New Book: Boulez, Music and Philosophy

This looks interesting:

Boulez, Music and Philosophy by Edward Campbell

Series: Music in the Twentieth Century

Cambridge University Press

While acknowledging that Pierre Boulez is not a philosopher, and that he is wary of the potential misuse of philosophy with regard to music, this study investigates a series of philosophically charged terms and concepts which he uses in discussion of his music. Campbell examines significant encounters which link Boulez to the work of a number of important philosophers and thinkers, including Adorno, Lévi-Strauss, Eco and Deleuze. Relating Boulez’s music and ideas to broader currents of thought, the book illuminates a number of affinities linking music and philosophy, and also literature and visual art. These connections facilitate enhanced understanding of post-war modernist music and Boulez’s distinctive approach to composition. Drawing on a wide range of previously unpublished documentary sources and providing musical analysis of a number of key scores, the book traces the changing musical, philosophical and intellectual currents which inform Boulez’s work.


1. Preparing the ground; 2. Early influences and movements; 3. Dialectic, negation and binary oppositions; 4. Boulez, Adorno and serial critique; 5. Deduction and the scientific model; 6. Serialism and structuralism; 7. Post-structuralist encounters; 8. Boulez, difference and repetition; 9. Expanding the virtual; 10. Continuity and discontinuity of space and time; Conclusion; Bibliography.


Maimon Reading Group: Chapter 9 – Truth, Subjective, Objective, Logical, Metaphysical

Another fairly brief chapter but again very rich. Maimon’s aim is to distinguish and clarify various ways in which the word ‘truth’ can be used (the chapter’s title lists these) as well as to reflect on the objectivity of the forms of thought delineated in the Essay, all the time continuing certain broadly Kantian observations whilst entertaining certain criticisms of the Kantian project.

The chapter opens by defining truth not as a property of thoughts but of signs (Zeichen) and expressions (Ausdrücke) in relation to thoughts. Thus the expression ‘a right angled triangle’ is a true concept because through it a triangle can be thought as determinable and being-right-angled can be thought as a determination and the two then ‘taken together’ (zusammengenommen – see Chapter 7), the necessary connection of subject and predicate becoming visible. A false concept is one which “is taken to refer to something (a thought unity) that it cannot refer to” (80). A third possibility exists, of a concept which is neither true nor false, e.g. ‘a black triangle’ where thinking black does not lead automatically to the thought of a triangle; the one can be thought without the other and in fact nothing (or very little) is thought in such an expression. Continue reading

Maimon Reading Group: Chapter 7 – Magnitude; Chapter 8 – Alteration, Change, etc.

Chapter 7: Magnitude

A short chapter this, just two pages, and rather than take up your time with a commentary longer than the original I’ve restricted myself to summarising and explaining the main arguments before offering a few questions for possible discussion. Chapter 7 continues in the vein of elaborating some key Kantian and pre-Kantian notions, the focus here being a distinction between extensive and intensive magnitude, a contrast familiar from Leibniz but also taken up by Kant and which Maimon illustrates in nicely straightforward terms. Continue reading