British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):342-367 (2005)

Krzysztof Guczalski
Jagiellonian University
The dilemma referred to in the title occurs in many contexts concerned with expressive meaning in art, and especially music, which suggests that the issue it raises will be central to any complete theory of musical expressiveness. One notable attempt to resolve the paradox of simultaneous generality and particularity in music is in Aaron Ridley's book Music, Value and the Passions. I show why I consider his account unsatisfactory and then propose my own resolution of the paradox. It takes the form of distinguishing between two distinct notions of generality (which I term ‘generality’ and ‘abstractness’) and of particularity (‘specificity’ and ‘concreteness’), and of constructing two relatively independent oppositions: the concrete versus the abstract and the specific versus the general. Finally, I show that a description of music's expressive meaning as abstract, but specific, rightly captures what is usually thought about music, and does not entail any contradictions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayi048
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,956
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What is Abstract About the Art of Music?Kendall L. Walton - 1988 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46 (3):351-364.
The Range of Musical Semantics.Joseph P. Swain - 1996 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54 (2):135-152.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
50 ( #189,657 of 2,343,997 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #188,054 of 2,343,997 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes