To beat or not to beat? On music, violence, and education

Ethics and Education 17 (1):117-139 (2022)
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ABSTRACT In this article I venture the hypothesis that music confronts education with the possibility to think violence in ways that are both inherently educational and radically affirmative. Beginning with a reflection on a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which emphatically evokes the violence within the genesis of music, I then move in a different direction in the second section, which surveys how extant educational has thematized violence so far. Concluding that this thematization, notwithstanding many nuances, invariably implies a negative validation of violence, I devote the third section to a search for more affirmative concepts of educational violence. Eventually, this culminates in a return to the issue of a possibly intrinsic, positive relation between violence and music education. I first discuss this possibility more generally, connecting the discussed affirmative concepts of violence to the antipodal music-educational ideas of Plato and Nietzsche. Finally, in the last section, returning to Browning’s poem, I specify it by reclaiming the particular violence of music’s instrumental aspects for music education.



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