Sunday, September 03, 2006

Knowledge, Understanding, and Jazz

Last night my parents and I were having a dinner discussion that has become common at my house. That is, a conversation during which I try to explain Jazz to them and they continue to not understand it. For instance we were listening to "Blues and the Abstract Truth" by Oliver Nelson, an album that is catchy, melodic, and all around accessible. Then ITunes went on to "The shape of Jazz to Come" by Ornette Coleman, an album which is squawkish, atonal, and all around much less accessible (but still not truly "avant garde"). As I went to change the music to something more enjoyable my father made the remark: "That would fall more under the category of "unorganized jazz"".
I said: "Oh, it's organized".
Quoth my father (slightly sarcasticaly) "You mean to say that there are things in jazz that are more complex and sophisticated than I might think?"
"Well, yes" I had to say
Then my mother said "But if we don't understand it then how can we believe you?"

Thus, my question:
Can you really believe, and thus know, something if you don't understand it?

For instance: If your best friend came up to you and said "Pablo ate an entire swinger" And you had no idea who Pablo was or what a swinger was, could you really believe or know that "Pablo ate an enitre swinger".


Vvyynn said...

First: Avant Garde, Avant Garde. Second: No, no you can't believe something if you don't understand it. For me, in order to say "I believe this" I have to be able to defend it, and thus to understand it. Even if this isn't your position, if you don't understand something, and you say you believe it your simply regurgitating something that "The man on the Radio" told you you should believe. Thus, you don't actually believe it, you simply believe you believe it. Well, I'm off to cryptozoology. Merry Christmas.

A. Koss said...

Adversely, lots of people believe religious ideas without fully understanding them. I would say they really believe those things. Their belief isn't false.

We should make distinctions between belief and knowledge, not between beliefs and beliefs you believe you believe. No offense, but that's more of a tongue twister than a valid argument.

Big E said...

Thank you, Vinni, I Fixed the spelling of "Avant Garde"

Shayden said...

I agree with Abby about her views on the religion issue and the necessary distinction between belief and knowledge. As for your mother wondering how she can believe you about the quality of jazz, as is the case with any matter in the world, there is a certain amount of blind faith or trust that one must hold on a subject. One might not be able to fully fathom a concept but still believe in it, such as the speed of light and if one can exceed that, then one can travel back in time. The speed of light is sooo incredibly fast that no human has a full appreciation for it, but based on logical facts, they can trust that and believe it to be true without actually experiencing it.

Vvyynn said...

You're welcome, Evan, Any time. Also, I'm not exactly sure what the religion argument is stating about the original question. People who believe in religions have understanding of these religions, enough for them to state "I believe this". Thus, you still need understanding to believe.

Shayden said...

To believe in a relgion one need only understand the basic principles behind it. There are too many nuances and varied interpretations involved with religion to entirely grasp it with the understanding of an expert, but there are still people out there that really believe without this understanding. They won't necessarily know, but they can believe.

Vvyynn said...

Religion. Religion. Religion. Religion. Religion. religion. Religion. Is it truth yet? I WANT MY ICE CREAM NOW!