Article ID: CBB001320386

Changeable Ears: Ernst Mach's and Max Planck's Studies of Accommodation in Hearing (2013)


This article offers an examination of the psychophysical studies of accommodation in hearing by Ernst Mach and Max Planck, natural scientists better known for their accomplishments in physics and philosophy. Early in his career, Mach sought to experimentally locate the possible mechanism of accommodation in hearing, the phenomenon in which individuals can alter their experience of sound by changing their attention. Planck, employing a microtonal harmonium, studied the role of attention in vocalists' abilities to hear tempered intervals---what he termed accommodation in hearing. Both mobilized music as a means of argument and experiment. This article shows how each physicist's conception of accommodation in hearing drew on music and, in turn, informed his ideas about the historicity of hearing, the universality of the nineteenth-century Western musical aesthetic, and the nature of knowledge itself.

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Authors & Contributors
Hoffmann, Dieter
Badino, Massimiliano
Zanarini, Gianni
Kursell, Julia
Klotz, Sebastian
Hoffmann, Christoph
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Public Understanding of Science
Journal for General Philosophy of Science
Edizioni ETS
Sentinel Open Press
University of California, Los Angeles
Springer International
Philosophy of science
Experiments and experimentation
History of philosophy of science
Auditory perception
Mach, Ernst
Planck, Max
Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von
Stumpf, Carl
Boltzmann, Ludwig
Duhem, Pierre
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
United States

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