This is NOT Philosophy!


I really don’t like calling this a discussion of Philosophy. It’s not. We’re going to call it something else. Philosophy is on the second floor. (Review the Three Story Rap). Epistemology is on the 3rd floor.

For some time, now, I have not seen Epistemology as a Branch of Philosophy. That definition is out of date. Epistemology is a field of its own.

Because epistemology now recognizes that there is ‘silent’ knowing (not words) at the biological level, and Susanne Langer brought aesthetics into epistemology (including music), it is distinct from philosophy which remains at the verbal level, and is entrenched in logic and manipulation of symbols. Epistemology is the self-reflexive element of all knowing, or better said, “minding.”

Alfred Korzybski in 1933 said, “This class of workers I call epistemologists, to avoid the disagreeable implications of the term ‘philosopher.’ Unfortunately, epistemological researches are most difficult. . . We find only a very few doing this work, which, in the main, is still little known and unapplied. It must be granted that their works do not make easy reading. They do not command headlines; nor are they aided and stimulated by public interest and help.”

Wikipedia is Wrong!

A new epistemology has arrived that views knowing as a process, and not a body of “truths.” I first outlined it in 1975 in my doctoral dissertation. You can find it in the writings of Susanne Langer, Gaston Bachelard, David Bohm, Silvan Tomkins, JS Bois, Alfred Korzybski, Adelbert Ames, G. Spencer Brown, Michael Polanyi, Jimi Hendrix (“Just ask the Axis, he knows everything”), et al. . . None of them confine their meanings to the “12-tones” of standard logical epistemology.

Epistemology deals with methods of thinking-feeling (how we make distinctions), while philosophy deals with theories and doctrines (why we do what we do). They are now different fields: the former on the 3rd floor, and the latter on the 2nd floor. If we are to understand the work of Erv Wilson we have to understand that he was working mainly with methods of forming pitch fields, not which is best, and why. The epistemology referred to in Wikipedia is classical epistemology with roots in the epistemological methods of Aristotle, and later, Bacon and Ferrier. Check this out by Bois:

The place and scope of non-aristotelian systems

Epistemology: Classical and Up-to-date

The general concern of general semantics and epistemics can be given in two words: up-to-date epistemology. Classical epistemology usually is described as “the branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowing” (American College Dictionary). It is the science of our mental activities; and it deals with how we observe with our senses and how we introspect, how we think, how we doubt, how we attain certainty, how we accept the views of others, how we communicate our own views, how we differentiate facts from opinions, how we remember and forget, how we solve problems, how we invent and create. Such was the epistemology as introduced by Ferrier and accepted in scientific literature until recently.Susanne Langer, in describing a new keynote that has been struck in philosophy in general, and in epistemology in particular, writes:

To us whose intelligence is bound up with language, whose achievements are physical comforts, machines, medicines, great cities, and the means of their destruction, theory of knowledge means theory of communication, generalization, proof, in short: critique of science. But the limits of language are not the last limits of experience, and things inaccessible to language may have their own forms of conception, that is to say, their own symbolic devices. Such non-discursive forms, charged with logical possibilities of meaning, underlie the significance of music; and their recognition broadens our epistemology to the point of including not only the seĀ­mantics of science, but a serious (consideration of the methods) of art. –Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key (New York: Mentor Books, 1951), p. 224..

We’re going to call this section “Epistemology.” It could be called “Epistemology and music.” But not the “Epistemology of music.”

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Gary David

Gary David, Ph.D. in epistemology, is currently engaged in a private counseling practice, as well as giving seminars teaching the role of the biology of emotion in the meaning-making processes of the whole human being. A former professional musician, he was the leader of an experimental jazz group called "The Sound of Feeling," and was one of the early, longtime students of Erv Wilson.

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