Opera and the Limits of Philosophy: on Bernard Williams's Music Criticism

British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4):469-479 (2010)
This paper provides a reading of the opera criticism of Bernard Williams in the light of his philosophical writings. Beginning with the observations that his philosophical writing lacks engagement with musical and aesthetic issues, and his operatic writing appears to present no particular philosophy of the subject, I try to draw together certain themes by mapping Williams's operatic concerns onto his philosophical project more generally. I argue that the 'excessive' nature of the artform—the idea that opera tends to exceed its musico-dramatic functions—was of particular interest to Williams, partly because it resonated with his dislike of easy theoretical solutions to thorny practical issues. More specifically, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte is related, via the way the way its emotional register exceeds its dramatic context, to the issues examined by Williams in his work on moral luck. Similarly, I discuss the way Williams's essay on Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande seems to hint at an account of the emotions which is otherwise missing from Williams's oeuvre
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayq038
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,217
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Nader Shoaibi (2010). In Defense of Kantian Moral Theory. California Undergraduate Philosophy Review 3 (1).
Bernard Williams (2002). Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

21 ( #221,840 of 1,932,453 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #456,120 of 1,932,453 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.