Human Musica

June 2018

Last century. First we had the brain. Our brain was everything. Cognition the only thing that mattered. Pedagogy turned towards psychology - and consequently faded away almost entirely - music education went up in the head and the body was out of sight. So many children who could have become lovely musical humans where discouraged and left music altogether because they could not do the tests that where purely created for one kind of musician: the “brainy” one who could do the tests devised by mostly quantitative researchers.

Perhaps about 20 years ago slowly the body got back in. It finally got noticed. Ken Robinson made a joke about professors bringing their heads to work by means of their bodies: just a transport for the brain. Philosopher Markus Gabriel wrote his book “ich ist nicht gehirn”.

Preschool music education has never left the body. Although perhaps approached in too much of an adult way (certainly in terms of tempi), the body was alway a very clear an important element of the music lesson and still is. Nevertheless, mostly been considered to be marginal and often even part of music therapy (which it is not!), finally it was heard that primary school should look at early Childhood Music Education because they had understood what needed to be involved: the body. 

But some people just cannot let go of a positivist way of thinking that ontologically considers humans biological organisms, that are slavish subjects to their environment. If that were true we would have had non of the environmental problems we have because simply: we would not have  had the means and power being a slavish subject of the earth. This way of thinking compares us to animals by in fact calling humans a kind of animal. Unfortunately much evidence of compassionate and, if you like, rational inter-animal dealings - remember the elephant who carried the cup of a lion because of exhaustion to water with mum lion walking next to her? - does not give much “evidence” of a good comparison. By showing again and again footage of animals who chase each other and fight and eat each other, says much more about humans who want/look at/use these shots.


Anyway, the body is back. However, it has become biological (perhaps even material): embodiment. Cognition lowered. So in fact it is not our body, it is a biological system subject to the environment, interactions in the environment and genetics. We humans are a system that functions (or not) in this theory and hence, artificial intelligence and robotics come in view and the way is paved for complete dehumanisation. A system is controlled by something / someone, or as a result of that, it can control itself. In the present case nature is the deciding factor and we humans are subjected to it.

I read the term post-human recently. And odd term, however, very fitting when considering A.I. and all things computery and technology. To enhance humans by using technology that “complies” with biology is beyond de-humanification. 

One of my favourite movies is StarTrek Insurrection. They have all the technology possible and when necessary they use it. But not as a rule  because “it takes something away from the human”.