Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Philosophical Debate : Musical Impact on Intelligence

with one comment

Ronn 1: I believe listening to classical and orchestral music creates a big impact on our intelligence.

Ronn 2: I disagree. There’s no scientific evidence to back this up. In fact, there was an article over Reddit.com recently which shows people who listen to classical music did not show any significant improvement on their intelligence at all. Until the day it is proven, you can’t say you are right.

Ronn 1: The research is nuts. These researchers assume orchestral music is like a intelligence-boosting-magical-pill. No, music is not a highway to intelligence. It is a learning process. You need to properly appreciate and experience the music first before it could come into effect.

And you talk about provable evidence. There’s no evidence which shows that ghost exist, yet people are still watching horror movies and most of them believe it exists. Despite not being proven yet, you can’t be 100% certain that it is wrong or do not exist.

Ronn 2: Alright philosopher, let’s hear your reasoning and thoughts about music.

Ronn 1: Observe people around you with their taste of music. You will notice that the genre of music people listen to will create what they are. If a person likes rock and metal music, you will notice that he/she tends to be a rebellious or freedom-seeker type of person. R&B music creates a party boy/girl personality, the kind of people who love to dance and have fun all night long. Jazz music, on the other hand, creates a more sensitive and soft side of a person while classical orchestral music impacts on one’s intelligent. And etc. Music affects us mentally without our consciousness.

Ronn 2: There are two flaws in your argument here. First of all, you are making a sweeping generalization which will never do good for your argument. Assuming that your generalization is right, then secondly, didn’t you consider the fact that perhaps it could be the other way round? Maybe the music fits in to the personality instead of what you are trying to say, the personality fits into music.

Ronn 1: Okay … you have a point here. Anyway, it doesn’t matter whether listening to classical music will make one more intelligent or intelligent people tend to prefer classical music. You got my point.

Ronn 2: No, it is not the same. It’s a big claim to say listening to classical music make you more intelligent. As i have said, that’s a sweeping generalization. What can you add to substantiate your claim?

Ronn 1: I don’t know. It’s just my personal experience. I could feel my brain stimulates whenever i listen to orchestral music… and occasionally electronic and house music too. I felt that … i get mentally stronger and sharper listening to these music.

Ronn 2: Personal experience does not really prove anything on a whole. Let me give you an example. Jeanne d’Arc said she has visions of God. But don’t forget, even some patients in mental hospital claimed to have visions of God too. It doesn’t justify anything that Jeanne d’Arc is a God’s representative to recapture France from England, you see. So, your personal belief that listening to classical music makes a person more intelligent is not a logical reasoning but just a matter of ‘faith’.

Ronn 1: Ok, let me put my argument in another way. I’m sure you are aware that when we learn something new from the external environment, new neurons in our brain will grow, right? Let’s take a classical composer for example – Tchaikovsky. How did Tchaikovsky composed his music? By using his brain of course, which means there were sets of neurons which were responsible for his abstract thinking and creativity to compose the masterpiece. Therefore, when i listen to one of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, my brain will replicate the neurons which created the music in my brain. In some way, i inherited a little intelligence from him.

Ronn 2: Hahahahahahaha! This is one of the most ridiculous argument i have ever heard in my life! Does that mean i will behave like a dog if i spend a great deal of time listening to dogs barking?

Ronn 1: I think you are getting the wrong idea. Sure, the brain is more complex than that and my example above may appear simplistic. But i’m just trying to make a point…

What i’m trying to say is that there are conscious and unconscious way of expanding intelligence. When we are reading a science book, we are consciously learning about science. When we are observing how a mechanic fixes the car, we would have acquired some knowledge about car too. In these areas we could consciously control our knowledge and apply it directly to solve problems.

But since our mind is consist of conscious and subconscious mind, it indicates that there are areas within our brain which we can’t directly control. I’m sure there were moments when you were able to conceive an idea which you don’t even know how you did it, but you just did. That itself is an unconscious factor. Can you directly control your brain to ‘manufacture’ big ideas every minute and every day? The answer is no. You gotta ‘shake’ big ideas out from your subconscious mind which take some time and effort.

Hence, my ultimate point here is, if subconscious mind play a role in outputting ideas, maybe it also plays a role in inputting ideas too. Why not?

Perhaps our brain is subconsciously learning whenever we are perceiving or absorbing the work of geniuses. Perhaps our brain is subconsciously learning every time we gaze into Picasso’s abstract arts. Perhaps the brain will try to understand the thoughts or inspiration behind the art and extracting ideas from the masterpiece. Same goes for classical music too.

I assume it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it takes a genius to compose classical music, no?

Ronn 2: Oh, I’m not sure whether you are right or not with your argument.. but you do make some sense to a certain extent. But, i still think it’s just a ‘faith’ unless you could really prove your argument, of course.

Ronn 1: You are talking about proving again. Why not you try to prove that my suggestion is false instead. And if you insist that’s a faith, so be it.

Ronn 2: Ok now, if you believe and have faith that classical music can expand one’s intelligence without evidence, why can’t you have faith that God exist then?

Ronn 1: Oh no, don’t start it please.

PS: The dialogue above represents my inner struggle on the impact of orchestral music on our intelligence while i was listening to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I genuinely felt different (mentally) when listening to orchestral music compared to other music genres. But i couldn’t explain it. Anyway, in my opinion, this article is one of the most complex article i have ever written yet the most meaningless at the same time. Meaninglessly complex.

(This classical masterpiece is one of my all time favourite. To those of you who are impatient, the climax of this song is at 4.57 minute)

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Written by elan85

May 8, 2008 at 3:50 am

Posted in Philosophy

One Response

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  1. As a composer I’m not sure classical music necessarily reduces my stress level – althought I don’t think you were talking about writing it.

    However, there is a fair amount of research into the effects on listening to Mozart, so I think there is something to suggest a connection with quality music and mental actitivity

    Chip Clark

    May 8, 2008 at 6:14 pm


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