Form and Freedom: The Kantian Ethos of Musical Formalism

Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 22 (22):75-88 (2011)
Musical formalism is often portrayed as the enemy of artistic freedom. Its main representative, Eduard Hanslick, is seen as a purist who, by emphasizing musical rules, aims at restricting music criticism and even musical practices themselves. It may also seem that formalism is depriving music of its ability to have moral significance, as the semantic connection to the extramusical is denied by the formalistic view. In my paper, I defend formalism by placing Hanslick’s argument in a Kantian framework. It is not hard to find Kantian elements in Hanslick’s work, such as his emphasis on the contemplative and disinterested nature of the aesthetic judgment, the nonconceptuality of music’s content, and his insistence that “beauty has no purpose.” I argue further that Hanslick’s formalism is in fact motivated by and manifests the Kantian conception of freedom as self-legislation. Thus understood, the kind of moral significance music may have rests upon its own autonomous rules
Keywords Hanslick, Kant, formalism, musical understanding, autonomy of music
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.7146/nja.v22i40-41.5200
 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
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,157
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Listening to Music Together.N. Zangwill - 2012 - British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (4):379-389.
Enacting Musical Experience.Joel Krueger - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (2-3):98-123.
On Hanslick's Supposed Formalism in Music.Robert W. Hall - 1967 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 25 (4):433-436.
Hanslick's Third Thesis.Robert J. Yanal - 2006 - British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (3):259-266.
Form and Matter in Kantian Political Philosophy: A Reply.Arthur Ripstein - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):487-496.
Zorn: Avant/Après/Passé.John Lowell Brackett - 2012 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 3 (T):316-323.
Piece for the End of Time: In Defence of Musical Ontology.Andrew Kania - 2008 - British Journal of Aesthetics 48 (1):65-79.
Feasible Aesthetic Formalism.Nick Zangwill - 1999 - Noûs 33 (4):610-629.
Enacting Musical Content.Joel Krueger - 2011 - In Riccardo Manzotti (ed.), Situated Aesthetics: Art Beyond the Skin. Imprint Academic. pp. 63-85.
The Aesthetics of Music.Roger Scruton - 1997 - Oxford University Press.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

28 ( #181,820 of 2,163,647 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #84,209 of 2,163,647 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums