Jenefer Robinson takes the insights of modern scientific research on the emotions and uses them to illuminate questions about our emotional involvement with the arts. Laying out a theory of emotion supported by the best evidence from current empirical work, she examines some of the ways in which the emotions function in the arts. Written in a clear and engaging style, her book will make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the emotions and how they work, as well as anyone (...) engaged with the arts and aesthetics. (shrink)
In this paper, we contest Peter Kivy’s claim that there is a clear opposition between ‘absolute music’ and programme music and between musical form and musical expressiveness. We argue, on the contrary, that much music falls somewhere between absolute and programme music as Kivy conceives the categories, and that such music is often primarily organized not on purely formal principles but by means of the overall ‘expressive trajectory’ or ‘poetic idea’ of the piece. Kivy is dismissive of all ‘narrativist’ interpretations (...) of what he considers absolute music, arguing that they add an ‘extraneous’ story to music that neither has nor needs one. We argue on the contrary that the history of the ‘heroic’ plot type in the tradition from Beethoven to Shostakovich demonstrates that composers in the Russian Romantic tradition conceived of their music as unified by ‘poetic ideas’, which were handed down and elaborated by one composer after another. (shrink)
Juslin & Vll (J&V) think that all emotions aroused by music have the music itself as their Some of the mechanisms they discuss almost certainly involve both cognitive appraisals and intentional objects. But some of the mechanisms are non-cognitive: they involve neither cognitive appraisals nor intentional objects. Partly for this reason they may produce moods rather than emotions proper.
Bob Solomon used to inveigh against William James’ theory of emotions, but he eventually arrived at a rapprochement with James and James’s recent successors. In particular, James suggested that emotions are initiated by the “automatic, instinctive” appraisals that register important information in the body and are recorded by body-mapping brain areas. In recent work Solomon describes the judgments he thinks constitute emotions as felt bodily appraisals in similar fashion.
In Sight and Sensibility Dominic Lopes argues that expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed on the model of the “contour” theory of musical expressiveness, according to which an “expression” need not express anything about the inner psychological states of a person. According to his “contour theory of pictorial expression,” expression by scenes and designs requires “no being to whom the expressed emotion is attributable”. However, on this account expression has lost its fundamental raison d’être, that of manifesting somebody’s actual emotional (...) states. By contrast, I argue that successful works of pictorial expression depict the way the world appears to someone when in some emotional state. Moreover, the emotional attitude thus expressed by the work is an important unifying principle for pictures, and hence an important artistic value. (shrink)
According to Dominic Lopes, expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed solely in terms of “expression looks” of various sorts, namely the look of a figure, a scene and/or a design. But, according to this view, it seems puzzling that expressive pictures should have any emotional effect on their audiences. Yet Lopes explicitly ties his “contour theory” of expression in pictures to empathic responses in spectators. Thus, despite his deflationary account of pictorial expression, he claims that pictures can give us practice (...) in various “empathic skills.” I argue that Lopes’s account of empathic responses to pictures, while interesting and enlightening, nevertheless ignores the most important way in which pictures exercise and enhance our empathic skills, namely, by giving us practice in taking the emotional perspective of another person. (shrink)
We apply Carol Gilligan's distinction between a "male" mode of moral reasoning, focussed on justice, and a "female" mode, focussed on caring, to the reading of literature. Martha Nussbaum suggests that certain novels are works of moral philosophy. We argue that what Nussbaum sees as the special ethical contribution of such novels is in fact training in the stereotypically female mode of moral concern. We show this kind of training is appropriate to all readers of these novels, not just to (...) women. Finally, we explore what else is involved in distinctively feminist readings of traditional novels. (shrink)