The Power of Voice


Ernst Cassirer rightly observed that culture, in all its manifold forms, requires expression and, accordingly, is always mediated by some means of communication. These means are extremely diverse – from simple gestures and face expressions or drawings on the stone walls to sounds combined in sophisticated ways into musical compositions, subtle languages of literature, carefully arranged moves of dancers and actors, mathematical formulas, and – more recently – whole worlds created in the digital, virtual realm. There is, however, one medium that seems to be a more primordial and originary conveyor of culture than the others, namely the human voice.
Compared to – for example – writing, voice turns out to be a much more complicated phenomenon. First of all, mostly everything that could be written, can also be spoken. Secondly, and more importantly, voice allows for modalities that are unattainable for writing. Speaking in an articulated, regular manner and thus conveying a semantic content is just one way of using our voice. But voice does not necessarily need to be semantic. Sometimes we also shout, roar, howl, scream, or cry. In such cases, voice activates our most primeval forms of expression, linking us to the animal kingdom. But, on the other hand, voice – both in its semantic and asemantic mode – is a medium of music. As such, it sets us apart from the realm of animality, and allows for participation in the purely human realm of aesthetic experiences.

How to cite:

Rychter, Marcin. “The Power of Voice.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 6, no. 2 (2022):  1-3. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2022.0011.


Marcin Rychter
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw
Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00-927 Warsaw, Poland

Open Access Statement:

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.