• 3017amen
    154
    I tried to google the connection, but was unsuccessful in finding any theories. Why do you think we have musical and mathematical abilities ?

    If neither confer any survival value (eg: we don't have to compute the laws of gravity in order to dodge falling objects) are there any plausible explanations out there as to why we have these abilities?
  • Echarmion
    629
    It's not necessary for traits to confer survival value in order for those traits to develop. They merely need to, in fact, survive.

    Both Music and Math are probably heavily derived and more or less accidental results of human intelligence, and ability of abstract thought.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    It is probably not the case that "music" and "math" evolved as we now experience them. "Music" and "mathematics" are cultural inventions, resting on innate capacities. Language involves a number of 'musical' qualities: tone, pitch, rhythm, and so forth. Our need and capacity to think about the world involves quantitative elements -- how big, how far, how many, how fast, and so on.

    Animals which have evolved along side us also employ some of these innate capacities because they did have survival value.

    Our evolutionary line has been developing these innate qualities for a few million years, and it is likely that the innate qualities mentioned DID play a role in evolutionary success. The first evidence of a musical instrument that was made to purpose is an ivory instrument with holes drilled at regular intervals. This instrument belong to 'modern man' and was made 45,000 years ago. There may be other, and earlier musical devices, which have either rotted away or we have not found.

    Did musical instruments play a role in survival? Yes, because 'culture' is how we live, and everything that helps bind a group together and stimulate interaction has survival value.

    At an early stage, I suppose, what mathematics did was make explicit skills that are implicit. You can throw a rock and hit the target because you are capable of calculating (not consciously) the required force, the necessary trajectory, and timing of the the throw. Other species have to do similar background calculations to be able to catch prey, or avoid becoming dead prey. But the first applications of math were (as far as I know) applied to trade, which is very recent, 5,000 years ago, after the invention of writing.

    We have been evolving for a long time, and we won't be finding any evidence in the fossil record of how innate abilities that would one day produce music and math developed.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    I tried to google the connection, but was unsuccessful in finding any theories. Why do you think we have musical and mathematical abilities ?

    If neither confer any survival value (eg: we don't have to compute the laws of gravity in order to dodge falling objects) are there any plausible explanations out there as to why we have these abilities?
    3017amen

    I think this is relevant. I hope so. Stephen Jay Gould, my favorite non-fiction writer, wrote an essay called "Mozart and Modularity," which was published in his book "Eight Little Piggies." I found it on the web here:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=_kOoVw0SIhUC&pg=PA260&lpg=PA260&dq=stephen+jay+gould+mozart&source=bl&ots=IUglTGuPSD&sig=ACfU3U2jeFUo86EFulOEkzahjmzw6mjq9Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwik3YLy4qjkAhXhm-AKHX6hBScQ6AEwBXoECAkQAg#v=onepage&q=stephen%20jay%20gould%20mozart&f=false

    The modularity Gould is talking about is the manner in which our minds seem to be made up of a bundle of abilities and faculties all of which seem to be relatively independent of each other. It's possible for a person to be exceptional in one area but mediocre in most others. I think of myself - I am strongly verbal and I have good math skills, but I have little in the way of a musical or visual imagination. Gould's article is about a journal article written when Mozart was a boy. The writer observed Mozart and saw a normal, unexceptional boy with one bold streak of genius.

    It's worth a read.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    If neither confer any survival value3017amen

    I'm not a biologist, so this may not be precisely right.

    That said, it seems like one of the principles of evolution is that new traits, capacities, abilities, don't just appear out of thin air in organisms. Rather, traits, capacities, features, etc. that are already present in some form are gradually modified until they are something different. For instance, early in life history, some multi-celled organisms possessed light-sensitive cells on the surface of their body which aided the organism in avoiding harm, finding food, or moving purposively. Eventually. these light-sensitive cells became more numerous, more structured, more complicated. Eventually they became eyes. Nervous systems likewise started out as very simple arrangements, and over time became more structured, more complicated, and eventually developed little brains, to which the little eyes supplied sensory input.

    Music, or counting or calculation, didn't suddenly appear either. Organisms need to signal information to each other (warnings, mating availability, calling to young, etc.) and this is often done by sound. Making sound, and hearing sound, starts out simply and over time gets more complicated. Some animals make sounds with different pitch, tone, rhythm, and so forth. Similarly, counting and calculating come into play in very simple ways, like figuring exactly how an insect is located in 3 dimensions from moment to moment, and snatching the meal with a long, sticky tongue. Or an animal may need to know how much of something is available. There is a big difference between 1 wolf and 10 wolves, if one becomes the focus of wolfish attention.

    Humans probably did not evolve from a line of animals that were capable of seeing ultra-violet or ultra-red radiation. As handy as it might be now, that feature was never in the cards--or the genes. We're not going to develop that kind of vision.
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    Why do you think we have musical and mathematical abilities ?3017amen

    They could sing and count, which was impressive, so they scored big time with the chicks.

    Some refs:

    https://metanexus.net/fabulous-evolutionary-defense-dualism/

    https://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S724CH15.htm

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/09/17/it-aint-necessarily-so
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    If neither confer any survival value (eg: we don't have to compute the laws of gravity in order to dodge falling objects) are there any plausible explanations out there as to why we have these abilities?3017amen

    Abilities do not need positive survival value to be selected for.

    It's just that abilities that have negative survival value are selected against.
  • 3017amen
    154
    Just checking in, and I'm not ignoring any one. Thank you for your contributions...I'm still pondering this... .

    Indeed I am having difficulties squaring the idea that abstract human attributes were needed to survive.

    Accordingly, what has much intrigue in history are those born with mathematical and musical genius.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    The first evidence of a musical instrument that was made to purpose is an ivory instrument with holes drilled at regular intervals. This instrument belong to 'modern man' and was made 45,000 years ago.
    ...
    But the first applications of math were (as far as I know) applied to trade, which is very recent, 5,000 years ago, after the invention of writing.
    Bitter Crank

    Are you sure that the construction of that ancient musical instrument was not an application of mathematics, as is the case with the construction of all musical instruments today?
  • alcontali
    474
    Why do you think we have musical and mathematical abilities ?3017amen

    They are both languages. So, they have a function similar to natural language, i.e. they communicate something. Still, I did not say that you can always translate into natural language what music seeks to express.
  • 3017amen
    154


    Another great point! Being in the engineering field and a musician (not to mention a part time athlete) 'language' kind of captures a large part of it.

    I am going to be thinking about the so-called essence and existence of language, logic and phenomena there of....

    My initial thought is that there is a metaphysical component to each language.
  • Possibility
    490
    Indeed I am having difficulties squaring the idea that abstract human attributes were needed to survive.

    Accordingly, what has much intrigue in history are those born with mathematical and musical genius.
    3017amen

    Mathematics and music are both about recognising patterns and predicting what comes next.
  • 3017amen
    154


    My musical theory and performance experience without sounding big headed is pretty extensive (I was a music Major and I also play by ear, which is basically easier than reading music LOL).

    Anyway I get the idea of what comprises the language of music is partly mathematical. However thrown in the mix is also a subconscious phenomenon.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Sorry. The ancient instrument makers didn't scratch a telephone number, street or email address onto the flute, so I wasn't able to ask them.

    However, their brains were pretty much like ours by the time the flute was made, so maybe... but we just don't know what kind of quantitative thinking they did.
  • Possibility
    490
    The way I see it, there are three main components to musical and mathematical ability:

    - the capacity to recognise and relate patterns in experiencing 4D events (intuition, playing by ear)
    - the capacity to arrange or reformulate the patterns that determine and initiate 4D events (creativity)
    - the capacity to translate the patterns into 2D structures, and 2D structures into 4D events (reading and writing of music/formulae/language)

    Music or mathematical genius appears to stem from a strong relationship between all three. Language ability relates to these capacities, too.

    But the ‘metaphysical’ component to language, as I see it, is in one’s interaction with the patterns and structures that determine and initiate how a 4D event is experienced by someone else. This goes a step further than generating a particular sound. The genius in music and language comes from an ability to predict and structure 5D patterns in qualia that elicit a particular subjective experience in an observer - and translate those patterns into a 2D structure that enables others to replicate it.
  • Possibility
    490
    If neither confer any survival value (eg: we don't have to compute the laws of gravity in order to dodge falling objects) are there any plausible explanations out there as to why we have these abilities?3017amen

    ‘Survival value’ highlights the problem with the structure of ‘cause’ and effect: that we assume an intended outcome. But when the answers are not as tidy as we thought they would be, it makes one wonder: perhaps we’re asking the question wrong? It seems obvious that we’ve evolved not just to survive. Traits with a negative survival value are selected against, sure - but there is more than ‘randomness’ driving human evolution beyond survival.

    In my opinion, it has to do with the evolution of integrated information systems.

    A theory I’ve been working on is that there is an underlying motivation that drives the universe to increase awareness, connection and collaboration as an open-ended outcome. Survival value is then merely a limiting factor in the process, and derives from what is lacking in awareness, connection and collaboration. We’ve had the capacity to ignore survival value for some time now. We just don’t really want to, partly because it requires conscious effort, and partly because it undermines this sense of our own value or significance in the universe.

    The ability to translate between 5D structures, 4D events, 3D objects and 2D diagrams or formulas (even one dimensional digital information) - with minimal information loss - increases opportunities for awareness, connection and collaboration at various levels of interaction. The versatility in music and mathematical language in particular provides the ability to transcend the difficulties of physical, temporal or cultural/ideological barriers in information sharing, increasing interaction with information about a universe far more complex than our own limited experience of events in spacetime.
  • Possibility
    490
    I am going to be thinking about the so-called essence and existence of language, logic and phenomena there of....

    My initial thought is that there is a metaphysical component to each language.
    3017amen

    The way I see it, language in general enables us to share integrated information at a level beyond spacetime. It allows us to signify how new information would relate to shared elements of our experience, regardless of where or when they may occur.

    So if I put two eggs in front of you, you may remember that the last time I put two eggs in front of you like this was when you gave me a piece of meat. If you produce a piece of meat, and I then put another egg down, you may take this to signify a request for more meat. If a few days later, my brother comes to you with two eggs and an expectant look on his face, you may take this to signify another request for meat. And if I then came to you at another time and drew two egg shapes where I had previously placed eggs, you may be kind enough to give me some meat on a promise of eggs - or you may just draw a piece of meat.

    These events all occurred at different times - perhaps even a different place - so they would have no relevance to each other, except that they relate in how we experience them, and how you and I interact with each other through that significance.
  • 3017amen
    154


    I want to thank everyone for their amazing contributions. Thus far I want to focus just a bit on the phenomenon of qualia. Before moving on to other metaphysical concepts and concerns viz. Darwinism:

    Just to summarize, we know that qualia has existential impacts to most humans. We know architects and interior designers use colors to help convey emotion. And we know that when we experience the color red or yellow not only is it an ineffable form of qualia, it also invokes emotions. (Red conveys a heightened sense of it excitement and yellow conveys contentment and happiness.)

    So we know the common person has these experiencees ( including math and music of course ) that are basically an ineffable form of language that we percieve.

    Before moving on to other things. Can we think about what I just said for a moment ? An ineffable form of language that we perceive. Can we agree that that does not even make sense?

    Could we agree that it seems to go beyond objective and subjective truths? And if so couldn't it follow that it is a real metaphysical language?
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    Thus far I want to focus just a bit on the phenomenon of qualia.3017amen

    You really ought to drop that word 'qualia'. The only place it occurs in literature, is in the writings of an influential but seriously misguided group of mainly American academic philosophers. And using it frames the whole debate in a way that favours their analysis.

    Try another word - like 'qualities', which is a common word, and conveys almost the same.

    So we know the common person has these experiencees ( including math and music of course ) that are basically an ineffable form of language that we percieve.3017amen

    Of course! Not news to me. I have been arguing Platonism since I joined this forum. One day it will become clear that 'evolutionary materialism' was a parasitic growth on the grand tradition.
  • Possibility
    490
    Could we agree that it seems to go beyond objective and subjective truths? And if so couldn't it follow that it is a real metaphysical language?3017amen

    Point out a language that is not ‘metaphysical’.
  • 3017amen
    154


    ....sure, just a postscript to your concerns about the word qualia, I used the word for a couple of reasons:

    1. I wanted to learn and understand the philosophical concept associated with consciousness and conscious states of being.

    2. I realize atheist Daniel Dennett was one of the driving forces behind that terminology in his book Consciousness Explained ( which of course he was unable to use logic to explain many existential attributes or qualities... using your word...).

    So to that particular end, I love quoting excerpts from physicist Paul Davies/The Mind of God book:

    "Should we adopt the approach of the pragmatic atheist who is content to take the universe as a given, and get on with cataloging its properties? If we wish to progress beyond, we have to embrace a different concept of ' understanding ' from that of rational explanation."

    In this query, I am approaching this subject matter
    such that I wish to slow things down and define 'simple concepts' in a sequential way. There is a ton of information to unpack...and want to stay on point with some detours along the way. Accordingly, your url links are relevent and absolutely fabulous, thank you!
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    However, their brains were pretty much like ours by the time the flute was made, so maybe... but we just don't know what kind of quantitative thinking they did.Bitter Crank

    Musical instrument makers think in terms of ratios, so there is necessarily measurement involved, to get the right notes.
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    So to that particular end, I love quoting excerpts from physicist Paul Davies/The Mind of God book:3017amen

    Davies is one of my favourites. Thoroughly scientifically literate but without the atheist ax to grind that Dennett has. By the way. it might amuse you to know that that Dennett book was called 'Consciousness Ignored' by some of Dennett's critics, including John Searle. :-)
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    OK, so musicologists said the distance from one hole to the next wasn't random.
  • 3017amen
    154


    OMG I'm laughing out loud! Good stuff Wayfarer.

    Yeah, I guess we can't escape people politics wherever it rears its ugly head... .
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k

    I believe Pythagoras developed the twelve tone scale, based on the 3:2 ratio which gives the prefect fifth. Though the designated intervals could be recognized by the human ear, he taught that they ought to be determined my mathematical ratios to maintain the pure tones. The Pythagoreans extended the mathematical principles of harmony to the entire cosmos such that each of the orbits of the planets were described as emitting different tones according to their orbits. He called it the harmony of the spheres, which is a similar concept to cosmic vibration.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    That's all fine and dandy, but the instrument in question proceeded Pythagoras by maybe 40,000 years. What the 40,000 BCE people had discovered was a) pleasant sound could be made by blowing into a hollow bone and that b) holes in the bone, covered and uncovered, would change the sound. c) one could play the same sounds over and over. Not enough of the bone remains to know how the sound was initiated; an unknown amount of the bone tube has been lost--we can't know how long it was.

    Ancient people has plenty of knowledge of material -- for instance, they knew what kind of rock worked best for certain kinds of tools or points. They knew how to knapp the rocks with a minimum of pressure. I would be surprised if they did their work using formal theory about pressure, crystal structure, strength of material, and so forth. I doubt if they applied Pythagoras to the problem of making a bone flute. (Remote as it is, I could be wrong.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    That's all fine and dandy, but the instrument in question proceeded Pythagoras by maybe 40,000 years. What the 40,000 BCE people had discovered was a) pleasant sound could be made by blowing into a hollow bone and that b) holes in the bone, covered and uncovered, would change the sound. c) one could play the same sounds over and over. Not enough of the bone remains to know how the sound was initiated; an unknown amount of the bone tube has been lost--we can't know how long it was.Bitter Crank

    If the positioning of the holes was not random, it was measured. And it couldn't have been random or the sound wouldn't be musical. Don't you agree? The fundamental ratios, which Pythagoras laid our were very basic division, 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4. The 3:2 ratio is one and a half. I would expect that the people of 40,000 years ago knew how to divide lengths into halves, and into quarters, that was how harmonies were produced.
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    I think J S Bach actually brought the 12-tone scale to its modern form.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Well, we don't know how they decided where to put the holes, and we won't be finding out because they didn't leave any documentation inside the bone flute we found. They probably worked it out by trial and error until they got something that sounded good to them. Whether it would have sounded good to us is an open question. Some Chinese music sounds lovely, some of it sound terrible to me.

    Estimations of what Roman music sounded like are not very pleasant--to my ears. I would guess the Romans liked their music, and would have found Ottorino Respighi's Pines of Rome cacophonous.
  • 3017amen
    154


    In a similar or somewhat related vein, what do you think about the 'escoteric nature' apart from lower species about why we wonder, including laughter? Is this also a form of metaphysical or abstract cognition of some sort?

    I'm having a hard time connecting the dots to that having survival value from the laws of natural selection/survival of the fittest... .

    I suspect you as well, may have struggled with that connection.
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