Music, Essential Metaphor, and Private Language
American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (1):1 (2011)
Music is elusive. describing it is problematic. In particular its aesthetic properties cannot be captured in literal description. Beyond very simple terms, they cannot be literally described. In this sense, the aesthetic description of music is essentially nonliteral. An adequate aesthetic description of music must have resort to metaphor or other nonliteral devices. I maintain that this is because of the nature of the aesthetic properties being described. I defend this view against an apparently simple objection put by Malcolm Budd. dealing with this objection will take us into some surprising terrain. We are led to consider issues concerning privacy and the language for describing sensations. In the light of these considerations, I develop the essentially nonliteralist thesis and explore some of its consequences.
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