Music and mysticism

Abstract
Music seems mysterious, and our experience of some can have a peculiar depth. I think we should embrace this mysteriousness and not try to explain it away. There is something about music and our experience of it that is indescribable, and sometimes wonderfully indescribable. I here explore a view of music that is unashamedly mystical. However, this mysticism takes a particular form. Near the entry on “music” in Robert Audi’s Dictionary of Philosophy (Audi 1999) is an entry on “mysticism” by William Mann, in which he writes: Mystics claim that, although veridical, their experience cannot be adequately described in language, because ordinary communication is based on sense-experience and conceptual differentiation: mystical writings are thus characterised by metaphor and simile. I think that we should embrace just such a view of music. Music has what are sometimes called ‘ineffable’ qualities — qualities that we can think of but that are literally indescribable. And our experience of music has ineffable qualities. We reach for metaphor and simile to describe aesthetic properties that cannot otherwise be described (Zangwill 2001, chapter 10). Metaphor and simile are the best we can do to capture the aesthetic nature of music, and our experience of it. Only by means of metaphor and simile can we describe music and our experience of it, and even then our description is doomed to inadequacy. There is a reality in the music and in our experience of it that escapes literal description, and we gesture at it by any means at our disposal. But we inevitably fail to capture its true character. Metaphor and simile are the best we can do, however, and some metaphorical descriptions are better than others. But the character of the music and of our musical experience is ultimately ineffable. To ward off one source of..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Only published papers are available at libraries
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    30 ( #49,079 of 1,089,062 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    5 ( #20,075 of 1,089,062 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


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