Philosophy of Audiophile Aesthetics

For audiophiles who like reading philosophy: attached below is a 12 page article about the philosophy of audiophile aesthetics.

In short the author questions the validity of transparency as a metric and suggests instead the production and appreciation of sonic art as the metric for audiophile aesthetics. 

Perhaps this appeal to reason will once and for all quell the spurious debates on audiophile forums between the relative merits of snake oil and measurements. 




Ok, first, @lukemaximus thank you for bringing this to my attention. Wow. I was only able to get through a few pages… I will have to set aside a little time. Wow. This is a topic of a article in a philosophical journal?

I was captivated by philosophy in 1969 in high school when I took a course from teacher with a PhD in philosophy (I was fortunate to go to a great high school… or all would have been lost). In college I minored in philosophy. But, I concluded it was mostly BS because all the contemporary philosophers built systems of philosophy without establishing the metaphysical basis. Kind of like programmers want to get on with programming, because that is what they like, without fully understanding the requirements.

So I decided I needed to experience the world and think about it. Which I did for over thirty years. Then some ideas started coming together and I found research in evolutionary and developmental psychology which opened up the nature of consciousness. Dozens of books, hundreds of lectures, and hours upon hours of thought… i am feeling I am starting to understand existence and philosophy.

A philosophy journal article on audiophiles? My mind is blown. Transparency? WTF. How about the metaphysical and epistemological underpinnings of the Valley Girl?

As an academic who reads and sometimes writes scholarly articles on aesthetics, I can say that for a work of philosophy this one is FUN. It's easy to tell that the author is just as interested in audiophile culture as in 21st century aesthetic theory, and he clearly had a good time writing it. If you're not used to reading academic essays it might seem a bit stiff, but I have no doubt that this was a labor of love. He writes as an insider (a 'Goner?) and his references (Steve Guttenberg! Bill Evans!) will be more familiar to us on this forum than to his colleagues in philosophy. Best of all, he is asking the same questions that get asked out here all the time: what acoustics are we listening for when we do critical listening? Is the platonic ideal of sound a live performance or a brilliant recording or what we concoct with our systems for our own ears? what gives us pleasure as audiophiles? What is the role of subjectivity in our listening? And what DO we mean by transparency? Boiled down, this is Audiogon on academic steroids--and why not?? Thanks for posting it, lukemaximus! 

@ghdprentice Yeah, the article is a little rich. Definitely written for a philosophy journal. I am also interested in evolutionary and development psychology and would recommend a book by Michael Tomasello, "Becoming Human: A theory of ontogeny." He compares the development of children and primates in order to better understand what makes humans distinctly human, like shared intentionality. He also has a youtube video with the same title.