Scientific Reflections on Mind, Music and the Universe

From ancient times up to today, thinkers all over the world have speculated about a deep connection between music, the workings of the human mind, and the organization of our physical Universe. Among the most famous historical examples are the work of Pythagoras and his school, and Johannes Kepler’s “World Harmony”.

Pondering the vast literature on this topic – so far as he has been come to know it – Pensive Composer is not satisfied.

Something seems to be missing, the lack of which makes a coherent, conceptually rigorous inquiry into the relationship of music, mind and the Universe extremely difficult, and often leads into sterile mysticism.

A crucial missing link, Pensive Composer thinks, may be provided by ideas that emerged in the course of his research collaboration with the Russian physicist Danil Doubochinski. These ideas are sketched in two draft papers available on this site: “The Universe as Social Process” (2012) and an earlier version, “On the General Nature of Physical Objects and their Interactions” (2008). Danil Doubochinski was co-discoverer of the so-called “argumental” pendulum, a device in which a low-frequency oscillator is maintained in one of a discrete set of stable oscillatory regimes by interaction with a high-frequency energy source.

In my collaboration with Doubochinski we were led to a general conception of physical objects as dynamic regimes or modes of processes, embodying some principle of organization and maintaining (over some time interval) some invariant parameters and characteristics. A crucial point, illustrated by Doubochinski’s pendulum and other experiments, is that the interaction between two dynamic objects in our sense, can lead to the emergence of one or more of new dynamic objects in the form of quasi-stable modes or regimes of interaction. In the introduction to our 2012 paper we write:

“The present article proposes a new dynamical conception of physical objects in general, of their aggregative behavior as manifested on all scales of observation, and of the Universe as a ‘social’ process in which the participating individual objects – including the so-called elementary particles – are all born and constituted as stable (or quasi-stable) regimes of interaction. We believe this new viewpoint, which differs significantly both from that of classical physics and from quantum theory as presently understood, might lead to a more coherent understanding of many natural phenomena which until now have been studied only in a piecemeal fashion and from divergent points of view in physics, chemistry, astronomy and biology.”

Pensive Composer hopes to use this website as a platform to explore the implications of this conception for the ancient problem of the coherence of music, mind and the Universe.

Here are a few preliminary thoughts to indicate what I have in mind.


The Universe as a Social Process

The General Nature of Physical Objects and their Interactions