Leibniz on music

Leibniz wrote:

Even the pleasures of sense are reducible to intellectual pleasures, known confusedly.  Music charms us, although its beauty consists only in the agreement of numbers and in the counting, which we do not perceive but which the soul nevertheless continues to carry out, of the beats or vibrations of sounding bodies which coincide at certain intervals.

Boy, do I disagree.  Different pleasures are different.

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6 thoughts on “Leibniz on music

  1. voloch says:

    I don’t think Leibniz was referring to death metal.

  2. JSE says:

    Do you consider death metal an intellectual pleasure known confusedly, Felipe?

  3. Kevin says:

    In his defense, I think it’s fair to say there was a lot less variety in music in Leibniz’s day.

  4. voloch says:

    Probably not.

  5. aaaatos says:

    Statements of the type “X and Y are essentially the same thing” have a great appeal. Call it reductionism, essentialism, whatever.

    For me, one of the most brilliant arguments against this type of reasoning was put forward by Wittgenstein, during some course or other that he taught. He said something like:

    “You often hear people say that ‘X is just the same thing as Y,’ where X and Y are really different things. This is of course wrong. It would be the same as saying: When I take Redpath [one of his students] here and cook him at 200 degrees Celsius, all that would be left of him would be some water vapor, some ashes, etc. Hence, this is all that Redpath really is.”

    Nevertheless, such statements can have great intellectual appeal. Wittgenstein ascribed that appeal to “economy of thought”, which is a strangely functionalistic explanation for him, but I don’t have any better ideas.

  6. Alp says:

    You probably disagree with him even more thoroughly: Leibniz thought that all sensory experience was a confused form of intellectual representation. The quoted bit is just a specialization of that view to a particular case.

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