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Does theory extract or create meaning?

 
 
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 08:42 am
I can't really get my head around it.
Whilst writing my dissertation (it was a musicological essay) I was consistently irritated by reading article after article that dealt with my issue by literally making massive webs of argument that superimposed meanings onto the subject making convincing reading at a superficial level, but when studied closely, held only tenuous links to the object of study.
In this case, my argument was that the theory was not servicing the work, but creating systems of meaning to service itself, which in most people's books I think is bad academia. I would like to posit that 'better/good' academia would hold a more cogent relationship to the object of study, and not create long chains of argument as scaffolding, not thrust meaning 'onto' a topic. However, in 'better' academic studies, I don't know if we can make a proper distinction between whether theory creates or extracts meaning, since creation and extraction have the same appearance. My guess, of course, is that it does both, but I can't work out exactly how.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 2,568 • Replies: 29
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Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 09:14 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
In my opinion nor does it extract or create meaning...but if forced to choose I would peak extract, as it serves better the idea...
Theory essentially brings up the correspondent function between a system of things...it ads nothing, but only reveals the dynamic of relation in the system...that is to say that the system corresponds not only to the sum of its parts but also to the algorithmic dynamic which sustains it...further meaning is created when you enter a new member in the set given you must form a new holistic web of dynamic...nevertheless meaning is not being created given its a priori implicit in the new formed system...

Regards>FILIPE DE ALBUQUERQUE
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 10:02 am
I'd say theory creates meaning about some thing. In a sense, the sequence of symbols is the sign, the theoretical meaning is the signifier, and the thing studied is the signified.

However, not all meaning is theory.
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  0  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 12:52 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The true and most relevant answer is ...IT DOESN'T ******* MATTER!!! ^^
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 02:34 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
(Bookmark)
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 02:46 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Interesting topic.

I believe that a theory can create new meaning if it pulls together diverse information and explains the diverse information in a new way.
0 Replies
 
Ding an Sich
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 03:54 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

I can't really get my head around it.
Whilst writing my dissertation (it was a musicological essay) I was consistently irritated by reading article after article that dealt with my issue by literally making massive webs of argument that superimposed meanings onto the subject making convincing reading at a superficial level, but when studied closely, held only tenuous links to the object of study.
In this case, my argument was that the theory was not servicing the work, but creating systems of meaning to service itself, which in most people's books I think is bad academia. I would like to posit that 'better/good' academia would hold a more cogent relationship to the object of study, and not create long chains of argument as scaffolding, not thrust meaning 'onto' a topic. However, in 'better' academic studies, I don't know if we can make a proper distinction between whether theory creates or extracts meaning, since creation and extraction have the same appearance. My guess, of course, is that it does both, but I can't work out exactly how.


I do not understand how you can thrust meaning onto something, especially a theory. Am I missing something?

The reason why long scaffolded arguments are used might be due to the fact that the subject at hand requires it. Kant's Kritik der Reinen Vernunft is a perfect example of this (amongst the multitude of books in philosophy and academia overall). You've got a case, you need to be thorough with it, and it needs to be proven. Sometimes this is not so simple; in fact it can be rather dense.

Question: does your problem involve relevancy? You read an article and ask yourself, "What does this have to do with music", and "What is the point"? Perhaps what is being read only has to do with a very specific aspect of Music, or any other subject.

So do we have whole systems that only service themselves? Where do we see this exactly? Could you give me an example, article, book, etc. that demonstrates this?
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 04:09 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
In science it is crystallizing a phenomenon, process, structure or thought in a simple meaningful way in terms of formulas or laws. For example, the ways matter behaved towards each other was documented by many scientists but could not be explained in a meaningful way. But it was Sir Isaac Newton by enunciating the three laws of motion with mathematical equations explained gravity. The equations helped in other areas such as fluids and mechanical stress, etc.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 04:18 pm
Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_berlow_how_complexity_leads_to_simplicity.html
0 Replies
 
Amphiclea
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Nov, 2010 06:53 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Quote:
Whilst writing my dissertation (it was a musicological essay) I was consistently irritated by reading article after article that dealt with my issue by literally making massive webs of argument that superimposed meanings onto the subject making convincing reading at a superficial level, but when studied closely, held only tenuous links to the object of study.

In this case, my argument was that the theory was not servicing the work, but creating systems of meaning to service itself, which in most people's books I think is bad academia. I would like to posit that 'better/good' academia would hold a more cogent relationship to the object of study, and not create long chains of argument as scaffolding, not thrust meaning 'onto' a topic. However, in 'better' academic studies, I don't know if we can make a proper distinction between whether theory creates or extracts meaning, since creation and extraction have the same appearance. My guess, of course, is that it does both, but I can't work out exactly how.


I think there are two processes going on in what you've observed. One is simple academic claim-staking: arguing a theory (or perhaps more accurately, a thesis) as a career move, something to provide fodder for the publish-or-perish machine. Given enough time and research grants, one can string together almost anything out of the available material - to "prove," for example, that Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor is really a blow-by-blow representation of an argument the composer had with his wife over the grocery money.

The other process, the one with philsophical resonances, has to do with the fact that our perceiving or thinking about anything involves a selection process. Abstraction is one name for it, reductionism is another. In my opinion, we can and do experience things as wholes, but when it comes to "thinking" about the things we experience, we can only think part of what we've experienced. It's why the breaking down of a process works scientifically, but it's also why science often ends up having to deal with the ill effects of what it has overlooked.

It's also why, as individuals, if we have any sensitivity, we return to our experiences again and again and think (or re-think, re-cognize) a different part each time; for example, listening to the chorale in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for the hundredth time and still hearing or feeling something new in it. And my hearing or feeling that new strain might prompt me to invent a new theory about music, about aesthetics, about life. So it goes.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Nov, 2010 04:35 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

I can't really get my head around it.
Whilst writing my dissertation (it was a musicological essay) I was consistently irritated by reading article after article that dealt with my issue by literally making massive webs of argument that superimposed meanings onto the subject making convincing reading at a superficial level, but when studied closely, held only tenuous links to the object of study.
In this case, my argument was that the theory was not servicing the work, but creating systems of meaning to service itself, which in most people's books I think is bad academia. I would like to posit that 'better/good' academia would hold a more cogent relationship to the object of study, and not create long chains of argument as scaffolding, not thrust meaning 'onto' a topic. However, in 'better' academic studies, I don't know if we can make a proper distinction between whether theory creates or extracts meaning, since creation and extraction have the same appearance. My guess, of course, is that it does both, but I can't work out exactly how.


You really should give a particular example of what you have in mind. In science, germ theory (the theory that there are germs, very small organisms) that cause disease, and explain its spread, create the meaning of the term, "germ", but do not, of course, create germs, since disease was around way before germ theory. And, of course, music was around way before there was music theory. So you ought to try to clarify what you are thinking. Examples always help.
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Nov, 2010 01:45 am
@Amphiclea,
Thank you everyone for the excellent replies.
Fil, the piece on 'correspondent function' makes good sense.

Amphiclea-
Quote:
I think there are two processes going on in what you've observed. One is simple academic claim-staking: arguing a theory (or perhaps more accurately, a thesis) as a career move, something to provide fodder for the publish-or-perish machine. Given enough time and research grants, one can string together almost anything out of the available material - to "prove," for example, that Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor is really a blow-by-blow representation of an argument the composer had with his wife over the grocery money.


This rings especially true for what I have been studying. Since people have asked me to explain, I shall:
The best example I can think of is the example which I studied for my dissertation whereby it is argued that a series of motifs in Skriabin's 6th sonata interact in such a way so as to make a 'plot archetype', which, when you look at the way these symbols are identified, the links between the symbols are extremely tenuous, therefore the sense of motifs having 'meaning thrust on them' for the sake of the coherence of the rest of the plot, rather than meaning 'extracted' from the sonata.
Music, as an abstract entity is more likely to fall victim to this than in scientific disciplines, I recognise.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2010 05:46 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Music is after all a person's preference so it would have a great deal of subjectivism. The point is to target a group and satisfy that group be it classical, broadway, Bollywood, soundtracks, musicals, rock, gypsy or whatever. Each group has their idiosyncracies, methods and so on.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2010 07:59 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The way I see it, any theory is an expression of a phenomena we percieve. Meaning is in the establishment of relationships that allow for presice communication of percieved elements of the phenomenon at hand.
Old relationships give way to new ones, and communication becomes more presice.

If you don't mind saying PQ, what is the issue of your musicological essay?
north
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2010 10:04 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

I can't really get my head around it.
Whilst writing my dissertation (it was a musicological essay) I was consistently irritated by reading article after article that dealt with my issue by literally making massive webs of argument that superimposed meanings onto the subject making convincing reading at a superficial level, but when studied closely, held only tenuous links to the object of study.
In this case, my argument was that the theory was not servicing the work, but creating systems of meaning to service itself, which in most people's books I think is bad academia. I would like to posit that 'better/good' academia would hold a more cogent relationship to the object of study, and not create long chains of argument as scaffolding, not thrust meaning 'onto' a topic. However, in 'better' academic studies, I don't know if we can make a proper distinction between whether theory creates or extracts meaning, since creation and extraction have the same appearance. My guess, of course, is that it does both, but I can't work out exactly how.


theory should extract meaning , the consequence of

to create meaning would be detrimental to our survival
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2010 11:00 pm
Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html
north
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2010 12:38 am
@Fil Albuquerque,


interesting and different

don't agree with all that he had to say but overall , its a start to progress , towards Humanity by Humanity , its about respect , really

so it seems extract meaning , disease , knowledge based , science

or create meaning , religion

what I would want is the combination of both ;

science to understand the energy/matter of the world

and

the spiritual world to add to science( understanding the physical world ) for
the complete understanding of the Universe





0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2010 09:17 am
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:

The way I see it, any theory is an expression of a phenomena we percieve. Meaning is in the establishment of relationships that allow for presice communication of percieved elements of the phenomenon at hand.
Old relationships give way to new ones, and communication becomes more presice.

If you don't mind saying PQ, what is the issue of your musicological essay?


Yeah. I've come to realise over this thread that I think I am really talking about issues within interpretation, rather than theory.
Does interpretation extract or create meaning?

My thesis was 'Esotericism, mysticism and symbolism: Problems in the interpretation of Skriabin's 6th sonata'. Not much fun, but I ironed out a lot of creases in my thinking because I found it so difficult.
NoOne phil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2010 10:32 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
For me, to say that the written word, of any type, has meaning, is an anthropomorphism.
Sentences are either true or false, however, they never have any meaning.

Those linguist who examine meaning would be more profitable working for Burger King.

Two-Element Metaphysics. Plato.
One cannot assert nor deny of a first principle-being either form or material difference, words are forms and are used by association. One cannot assert nor deny anything of them. One either has the appropriate association in memory or they do not. If they do not, then that person cannot manipulate those words in accordance with the principles of grammar other than by rote.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2010 10:52 am
You may be interested in reading a collection of Umberto Eco's essays concerning aesthetics and critical theory, titled The Open Work in which he presents the idea of "open" works of art which feature "the artist's decision to leave the arrangement of some of their constituents either to the public or to chance."

Although he deals with literature and texts, I think his ideas can be applied to any fine art, especially the more abstract arts like music and the visual ones, seeing as how his is an approach from semiotics.
0 Replies
 
 

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