Prelude to a Theory of Musical Representation

Revista Música 17 (1):89-108 (2017)
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In this paper, I present the beginnings of a resemblance theory of representation. I start by surveying the contemporary philosophical debate surrounding musical representation and reveal that its main interlocutors share a conception of artistic representation as a mode of meaningful communication. I then show how conceiving of artistic representation in this way severely limits music’s possibilities as a medium for representation. Next, I propose an alternative conception of representation that, despite its widespread acceptance outside of the philosophy of art, has been largely denigrated within it: namely, that representation fundamentally depends on structural resemblance. Finally, I demonstrate how conceiving of artistic representation as grounded upon structural resemblances, rather than as a mode of meaningful communication, provides us with a more accurate picture of both (a) how music represents and (b) how we perceive and appreciate musical representations.



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Brandon Polite
Knox College

Citations of this work

Convention and Representation in Music.Hannah H. Kim - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23 (1).

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References found in this work

The scientific image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Meaning.Herbert Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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