[Smt-talk] You say structure I say structuralism lets

Mark Ansoncartwright Mark.Ansoncartwright at qc.cuny.edu
Mon Jul 14 16:12:53 PDT 2014

Dear Ildar,

I was interested to read your quotation from Zeno’s fragments, which I did not know before. I took the trouble to look up the Greek online and to check another translation, that by C.D. Yonge.

In your quotation/transliteration of the Greek, you left out a couple of important vowels: "poiun" should be "poioun," while “apoioun” (“unmade”) is actually “apoion” (“without quality”). Also, the accusative words

“hulen” (“clay” or “matter”) and “theon” (“god” or “God”) should be rendered in apposition to the words “ousian” ("existence") and “logon” ("reason"), respectively. At least, the rendering by Yonge would suggest that’s how the accusative (NOT genitive, as your suggest) functions here.

Here is the corrected Greek (transliterated), followed by Yonge’s translation.

Dokei d'autois arkhas einai ton holon duo: to poioun kai to paskhon. to men oun paskhon einai apoion ousian ten hulen, to de poioun ton en aute logon ton theon.
Source: Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, ed. H. von Arnim, p. 24 (available at archive.org).


They think that there are two general principles in the universe, the active and the passive That the passive is matter, an existence without any distinctive quality. That the active is the reason which exists in the passive, that is to say, God.

Source: Diogenes Laërtius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, trans. C.D. Yonge (London: George Bell & Sons, 1895) Public Domain.

Thanks for stimulating us with some ancient writings.


Mark Anson-Cartwright
Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY

From: Smt-talk [smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] on behalf of Ildar Khannanov [etudetableau at gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2014 12:56 AM
To: Phillip Dineen
Cc: Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] You say structure I say structuralism lets

Dear Murray,

agree, ah those continentals! Reminds me the phrase from the Adams Family, You're so continental ! addressed to a vampire.

That structure and function should be closer related and examined--sure! Dokei d'autois arkhas einai ton holon duo: to poiun kai to paskhon. to men oun paskhon einai apoioun ousian ten hulen, to de poioun ton en aute logon ton theon. This crazy formulation was provided by Zeno of Chitteum at the time when the Contintent to the West was populated by savages.

The causes of the whole are two: the active and passive. The passive is an unmade essence of hule (clay); the active is the words of god.

I guess, the structure (something that is built) is the product of active cause (making) applied to the passive substance (clay, or, as in Latin translation, wild forest, silva).

If I read your thought correctly, the structure is not a passive material but the product of action (of function) on that passive material. Unfortunately, music theorists often take structure for granted, as if it were something given and passive by itself. Sometimes they even try to dissociate structure from function (as in non-functional pitch centricity). All our patterns, embellishments, collections and sets are clay in Greek terms. They become structure only after function is applied.

Best wishes,

Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Institute
etudetableau at gmail.com<mailto:etudetableau at gmail.com>

2014-07-12 9:05 GMT-04:00 Phillip Dineen <murraydineen at uottawa.ca<mailto:murraydineen at uottawa.ca>>:
Oh those stretch Continentals. What a hangover.

Presumably the structuralists were looking at some kind of structure. Perhaps historically the functionalists -- Radcliffe Brown, Propp? -- stopped at that point, and concerned themselves with only the function of (structural) elements within a system. (Perhaps as theorists we're functional.) But following the insights of Saussure (or his students), some folks took that a little further, suggesting that the nature of the functional elements determined the structure (not vice versa, or maybe vice versa, or probably both -- I'm simplifying here).

I don't think most music theorists have gone that far, although it comes to mind that articles by Roland Jackson (ITO, mid 80's) and the late Chris Lewis (19thCM) might have touched upon structural thought. (I'm forgetting others, memory being a thing of the past.)

Cleaning the Derrida out of the way so I can get at the coffee.

Murray (dineen)
University of Ottawa
murraydineen at uottawa.ca<mailto:murraydineen at uottawa.ca>

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