Beyond Musical Metaphysics: A Philosophical Account of Listening to Music

Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 74 (4):1377-1398 (2018)
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Music’s original philosophical problem is ontological: what is it? In this paper, I argue that music has a better philosophical beginning; philosophical accounts of music should begin as philosophical accounts of listening to music. What distinguishes listening to music from hearing sound? My aim is to give a philosophical account of music by means of a description of a particular kind of interactive relationship we sometimes have to sound. Music, I shall argue, is not distinguished from sound because it has a special metaphysical status or because of the psychological reactions it produces in us; musical sound is distinctive because we listen to it in a certain way. I explore some of the ontological implications of my account, both for music broadly speaking and for the ontology of musical works.



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Paskalina Bourbon
University of Chicago

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