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The Sound Archive of the Library of Babel

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Abstract

This concerns 'meaning' and is based on a thought experiment first suggested by the psychologist Theodor Fechner, imaginatively elaborated by Jorge Luis Borges in his collection of stories 'Labyrinths' published in English in 1962, and further developed by the philosopher Daniel Dennett in 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea', 1995. The idea is very simple, but on reflection may tell us a great deal about our intuitive understanding of the 'meaning' of 'meaning' if only by approaching it from the back-door - giving us an idea of the possible, and therefore giving us a greater appreciation of the actual. This experiment, incidentally, has been used in many other forms. In the three above it is used with regard to text and language, and in the Dennett subsequently to biology (itself an extension based on Dawkins 1982). I am applying the same idea to music.