University Of Tasmania
whole_LivingstonJohnRobert1999_thesis.pdf (13.09 MB)

Phenomenology, music, nature

Download (13.09 MB)
posted on 2023-05-26, 17:12 authored by Livingston, John Robert
If one takes the preservation of non-human species seriously, one must be prepared to ondertake a critical re-evaluation of many traditional, perhaps even sacred, metaphysical constructs concerning how we are in the world and the world in is in us - the questions central to ontology and epistemology respectively. In particular, the developing field of transpersonal ecology has assumed as basic that care and concern for Nature can only be fostered by a radical re-definition of our sense of place, and of the resourcist commodification of Nature whereby all living beings are defined solely in terms of their extrinsic, utilitarian, economic yield . Against resourcism, transpersonal ecology seeks to re-acquaint us with our embodiment in the world, a world where selves and beings-in-the-world are conceived as active processes which communicate in concrete contexts rather than as subjects and objects that cohere conceptually and abstractly. It is argued that such a metaphysical revision is necessary if we are to successfully pursue and realize the transpersonal ecological goal of Self-realization! or identification with others. The philosophical framework for such an endeavour is supplied by a detailed examination of the phenomenological nature of perception and cognition. Why phenomenology is of particular value is that it begins where transpersonal ecology leaves off, or what is basic to phenomenology is that the world already exists right there, palpable and vibrant, replete with significance and meaning in perceptual settings before its abstract conceptualization. At all times we are immersed in a meaningful exchange with others which is best understood as a series of dynamically evolving contexts or Gestalts. Whether we be engaged in conversation, moving quietly through a rainforest or embraced by a resonant soundscape, we are always experiencing a process-based identification with other phenomena, be they other people, other species or musical tones. Perceptually, they are fundamentally the same: they all emerge, evolve and dissolve as focal points which resolve onto the horizon in one seamless movement of Being. What is most important for transpersonal ecological purposes is that nothing, no species, no tonal cluster has importance in isolation, but only in harmonizing, communing with others in a fluid, ephemeral perceptual Gestalt. The purpose of this dissertation is to phenomenologically describe the similarity that exists between the perception of music and of Nature. What is particularly stressed is that resourcism is deceitful in presenting nonhumans solely in terms of presumed essential characteristics of economic import, a view that grossly simplifies and distorts rich perceptual settings. It is maintained that selves do not encounter a dead, neutral universe inhabited by discrete, atomic objects. Rather, selves and beings-in-the-world act as interlocutors in situations wherein an existential invitation is proffered by an engaging presence and is accepted by an embodied self. The meaning and significance of this encounter is shown to exist as a \steadfast friendly\" commitment to the creative expression and improvisitory play which is forever at work in the delineating of any situation. Music presents itself as an appropriate model for the elucidation of the transpersonal ecological approach in that in its phenomenological presence its real value rests with its immediate situational invitational aspect. As with the experience of Nature the perception of significance relies on the capacity of a self to appreciate the temporary evanescent disclosure of an other's being in its context. Though clearly operating within different time frames if one accepts an objective linear conception of time both species and tones may be seen to be of a similar phenomenological nature when an appreciation of their unfolding in virtual existential time is acknowledged. The meaning of a particular tone in a symphony or an individual being in its setting requires the perceiver to adopt an at-tuned anticipatory listening stance which allows for the moment of disclosure to occur. At that epiphanous moment past present and future fuse. The chord's or the species' name ceases to be relevant once the carnal resonant being is fully appreciated within its historical structured sedimented context. And as the tone decays or the species melts into its place the residue of the epiphanous contact remains as an appropriate situationally grounded commitment to the value of the experience with a forward looking anticipation of renewal and re-acquaintance."


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 1999 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1999. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected