Music Theory And Epicurean Philosophy

  • So it's not just about being anti idealism, there's a specific therapeutic utility that was being discussed in the Philodeman scroll with regards to music, and he was arguing that music could only heal the soul (through the practices of repetition and memorization, etc.) IF it contained the words of healing philosophy, which were the ones that had the potency to heal.


    And this is what I completely disagree with. There is legitimate music therapy, using instrumental music, that affects moods and feelings, and facilitates physical healing. For some pointers, see https://www.health.harvard.edu…hrough-music-201511058556

  • Mousikos I read back through the thread to try to be sure I understand your point, but I am not sure that I do. Can you clarify what it is you are agreeing or disagreeing with. We are talking in layers here without quotes form Philodemus to be certain of what we are talking about. That's what bothers me about the whole issue of using these texts, though I understand and share the desire to try to use them.


    I don't really know WHAT Philodemus is saying without precise texts to dissect.


    So my question Mousikos is could you state more clearly your view? Are you disagreeing with Hiram's statement that music needs Words/Philosophy in order to be "healing"?

    If that is what Philodemus said I would probably disagree with it too, but it's hard to even talk about this without listing out what Philodemus said with some degree of quotation.

  • Cassius you have the scroll in French. You can put it through google translate and use online dictionaries.


    Mousikos I suppose there are different things that are meant by “therapeutic”. Philodemus said that as far as philosophy, it heals through words, and I think I remember seeing the word logos. I take great pleasure in music, but it seems like the benefits of different kinds of music do not correlate with the benefits of memorizing the healing words of philosophy. These are specifically meant to treat concrete, specific false beliefs like fear of death and of gods, or unlimited desires. The benefits of music do not correlate to this and are non-philosophical. They are different.

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words

  • Hiram I am not saying this in frustration at you but at the situation - I want to see QUOTES!!


    Unfortunately it's not at the top of my list to find a decent scanner, OCR, and then work through Google translate. At some point I probably will, but in the meantime I just have to wait before I form a firm opinion.


    Philodemus said that as far as philosophy, it heals through words, and I think I remember seeing the word logos.

    I can imagine the possibility that he said exactly that, but I would not presume that he is endorsing words as the only way of engaging in philosophy. Is the study of nature limited to words, or is it not done primarily through the senses. Is the study of nature different from philosophy, or is one a part of the other? There are so many opportunities for false starts if we don't have reliable quotations.

  • Alright so here is what I wrote years back about Philodemus' scroll on music:


    http://societyofepicurus.com/r…s-on-philodemus-on-music/


    Here, he says that the origins of dance were unthinking, uncontrolled, as if by nature:


    Quote

    It is not true that the men of yore exercised in dance … with the purpose not only of seeing their bodies gain utility and to reach the dispositions of good people … but also to carry in their soul equally the good performance that they saw manifesting throughout their bodies, and to try to keep their soul constantly beautiful for the rest of their lives.


    In fact, neither of these reasons was the origin of humanity’s first impulse to dance, or of its transmission by those who received it … It was, on the contrary, their ignorance of nature and exultation that brought them to form, in a manner that was instinctive and unthinking, as if forced, a circle in order to produce with their hands, their feet, and other parts of the bodies the organized movements …

    This, again, is consistent with the tendency in Epicurus and Lucretius to assign the origin of many cultural forms to nature ORIGINALLY, which then AND ONLY AFTER was refined, perfected, and developed rationally by culture.


    Concerning our questions about the therapeutic use of music, he argues that people who can't sing or dance are able to be virtuous, so he rejects the idea that ONLY the irrational aspect of music is therapeutic (he words it like this: "provides harmony to the soul").


    He also argues that ONLY reason "softens our souls and would deprive us of our savagery". He juxtaposes reason and UNREASON for comparison, accusing unreason of inventing things that are 1. not "produced by nature", and 2. have no importance.


    These are the direct Philodemus quote that I lifted from the scroll:

    Quote

    If they say that only these irrational realities provide harmony to the soul, then their error is double: it means those who can’t sing or dance, or who are unfamiliar with music, can’t be virtuous.


    ... And those that say that we are sweetened by music because she softens our souls and would deprive them of their savagery, one may consider them perfect imbeciles. In fact, it is only reason–because she teaches that none of the strange things that unreason invents has been produced by nature and that, furthermore, nothing of what she produces has any importance–that can perfectly reach this result, once it has attained its perfection, and while she is still on the path to perfection, it can alleviate in proportion.


    … The Epicureans do not underestimate music for lack of culture; to them, only philosophy counts.

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words

  • Music therapy, fragrance therapy, chromo therapy, logos therapy, choir therapy. All these are pseudosciences for our manipulation and making us anthropoids of the masses. Pseudosciences, indeed, are doing a great job for making us more idiots.


    However, I do not read in any survival sources that Epicurus used somewhere the word "logos". Logos is a dangerous word that is used first by Heraclitus and meant a philosophical word/logic based on eimarmeni and fate, and then this word was taken gratefully by the stoics and christians to transform it to a god for being crucified and then resurrected to the heavens.

    Philodemus did not know what would follow when he used this word.

    Epicurus speaks for prudence that is higher than philosophy and teaches us in reality through our experiences past, present and expectation of future, how to set our limits on pleasure and pain for any desire and any issue. Prudence can't be achieved through music therapy, fragrance therapy, chromo therapy, logos therapy, choir therapy and the like. And the stomach can't be fulfilled with air.


    Moreover, I do not get any clear evidence from anywhere that the music, choiring and dancing could eliminate humans' fears on death and god. If those means that are still used by all the people in the societies of men, why then this world is not inhabited by angels ?


    Music is just a pleasure, but actually, it neither fulfills the stomach from hunger and thirst nor it builds a shelter to not feel cold at winter nights. Music and the like does not lead to pure pleasure and eudaemonia.


    Example how the music and lyrics in a union is a dangerous thing that does not lead a society of men for doing the right hedonic calculation :


    Music by Mikis Theodorakis, and verses of the poet "sun of justice" by Odysseas Elytis.


    Sun of justice perceivable by the mind (it means the absolute justice by Plato and as given by a god)

    and you, myrtle glorifying, (myrtle is the virgin Mary)

    don't, I beg you (thrice) don't

    forget my country! (this means that we the greeks are beggars begging the bigger countries that have more power to not forget us that we live in a country as good christians).


    The above song with the music was understood and was sung by the greeks as a revolutionary song. HA HA ^^


    What do you don't understand? Idealism keeps well everywhere.


    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Ell I what do you understand the point of this material to be?


    When I read a sentence like "The Epicureans do not underestimate music for lack of culture; to them, only philosophy counts", that means nothing to me at all, and I tend think the lack of meaning arises from the mangling of the text rather than from Philodemus.


    I need to spend more time rereading the old academic article that Ed Lee posted because I am not comfortable with any of this yet. I will accept that the fault is mine but I can't yet with confidence state even the most basic position that is supposedly being made by Philodemus on music.


    Unless I see exact quotes, with notes as to which words we're perfectly clear and which words were guessed at or even made up, very little of this has much credibility with me.


    And one point keeps coming back to me: that these commentators Sen to agree that it was Philodemus' method to quote his enemies followed by his own views and go back and forth. Unless the surviving text is very clear it's possible that what it appears Philodemus is says may be him quoting something he does not believe.


    But my main point is that unless we have a clear statement of what words were clear and what were "reconstructed" the final product is little more than speculation.

  • Cassius you said : When I read a sentence like "The Epicureans do not underestimate music for lack of culture; to them, only philosophy counts", that means nothing to me at all, and I tend think the lack of meaning arises from the mangling of the text rather than from Philodemus.


    As I could understand this phrase : "The Epicureans do not underestimate music"... since they do not want to be considered and by themselves and in the societies of men as barbaric, cynics and ascetics i.e. those that have a lack of culture i.e. ethos and habits that unite men in the societies... "but to them, only philosophy counts" here is another issue : Epicureans' teacher Epicurus remarked in his epistle to Meneoceus that prudence (practical reasoning that derives by our experiences) is higher than philosophy, because with prudence we are able for the right hedonic calculus to judge rightly and accordingly on the issue of music and the like (arts) all the hyperboles (extravagances) or dangerous messages (see my example).

    Because on the wise man we read also :


    -The wise man is the only person who can converse correctly about music and poetry, but he will not himself compose poems. (Epicurus was right the most of the poems have lack of clarity. The only he wanted is clarity in written and oral texts. Lucretiu's poem DRN has clarity, and I am sure that it would be considered by Epicurus as a masterpiece).


    -The wise man will find more pleasure than other men in public spectacles. (Public spectacles were the celebrations for gods, and also the theaters that were build all over Greece in which music and dancing were united with roles of actors).



    - The wise man will not live like a Cynic, as he says in his second book on Lives, nor become a beggar. Because the wise man will show a regard for his reputation to such an extent as to avoid being despised. (the cynics, the enemies of Hellas, as Epicurus said. Cynics, the ascetics, sociopath-antisocial that were living as beggars without doing anything creative, and when they were encountering people in the Agora, laughing at them, and criticizing ironically the others either for their achievements or wrongdoings).

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Nate - You kind of got the ball rolling on the subject of music with your music theory post, in response to my question about major and minor key. But aside from Post 11 above Music Theory And Epicurean Philosophy I am not sure I recall your weighing at a "high level" on this Philodemus discussion. I know I am distracted and probably making mistakes because I am not focused on this enough, but I would be interested in your (or any others' comments) organized like this:

    (1) What philosophical positions on music were taken by pre-Epicurean / non-Epicurean Greek philosophers?


    (2) What position did Epicurus take in response to those previous philosophers' positions? (I am presuming that Philodemus is following Epicurus, which I think we should presume unless there is some clear evidence otherwise, else this whole discussion is pretty hopeless.)


    Other that questions which would arise from Epicurean rejection of Platonic idealism, such as "Can music embody a particular idea?" I don't even have a clear picture of what the issues are.

    (I edited this to reference post eleven, and combine three questions into two.)

  • (1) What philosophical issues are involved in music?


    (2) What positions on those issues were taken by pre-Epicurean / non-Epicurean Greek philosophers?


    I found some issues in the following :


    Still on this issue of the nature of music, it has to be pointed out that in the passage of the pseudo-Aristotelian Problems to which reference was made above it is admitted that not everything in musical sounds imitates character (ethos), for this applies to the arrangement of higher and lower sounds but not to their mixture (mixis) ; further, consonance (sumphonia) is expressly said to have no moral character. Probably mixture is supposed to contribute to consonance, in any case that the beauty which music presents and the pleasure it procures depends on these aspects. There are thus two dimensions of music, one which has to do with character and the other which has not, but which both possess aesthetic significance. Plato must have been aware of this fact, for, as we have already seen, in Republic IV, in a context in which he talks of music, he is induced to point out that certain qualities, such as gracefulness and gracelessness, are also to be found in the products of painting, of architecture, of weaving, and so forth (cf. 400e ff.). In the case of these disciplines in fact certain formal qualities of beauty, such as symmetry, which have not to do with character, play an important role (as we shall see below, ch. 29), but there must be a point of contact between them and music, which lies precisely in the fact that certain formal qualities of beauty are also to be found in music. It has to be admitted, however, that in the passage I am considering Plato is not relying on any such neat distinction, for he is willing to talk of moral traits, such as the negative ones of evil disposition and illiberality, and of images of evil (eikones kakias) also in the case of the products of those other arts.


    Finally, it has to be stressed that the doctrine which is present in the dialogues also finds a significant expression in a passage of the Timaeus in which, after having considered the usefulness of the sense of sight, he considers the usefulness of the sense of hearing and that of voice. The passage deserves to be quoted in full :“For not only was speech (logos) designed for this same purpose, to which it contributes in the largest measure, but also that part of music (mousiké) that is serviceable with respect to the hearing of sound16 is given to us for the sake of harmony. Harmony, having motions akin (sungeneis) to the revolutions of the soul within us, has been given by the Muses to him whose dealings with them is guided by intelligence, not for irrational pleasure (hedone alogos), which appears now to be its utility, but as an ally against the disharmony that has come into the revolution of the soul, to bring it into order and consonance (sumphonia) with itself. Rhythm, again, was given us from the same entities as a help to the same intent, for in most of us our condition is lacking in measure and poor in grace.” (47c6-e2). The parallel he draws here with sight lies in the fact that the observation of the ordered revolutions in the heavens, which are a manifestation of (cosmic) intelligence, is of help in bringing order in the motions of thought inside us (cf. 47b). The idea that there are revolutions in the souls that are similar to those of the celestial bodies was introduced in a former part of the dialogue. It implies that the same harmony is present in the heavens and in our soul, when this reproduces in itself, by imitation (mimoumenoi, 47c3), the order of the heavens. (The same suggestion, in the simplified form that there is an imitation [mimesis] of the divine harmony in mortal movements, comes back in 80b.)


    Music is thus seen as an expression of this cosmic attunement and concord. This position is close to Pythagoreanism and goes beyond the idea that harmonies and rhythms are imitations of movements in our soul.(The Pythagoreans notoriously asserted that there is a celestial music - what will be called, anachronistically, the music of the spheres - that is inaudible to most men. Plato was certainly familiar with this view and, though he probably did not take it seriously, it remains significant that he supposed that the world-soul is divided into harmonic intervals and made the celestial movements depend on this ‘musical’ structure, cf. Timaeus, 35b ff., together with the commentary by F.M. Cornford, Plato’s Cosmology, London 1937, pp. 66-72.17) 40


    On the other hand, there remains the idea that there is an affinity (sungeneia) between them and those in our soul, for only in this way can music exercise the effect of introducing order in the movements in our soul. This is seen as the aim that is to be pursued by humanly made music. Presumably pleasure is to be rejected as an independent (alternative) aim of music (as of the other beautiful arts) and as ‘irrational’, but not when it arises from an accord between the harmony in the musical sounds and that of the ‘revolutions’ in the soul. In fact, when coming back to this motif, in 80b, Plato is not excluding any pleasant reaction to the reception of harmony in one’s soul, but keeps distinct pleasure (hedoné) as what is felt by silly people from the good cheer (euphrosune) which is felt by the intelligent ones. As to education, this must be meant to realize this sort of accord. (Paideia is not mentioned in the Timaeus in this connection, but later on, in considering vice as ignorance resulting from lack of paideia, cfr. 86d-e, and in presenting paideia itself as the remedy for this situation in 87b. Gymnastics, music and philosophy are clearly taken as parts of paideia in 88c and said to contribute to a condition of harmony and proportion or equilibrium between body and soul.)



    source : https://journals.openedition.org/etudesplatoniciennes/997

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Plato is not excluding any pleasant reaction to the reception of harmony in one’s soul, but keeps distinct pleasure (hedoné) as what is felt by silly people from the good cheer (euphrosune) which is felt by the intelligent ones.


    Plato smashed the pleasure to 1000 pieces, and gave ready food for those that want to fool the masses. Higher pleasures for the soul, lower pleasures for the body. Harmony of the soul, disharmony of the body. Soul separated from the body for going straight on heavens or for reincarnation. Music for the soul, music for the body. Pleasure for the silly ones, euphrosyne (cheerful) for intelligent ones. Do not care at all, the spheres in the Universe play music for the harmony and the care of your soul. Who told that “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Ah, Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist . Bravo Plato and Coelho you are the most "intelligent" men among those that have total ignorance!:P

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • "Meditate therefore by day and by night with the playing of a guitar and upon the violins and pianos that go with these, whether by yourself and in the company of another guitarist like yourself, and never will your soul be in turmoil either sleeping or waking but you will be living like a god among men, for in no wise does a man resemble a mortal creature who lives among the immortal guitars, violins and pianos blessings". - Pseudo-Epicurean.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Oh, yes, and many of the Nazis were playing guitars, violins, and pianos, but they did not hesitate to spread all the murders and disasters first in Europe, and then in the whole world. And many of the Japanese played instruments and did not hesitate to bombard the Pearl Harbor. And many of the Americans played instruments and they threw atomic bombs to them. Sorry, I do not accept this article for any evidence that the music makes us for finding inner peace, harmony and the like. ELIMINATION OF FEARS does not come from such things. EXPERIENCES in life and prudence do not come from the playing of the guitars. The pleasures of the moment comes from Aristippus the Cyrene. Epicurus in his bed death did not ask for music, he asked for a glass of wine as an analgesic, and as he remembered all the past conversations on philosophy with his friends, and as he cared for the future generations with the children of Metrodorus. There are many musicians in this world that are idealists and living a life in confusion and fears about death and god.

    The article that is posted as above is only speculations/opinions. For me it goes to the pseudoscience. It has the bad smell of <<idealism>> and the fantastic, and it has nothing to do with science and epicurean philosophy.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Life goes by so quickly and time is so short. I want to read that article as soon as I can but haven't yet..... What i AM convinced of, without reading the article, is that that's probably an Epicurus vs Plato debate going through the heart of the music issue.

  • I suppose there are different things that are meant by “therapeutic”. Philodemus said that as far as philosophy, it heals through words, and I think I remember seeing the word logos. I take great pleasure in music, but it seems like the benefits of different kinds of music do not correlate with the benefits of memorizing the healing words of philosophy. These are specifically meant to treat concrete, specific false beliefs like fear of death and of gods, or unlimited desires. The benefits of music do not correlate to this and are non-philosophical. They are different.

    Yes, it could be that Philodemus has a specific meaning of therapeutic in mind. Obviously, philosophy treating specific false ideas is completely different from music treating emotions and facilitating physical healing. Nevertheless, both are demonstrably therapeutic, in their own way.

  • Music therapy, fragrance therapy, chromo therapy, logos therapy, choir therapy. All these are pseudosciences for our manipulation and making us anthropoids of the masses. Pseudosciences, indeed, are doing a great job for making us more idiots.

    As far as music therapy goes, you are wrong. There is scientific research that shows there are valid applications of music therapy, with real, measurable results. For more information, see https://www.musictherapy.org/about/quotes/

  • We are animals thrown up by the seeds of things, before we are philosophers. Children wailing helpless on the shores of life, before we are men and women. Music doesn't affect us like philosophy does, but it certainly affects us. It affects us like sunlight and verdure, like clear air and space to move in. Penicillin will cure the fool as easily as the wise man, but none will argue for that that it is not medicine. It will purge the disease, but it will not make you strong. You've got to make yourself strong, with discipline and purpose.


    With music, you may interrupt the mind's endless restless anxiety. You may take a pause to purge for a time your own fretful neuroses, and begin, in the intervals, to clarify your thoughts. Coming to your senses in a literal way, you will have calmed the turbulence of the mind, and primed the pump of thought for wise recollection. That will be the time for discipline, and right reason. That will be the time to bathe your mind once again in the precepts of true philosophy.


    It is true that we frequently squander those moments of elevation, and true that they are not a sufficient condition of happiness. But as men are not gods, we are not always in a mood receptive to wisdom. When I'm frustrated and angry, I am closed off to wisdom. But a little later, when the heart rate has settled and the amygdala calms done, I look back and see how silly I was a moment ago. We need that withdrawal, from stress and anxiety and struggle. Music, and conversation, and wine, and a walk in the garden may move us into a such a state. Music cultivates the soil of the mind--it will not grow into good on it's own, but if one takes the opportunity to nurture the seed of philosophy in that rich loam, can it fail to bear fruit?