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Bloch on music

I’ve been emailing back and forth with a friend about Bloch, which made me remember how much I love Bloch. One thing I’ve never been able to come to grips with, though, is Bloch’s stuff on music. I’ve never really listened to classical music, in part because I don’t know where to start.

In an effort to rectify this situation, I’ve started a playlist on Spotify. I’ve only included the first few names from the essay, but I’ll keep adding as I go. It seems like everyone and their brother has an arrangement of Ave Maria, so I think I’ll try to include each composer’s version. Hopefully having a recurring theme will make it easier to catch the differences that Bloch finds so important.

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Links etc.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with the start of first year teaching and work on developing our new BA.

The Royal Institute of Philosophy has just posted its schedule for the year. There’s some interesting papers – Stern’s paper in February looks promising and Sebastian Gardner is sure to be good. There’s plenty to skip though. I don’t really need to hear about clearing ‘the ground for a real politics that would jettison the absurd hubris of liberalism and of most “Leftism”. And would jettison the extreme Prometheanism and lack of precaution endemic to our current pseudo-democratic technocracy.’

Stuart Elden shared a History of Philosophy chart. Readers quickly pointed out that the chart was exclusively white and male. I prefer this one much more – I even have a copy hanging in my office. It’s great, though I have noticed other people have a hard time not getting distracted by it when they come in to my office.

More on Leiter, philosophy and identity politics

Over at New APPS, Christian Coseru also takes issue with the Leiter report post I criticised here.

I was thinking of the issues raised by Coseru today as I read through the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Philosophy (it’s as exciting as it sounds). In the section on the ‘Nature and extent of philosophy’ we read:

The study of philosophy’s own history, including the investigation of its diverse traditions. In the UK, the main focus of study is Western philosophy. This has its own canon in the study of the classics of Western philosophy from the Presocratics onwards, but the membership of this canon is not fixed. Philosophy can include study of texts and traditions from outside the Western world, such as Indian and Buddhist philosophy. It is characteristic of philosophy that it engages with past thought as living argument and as a challenge to contemporary modes of thinking.

Statements such as this one go some distance in acknowledging the inherently contingent nature of the shape of our canon, but still don’t address the fact that voices from outside the established canon(s) do not just broaden or otherwise enrich a pre-existing discussion. They are not spices we add for exotic flair while continuing to serve the same basic meal. If the canon is not fixed, not including a more diverse range of voices is an active choice not to recognise the contributions of those ‘non-canonical’ voices and a failure to acknowledge the role this history of exclusion has played in contributing to other forms of discrimination and marginalisation.