Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Hanslick on Expression

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Eduard Hanslick argues against two claims: (a) the aim of absolute music (i.e. instrumental music) is to excite emotion, and (b) absolute music represents or is about emotions. One argument against (b) is this: 

  1. Necessarily, emotions are constituted in part by propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs). 
  2. Absolute music cannot express such attitudes.
  3. ∴ Absolute music cannot express emotions.

Is this a good argument?