Contents Contact

Waves around a rocky shore.

Objectless Sound

...where experience is supposed to be exclusively auditory in character, there would be [no] place for spatial concepts at all. I think it is obvious that there would be no such place.

Peter Strawson (1959)


Shutting our eyes we listen to the sea; swishing, gurgling, rattling, crashing. Such sounds seem to be without objects. Women beside cupboard in Dong Van market. A page on the formation, use and importance of objects. There is direction, and intensity, and interaction, but no body, no dimensions; similarly with smell. It is interesting to speculate, as Strawson is, about a world without sight or touch which accordingly would seem to have none of the objects with which our normal world is populated. In contrast sight, touch and language Mist forming up the valley among the trees of Ae forest. A page using a metaphor to place language in relation to thought. deal in objects; our eyes, mouths and hands creating this world of things in which we live Complex of clouds. These humanly created objects are formed from a seamless world. That contrast, object-less and object-full, suggests some fundamental unity between language and vision. And indeed some writers see evolutionary parallels between the ways speech and vision are organised. Maybe there is a common and ancient basis to a unity of language and vision, both of which transact their business in objects.

The quote is from page 65 of Strawson’s book Individuals which contributed considerably to his status as leading philosopher in post war U.K. On the parallels between language and vision Maëva Michon, Vladimir Lopéz, and Francisco Aboitiz (2019) note the way speech processing is organised in the brain, and that in certain respects it “...parallels the organisation of the visual system. Furthermore, this organisation is highly conserved in evolution and can be seen as the neural scaffolding from which the speech networks originated.” The quote is from the introduction to their chapter: Origins and Evolution of Human Speech in Evolution of Human Brain in the series Progress in Brain Research. However, they are concerned with specific structures and the general point about speech is almost an aside.

Waves breaking over rocks by the shore on the island of Barra in the outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 12th June 2021

Murphy on duty to this site