History of the Human Sciences 28 (3):3-21 (2015)
AbstractIn this article, I use Stengers’ concepts of ‘factish’, ‘requirements’ and ‘obligations’, as well as Latour’s critique of modernity, to interrogate the rise of Equal Temperament as the dominant system of tuning for western music. I argue that Equal Temperament is founded on an unacknowledged compromise which undermines its claims to rationality and universality. This compromise rests on the standardization which is the hallmark of the tuning system of Equal Temperament, and, in this way, it is emblematic of Latour’s definition of modernity. I further argue that the problem of the tuning of musical instruments is one which epitomizes the modern distinction between the natural and the social. In turn, this bears witness to what Whitehead calls the ‘bifurcation of nature’. Throughout this article, using the work of Stengers and Latour, I seek to use tuning as a case study which allows social research to talk both of the natural and of the social aspects of music and tuning, without recourse to essentialism or simple social construction. In this way, my argument seeks to avoid bifurcating nature.
Similar books and articles
Temperament: The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle.Stuart Isacoff - 2001 - Alfred A. Knopf.
Simon Stevin's equal division of the octave.H. Floris Cohen - 1987 - Annals of Science 44 (5):471-488.
Tuning and Temperament. A Historical Survey by J. Murray Barbour. [REVIEW]W. Gilbert - 1956 - Isis 47:66-67.
Can a compromise be fair?Peter Jones & Ian O’Flynn - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (2):115-135.
Compromise: a political and philosophical history.Alin Fumurescu - 2013 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1. toward a history on equal terms: A discussion of provincializing europe.Carola Dietze - 2008 - History and Theory 47 (1):69–84.
Explaining the Fine Tuning of the Universe to Us and the Fine Tuning of Us to the Universe.Tim Mawson - 2011 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 68:25-50.
Predictivism and old evidence: a critical look at climate model tuning.Mathias Frisch - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (2):171-190.
Fine-Tuning, Quantum Mechanics and Cosmological Artificial Selection.Clément Vidal - 2012 - Foundations of Science 17 (1):29-38.
The Physiology and Psychology of Temperament: Pragmatism in Context.Francesca Bordogna - 2001 - Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 37:3-25.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
Citations of this work
No citations found.
References found in this work
Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to the Actor-Network Theory.Bruno Latour - 2005 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.Max Weber, Talcott Parsons & R. H. Tawney - 1958 - Courier Corporation.
The Order of Things, an Archaeology of the Human Sciences.Michel Foucault - 1970 - Science and Society 35 (4):490-494.
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Max Weber.C. D. Burns - 1930 - International Journal of Ethics 41 (1):119-120.