Логика и феноменология невизуальной репрезентации тема диссертации и автореферата по ВАК РФ 09.00.01, кандидат наук Мендес-Мартинес Хорхе Луис

  • Мендес-Мартинес Хорхе Луис
  • кандидат науккандидат наук
  • 2021, ФГАОУ ВО «Национальный исследовательский университет «Высшая школа экономики»
  • Специальность ВАК РФ09.00.01
  • Количество страниц 252
Мендес-Мартинес Хорхе Луис. Логика и феноменология невизуальной репрезентации: дис. кандидат наук: 09.00.01 - Онтология и теория познания. ФГАОУ ВО «Национальный исследовательский университет «Высшая школа экономики». 2021. 252 с.

Оглавление диссертации кандидат наук Мендес-Мартинес Хорхе Луис

Table of Contents



Chapter 1, Questions, metaphilosophy and theory choice

§1. A web of questions

§2. Taxonomies in the philosophy of sound and auditory perception

§3. Relation to sources

§4. From scientific to philosophical claims

§5. Choosing an analogy

§6. Desiderata for the philosophy of sounds

Chapter 2, If sounds were properties, exploring PV

§1. Property underspecification

§2. Property View 1: Sounds as sensations

§2.1 Husserl's Analysis of the Inner Consciousness of time (Zeitbewusstseins)

§3. Property View 2, sounds as properties of the (sounding) objects

§3. 1 Sounds as dispositional properties

§4. Objections against Property views, known and new

Chapter 3, If sounds were events

§1. A category issue

§2. Ontology and semantics

§3. Reductionist strategies

§3.1 Object reductionism (and other relations between objects and events)

§3. 2 Property reductionism

§4. Sound individuation

§5. Pessimistic mereology

§6. Final assessment on EV

Chapter 4, Space, scepticism, phenomenology and logical representation

§1. Underspecification of space

§1.2 Sound topology, again

§2.1 Scepticism on sounds' spatiality, first part: P. F. Strawson 116 §2.2 Scepticism on sounds' spatiality, second part: Brian O'Shaughnessy

§2.3 Scepticism on sounds' spatiality, third part: Matthew Nudds

§2.4 Conclusion

§3. The logical representation of sound

§3.1. The casuistic approach: An optimistic mereology of sound

§3.2 A (formal) topology of sound

§4. The instrumental approach

§5. Conclusion: from physical space to logical space

Chapter 5, The Problem of Perception in the Philosophy of Sounds and Auditory


§1. The Scientific Picture II: The auditory system

§2. Objects and contents of auditory perception

§2.1 Audible features: loudness, pitch, and timbre

§2.2 Silence

§2.3 Echoes

§2.4 Locations and spaces

§2.5 Music

§2.6 Meanings

§2. 7 Gendered voices

§3. Illusions, hallucinations and inaccuracies in auditory perception

§4. Towards an epistemology of auditory perception

§4.1 What Yekaterina didn't know



Рекомендованный список диссертаций по специальности «Онтология и теория познания», 09.00.01 шифр ВАК

Введение диссертации (часть автореферата) на тему «Логика и феноменология невизуальной репрезентации»


The present work comprises five philosophical essays pertaining to one specific token of nonvisual representation: sound. The background of the discussion is what is known as the philosophy of sounds and auditory perception (Casati and Dokic 1994, 2014; Nudds 2001, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2015, 2018; Pasnau 1999; O'Callaghan 2007a, 2007b, 2008, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2011a, 2016; O'Shaughnessy 1957, 2003, 2009, etc.). In addition to the thematic context, the unifying link of the research—since the essays are relatively independent— is the metaphilosophical assessment of the discussion. The research pursues an alternative view on sound, a complex view, whose imprint is syncretic and pluralist. It argues that, in the overall discussion in the philosophy of sound, there are three general complications that constantly occur in the discussion: ontological reduction, that is, the idea that sound belongs exclusively to one ontological category (for instance, "property", "events", "objects"); conceptual underspecification, which is relative to the fact that the conceptual choices by representatives of each theory do not reflect full theoretical commitment; and spatial segmentation, that is (in an analogical way to the problem of ontological reduction) that the representatives of certain views relative to the location of sound (for instances those who argue that sounds are proximal [to the hearer], medial [in the medium] or distal [i.e. in or at the sources]) incur in a segmentation of the space in which the sound phenomenon occur, thus neglecting its dynamic nature.

The first chapter sets forth this point of view by inquiring whether the disputes in the philosophy of sounds and auditory perception presents us with a theory choice scenario and by underlining the disciplinary differences in our uses of the term "sound". The second chapter analyses the "Property View" theories, according to which sound is either a property of the perceiving mind or a sensation (PV1 theories), or a property of objects (PV2 theories). It aims at tackling the problem of conceptual underspecification of the term "property", by inquiring to what these properties are ascribed and by exploring its theoretical possibilities.

The third chapter contains a descriptive and critical essay on the "Event View". It argues in favour of connecting the EV theories with the philosophy of events.

The fourth chapter is the one with the most substantial proposal. It has two components: one

analysing the problem of spatial representation; whereas the second pertains to logical

representation. The discussion on space is one of the key issues in the literature

The second part of this chapter explores the logics of sound, which is a discussion that takes

place as separated from the philosophy of sound. An upshot of that exploration is to bridge

both endeavours. The logic of sound can refer to two things. The first is that of sound as an

object for logical representation, which I label the casuistic approach. And, secondly, we have

the instrumental approach, which describes logical relations by the means of sound.

The final chapter contains an essay analysing the problem of perception. The upshot is

advancing towards the epistemology of auditory experience, a field barely explored in the


Keywords: sound, auditory experience, philosophy of sound, spatial representation, logic representation, phenomenology of auditory experience, logic of sound


This dissertation has two possible readings: the first one is concerned with a metaphilosophical study of the development of the philosophy of sound and auditory perception, a branch that stems both from metaphysics and the philosophy of perception, which has been in a significant growth over the last thirty years and, in particular, in the last five.2 The second reading of the dissertation comes in the form of a collection of related essays, which can be read independently, on the issues pertaining to the philosophy of sounds and auditory perception, such as a metaphilosophical view of the discussion (Chapter 1), the Property-View theories (Chapter 2), the Event-View theories (Chapter 3), the spatial and logical representation of sound (Chapter 4), and the problem of perception (Chapter 5). The first can be called the metaphilosophical reading, whereas the second would be the 'essay-compilation'-reading.

The metaphilosophical reading has as unifying structures this introduction, the first chapter and the conclusions. The framework is that of a global overview, based on metaphilosophical concerns, as well as based on the philosophy of science. Its object is the development of the philosophy of sound and auditory perception and the theoretical problems that it faces. I argue that there are three main tendencies that can be observed and that stymie its theoretical development: the ontological reduction, that is the idea that sounds are one kind of thing and that they belong exclusively to a specific class (ranging from objects, properties, events, dispositions to sensations); spatial segmentation, which points to the static allocation of sound in a particular segment of the process involving the production and perception of sound (ranging from being at or in the sources, in the medium, or in or at the hearer); and, finally, conceptual underspecification, which refers to the lack of elaboration on certain key categories or theories (for instance, the fact that those who hold that 'sounds are events' do not delve further in the metaphysics of events and the category of "event"). As a result, a complex view of sound, with a syncretic-pluralist imprint, is proposed in the conclusions. In the course of the discussion, new and unexplored paths for the philosophy of sounds and auditory perception are open: sound potentiality (in Chapter 2), the acoustic mereotopology (in Chapters 3 and 4), the instrumental logic of sound (in Chapter 4), and the epistemology of sound (in Chapter 5).

The other reading, that of an essay-compilation, has a different —yet not incompatible— structure. Each chapter has its specific goals and reaches its own conclusions. This is so because there is a series of secondary problems towards which I turn my attention: the logical representation of sound, the objects of auditory perception, the spatiality of sound, sound individuation, sound as a dispositional property, and so on. All this constitutes a series of sub-goals to be addressed in the respective chapters and sections of the work.

2 Which is coincidentally the framework in which this investigation has been undertaken. Many of the relevant studies cited here have been published in the last five years. This contextual circumstance has made me change some original intuitions from when I first started formulating my working hypothesis.

The title of the dissertation deserves clarification. Specially when having the metaphilosophical reading in mind, the title could be more accurate as "Sound and auditory perception: space, logical representation and theory choice. A metaphilosophical study." However, the actual title leaves enough room for both readings. As an additional note, although the discussion will be focused on sound, other non-visual modalities like olfaction will be considered, especially by establishing some contrasts in the realm of the philosophy of perception.

Turning to the more concrete contents and our proceedings, in a way Lermontov's poem in the general epigraph puts the cards on the table as it invokes all that can come with sounds. This encloses issues such as perception ("Сердце ловит их", 'the heart captures them') causality ("Принимают образ эти звуки", 'these sounds take shape'). All such perplexities are, in part, also encompassed in the general question "What are sounds?" That is the main question guiding the foray known as "sound ontology," which is at the core of the philosophical discussion of sounds and auditory perception.

I intend to give a systematic overview of how the discussion has unfolded over the second half of the 20th Century and, especially, I pay attention to the last 15 years, which have witnessed an increasing debate in this field. Classic and pioneering analyses of sound and the problem of its location, like those of Brian O'Shaughnessy (1957) and P. F. Strawson (1959), will be just as considered as the new cannon, namely, Roberto Casati and Jérôme Dokic (1994, 2009, 2014), Casey O'Callaghan (2002, 2007a, 2007b, 2008, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2011a, 2014, 2015, 2016a, 2016b, 2017, 2020), Matthew Nudds (2001, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2014a, 2014b, 2015, 2018), John Kulvicki (2008, 2014), Robert Pasnau (1999, 2000), among others. In this sense, the aim has a strong descriptive aspect.

In a second sense, more important than the first, my approach is critical. Even though I present the views, including its pros and cons, I mostly remain neutral when it comes to taking a position. And I do so because my appreciation of how the discussion has unfolded, in a general sense, emphasises the already mentioned problems: conceptual underspecification, spatial segmentation and ontological reduction.

In a third sense, my aim is also constructive. During the metaphilosophical array of the discussion, my intention is to advance an eclectic view in the philosophy of sound and auditory perception, in particular, with its respective model for a metaphilosophical understanding, encompassing not only theory choice, but conceptual exchange, complementarity and so forth. This way of showing how a larger realm can be benefited from a particular or casuistic analysis is what I call the a fortiori turn. This a fortiori turn, I believe, is not strange to the discussion, for the philosophy of sounds has such an imprint. For example, while considering that it may make a significant contribution to the philosophy of senses and perception. Furthermore, a constructive and purposeful attitude can be seen as well while advancing theories such as the

dispositional theory of sounds, acoustic mereotopology or the epistemology of auditory perception.

A sketchy overview of the dissertation comes in handy. The first chapter deals with the metaphilosophical questions and problems that the philosophy of sounds and auditory perception is focused on, and the main difficulties that its theoretical development faces. I elaborate possible hypothesis concerning these problems and, in doing so, I highlight the desiderata, told and untold, that take place in the debates. Here I pay special attention to the problem of theory choice, whether we are before a theory choice situation or not, and I also give an overview of the existing taxonomies in the literature. It is argued that not only we are not before a theory-choice scenario, since what has pervaded are rather certain discrepancies pertaining to analogy choice, but that it is preferable to select the best features of the theories into a syncretic view instead of choosing only one candidate.

In the second chapter, I investigate the theory known as "Property View", according to which sounds are either properties of the sounding object or of the perceiving mind. The text aims at tackling the problem of conceptual underspecification of the term "property", by inquiring to what these properties are ascribed. It also revises the available theories within this approach and proposes a way to advance them. The first case analysed in this chapter is that of PV1 theories, usually underrepresented in the literature. Besides, considering adverbialist and sense-data theories (Jackson 1977), I propose to consider the contributions of authors beyond the field of analytic philosophy (like Edmund Husserl) as representatives of PV1. The second case is that of sound dispositionalism (Pasnau 1999, Kulvicki 2008, 2014, Leddington 2019, Roberts 2017), that I reconsider from the perspective of state-of-the-art proposals in the philosophy of dispositions and potencies (Vetter 2015). The main objections to PV theories (mainly by O'Callaghan 2011a) are also addressed. The main motivation of this essay is to explore the possible candidates for underrepresented PV theories, which has been exclusively focused on dispositionalism. Valuable conclusions can be extracted from this foray, especially that of sound as codifying spatial information and retaining a temporal-like structure, as well as the moral of phenomenal modesty. Here I relate to material that I have already published elsewhere (Méndez-Martínez 2020a, 2020b).

Doing the same with the category of "Event" will be the subject of the essay in the third chapter. I focus here on the problems of Particularity, that is, the alleged features that sounds ought to have to be considered as particulars. Leddington (2021) calls this sonic particularism. Again, I stress the effects of conceptual underspecification and, in so doing, I turn to the possible contributions that the philosophy of events (for instance Davidson [1967, 1969], Mourelatos [1978], Bennett [1988] and Kim [1976, 1991]) could make to the Event View —this is a task that some EV-theorists purportedly eschew (O'Callaghan 2009, 2010)—. Two emerging problems while elucidating these theories are those of sound individuation and mereology and I content to contribute to their development. A central topic of discussion here is the presentation of sound as an "object" and the differences that it

holds with typical ordinary objects. Amid the difficulties of such a characterisation, lies ahead the very understanding of the characteristics of sound as a particular. In the light of this, it is argued that the criteria to analyse the difference between objects and events and, consequently, sounds have a visual bias and that there are better candidates to understand the relationship between these terms, for example, of composition (i.e. events encompass objects) (Young 2018).

The heart of the thesis is centred in the fourth chapter, where I address both the problems of sound spatiality (namely the spatial characterisation of sound) and that of the logical representation of sound. The discussions on the location of sound, and its spatial characteristics, if any, have been one, if not the main problem in the philosophy of sound and auditory perception. This gives rise to two kinds of claims: metaphysical ("sounds are in", "sounds have [or don't] spatial structure), and epistemic-phenomenological (sounds are not perceived to be somewhere [or nowhere]) (Casati and Dokic 2009). Contrary to conceptual underspecification, I briefly depict the philosophical notions on the concept of space (like substantivalism and relationism) and its connection to orientation views (Casati & Dokic 1994, Dokic 2015) in order to see what the tendencies in the philosophy of sounds around this are. As a way of exhibiting the difficulties of the spatial characteristics of sound I turn to what has been typically taken to be a scepticism on 'sound's spatiality', allegedly defended by P. F. Strawson (1959) and his famous "No-Space World" thought experiment; Brian O'Shaughnessy's (1957) critique of 'locality' as an audible quality; and Matthew Nudds (2009, 2010b) and his discussion with Casey O'Callaghan concerning the possibility of perceiving locations. I argue that the charge of scepticism against these authors is unjustified, and that it is better to understand them as holding a fallibilist position.

The second part of this chapter explores the logics of sound, which is a discussion that takes places as separated from the philosophy of sound. An upshot of that exploration is to tend the bridge between both endeavours. The logic of sound can refer to two things. The first is that of the sound as an object for logical representation, which I label 'the casuistic approach'. And, secondly, we have the instrumental approach, which describes logical relations by the means of sound. The first approach, the casuistic one, proposes an optimistic mereological understanding of sound, contrasting with other proposals (Chuard 2011, Green 2019, O'Callaghan 2016b, Young 2018, Skrzypulec 2019b) and enhances it by outlining its topological features (Casati and Varzi 1995, 1999; Parsons 2007). Here I reach a conclusion concerning the dynamic feature of sound that allows overcoming the spatial segmentations in other theories.

As with the instrumental approach, I explore several proposals, including Susanna Langer's (1929) pioneering ideas on musical intervals, Randall Dipert's and Roy Whelden's (1976 and 1978) set-theoretical analysis, Max Ingolf's (2018) molecular logic of harmony, and, finally, Pietarinen's (2010) proposal of utilising acoustic diagrams à la façon de Peirce. In proposing a new instrumental paradigm, I prepare the grounds for a proposal of acoustic mereotopology. The final part of the chapter

unites the discussions on space and logic through a new model for understanding the interactions of logical, quality and physical space, with the idea of an engine picture.

The final essay, in the fifth chapter, is devoted to the problem of perception. One of the main aspects that motivates the philosophy of sound is that of the Error Theory of Perception: although sounds are taken to be acoustic waves in the medium, we for one do not perceive them in the medium, but as coming from its sources (or at its sources). Here I share Mark Eli Kalderon's (2020) intuition that philosophy of sound and auditory experience has been extremely focused on the phenomenology of audition. I contrast this, certainly, with Casati's and Dokic's (1994) rationale for such approach. Likewise, the upshot is advancing towards the epistemology of auditory experience, a field almost unexplored in the literature. To reach this epistemology, the following tasks remain ahead: to reconsider some specificities of the auditory apparatus in the physiological sense, which could turn out to bolster PV1 theories; to analyse the differences concerning object and content of perception, as it has been done for visual experience (for instance Siegel 2010), and to consider the problems of direct perception vs. indirect perception in auditory terms (for instance in the discussion of Nudds [2018] and Soteriou [2018]); to examine the plethora of candidates that can be considered as either objects or contents of auditory perception: sounds, sources and causes, audible qualities (loudness, pitch, timbre), silence (Sorensen 2009, Meadows 2020), echoes (Dokic 2007, O'Callaghan 2007a, 2010, Fowler 2013), locations and space (O'Callaghan 2010a, Young 2017), music, meanings, and gendered voices (Di Bona 2017). I also pay attention to the cases for non-veridical auditory perception (illusions, hallucinations and inaccuracies), and, finally, present possible scenarios concerning the knowledge-argument a la Frank Jackson (1986). I conclude that a better understanding of perceptual objects and, by extension, of auditory objects and contents, can be beneficial for the construal of an epistemology of auditory experience.

A final consideration for this introduction pertains to the spirit of this work. As it can be appreciated up to this point, these endeavours belong mostly to what is commonly known as analytic philosophy. The perspectives (metaphysics, philosophy of perception, and metaphilosophy) work within that general framework. There are, however, bridges towards different philosophical traditions, especially phenomenology (chiefly Husserl [1928]) and its predecessors (Brentano [1995]), who are, additionally and noticeable, also responsible for launching a version of mereology (Simons 1987), whose work is relevant here. I make this caveat concerning my adherence to a particular tradition since there are other fields from which sound happens to be the object of discussion.3

3 Not all philosophy of sound is necessarily analytical. There is, for instance, a field studies call "sound studies", which combines postmodern or post-structuralist philosophy with other disciplines like urban studies. Some noticeable works in that trend are Emily Thompson's (2003), The Soundscape of Modernity, Jonathan Sterne's (2003), The Audible Past, which have, separately, developed the concept of 'soundscape'. Other important contributions in this direction are those of Brian Cox (2009, 2011), Greg Hainge (2013), Steve Goodman (2009), and Kane (2014). This trend has also developed in Russia (see Logutov 2017, Maiarova 2017).

In the last part of this introduction, one or two words concerning acoustics may come in handy for the rest of our inquiries. We can call it "the scientific picture" (Pasnau [1999] calls it 'the standard view'; Casati and Dokic [1994] the "classical theory [Théorie Classique]"). Similar exercises can be found in O'Callaghan (2007a), and Di Bona and Santarcangelo (2018). The scientific picture encompasses different disciplines: acoustics, which is a branch of physics, on the one hand; and psychology and cognitive science, on the other. A middle interdisciplinary ground is that of psychoacoustics which takes into account acoustic nuances in explaining our cognition and auditory perception.

In the scientific picture, sounds are acoustic waves.4 Waves are patterns in which energy and information can travel. They can be classified according to their pattern and according to the means of carrying that information. Concerning the latter, they can be mechanical, that means: they need a medium (either a gas or a fluid or even a solid); or non-mechanical, that is the famous electromagnetic wavelength spectrum. When it comes to the pattern in which the wave 'travels' they can be either transversal, when the force is perpendicular to the direction of the wave, or longitudinal, when the motion goes back and forth:

Apart from the 'sound studies', yet also beyond the reach of analytic philosophy, there is also the work of Cecile Malaspina (2018), An Epistemology of Noise, which relates to information theory and continental philosophy; as well as Don Ihde's (2007), Listening and Voice, Phenomenologies of Sound, whose contributions from post-phenomenology address critically P.F. Strawson's thought experiment of a "No-Space World".

As far as one can judge, the field of sound studies is quite vast and one cannot but help to wonder why there is practically no connection at all with the analytic tradition of philosophy of sounds and auditory experience. At hand, there is a sociological answer for it (two different traditions, two different communities, etcetera). But this implies also that there is a deep difference when it comes to the terminological usages —it is debatable whether as a result of the sociological difference or the other way around—. This can result in a misunderstanding of what each side says.

Likewise, terminological issues that might undermine understanding across traditions arise. One could even wonder what happens when the disciplinary boundaries are crossed, for sound studies are taken to be interdisciplinary.

4 My references in this regard come mainly from Heller (2013), Howard & Angus (2006), Rossing, Moore & Wheeler (2014), and Thompson (2006), which is outreach literature. The landmark works are those of Albert S. Bregman (1994), Auditory Scene Analysis, and Jens Blauert (1979), The Spatial Hearing («Пространственный слух» in the Russian translation by I. D. Gurbits, which I employ hear; the German original is Räumliches Hören [1974]).



Fig. 1, Longitudinal and Transversal Waves (From Rossing, Moore & Wheeler 2014).

The graphical representation of waves is usually keen on transversal waves (b in the Fig. 1), where the main elements are wavelength, the distance between the points of the wave, taking as a reference the equilibrium point; frequency, the number of wavelengths that pass a given point in 1 second (measured in Hertz); amplitude, which measures the size from the height (crest) to the equilibrium point, and from the deepest point (trough); and period, which is the time it takes for a wave to complete a cycle.

f Wavelength

__I- X —H



Sound waves can be classified as mechanical longitudinal pressure waves, and as they occur necessarily in a medium, they are often characterised as a disturbance in a medium. Aristotle famously characterised it as a disturbance in the air; yet sound waves can travel through liquids and solids as well, at different speeds. The typical characterisation of waves does not entirely favour sound waves, whose dynamic is that of compression and rarefaction (hence the term "compressional wave", also employed while addressing sound waves). In fig 1, one can see the compression where particles are denser, and the rarefaction, when they are looser. According to the classical scheme, it would correspond to the following:




£ Q.


'6 &

c b


Fig. 3 Rarefaction and compression in a wave-graphical representation (From Howard & Angus 2006)

Standardly, frequency relates to pitch and amplitude to intensity or loudness—the louder the sound, the more energy it carries—, although this correlation is very often contested, and not only by philosophers. This will be the object of further debates that I'll address throughout this work.

The causes of sound waves are essentially vibrations, that is, a type of back-and-forth motion (different from translatory or rotatory motion), in the medium. The causes or sources of that vibration can be vibrating bodies, changes in airflow, shockwaves (where a moving source surpasses the barrier of sound, that is, the velocity of sound waves) and time-dependent heat sources (for instance an explosion).

It is important to mention that the velocity of sound does not depend on the force of the vibratory motion, or in the energy carried by the wave. It depends on the medium it is travelling through: it travels faster in solids than in fluids. Interestingly, the table includes temperature since that affects the cohesion of particles in a determinate medium. For the case of air, as the temperature increases, the particles in air collide faster, which means an increase in kinetic energy, and that enables the velocity of sound waves.

Finally, waves have some patterned "behaviours" that, as it will be seen, elicit some philosophical considerations. This includes: transmission, reflection, refraction, diffraction and scattering. Absorption is sometimes included as well, but that is not so much a trait of waves as from the absorbing entity: for instance, black objects absorb light; and some materials like wool absorb sound. Transmission implies the change of medium in the same direction; whereas refraction implies the change of medium, or change in the medium (for instance when it comes to atmospheric pressure, i.e. wind), in different directions. In the case of light, we have the typical example of how a straw in a glass looks as if it were bent; in the case of sound, it can be represented in scenarios wind or change of temperature:

Fig. 4 Reflection of waves: a) light waves change of direction and speed; b) sound waves with the change of temperature T, c) sound waves with the change of atmospheric pressure. (From Rossing,

Moore & Wheeler 2014)

The case of reflection implies waves bouncing off from a surface. This is one of the cases that give place to lots of philosophical perplexities. In the case of light (the obliged analogon, which however dispends with medium) is that of reflectance on a mirror. In the case of sound, we have echoes and reverberation — the philosophical treatment of these phenomena (O'Callaghan 2007b, Fowler 2013, Young 2017) will be addressed in due time—.


Diffraction, on the other hand, implies the bending of waves given some obstruction in their path of propagation.

Fig. 5 Ripple Model that shows the diffraction of waves given an obstruction on the right side (say a

door, for instance)

Finally, we have interference, which can be called, in a metaphysical fashion, a relational property of waves interacting with each other. They are generally classified as constructive or destructive. Graphically, destructive waves can be depicted as an overlap that amounts to a greater wave; whereas with the destructive interference it happens the opposite, the crest of the waves results in smaller amplitude

Fig. 6 Wave interference, a) constructive interference, b) destructive interference. (From Rossing,

Wheeler and Moore 2014)

So far, so good. This is an oversimplification of what acoustics supposes sounds are, that is sound waves. It is useful to have a grasp on these concepts at a physical level while theorising on sounds. However, a deeper understanding would encompass fluids dynamics, mechanics, involving the notions of force, pressure, and energy. This part of the scientific picture, when portrayed in the philosophy of sounds, gets to be called the Wave View (WV). I won't dedicate a whole chapter to it, unlike with the other views that figure in the literature. The reason for this is that philosophers, in my view, lack the technical tools to describe the wave phenomena accurately and, not only that, but our research activity is also very different from that of scientists (see Chapter 1). With a handful of exceptions (Sorensen 2009, Nudds 2010a, Meadows 2018, Kalderon 2020), few philosophers, in these debates, are devoted to defending WV, I think we can adduce what I already said concerning the technical baggage to engage in it,5 but also because most philosophers would grant the problem of Error Theory quite a theoretical weight.

5 Matthew Nudds (2001, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2014, 2015, 2018) is an important exception as a philosopher notably scientifically informed. It is important to add that he does not advocate for a simplistic formula "sound = pressure wave" or "sound e pressure waves". He rather defines sound as: "structures or patterns of frequency components: those structures or patterns of frequency components, instantiated by sound waves, that would normally be interpreted by the auditory system as having been produced by a single source event" (Nudds 2010b, 290).

In my case, as I will stress in a metaphilosophical fashion, there are conceptual misunderstandings on what philosophers call "sound", on the one hand, and the scientific picture of sound, on the other. The main aim of the dissertation can be considered as a pluralist endeavour, where all the perspectives have a say in the debate.6

Di Bona and Santarcangelo (2018) also propose an extensive and informed guide across these topics.

6 Another field that every now and then comes to be relevant here is that of music, as well as the philosophy of music. I find in musical theory several resources, yet this research is not quite about music. If anything, its findings could be of theoretical interest.

Похожие диссертационные работы по специальности «Онтология и теория познания», 09.00.01 шифр ВАК

Заключение диссертации по теме «Онтология и теория познания», Мендес-Мартинес Хорхе Луис


Le silence éternel des ces espaces infinis m'effraie

Blaise Pascal

The time is ripe to conclude our long revision of the philosophy of sound. The style of argumentation has been purposely different to the existing one in the debates, for it tries to encompass a majority of the issues discussed in the literature and to bring about their connections, both manifest and potential. An aspect in which it is distinct from the canon (a young canon, but a canon nonetheless) is that it neither starts with a position concerning the ontology nor the topology of sound, nor assumes that it could be self-evident. It was not my intention to take part in favour of one position or the other. It could be pressing, at this point, however, to expect some answers, at least to the ontological and topological questions.

Furnished with the arguments reviewed in the last chapters, it is evident that soundi and sound2, that is sound as a pressure wave and sound as perceived, respectively, can synthesise in an answer like the following:

Sound is a dynamic and complex phenomenon that includes mechanical wave pressures (whose components are causally relevant for pitch, intensity and timbre) in a medium, vibrational causal sources, receptive sensory organs and interaction of joint potentialities. The latter include acoustic potentiality, which we can bestow to the objects, and the auditory potentiality of a given subject.

The definition is modest yet, on the other hand, it could not strike us as radically different from the definitions we know. It is necessary, in that sense, to notice the following aspects: it is not reductive nor it has identity statements, like "sounds are waves", "pitch is frequency", and the like. With pitch and frequency, I have underlined their causal relevance, since even audible qualities like intensity include an interaction of variables beyond the mere wave amplitude or the energy carried by the wave, and so forth. In addition, the mechanisms of joint potentiality are new to definitions of sound and they include the hearer, who is not a necessary condition for acoustic waves, but is a condition for sound in a complex sense (without hearers, we just have mechanical pressure waves). This inclusive or plural definition does resemble the "sound is instantiated by waves" definition, which can indeed be seen as an amendment to reductive definitions and identity WV theories. However, I have avoided instantiation-talk given the lenient use it has in the literature and because there are more precise ways to amount to this idea, precisely through the idea of joint potentialities and the engine picture addressed in Chapter 4.

This points to one of the conclusive aspects of this work, announced from the very beginning, in relation to the problem of ontological reduction, that is, the idea that sounds are only one kind of thing (Souteriou 2018). To be sure, ontological reduction per se does not necessarily have a negative connotation. To ontologically reduce

something may well have an explanatory goal, like that of producing a simpler and more parsimonious theory. Probably this is what had in mind the projects of Casati, Dokic and Di Bona (2013), and this is an idea pretty present in metaphysics beyond our discussion. I have shown, however, that sound is not the sort of case that favours such analysis, because in doing so it neglects other features of the sound phenomenon.

One can also query the pertinence of an ontological consideration. In considering this option, Nick Young (2019) proposes to give up on sound-talk tout court. The "no-sounds" view entails rather the objects that audition accounts for (sources, empty spaces, and so on). I think the "no-sounds" view is the other side of the coin to the complex view I propose here in order to overcome the impasse of the ontological debate. The reasons that lead Young to think this way are not necessarily different to that assessed here. Yet I think that, without concurring with Scruton-like arguments, there are things pure audibilia are still good for. For instance, for reasoning, as the acoustic diagrams proposed in Chapter 4 show.168

Something similar happens with the topological question (i.e. "Where are sounds?"). The misframing of this discussion is even more evident. Sounds are a dynamic phenomenon and, therefore, they are not stably somewhere: the physical part of the phenomenon propagates (it can be spherically, but it normally includes processes of transmission, diffraction, reflection, absorption and scattering) from its source through a medium; its perceptive track includes a path as well, the famous auditory path, going from the ear to the auditory nerve. The sound is not stably located at some point on both tracks (although it can be blocked, precluded or masked), because being a sound entails that dynamic feature. This pertains to the second general observation concerning the problem of spatial segmentation, which is the topological counterpart of the ontological reduction (and it can also be thought of as an effect thereof).

In connection to this, the unperceived mobility constraint, along with the fear of Error Theory and the phenomenal adequacy desideratum, has made us reject sound mobility and urge us to adopt one of the topological stances. Revisiting Handel's consideration of perception —namely that "perception is the construction of the distal world from the proximal stimulation" (Handel 2006, 18)— , it is not even necessary to invoke sound mobility to agree on the fact that there is no choice to be made here.

Up to this point, we can notice four aspects that had negatively pervaded discussions in the philosophy of sound and auditory experience: conceptual underspecification, ontological reduction, spatial segmentation, and, last but not least, detrimental competitiveness.

The point on conceptual underspecification was early made on this work: if we select a philosophical category to be the core of our theory, such as "event" or "property", it would be convenient to review the proper, existing and current discussions on the

168 In any case, I adhere to the new directions that the philosophy of sound is taking in recent years with proposals as Young's (2018, 2019) and Leddington's (2019, 2021, forthcoming).

philosophy of events, properties, and so forth. So it happens with categories that play a significant role in these theories, such as "disposition" (as a kind of property), "instantiation" (as something that can happen to both properties and events), and "object", as an opposed category to that of event. The former can be central conceptual underspecification while the latter peripheral. This also happens to parallel discussions that could have a bearing to what is argued in the philosophy of sounds, for example with philosophy of perception and theoretical discussions about space

The opposite opinion is raised by O'Callaghan (2009, 2010b), who does not want to delve further into the metaphysics of events in order to seek for EV's neutrality — although he does consider authors like Davidson or Bennett—. The reasons for this are not spelt out, yet one can tell this has to do with reasons of brevity. This is a context-sensitive practical consideration: "to do a review of this kind is beyond the scope of a paper, chapter", etcetera. This, in contrast, is an ideal space for doing the opposite and, not only that, to show that there are more gains than losses while connecting relevant philosophical discussions. It is important to acknowledge that the conceptual underspecification charge is weaker than those of ontological reduction and spatial segmentation, but it is also an issue constantly lurking around in the literature.

Ontological reduction goes in hand with conceptual underspecification. Should sounds be reduced to a specific category, in virtue of accommodating a theory into another (as it is Carnap's or Quine's content according to Kroon's [1992]), conceptual underspecification would be, a fortiori, a bigger theoretical sin. Yet, even a well-informed ontological reduction, if there were any, could also have consequences in jettisoning important aspects of other theories. Reductionist (and eliminative) approaches, could be the opposite of syncretism or pluralism. But if the presented arguments are compelling in accurately pinpointing the cases of conflations, confusions and/or theoretical duplications, they could present a better option. Potentially fixed proposals are yet to be seen.

Finally, as one can see in the aspect of spatial segmentation, competence among the views or theories can have a negative effect. I think we can call this detrimental competitiveness. This and the selective syncretism that I champion here are on the opposite side of the spectrum. For starters, it helps us in pointing to possible conflations that detrimental competitiveness turns a blind eye to.

Without completely identifying with an ordinary language philosophy sort of strategy, a good resource they use is that of conceptual analysis and that has been used to see how confusions and conflations occur at large in the philosophy of sounds and auditory experience. So happens with sound1 and sound2. Let us put it more schematically. We can assume that the box on the left, besides the property of being on the left has the property of having inside bold red letters; whereas, the ones on the right are cursive blue letters.



So, we have sound1 theorists and sound2 theorists. Let us imagine a discussion where sound1 theorists say something like "according to our phenomenal adequacy, sound letters are bold and red, and they are on the left, hence sound2-theories must be false. Or something along the lines of "it's easier to read cursive letters, therefore sound 2 theories are simpler; we must choose them". Certainly, this sort of arguments have been reduced to a cartoonish point, yet one can sense that some of the predicates ascribed to either sound1 or sound2 simply do not apply inter alia to their counterparts (hence Sorensen's [2009] critique of the phenomenology and location of earthquakes), so a theory trying to connect both sound1 and sound2 seems stronger and more compelling.

The strategy adopted here is what I would call selective syncretism, that is, I have pointed to the useful elements of each theory in a way in which they could be put at work in a new proposal. I also appeal to complementariness. Of course, I think Nudd's observations on the lack of perceptual determination of hearing are worth including, but not his mereological restriction of sound; I deem it as relevant O'Callaghan's project while first addressing the mereological view, yet I think that his reductionism is prejudicial; I think Casati's and Dokic's distinction between metaphysical and epistemological claims is useful, but I disagree with their understanding of other authors (especially when it comes to accommodating them into their taxonomy); I think that Pasnau's, Kulvicki's and Roberts's ideas towards a dispositional theory are attractive, but fail at assessing, or even naming, its risks. And so forth.

So what happens, then, with the problem of detrimental competitiveness? The first assumption is that theoretical competition is good for science just as it is good for business. That it would enhance the growth of knowledge just as much as it enhances the growth of wealth. The economic parallel is the first coming at hand. Is syncretism pursuing a kind of epistemological utopia akin to communism or anarchism in the socioeconomic realm now transported to an epistemological terrain? Probably this is going too far, although I would not be the first in doing something like this (for instance Paul Feyerabend [1975] with anarchism). What can be argued is against the slogan that "competence per se is the right way". This could boil down to the stance according to which competition should be regulated.169 How? That is what the desiderata are for.

In Chapter 1, I mentioned the ideal desiderata, which one can read in Kuhnian spirit, ranging from accuracy, simplicity, fruitfulness, and scope; plus the Popperian addendum of falsifiability; and, finally, the actual desiderata that take place within the literature, namely phenomenal adequacy, scientific adequacy (which is usually at odds with the latter), and linguistic adequacy.

169 That I rely on these parallels does not entail that I think these principles apply inter alia to every realm.

The first thing that can be seen is that granting phenomenal adequacy major importance has triggered a good deal of the difficulties already mentioned, even to detriment of other desiderata. Hence, an obvious consideration is that focusing on one desideratum should not go against other reasonable criteria, for instance, scientific adequacy or scope.

The same goes for the parsimony and Ockham-like considerations, that is, the simplicity criterion. We should opt for simpler theories, but provided that other desiderata are fulfilled, like those concerning consistency, accuracy and scope. Scope could be seen as being at odds with simplicity, since simpler theories have a narrower scope. Yet, it is desirable that simplicity covers other aspects in pointing to phenomena or unnecessary proliferation of entities.

One desideratum or criterion that should play a larger role is that of falsifiability and, surprisingly, it is not considered in the philosophy of sounds and auditory experiences when it comes to theory-choice scenarios.170

Falsifiability can be considered at two different points. On the one hand, pertaining to its (potential) application to the competing views in the philosophy of sound and auditory experience; on the other, in a broader sense, when applied to the chosen metaphilosophical frame. We can commence with the former, and then to consider falsifiability again further in the discussion, once the metaphilosophical implications have been reviewed.

A first concern that can come out is that when Karl Popper formulated the concept of falsifiability, he had in mind a picture where the positions were scientific theories. That is not our case. Philosophical theories would distinguish themselves precisely in the sense of not amounting to novel predictions and by the fact that no empirical information is recollected in philosophy (although it may well be used). A scientific theory can be falsified (refuted) on the basis of empirical evidence that points in a different direction to that on which an initial thesis is sustained. Does this model (roughly explained away) work for the philosophical discussion?

What we can think of is the falsifiability of the main claims on which the theories are sustained. Yet its potential countering would occur in a conceptual realm. More interestingly, the former desiderata can be reprised again in assessing the feasibility of both the claims and their falsifiers.

Such falsifiers are entailed while arguing on behalf of category exceptionality for each of the views in the ontological taxonomies. If sounds are properties of the perceiving mind, that falsifies PV2, EV, WV and the non-existent "Object view"; if sounds are properties of the sounding objects, that falsifies PV1, EV, WV and the "Objet view"; and so on. This was addressed with more detail in the third chapter concerning the

170 I've included it myself (Méndez-Martínez 2020b) while assessing possible objections towards the dispositional view on sounds.

category of event. Given that the category of event is under discussion —something barely recognised by the philosophers of sound—, reductionist approaches (namely, object-reductionism [Quine 1960] and property reductionism [Montague 1969, Chisholm 1970]) would put at stake category-exceptionality arguments. But EV theorists could accommodate this, should their approaches collapse into PV or the "Object view".

Casati and Dokic (2014) do consider similar falsifiers (although not in a Popperian guise) while observing that O'Callaghan's relational view (the label is theirs, not O'Callaghan's) would collapse into 'medial theory', although their argument, as reviewed in Chapter 3, goes in a different direction, for O'Callaghan does take into account the medium.

Falsifiability in its second sense would amount to make explicit the possibilities of refutation of this big-picture sort of approach via metaphilosophy. The general falsifiers could go like this:

• Appeal to "incompatibility": the theories are just too different between them. They cannot be combined.

• Appeal to "category exceptionality": the exceptionality of categories prevails and, therewith, no merge between them is feasible; on the other hand, one of the positions has to be right and, therefore, you have to exclude the rest of the candidates.

• True segmentation: sounds are somewhere, either they are proximal, medial or distal. Sounds do not move (by the reinforcement of Dretske's dictum or unperceived mobility in possibly and desirably a newer version).

These appeals can match either eliminativism or pluralism, from Rescher's list (see Chapter 1). Interestingly, with pluralism, the appeals would not be able to go for the elimination of the other views. Actually, pluralism in a way defines the current stalemate in the philosophy of sounds and auditory experiences, but not in a way in which it is recognised by the discussants.171

An additional criterion that we could still look for is that of formal adequacy. Certainly, we could appeal to Lewis's refusal to the excessive use of formulae in his metaphysics, some of which (like that of mereology, or possible worlds) are usually fit for formal approaches. In the philosophy of sounds and auditory experience, this has not been a concern. Yet the discussion on the logical representation of sound in Chapter 4 shows that there is a chance for accommodating to this, although the focus of that discussion is precisely a logical matter, which has already distanced itself from the metaphysical disputes.

Finally, two considerations should be reviewed conclusively. The first of them is the sub-goals achieved by each chapter and, secondly, the a fortiori turns that are

171 In addition, any of the claims, however, is just too strong to coexist with scepticism or relativism.

encountered when philosophising about sounds. As for sub-goals, we can consider the ensuing sub-conclusions:

• Chapter 1: we are not before a theory choice situation, given the diversity of untold disciplinary biases, and the differences of purposes and goals for each view, and, mainly, that each theory is underpinned by different desiderata. We are rather facing a situation of analogy choice and the wrong analogies pervade negatively across the literature.

• Chapter 1: It is relevant to specify the category of property for PV theories, whether one chooses dispositional over categorical; universals over tropes; substantivalism over bundle theories; contingent over necessary. A PV theorist that does not do this is on the losing side contra other theories (if the opponents do specify their central category).

• Chapter 2: PV1 is underrepresented and it has diverse theoretical paths for its development. Its association with sense-data theories is not charitable. PV1 theorists could choose not only competing viewpoints to that of sense-data, like adverbialism, but also can find suitable candidates beyond the realm of analytic philosophy (e.g. Husserl's phenomenology).

• Chapter 2: PV2 theorists, especially dispositionalists, have an interesting proposal that can be developed by incorporating the arguments of joint potentiality. The only thing standing in its way is ontological reductionism. Yet, paradoxically, refusing the latter jeopardises the "PV" label.

• Chapter 2: PV theories in general can sort out Particularity-objections. As Cohen (2010) has emphasised, properties do have features that are thought of to be exclusive of particulars: like spatiotemporality and so on. It depends heavily, however, on appealing to instantiation (whether you call it supervenience, production, manifestation or exertion), which can face, nonetheless, regressus ad infinitum sort of objections (Bird 2007).

• Chapter 2: Visiting Husserl provides an alternative approach to the desideratum of phenomenal adequacy, given by accommodating more modest proposals.

• Chapter 3: Existing EV theories in the literature, especially those of Casati, Dokic and Di Bona (2013) strongly underline the reductionist strategy of sounds to events. There are more reductionist ways, and not very promising, that could be a byproduct of the Ochkamisation strategy. Property and Object reductionism had not been fully considered.

• Chapter 3: As both Young (2018) and Skrzypulec (2020) mention, there is a strong visual bias in our understanding of events, especially while contrasting them to objects. A possible relationship between objects and events is that of composition.

• Chapter 3: EV theories of sound do satisfy, at first glance, a standard raised in the philosophy of events: that of the distinction between count-sort terms and mass terms. However, in certain circumstances "sound" can have mass uses. And, on the other hand, when it comes to the count use, the criteria for individuation, parthood and counting are not entirely clear.

• Chapter 3: As of the latter, individuation is a major issue in the philosophy of sound, comprising distinguishability, identity and identification of sound. Contrary to O'Callaghan's belief, none of the existent views is better (or worse) equipped than the other to face these challenges.

• Chapter 4: I have contested the common view in the literature according to which P. F. Strawson, Brian O'Shaughnessy and Matthew Nudds hold a sceptic position concerning sound's spatial features or even getting closer to a "aspatial" view (Casati & Dokic, dixit). I've shown that they rather have a fallibilist approach, especially Nudds and O'Shaughnessy.

• Chapter 4: It is possible to overcome the pessimistic approach to mereology and there is a diversity of possible candidates for sound mereology: downgraded mereology, folk mereology, mereologies of experiences.

• Chapter 4: Likewise, the topological approach enabled us to show that there are misunderstandings on how sounds occupy space, because it does not do it the same way that three-dimensional mesoscopic objects.

• Chapter 4: Moreover, sounds are dynamic: they do not have stable locations because they do not stand still, despite mobility not being accounted for by our experience.

• Chapter 4: A diagrammatic acoustic logic is possible once a suitable candidate for negation is found. It can benefit from the advances in the logic of music.

• Chapter 4: It is possible to construct an acoustic mereotopology in the instrumental sense.

• Chapter 4: The most important achievement of the fourth chapter is the engine picture model, where the quality space and the physical space mesh with each other in order to account for sound instantiation.

• Chapter 5: PV theories are well suited for addressing cases of non-veridical auditory perception.

• Chapter 5: It is important to distinguish between objects and contents of auditory experience and, more importantly, the systematisation of its inventory is more than doable, as long as the risks for "jungle answers" are taken into account.

• Chapter 5: Its connection to characteristic sources, and evolutionary mechanisms suggest that to know a sound is to know its timbre, which advances sound dispositionalism (in the version of potentialities).

• Chapter 5: Sound has epistemological relevant features while considering discussions such as content/object of perception, direct/indirect, knowing-what and knowing-how. Until now, the systematisation and inventory of both auditory objects and contents was still a pending task.

The a fortiori turns show new directions that have been opened in our journey which are bigger (theoretically more general, philosophically more relevant) than that pertaining to our research.

• Chapter 2: sensationalist theories such as adverbialism and sense-data views have been furnished with arguments concerning audition that might help them in advancing their theories.

• Chapter 2: likewise, the metaphysics of dispositions is now more connected with the philosophy of the senses. In particular, the proposal of joint potentialities, even if sounds turn out not to be dispositional properties, is particularly promising in considering audibility, acoustic potentiality and hearing capacity.

• Chapter 3: the relation between objects and events is a major contribution that goes beyond the scope of the philosophy of sound, this could have relevant contributions in our understanding of events and their direct connection to our ways of perceiving.

• Chapter 4: the mereological understanding of occurrants has now new strategies that may be useful for surpassing the discussion on temporal parts and the discrepancies between perdurants and endurants.

• Chapter 4: the topological approach to sound and scattered location can result in a major contribution in our topological framing of events, especially concerning the potential occupation for its dynamic development.

• Chapter 4: the logics of non-visual representation are now connected with the specific discussions like the logic of music.

• Chapter 4: the engine picture provides an understanding of quality space with physical space, properties and particulars, which could have other applications in metaphysics.

• Chapter 5: Epistemology and the discussion of perception can be highly benefited in including the field of auditory perception, as it shows different paths to the common visualist framings. In particular, it has been shown the need to systematise a hierarchy concerning the sensory inputs and the contents of beliefs according to different sense-modalities.

Despite its ancient origin as a philosophical concern with Aristotle, the philosophy of sound and auditory perception is still a young field in philosophy. There are still pending tasks in its branches. This endeavour is far from being complete. Taking stock in a metaphilosophical sense, I think the philosophy of sound and auditory perception has definitely become independent from the philosophy of colour and vision.

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