The Other Minds Problem

There is a psychological conundrum called The Other Minds Problem. When we’re still very young we tend to think that because we love something then someone else will. To our three year old self, Cheerios are great for dinner. Therefore, mom and dad will love Cheerios too. But mom and dad love wine and steak for dinner, not Cheerios. We grow out of this line of thinking as we age and realize that everyone’s taste isn’t identical to yours.

Music, however, seems to be a last line of defense for this thought process. In some it takes on a positive childlike innocence and vitality. Conductor Benjamin Zander, for instance, thinks everyone loves classical music. It’s just that some don’t know it yet. Then we have the negative connotation: those who refuse to believe or acknowledge others who listen to pop music or anything in 4/4.

The Other Minds Problem isn’t always a ‘problem’ when it comes to music. However, it can lead people to skirmishes of insults and profanities in the name of a band they love. Perhaps one can liken it to a flame or double edge sword: it can give us warmth or burn, help or hinder.

Whether we like it our not, step one is to notice it’s there in all of us.

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