

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