Thursday, June 11, 2009

The metaphysical touch

The metaphysical touch is to reality what an absolute ear is to music. If for example you strike a glass and you correctly recognize the sound as a B flat, you have an absolute touch. Those who do not have an absolute touch have a relative touch, and they consequently perceive essentially the intervals between the notes. For example, they hear in the same manner the series of three notes “do re mi” and the series of three notes “sol la si”: in both cases the intervals between the notes are the same. A metaphysical touch is therefore a type of absolute ear in the order of being, whereas a relative ear captures mostly modes, accidents and relations.

Credit image:


  1. Thanks Rica! :) Here are some definitions.

    Mode = 6 a: a manifestation, form, or arrangement of being ; specifically : a particular form or manifestation of an underlying substance. (Merriam-Webster)

    Accident = things which do not affect the essence of the object are accidents. For example a chair being wood, metal, or plastic, is an accident, for it is still a chair regardless of the material it is made of.[2] From Wikipedia

    Relation = one of Aristotle's ten categories of being (the most tenuous) eg a friendship

  2. Harvey, you're way of writing and thinking is much more conceptual than mine, but I do have a broad background in philosophy and appreciate the points you're making. I love pithy remarks, and this short essay begins with one, and so you were off to a good start with me. Sometimes I get lost in the labyrinthe, but I usually find some thread (not necessarily Ariadne's) to get me back out again.

    (Just curious, purely for information's sake. Did you receive an e-mail about the broadcast I sent yesterday and updated today? It seemed to vanish into thin air.)

  3. NP,
    Thank you for your kind words. The friend I translated this for was a musician, hence the musical analogies. In fact, Aristotle's analysis of the work of art is an analogical approach. He started with that angle, as the work of art is closer to our psychological conditionning.

    I did see your Broadcast on BC, although I don't think emails are sent out. :)

  4. This post has me wondering if I should dip back into music for a spin. Great post Harvey! I dig!

  5. Like Einstein's frames of reference, there can not be an absolute "note" in music. Someone who says "This is B flat" as in ur example, recognizes the note in his/her frame of reference - the scale. Two different individuals may recognize the sole note as different depending on their scales. The ones who recognize the difference between notes immediately figure out the correct frame of reference (given that they know the stuff).