Philosophy of Music Education Review 13.1 (2005) 104-108
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A Response to Estelle R. Jorgensen, "Four Philosophical Models of the Relationship Between Theory and Practice"
Randall Everett Allsup
Each of the four philosophical models that Estelle Jorgensen has put forth contests, adheres to, or adjusts the hierarchical relationships between dualities, specifically the theory and practice of musical learning. The dichotomy model faces binary associations head on, splitting existence however defined into dualisms like "this/that," "us/them," and "mind/body." Models of polarity, according to Jorgensen, accommodate dualities by buffering edges, emphasizing the interconnectedness of binary relationships. The fusion metaphor is exemplified by Paulo Freire's notion of praxis in which action and reflection are welded together to create hope for a new world, one free of the oppression and conflict that is inherent in binary relationships. The dialectical model is contrapuntal by nature, Edward Said would say.1
This relationship highlights our postmodern devotion to différence by embracing the tension created through inclusion so that "this is with that," "we are with them and they are with us," and "mind is with body, just as body is with mind."2
Perhaps there is a fifth model, a new kind of relationship where the oppositional or hierarchical nature of binaries co-exists peacefully without tension. [End Page 104] Such an arrangement is, I think, an outgrowth of capitalist democracy—it is, most especially, representative of our global, information age. This type of relationship is problematic philosophically, we will see, lacking as Jorgensen has outlined "logic evidenced in principles," "internal consistency," and "coherence within a unity or whole." Likewise for Bennett Reimer, this new mind-set fails the test of philosophical scrutiny, unconcerned as it is with a "reasoned, structured set of propositions."3 Whether philosophy or mind-set, this new arrangement has as much to do with freedom and free markets as it does with the particular conditions of both modernity and postmodernity.
In the novel, White Noise, by Don DeLillo, the postmodern condition is represented in part by an "Airborne Toxic Event," a cloud of gas, Nyodene D, which floats above a tranquil All-American college town.4 A sense of crisis is felt, but felt obliquely and no one knows exactly what harm has been done. In Albert Camus' The Plague, by contrast, the disease that infests the North African town of Oran acts to awaken its citizenry, confronting the populace with the moral imperatives to fight or flee.5 Perhaps the metaphor of quarantine symbolizes the hard boundaries of modernism.
Capitalism seeks to dissolve conflict. It operates silently, in the realm of social production, like a cloud of gas. Denise, Jack Gladney's daughter in White Noise, mumbles over and over in her sleep, "Toyota Corolla, Toyota Celica, Toyota Cressida . . . ."6 There is a sense of ontological change, that the expanding reach of media, information, and technology rewires the way we think, the way we dream. Tensions are willed away. The expansion and survival of market shares, after all, depend on the peaceful erosion of boundaries—boundaries that demarcate what we learn, what we buy, and who we are.
Questions about what this new system means—this new mind-set—are explored in a book called Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.7 These writers posit a global world of communication, cooperation, and affect, where an increase in hybrids creates a kind of "omniversality" where the virtual, natural, and ideological converge.8 In the dialectical relationship that Jorgensen shares with writers like Paulo Freire and Maxine Greene, there is no acceptable synthesis, no peaceful co-existence, between oppressors and oppressed. While according to Freire, the oppressed may internalize or house characteristics of the oppressor. In the global world of capital, the oppositional nature of the Other is replaced by niches or fragments, dissolving differences into marketing opportunities, really. That the avant-garde no longer exists is proof of this new state.
As the essentialist nature of the Other fades away...