Philosophy 112

Fall 2013

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
112 Special Topics in Aesthetics: Music & Meaning Ginsborg M 1-4 124 Morrison

This course will explore the question of whether music has meaning, and if so, what kind. Can music represent, say, birdsong, or the sea, or merely imitate? If music expresses emotions, then whose–those of the listener? the composer? the performer? We will consider parallels and contrasts between linguistic and musical meaning, theories of how music can be expressive, and the question of whether music can convey political meaning. The course will be taught as a seminar, and students will be expected to participate actively. Each week’s discussion will be structured around the interaction between musical excerpts and readings, drawn from historical and contemporary literature in philosophy, musicology, and the psychology of music. Requirements will include several short papers, a class presentation, and a final paper. Please note that this course is being taught as part of the “Big Ideas” breadth program; for details of the program, see It will be cross-listed as Philosophy C112/Music C128P.

Enrollment in the course is limited and by instructor approval only. If you are interested in enrolling, please send an email, with “Music and Meaning” in the subject line, to and One of the instructors will get back to you with details of the enrollment procedure.

Previously taught: SP13.