PHIL 185H.001 – Honors: Introduction to Aesthetics

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Instructor: John T. Roberts. This course meets MW 3:35 – 4:50 p.m. in CW 103.

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of music.  No particular background in either philosophy or music will be presupposed.  Philosophy of music is concerned with such questions as these:  What makes some series of sounds pieces of music, as opposed to some other kinds of sound?  What is the relation between music and the emotions?  Is it the function of music to express emotions in sound, to arouse emotions in the audience, to achieve some kind of formal beauty, or something else?  Does music represent something, and if so how does it do this?  What does it mean to “understand” a piece of music, or to fail to “understand” it?  Is there any sense in which music is a language?  Why do we get so much pleasure out of listening to music, and why is music as important to human beings as it evidently is?  In this course, will examine the answers to these questions that have been offered by philosophers, and we will try to give our own answers to them.