The Public Use of Reason

Lately I’ve been thinking about what some people refer to as freedom of the pen, or what Kant specifically calls the public use of reason. It is apparently flagrantly ignorant of me to believe that the reasons that people give for things are the reasons that they believe it to be the case, in a public fora. Many current affairs issues, political, social, economic or cultural rely on providing views as rationalised ideals and negotiable, subject to a truth or falsity, or part of the forum of rational discussion. However, it would be ignorant to suspect that more isn’t going on. Engaging in public discussion, whether this is a presence on the print media, bloggosphere, television or other form of video discussion, or even dare I say it, comments pages, often rely on a point of view that is backed up by a form of reasoning. The notion of a public use of reason presumes a communicability of our values to a wider audience, however there is an extent where privately, our values are not so communicable.

In this post I shall consider the distinction between private and public reasons; the application of public reason in ethics, aesthetics and finally some epistemic and normative considerations about communicability and the public use of reason.

Private and public use

What is a private appeal, or a private reason as opposed to the public use of reason? One may be to say that arguments against gay marriage for some people a thinly veiled prejudice against social change, or their inherent lack of acceptance of sexual difference. Another may be how I have encountered people who claim to be considered socialists who enjoy stating their point, but any appeal to conservatism by name (as in conservative thought and its history , or current party issues) will brand you as a party to right-wing tarnishing where their priming automatically inclines them to disagree. Often our public reasons are different to our private reasons. We cannot convince an agnostic audience of our view if we are basing it upon an unjustified fear, or an unquestionable conviction. However that said, I can often find a segregation of views, in that discourses may emerge where everyone is in broad agreement and the level of argumentation is poor because the vocabulary is non argumentative, and presumptive.

Just say a few words like ‘priviledge’ or ‘globalisation’ and our audience can be presumed. The appeals to private reason becomes a shorthand of an argument enthymatic. We cease to argue, and simply claim the assent of our listeners. If we disguise public reason as a private reason we undermine the role of the public forum, and we segregate those who disagree with us. By excluding those who disagree with us, we have no argument, simply we repeat views. Eventually if we are around enough repeaters, the shorthand for our reasons loses any form of reasoning. This to me looks like a form of populism.

Ethics

To have a private reason does not undermine that we have this conviction. However, it may be that we cannot convince our audience of an argument, or the veracity of a claim, or a political/ethical position through it. In Kant’s own time, the role of Reason was an appeal against religious moralistic kinds of reason in addressing issues of public and ethical importance. It is one thing to hold a moral conviction, or one based on a religious insight, but it is inadmissable in a public discourse to assume that others will come from this background or form of conviction. In order to appeal to a wider audience we must appeal to a universal kind of language that appeals wider.

I suppose this is where my catholic leanings betray me. It was the view of many Catholic thinkers from Aquinas to the 19thC that our reasons should appeal beyond the convictions of faith, but using a wider language of reason. The truths of the world would be revealed through in their terms, not just the scriptural revelation of the Bible, but also through the observable and grasping empirical world. The emphasis on rational thought as well as a faith conviction is understood to be one of the differences between Catholic (rational theology, or analogia entis) and protestant (revealed, analogia fides, sola scriptus) Christianities.

For individuals to engage outside of their own community of conviction they must appeal to argumentation, or facts that support their convictions. In the public context, this may be through empirical studies, secondary anaylsis of existing data, or some other form of scientific appeal. It is not enough to communicate an ethical or political conviction on the basis of a feeling, and even if it were, it would not be reasoning but a form of rhetoric. Unfortunately, Rhetoric is very popular these days, when democracy is built on consensus and the confidence of the public. This isn’t necessarily to conclude that democracies are poorly suited to rational discussion, but rather it may suggest the importance of an informed and well reasoning populace.  By well reasoning, I mean those who can distinguish between reasons which are convincing to others beyond themselves.

Aesthetics

When it comes to aesthetics, communicability is a bit of a difficult one for me. Why is it, you might ask, that a public form of reasoning could ever be important to justify what one’s favourite poem is, or why such and such a guitar riff is so powerful. I also consider it a point of asymmetry with ethics. In ethical and political discourse, it is considered a good to appeal to reasons of communicability, however when it comes to our experience/aesthetics, how could we appeal to anything but the subject-ive, or in other words, our response to the object?

Someone like MIchael or Destre would try to convince you that the reason to enjoy Bach is because of its formal beauty, but they themselves (Michael especially) would be personally highly emotively moved by the 48 preludes and Fugues, but could not possibly use this as an appealing reason to convince someone why they might like Bach. Appeal to private reasons I have stated resort to dispositions and temperaments that one already has, but how can we appeal to our sentiment of art and music when it is our personal response? The only way it would seem, is that if another agent we are talking with also has that engendered response. So I could only talk with other fans of Pearl Jam about my love of the ‘Ten’ album, and in this respect we are merely assenting agreement. This is not a form of communicability, only an assent to agreement or disagreement.

If political discourse worked this way, or ethical consensus, we would end up simply hanging around people we agreed with all the time. I think that this is in fact what happens in a lot of online discourse. People who tend to agree with each other camp together, and this may not be in political spheres but social spheres, the comedian Kate Smurthwaite has pointed out how a certain kind of comedian is commercially viable and popular due to the way that the industry of comedy orients towards favouring late-night comedy, where a certain kind of audience who enjoy a certain kind of joke are roused by samey routines that enable audiences to let off some steam.

Epistemic considerations

I think that communicability is a good way of trying to justify our beliefs. Instead of relying on our feelings and what we hold to be true as a brute fact (some epistemologists such as Williamson over the past decade have tried to encourage the merit of brute fact type reasons, or ‘primitives’ over epistemic schemes). Are we convinced of our beliefs if we can communicate it with others? I remember one piece of editorial advice I got from blogging here which was ‘if you can’t communicate it in simple words, you don’t have a valid idea’, communicability is quite a good epistemic benchmark for humbug arguments or reasons. In a sense, it is the first hurdle, the necessary benchmark but not one sufficient for being convinced of our beliefs. I propose this from a position that is unconvinced that epistemic primitives (such as the brute fact of our believing or percieving of some thing) are prima facie convincing.

Normative considerations

This whole proposal about the public use of reason is presumptive, I am for example presumptive of the fact that within public discourses, our believes must answer to some form justificatory schema and not brute reasons which command assent or disagreement among those whom there is no form of discussion, but simply appealing to what they already believe. This is what I would take to be a populism. So lets go back to our values. The public use of reason is what I would take to be a starting point in points of discussion, whether these are current issues or issues of political ideology. I would take it to be an epistemic norm and an epistemic good to hold to the ideal of the public use of reason.

Coda: current issues

I’ve been led to thinking about the public use of reason from a variety of stories that have emerged lately. The phenomenon of trolling, or specifically the appeal to derogatory and defamatory language as a form of silencing, undermining and derailing reminds me of the public and private distinction I have made. News services in the Gaming industry IGN and to a lesser extent, Machinima display a level of journalism which is outright misogynist at times and is unapologetic, this I think reflects the fact that a certain type of male gamer is so visible as the archetypical gamer, who casually swears, enjoys trash talk and wouldn’t think twice about the symbolism of using sexual violence analogies to describe playing a game. Gamers feel so strongly about this behaviour as a form of entitlement that they would go so far as to defame and troll a Kickstarter project forged by Anita Sarkeesian on Gender and gaming.

Likewise I have heard numerous stories of journalists and writers who have experienced campaigns of trolling and defamation for speaking out on various issues. Judith Butler had a petition against being awarded the Adorno Prize for her views on Israeli politics, her response was nuanced and pertinent to this distinction. I’ve also recently explored a website called Reddit, which has a bizarre mix of private reasons and public reasoning. There is one extreme where all of the threads are mostly reactionary and highly rated comments are those that refer to people as fagets in full caps lock, while others involve informed debate where people are open minded enough to disagree or willing to change their mind. The internet age was initially considered as a democratising force for creating an informed public who had a forum for public reasoning, but the way that customisation and orienting around ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’ surrounds an internet user simply around people and environments in which they would agree. It’s like going to a party and only hanging around with people you know: you don’t need to cover any new ground, being around those you agree with or share the same sentiments simply fosters a shorthand of discussion, where little is actually elaborated and everything is simply agreed upon.

Sinistre

The non-rational mind: Jung’s verstehenphilosophie

This week, through wikipedia fact-finding and other ways, I have found out two things. Firstly, the modern British movement of Drudism as a religious form of practice, is an anachronism of poor historical merit. What it communicates more is some cultic form of sentimentality with an ancient Britain, than a commitment to an historic British set of rites. It is as far detached from historicity as Greco-Roman wrestling is to the Grecians and the Romans (my second thing). I found out that Greco-Roman wrestling is a late 19thC invention with rules which alluded to the ancient practice of wrestling, but its codification is hardly Grecian or Roman, but more Napoleonic. What does this tell us? I think it tells us that a sense of commitment can be more important than an actual commitment to historicity; a symbolic adequation with an ideal means more than its actual adequation with the object, as Aristotle conceptualised knowledge to be. We do not ‘know’ that Greco-Roman wrestling is actually in fact, Hellenic/Roman, nor do we know that Druidic rites and practices are actually from an era of English prehistory. But it doesn’t matter, a mythology is created all the same.

Lately I’ve been reading Jung’s ‘Man and his Symbols’, which I understand is only actually partially written by him, and ‘approved’ sections are written by his disciples. Jung walks through what we might call the fundamental irrationality or non-rationality of the human condition. The symbolic nature of dreams, the role of archetypes and embodied psyches within our mind.

For the past few years, I’ve kept a private log of experiences, memories and other things. One of the things I try to do is write my dreams down as soon as I wake up. I realise the importance of writing dreams immediately, as after a while the memory of them soon fades, also it makes less sense, not to say dreams make any kind of sense in the first place. Jung points out that at wake, our recollection of dreams are already a form of interpretation. I often find that I have to put some chronological narrative to make my dreams explainable, and sometimes I have to impose more details than I remember just to give a sense of license and comprehension about a dream. This is hermeneutics already in process.

I find Jung’s approach to the mind interesting because of the deeply internal and subjective nature of dreams, archetypes and psyches. Jung points out a different view to Freud, the latter of which was keen to impose his own interpretations on Jung’s dream analysis sessions, but Jung admits that in his own analysis sessions with patients, he allows them to find a form of interpretation of dreams. Often one aspect about the dream state is that symbols, items and people have a meaning that is only accessible to the agent. There are things so personal to you that have meanings, even if the meaning is not apparent it is only up to the agent who has the conceptual vocabulary and the resource of her own memories to make sense of them.

In this way dreams seem like a private language, which, if I understood my Wittgenstein in any way (and I don’t), the presence of such conceptual terms that cannot be shared is impossible at worst, or meaningless at best. Are dreams an example of a vocabulary that is so personal only the agent can understand it? The presence of an unconscious is a puzzle for any given person, but the analysts would presumably think it is in principle comprehensible.

There were two other aspects that came to mind when I was reading Jung. One is the misunderstanding in his view of what people understood to be the archetypes. Jung does not want to say that there are universal structures and symbols in the mind that are present in all agents, as a metaphysical thesis. However if certain symbols are powerful enough to find presence in many minds (such as religious notions or personalities). What Jung took to be the archetype is the faculty that people have of approaching universal ideals in their own mind. This is the kind of difference that is present in Kant’s thesis of systematicity (or the constitutive a priori). To use Kantian terminology, the Jungian archetype is not constitutive of archetypes and the specific content of them, but is the regulative ideal, the principle of discrimination wherein specific archetypes lay. The presence of the same archetypes in people may be explained through another means than saying that the archetypes of something are a universal construct.

And finally, perhaps the most odd thing I thought was interesting was when Jung talks of an unconscious personality in men, of a feminine aspect. There seems to be some kind of revelation with unconscious psyches that are revealed in dreams or other ways. Personalities which have a presence in one’s mind, maybe as a replication of somebody else, or reflecting some significance to the agent. The unconscious personalities seemed an interesting notion to me, as when I practice piano I think of my old piano teacher still giving me instructions (and me ignoring them). Despite all the disagreements we had, I have internalised his teacher personality in my mind when I play. I suppose the same goes for the friend of mine who coaches me at Badminton: I’m always trying to think of the best shot and the best technique, thinking of drills and what I need to improve on.

Maybe its patronising to think of an unconscious female psyche imbued in my male mindset. Or maybe acknowledging it is some sense of agendered completeness. In the same way as I imagine my piano teacher’s advice and ignore it when I practice, the unconscious presence of gendered psyches may provide a source of gendered sympathy. To be honest I’m not really sure what to make of Jung. Due to the overwhelming nature of his subjective conceptions it seems hard to me that the material presented in Man and his Symbols be taken as serious psychology, however, as a form of understanding one’s own thoughts and the confabulations we make up in our everyday thinking, maybe it’s an interesting toolbox.

Michael

Consumption and survival

Lately I’ve been reading Thorsten Veblen’s ‘Theory of the Leisure Class’. This has been as part of my general reading list. My general reading list consists of everything from about Aristotle to Confucius up to about Philip K. Dick. I have a big list of books to read, and that doesn’t include new books or journals, and I have said to myself jokingly but half seriously that it will probably take most of my life to read them. Veblen’s ‘Theory of the Leisure class’ (henceforth: Leisure) is one of them.

Veblen’s Leisure was introduced to me in first year sociology. I then found that it was referenced by a few people who talk about subcultures, consumption and even a few economists. Veblen’s Leisure is said to be one of the first serious works of Sociology, when the academic discipline was at its burgeoning stage. Veblen’s initial part of Leisure consists in a pseudo-anthropological thesis, about how human communities have moved from a base stage of co-operation in order to survive, this involves a division of labour oriented towards fulfilling necessary tasks towards human survival, the later parts of the book, which I shall touch on in this post concern how when the human community is affluent enough, reaches a stage where items are produced and goods are procured that are less about survival, but status.

I think it must have been Veblen who conceptualised the term Conspicuous Consumption. The notion that we spend our money and use certain goods just for the sake of using and obtaining them. There is no need about certain items in the way that we may need sustenance or shelter or warmth, but we use things for a sense of pleasure. Society had reached a point by Veblen’s period where a greater number of people engaged in this conspicuous consumption.

So what is an example of conspicuous consumption? Veblen gives some very interesting and odd instances. Women are conspicuous consumption objects. By that, I take him to mean, the furnishing of women’s wants (by men, and the women themselves), in terms of makeup, fancy outfits and so forth.The status of having affluence can be indicated by a male partner looking very ornate. I think there’s an interesting dimension of objectification here, women in this courtly sense are portrayed as arm candy accessories and confer status. The more one Victorian can spend on his wife, the greater sense of upper class sensibility can be accorded to him. Women are treated instrumentally in this sense of conspicuous consumption.

Another aspect of conspicuous consumption offered by Veblen is horse racing. The pursuit of going to see horse races, betting on them, to be seen at the races and even the cultivation and sponsoring of race horses. These are eccentric 19thC examples, but I can see how it still resounds today. Consider for instance how people pride themselves in an ever so bourgeois way on their book shelf. As a way not of showing their intellectual prowess (although it is under the pretense of doing so), but indicating fundamentally how useless their sense of interests are in the wider scheme of human survival. To have a bookshelf seems to suggest that you are not hungry or destitute in life. That said, half of my book collection is in a shed at the moment because I life in a small place, I fear my Aristotle will suffer a fate worse than the burning of Alexandria’s library: winter damp.

The pursuit of social activities such as going to the pub, drinking alcohol for pleasure (instead of sustenance), theatre, gaming, gigging or even shopping when one has enough clothes, all show our obsession with consuming beyond need. I think that the frame of conspicuous consumption is a good analytical tool, I understand it has been used as such in economic research. There is apparently a legacy that Veblen has for economics beyond sociology, which is interesting for a sociologist to have such a legacy.

Veblen’s conspicuous consumption is something that has come to my mind lately, because it is essentially the pursuit of status, and expressing to social others that one lives towards a financial and material means that they produce enough for survival that they can spend their time and money on leisure. Anyone who lives in a country with poor economic growth right now can see this isn’t necessarily the case. Resources are spent on both leisure and survival, even when we don’t have enough to fully cope with the latter. Economic conditions are making life difficult for many families, business and individuals, but the culture of leisure pursuits and conspicuous consumption is not changing in accord, if anything, it’s exploding even more.

Leisure seems to be the outlet, the lightning rod of the frustrations from struggling to make ends meet. Industrialisation has shown that its possible to live in a way that sustains survival, but the post-industrial reverses this trend due to wider economic factors, but leaves the economic system of conspicuous consumption in tact. We still have ‘industries’ that work towards consumption and away from need, it may be the case that for many people, the presence of these industries provide jobs and a means of survival. There isn’t quite the equilibrium in today’s climate that Veblen saw that there was in his description. But maybe it wasn’t the case either that humanity had reached a point where its survival was guaranteed for all either, but rather conspicuous consumption highlighted an upper and middle class. One thing that is certainly true today, is that conspicuous consumption is encouraged for all economic groupings. To the point, I would say, of undermining other issues of importance.

I’ve come to think about consumption in other ways lately. Thanks to Transition Town Tooting hosting earlier in the summer a series of discussion groups called ‘Carbon Conversations’. I came to think about consumption in relation to sustainability and environmental impact. One of the themes addressed in the talks by many people was the concern about the way their decisions as consumers have an impact upon the kind of world they want to have. Consumption therefore has a much deeper dimension in relation to survival. It is not an opposition between conspicuous consumption and survival, but a relation on how our mass decisions as consumers (for instance, consuming beef products which has a high carbon footprint, or driving a car) impacts on wider global issues.

Michael

Social relevance in offensive humour

This week I saw two pieces of comedy on the tv. A new BBC comedic sitcom set in the Birmingham area about a British Pakistani family and their comedic foibles, the show was called Citizen Khan. I also this week have been reading a couple of comedy books, in particular one named ‘Work, Consume,  Die’ by Frankie Boyle, I also got to see something on Channel 4 called ‘The Boyle Variety Performance’, which served as a vehicle for the comedian after a relative absence from television following his 2010 series ‘Tramadol Nights’.

I was writing this post and then I got informed by Michael that there have been two stories of complaints about the comedian Boyle and the BBC sitcom on the basis of being offensive. To some extent I’m never surprised that Frankie Boyle has offended someone. In the TV exploit he made, there were a few jokes that I thought cut deep for me.

I’m not going to comment on the specific complaints. Partly because I didn’t think they were very good jokes. But I will talk about a couple of jokes that I thought were both amusing and communicated something important. Please note that this post was originally written without knowledge of the complaints, which in a sense merits its own attention, which I’m not going to do here.

Ginger jokes and brown priviledge

In Citizen Khan, there were a lot of little gags that rang true about British Asian families that was a bit wince-worthy for someone like me, even if I’m not British Pakistani. The couch covered in plastic; the patriarch of the family buying too many rolls of toilet paper because they were cheap, and the child in the family who is the most mischievious but their parents think they are the worst behaved in public, are things which come to mind as true stereotypes. That said, I’m speaking only anecdotally and hardly using random sampling.

What I really loved about the show was the non-white protagonists and how the show gave a window into the kind of Britain we have today. Namely, a diverse one. There are lots of communities and some are more visible and in terms of comedy, ridiculed more. I certainly think that British Asians could do with more representation in the media and wider society, like say, Premier League Football or the arts, and not within a niche audience either, as if they are exotified and the one thing that typifies them is their cultural and ethnic identity.

The presence of the Mosque manager played by Kris Marshall was quite an interesting inclusion for me. I would think that multiculturalism would be about a migrant community over generations integrating into wider society, but also wider society integrates into that community as well. Michael told me for instance about a wedding he was recently attending where it largely included people from his ethnic Goan community, but he had a conversation with a British Cypriot man who seemed to know more Konkani and more about Goan culture than he did.

The protagonist Mr. Khan character gives the new manager a hard time because he is caucasian. Marshall’s character states that this is racist and Khan defends himself by saying a combination of ‘I can’t be racist, I’m brown’, and ridiculing the manager’s ginger beard. I thought there were two salient insights to be had here.

Firstly, ginger discrimination. It has been well commented that those with naturally ginger hair are treated almost as if they were a cultural grouping or a pseudoscientific racial category. Ginger jokes parallel racism, see for example the internet meme ‘Gingers have no soul’. Because these kinds of digs are not sexist or like racism aganist non-white people it is seen in some way as a ‘free pass’ at ridiculing someone. Similar examples of this kind of free pass include jokes about the Welsh (contrast to say, jokes about Scottish or Irish which can have a distinct historical and political ramification to them). There seems to be a certain kind of inconsistency about offensive humour reflected here.

When Khan’s character states that he is immune to racist accusations because of his minority status reminds me of the fairly complicated social discourse of priviledge. The white mosque manager represents a minority in the Islamic community, although white muslims are increasingly visible these days in the Islamic diaspora. There’s a certain kind of role reversal which is interesting in that Khan shows a bigotry that he would not portray in regular civil society that he would within the confines of his localised Pakistani/Mosque centred community. This gives a picture of multicultural Britain as a bubble with lots of other little bubbles inside, where there are little worlds separate from each other that rarely meet other communities. Is this a celebration of diversity or segregation? All of this provoked me from seeing a crass joke about ginger people. It was a joke that made a point about modern Britain.

Frankie Boyle on the Riots, social inequalities

I personally found the Boyle Variety vehicle a hit and miss affair. But it was nice to see Frankie Boyle doing stand up after such a long absence from TV. What I would like to talk about is his book which I have been going through, one particular monologue about the London Riots of 2011 seemed particularly conscientious. An extract:

“There have been some sickening sights though, like all these Twitter users trying to clean up the communities. You live in in London you idiot, you don’t have a community. I don’t know what the most used sentences would be at the events: […] ‘I’m not a racist, but…’. If I were a rioter, I’d probably enjoy seeing the white middle classes clean up after an ethnic minority for a change. Hundreds of volunteers came out across Liverpool to help with the cleanup. They’ve been working for several hours, before they were told that the riots took place in the other side of town. […] The tragedy here is that we have people whose life prospects are so poor, that they’d happily swap them for a pair of trainers.”

Boyle goes on to address how the dire prospects of many people today, as well as the rampant capitalism and dull media represent a generation of malaise. Boyle’s comedic monologue is making a point about the status quo, about the failure of cultivating aspiration when there are no prospects, and where consumerism is a spiritual gin. I think its hard to defend everything any given comedian says, but these aforementioned examples are stellar candidates of how comedy can be biting and socially relevant.

Sinistre

On returning to the piano

On Returning to the Piano

At the start of the year I made a resolution to keep to specific targets, call this my way of being honest about improving myself with a view to keeping a new years resolution. I resolve to 7 separate targets which I measure on a weekly and monthly basis to determine if I have upheld them. I’ve found that on the whole, I’ve been attending to most of them, although some weeks I do more of one task than the minimum requirement and less of others, due to the inevitable variance of everyday life, family and work commitments.

One such task that I set myself was to try and get back into music. This could be a vague thing from practicing piano to some other music related activity. I joined a choir late last year for example. I was then asked by my cousin in March to perform at her wedding reception. What an honour it was and I accepted hastily. I have a mixed relationship with performing, and in many ways performing is a metaphor for life, I find practicing piano a metaphor for life in other ways too when it comes to dull pedagogical issues of fingering in particular.

Back in the day I used to perform for ensemble and solo outings. I sang bass vocal part, played the  clarinet (mostly in ensemble) and I thought that my piano abilities were relatively speaking my stronger asset. I was kind of put off performing once I realised a physical peak to my abilities due to an issue I have with limited motor skills. I found that my mind could learn and memorise music that I was in fact, incapable of physically playing. This led to a certain frustration of sorts about my abilities and life in general. I felt a sense of injustice about it.

I hated performing, but I kept doing it. I wish I could explain what drove me in those days. In a way it seems to be my general mindset with many things in life, that I’m attracted to difficulties and challenges that can be painful, boring and adverse in other respects. When I was asked to play for my cousin’s wedding, I had to think of a repertory that was completely different to what I had before, and think of things to play that were suitable for the audience. When I performed solo I usually didn’t think about what others wanted to hear and felt that my performing was a brute form of self expression.

I rediscovered the joy of practicing piano again this year. I enjoyed having a goal to work towards and that worked as a very good incentive. I remembered the pressure and anxiety I felt just before I performed. I made a point of not drinking any alcohol or any heavy food just before my time to play in the wedding reception, and a testimony of my brother’s friend that he saw me finishing half a bottle of white about a minute before I was meant to play.

Playing again made me realise how much joy and creativity comes from performing. Playing again was a discovery of a part of me that I’ve been ignoring for so long. I found a new ability in learning to improvise and my aural listening skills have recently come into use when I was spontaneously jamming with a few friends of mine last week. For me, performing is a form of self-criticism, healing, laughter and an opportunity to bond with others. Performing and listening to music makes me understand the viewpoint of some of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche (the latter an amateur pianist and composer himself), my musical education has been a great influence on my outlook in life whether I perform or not and even to a large extent my philosophical views. I can’t believe I stopped playing for so long.

Michael