How can Schopenhauer’s paradoxical theory of music as representation of that which cannot be represented work?

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

Schopenhauer has been described as the ‘musician’s philosopher’ for the detailed attention he pays to music, assigning the medium a ‘pride of place in the arts’ (Budd, 1985:76 ). Schopenhauer’s aim to situate music as corresponding to the inner essence of man, that is to say the Will would seem to provide a perfect theory for the clinical discipline of music therapy whereby co-improvised music is hard to account for in words. However Schopenhauer’s metaphysical theory of music has received criticism in terms of its conceptual inconsistencies, (Han1997 ) for example that it is meaningless to speak of music as a representation of that which cannot be represented. (Budd, 1985:86), that Schopenhauer has failed in his attempt to show that music can be revelatory in a meaningful way, (Alperson, 1981:155 ) and furthermore that there is a problem of universality in Schopenhauer’s argument with its reliance upon familiarity with the art form and an ‘intuitive act of faith’ (Bowie, 2003:266-8 ).
Alternatively Young (1993 ) proposes that on many occasions ‘Schopenhauer ignores his [Schopenhauer’s] official view that music is a representation of the metaphysical “will”, treating it instead as a depiction of an entirely human merely psychological reality.’(1993: 21-22).
In this dissertation I shall revisit Schopenhauer’s metaphysical theory of music in the light of this criticism and examine Young’s two-fold interpretation of Schopenhauer’s theory of music. I shall alternatively investigate Schopenhauer’s theory of the body and of music as the objectivity of the Will with reference to theoretical pre-suppositions in clinical music therapy whereby music is understood both developmentally (Trevarthen C. and Malloch, S, 2000 )and phenomenologically (Robarts, 1988 ) as originating in the body and thereby intuitively considered as essence.
Date of Award1 Sep 2004
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Essex

Keywords

  • Schopenhauer
  • Aesthetics
  • Music Therapy

Cite this

How can Schopenhauer’s paradoxical theory of music as representation of that which cannot be represented work?
Darnley-Smith, R. (Author). 1 Sep 2004

Student thesis: Master's Thesis