Philosophy, Music and Emotion

Philosophy, Music and Emotion

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Philosophy, Music and Emotion explores two issues which have been intensively debated in contemporary philosophy: the nature of music's power to express emotion, and the nature of emotion itself. It shows how closely the two topics are related and provides a radically new account of what it means to say that music 'expresses emotion'. Geoffrey Madell maintains that most current accounts of musical expressiveness are fundamentally misguided. He attributes this fact to the influence of a famous argument of the nineteenth-century critic Hanslick, and also to the dominant 'cognitivist' approach to the nature of emotion, which sees the essence of emotion to be the entertaining of evaluative judgements and beliefs of a certain sort, an account very much in accord with Hanslick's position. Such an approach results either in the unpersuasive view that musical expressiveness is somehow akin to human expressive gesture, or in the view that music arouses feelings which have no specific object and, unavoidably, no necessary connection with the music.
The book argues that the 'cognitivist' account of the nature of emotion is quite false and that it needs to be replaced with a conception of emotions as states of feeling towards - states of intentional feeling - whose objects are often evaluatively characterised states of affairs; however, in the context of the emotions that are aroused by music these objects are always musical events or states. Central to this bold analysis of emotion is a new account of two closely connected mental states, those of desire and of pleasure, and of what role these states have in human motivation and value.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 162 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 24mm | 419g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 3mus.exs.
  • 0748616128
  • 9780748616121
  • 2,329,431

Table of contents

Preface; Introduction; Chapter One - Contour and Convention; Contour; Convention; Chapter Two - Emotivism; Objectless Feelings; Sympathy, Empathy, or Identification?; Conclusion; Chapter Three - Music's Arousal of Emotion; Why Hanslick is Wrong; Music's Arousal of Emotion; Chapter Four - The Advantages of the New Arousalist Position; Chapter Five - Emotion, Judgement and Desire; Why the Standard Judgementalist View of Emotion is Untenable; Desire and Intentional Feeling; Chapter Six - Pleasure and Emotion; The Threat of Hedonism; Pleasure as a Mode of Attention; A Resolution of the Conflicting Positions; The Analysis of Pleasure and Music's Expression of Emotion; The Indispensability of the Notion of Intentional Feeling; Reaon-Following Desire, and Taking Pleasure in what has Objective Value; Chapter Seven - The Nature of Emotion; The Relation between the Affective and the Intentional Components of Emotion; The Nature of Emotion and Music's Expression of Emotion; Chapter Eight - Music's Expression of Emotion; Emotion in Musical and Non-musical contexts; Hanslick Again; Are there any Emotions that Music Cannot Express?; Some Remaining Difficulties; Chapter Nine - Retrospect; Bibliogrraphy; Index.
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About Geoffrey Madell

Geoffrey Madell is Honorary Faculty Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of The Identity of the Self (Edinburgh University Press, 1981) and Mind and Materialism (Edinburgh University Press, 1988) as well as articles in the philosophy of mind, ethics and aesthetics in leading philosophical journals.
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