Sebastian Sunday Grève

Sebastian Sunday Grève

Philosopher; 2020-2021 Berggruen China Center Fellow


Sebastian Sunday Grève is a German philosopher, who was educated in Oxford and is living in Beijing, where he works as an assistant professor at Peking University. He is interested in both practical and theoretical issues. His 2015 essay ‘The Importance of Understanding Each Other in Philosophy’ was awarded the Annual Essay Prize of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and has since been published in Philosophy. In his doctoral thesis, Skill and Scepticism, he developed—largely in conversation with psychology, rather than philosophy—a new theory of intuitive skill; the theory serves to demonstrate the importance of attaining what might be called ‘true’ philosophical skill in order to unlock a unique potential of highly intelligent agency in both humans and artificial systems alike. Sebastian is the editor of Wittgenstein on Philosophy, Objectivity, and Meaning (Cambridge University Press, 2019; with James Conant) and Culture and Value after Wittgenstein (Oxford University Press, under contract). At the Berggruen Institute, Sebastian will be exploring the philosophy of intelligence of Alan Turing (1912–54), which he believes to be more nuanced and compelling than previously assumed, yet still fresh and inspiring, and indeed potentially revolutionary.

composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.