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Philosophy for Lunch - “What Kind of Thing Is a Musical Instrument?”

Thursday, March 4, 2021 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

The philosopher of technology Albert Borgmann claims that musical instruments are "focal things." He states this in-passing and without developing the idea. But more generally, Borgmann does explain what a focal thing is: focal things (a) have no functional equivalents; (b) they unify a context; (c) they make demands on us; (c) they are inconspicuous; and (e) they have the capacity to center and illuminate our lives. What are some other examples of focal things? Get ready for an unusual list: a festive meal, the wilderness, a fireplace, a trout, and the path of a run. Does characterizing a guitar or a violin as a focal thing help us to better understand how these instruments function in the lives of musicians and music enthusiasts? Join us for the next P4L to read and discuss key passages from Borgmann’s book, Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. This session will explore a surprising intersection where the philosophy of music and the philosophy of technology meet (the philosophical method in the background will be Existential Phenomenology).

Location: Zoom
Fees: Free and Open to All
Calendar: Upcoming Events
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