Affective Resonance: On the Uses and Abuses of Music In and For Philosophy

Phaenex: Journal of Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture 7 (2) (2012)
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Because music communicates extra-propositionally, philosophers often use musical concepts and metaphors to discuss implicit and/or affective knowledges. Music is a productive means to philosophically analyze affect, but only when these analyses are grounded in rigorous studies of actual musical works and practices. When we don’t ground our study of music in musical practices, works, and theories, “music” just becomes a mirror of whatever assumptions and biases we already have. I show how the overly-abstract treatment of music and sound in Jean-Luc Nancy’s Listening leads to significant philosophical and political problems. By following his musical metaphors all the way through, I show how his theory of listening naturalizes maleness/masculinity, and, like liberal multiculturalism, values “difference” only as a way to re-center whiteness and patriarchy. As an alternative, I use R&B/electropop singer Kelis’s 2010 single “Acapella” to develop an alternative account of music, affect, and the politics of difference.



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Robin M. James
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Sonic Cyberfeminisms: Introduction.Marie Thompson & Annie Goh - 2021 - Feminist Review 127 (1):1-12.

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