Evil and Silence

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Overview

Inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Stanley Cavell, this book is a profoundly original philosophical work put together as a network of quotations, to show that our language is never our own and that ethics can be understood as an effect of our attitude to language. It is a meditation on justice and addresses the question of how to lead a non-violent life and acknowledge the humanity of others following 9/11 and extending right up to the current moment.

Using extensive interdisciplinary sources, Evil and Silence investigates the nature of evil and the ways to make a life worth living in the face of such a fact of existence. It argues that we must reject the choice of violence as a justified way of life and embrace the creative efforts of nonviolence. The text begins with Socrates’ argument that it is never just to harm another and ends with Cage’s exploration of silence as all the sounds we don’t intend. Drawing on his past work in philosophy of language and music, Fleming develops arguments for the logic of nonviolence and the value of silence. He demonstrates that living consistently by way of silence and meaningful sound, understanding the music and language of our lives, is a justified response to the truth and miseries of evil.

Links to Musical Illustrations and Scores Mentioned in the Text

Mozart's Symphony 40, Beethoven's Symphony 6, and Ives' The Unanswered Question:
http://www.leonardbernstein.com/norton_scores.htm

Mozart's Symphony 40
Beethoven's Symphony 6

First page of Wagner's Tristan undIsolde:
http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/bfk2835/index.html

First page of Wagner's Parsifal:
http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/baj5813/index.html

First and second pages of Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun:
http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/bgn9673/index.html

An original manuscript page from Schoenberg's Opus 23, Five Piano Pieces:
http://www.schoenberg.at/scans/Ms23/Ms23/10.jpg

The central tone-row from Berg's Violin Concerto (section B) and the last page of Wozzeck:
http://solomonsmusic.net/wozzeck.htm

Last page of Mahler's Symphony 9:
http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/5/5d/IMSLP21194-PMLP48640-Symphony_No._9_-_IV.pdf

First page of Stravinsky's Petrushka:
http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/aad9501/index.html

Page from Bernstein's Mass:
http://www.leonardbernstein.com/mass_scores.htm

Page from Tchaikovsky's Symphony 6:
http://www.leonardbernstein.com/norton_scores.htm

Cage's 4'33'' manuscript page and precursor materials:
http://solomonsmusic.net/4min33se.htm
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594517280
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Series: Media and Power
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Fleming is a teacher of philosophy and humanities. He has received numerous teaching-excellence awards. Recent teaching-seminars include: “Reading the Philosophical Investigations—Remark by Remark,” Duke University, 2008-2009; “Cage: Experimentation, Chance, Silence, Anarchism,” Fusion Art Exchange, New York, 2007-2008. His writings on ordinary language philosophy include: The State of Philosophy (1993) and First Word Philosophy (2004).
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