Exploring Elective Affinities: Myth, Music and Philosophy

10 October 2012

Dr Rick Benitez: "Are myths the beginning of philosophy? Are they only the beginning?"
Dr Rick Benitez: "Are myths the beginning of philosophy? Are they only the beginning?"

The connections between myth, music and philosophy will be explored in a free lecture and performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music this Thursday 11 October.

Professor Rick Benitez, an expert in the philosophy of Plato from the University of Sydney's Department of Philosophy and Classics and Ancient History, will start the evening with a discussion about the importance of myth to philosophy.

Commenting on the relationship between philosophy and myth, Professor Benitez says: "Aristotle said that philosophy begins in wonder and that 'hence even the myth-lover is, in a sense, a philosopher, since myths are composed of wonders'.

"Are myths, then, the beginning of philosophy? Are they only the beginning? I will explore the relationship between philosophy and myth through the Ancient Greek philosophers, focussing on two different approaches to the distinction between appearance and reality, and the way myth operates in each of the two approaches."

His lecture will be followed by a performance of 19th century music when Roger Benedict, Principal Viola with the Sydney Symphony and senior lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium, performs Robert Schumann's Fairy Tale Pictures Op. 113 with pianist Jeanell Carrigan.

This will be followed by an arrangement for piano trio by Camille Saint-Saens of Franz Liszt's symphonic poem Orpheus, performed by Sydney Conservatorium musicians - pianist Jeanell Carrigan, violinist Goetz Richter and cellist Mee Na Lojewski.

The lecture-performance is part of an ongoing interdisciplinary inquiry into music, aesthetics and philosophy led by Associate Professor Richter at the Conservatorium of Music.

Dr Richter, a philosopher and musician, comments: "The 'elective affinities' which music establishes with other disciplines, including art, affords opportunities to explore the intricacies of either discipline more effectively.

"The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe exposes the possibility of a methodology which reveals truth and development through association and affinity. Other thinkers, including the sociologist Max Weber and the philosopher of music Theodor Adorno, have relied on this thinking which has its roots in the practices of alchemy.

"The connections between music and philosophy are manifold and historically enduring. Myth and mythology seem to play a facilitative role in their mutual attraction - it is fascinating to see and hear how these three fields of reflection and imagination actually come together."

About Professor Rick Benitez

Professor Benitez is the author of numerous books and articles on Plato, and is currently chief investigator for an Australian Research Council funded project on Plato's myths. He has also directed a research cluster into the role of inspiration and imagination in classical thinking and philosophy at the University of Sydney (Inspired Voices), bringing leading international scholars in classics and philosophy to Sydney.

Event details

What: Elective Affinities: Myth, Music and Philosophy, lecture by Professor Rick Benitez, University of Sydney, followed by musical performances

When: 6.30pm, Thursday 11 October

Where: Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, corner Bridge and Macquarie Streets, Sydney

Cost: This event is free and open to all, no booking required

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