On a spiritual path, coming to self through personal liberation yields a deeper understanding of our capacity to act as ethical agents. This sense of responsibility to develop oneself is what I call agency.
- Frans de Waal, Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved (Princeton University Press, 2002).
- Sabina Knight, The Heart of Time: Moral Agency in Twentieth Century Chinese Fiction (Harvard University Asia Center, 2006).
- T.C.Kline and Philip J. Ivanhoe, Virtue, Nature, and Moral Agency in the Xunzi (Hackett Pub. Co., 2000).
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Christine M. Korsgaard, Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity (Oxford University Press, 2009).
- Christine M. Korsgaard, The Constitution of Agency: Essays on Practical Reason and Moral Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2008).
- Jeanette Kennett, Agency and Responsibility: A Common-Sense Moral Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2001).
- Robert B. Pippin, Hegel's Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
- Nomy Arpaly, Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry Into Moral Agency (Oxford University Press, 2002).
- Jerome M. Segel, Agency, Illusion, and Well-Being: Essays in Moral Psychology and Philosophical Economics (Books, 2009).
- Michael D. Bristol, ed., Shakespeare and Moral Agency (Continuum, 2010).
- Stanley B. Cunningham, Reclaiming Moral Agency: The Moral Philosophy of Albert the Great (Catholic University of America Press, 2008).
- Andrews Reath, Agency and Autonomy in Kant’s Moral Theory: Selected Essays (Oxford University Press, 2006).
- William Andrew Rottschaefer, The Biology and Psychology of Moral Agency (Cambridge University Press, 1997).
- John Deigh, The Sources of Moral Agency: Essays in Moral Psychology and Freudian Theory (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
- Renée Jeffrey, ed., Confronting Evil in International Relations: Ethical Responses to Problems of Moral Agency (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
- Tony Erskine, ed., Can Institutions Have Responsibilities?: Collective Moral Agency and International Relations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
- Linda Holler, Erotic Morality: The Role of Touch in Moral Agency (Rutgers University Press, 2002).
- Shing Yin Khor , The Legend of Auntie Po (Kokila, 2021): “. . . by connecting with traditions old and new, and harnessing the healing power of storytelling within her community, Mei begins to recognize her agency in a prejudiced world.”
Music: songs and other short pieces
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Georg Philipp Telemann, 12 Fantasias for Solo Flute, TWV 40:2-13 (ca. 1732) (approx. 48-60 minutes): “Georg Philipp Telemann came from an affluent but unmusical family. Though he showed early promise as a performer and composer, his mother had other ideas and tried to discourage him by confiscating all his musical instruments. As a law student in Leipzig, however, he became increasingly involved in ‘extra-curricular’ musical activities.” “The high baroque is a time in which the number of pieces written for a single, monodic, instrument is small. An important element in music is counterpoint, inherited from earlier times as one of the basic organizational principles of western music. Even in solo pieces, a suggestion of polyphony and harmony is made. Telemann is a master at pseudopolyphony, as illustrated in the Fantasias.” “Possibly written for didactic purposes, as their key progression suggests, these Fantasies do not follow a strict form. The number of movements varies in the extreme; some are short da chiesa sonatas while others consist of sections which flow into one another. This formal freedom is particularly apparent in the openly improvisational character of several of the introductory movements.” Top recordings are by Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1975, Barthold Kuijken in 1978, Viviana Guzmán in 1996, Jed Wentz in 2007, Elizabeth Walker in 2008, Leonard Garrison in 2021, and Conor Nelson in 2021. Excellent performances on recorder are by Dan Laurin in 1997, Marion Verbrüggen in 2008, Erik Bosgraaf in 2008, and Genevieve Lacey in 2018. Here is a version for flute with guitar, performed by Cavatina Duo in 2020.
Telemann also composed 12 Fantasias for Solo Violin, TWV 40:14-25 (1735) (approx. 63-68 minutes). One scholar has argued that this set of fantasias informed Bach in his composition of sonatas and partitas for solo violin. Whether that is true or not, and while these works are less advanced musically than Bach’s, they express the bedrock value of agency, in personal development. Top performances are by Arthur Grumiaux in 1970, Andrew Manze in 1995, Rachel Podger in 2001, Augustin Hadelich in 2009, Federico Guglielmo in 2011, Luigi De Filippi in 2015, Fabio Biondi in 2016, Thomas Bowes in 2021, Irina Gintova in 2021, and Tomás Cotik in 2022.
Not willing to leave spectacularly well-enough alone, Telemann gifted us with 12 Fantasias for Viola da gamba, TWV 40:26-37 (ca. 1735) (approx. 80-100 minutes). “Telemann does the apparently impossible in the Gamba Fantasias. He uses every variation of form, the old chamber sonata (with the movement sequence of fast - slow - fast), the newer stretta form (slow - fast - fast), fugues and movements with elements of the rondo or the concerto, dance forms in both traditional and galant guise, echoes of Polish music and of the Moravian hanacca, unison playing juxtaposed with part-writing, as well as broken chords and passage-work . . .” Excellent recorded performances are by Robert Smith in 2017, Paolo Pandolfo in 2017, Richard Boothby in 2018, and John Dornenburg in 2021.
Every good musician represents the virtue of agency, each in their own way: when they play, astute listeners know that the musical expression comes from them. “The Bill Evans style is unique in the history of jazz piano. His tone and conception are delicate without being fragile. On slow pieces, he sometimes creates a harp-like effect by sounding single tones and letting them ring, as though to savor each vibration.” “He was a master in interpreting standards, he made arrangements, reharmonized them and rephrased the melodic lines. He was able to create alterations to a tune’s original harmony in short order, often in the studio just before recording a tune.” “Bill Evans is often described as self-effacing. He worked very hard at his art and never considered himself a gifted pianist. Yet his innovative voicings and his introspective but emotionally rich style influenced generations of musicians.” Evans expressed the view that “. . . having one's own sound in a sense is the most fundamental kind of identity in music . . .” As you partake of his discography, albums and playlists, and live appearances, careful attention to the way Evans expressed his strong sense of self through his music will yield abundant rewards. Of special note are the albums “You Must Believe in Spring” and “Waltz for Debby”, and “The Complete Riverside Recordings”, which should keep you happily engaged for quite some time.
Other jazz albums:
- "Mikropuls", an album of free jazz
- Andrew McCormack, “Solo”: “Solo's sole instrument is the acoustic piano—a Steinway Model D Concert Grand to be precise—which McCormack uses to perform a wide-ranging repertoire of engaging and beautifully-played music, whether his own compositions or reinterpretations of others.'”