British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 44, No. 1, January 2004 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC Nick Zangwill I argue that Hanslick was right to think that music should not be understood in terms of emotion. In particular, it is not essential to music to possess emotions, arouse emotions, express emotions, or represent emotions. All such theories are misguided. SHOULD we understand music in terms of emotion? I agree with Eduard Hanslick:1 the answer is ‘No’. Let me count the ways that there is no essential connection: it is not essential to music to possess emotion, arouse emotion, express emotion, or represent emotion. Music, in itself, has nothing to do with emotion. This negative thesis is restricted to instrumental or absolute music. What is called ‘programme’ or non-absolute music can involve emotion if it is intended to be heard in the light of some representational or semantic art-form that does express, arouse, or represent emotion. For example, in a song, words may refer to emotions. But this is different from the way in which instrumental or absolute music has been thought to involve emotion. My targets here are restricted to what I call ‘literalist’ theories, which invoke the existence of genuine emotion. There are theories that propose that in musical experience we imagine music as somehow connected with emotions, without real emotions being in play. Roger Scruton and Jerrold Levinson have proposed theories of this sort, and I offer no objections to these views here.2 The theories I criticize in this paper postulate some real relation between music and genuine emotion. I will argue that Hanslick was right in his negative critique of literalist emotion theories of music. I will not argue for his positive view that beauty in music 1 2 Eduard Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1986). I shall not follow Hanslick’s text very closely. I embrace his main conclusions, and my arguments are cousins of some of his arguments. See Roger Scruton, ‘Understanding Music’, in The Aesthetic Understanding (Carcanet: Manchester, 1983), and The Aesthetics of Music (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1997); and Jerrold Levinson, ‘Musical Expressiveness’ in The Pleasures of Aesthetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U.P., 1996). I examine Scruton’s view in part 2 of ‘Aesthetic Realism I’, in Oxford Companion to Aesthetics, ed. Jerrold Levinson (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2003). © British Society of Aesthetics 2004 29 30 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC ‘consists simply and solely of tones and their artistic combination’,3 although I have much sympathy with it.4 Another theme in Hanslick is his purist view that music is better when it is absolute or instrumental, and not when mixed with other arts, as in opera. In particular, Wagner’s later operas attracted Hanslick’s censure.5 Musicologists tend to focus particularly on Hanslick’s purism. How are these three views related? The structure is this: if one holds the positive view that music consists of artistically arranged sounds, then one must hold the negative thesis about emotion. And if one holds the purist view, then one must hold both positive and negative views. However, one can hold the negative view without the positive and purist views. And one can hold both the negative and positive views without the purism. That is, we can agree with Hanslick’s negative critique of emotion theories while rejecting both his positive view of what music consists in as well as his purist stance against opera. Or else, we can agree with both his negative critique of emotion theories as well as his positive view of what music consists in, while rejecting his purist stance against opera. In this paper, I will restrict myself to defending Hanslick’s negative claim that it is not essential to absolute music to possess, express, arouse, or represent emotion. This is either because absolute music does not and cannot do any of that, or because when it does, it is inessential to the music, and only does so because of what the music is, quite apart from any such relation to emotion.6 I. POSSESSING EMOTION? Let us start with the simplest case, the possession theory, even if no one has actually held it. I shall argue—and I think this is quite easy—that it is not possible for music itself to have emotions. It might seem that I am cracking a nut with a sledgehammer, but in fact this will prove worthwhile when we turn to harder nuts. In order to pursue the issue, we must make some preliminary comments about the nature of emotion. The truth is that the emotions are not well understood. 3 4 5 6 Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, p. 28. See §5 of my ‘Feasible Aesthetic Formalism’, Nous, vol. 33 (1999), pp. 610–629, reprinted in The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U.P., 2001). Hanslick did not object to light operettas when the text is perhaps a mere showcase for the music, or else where the plot and music are separable ingredients. What he objected to was the idea the music and text could combine together ‘organically’ to realize a higher beauty. I explore this notion of organic combination in my ‘Feasible Aesthetic Formalism’. My discussion will be resolutely ahistorical. Of course, Hanslick’s views of the nature of music were put forward in a particular musical-historical circumstances, but he propounded general theories. The same is true of Clive Bell and Roger Fry’s visual aesthetic formalism. Compare science: science requires a social and historical context, but that does not mean that the scientific theories are about that social context or that they make no justifiable claim to objective truth. Scientific theories can be assessed independently of the social and historical context without which they cannot exist. Similarly with Hanslick’s views of the nature of music. NICK ZANGWILL 31 There seem to be an unruly range of them, perhaps with no natural unifying principle. However, it is not too controversial to say that many central cases of emotion have both an intentional content (they are about something) and a qualitative or phenomenological aspect (they are felt). These emotions lie in the intersection of intentional and qualitative states (unlike beliefs and pains). There is an issue about whether all emotions are like this. Perhaps some are phenomenological but not intentional, and perhaps some are intentional but not phenomenological. But, as we shall see, we need not worry too much about this issue about generality, since the emotions in question in the philosophy of music are for the most part emotions with both a phenomenological aspect and an intentional content, and not those emotions, if there are any, that are purely phenomenological or purely intentional. I shall stipulate that emotions have an intentional content—they are directed either at a state of affairs or an object. This excludes contentless moods—I deal with moods separately in Section III. This stipulation will not beg any questions. Let us have some examples of emotional descriptions of music. Much classic flamenco is anguished; passages of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony are optimistic; much brass band bullfighting music is proud; the steel guitar of Hank W illiam’s country and western songs is mournful; and Astor Piazolla’s late tangos are pensive.7 Anguish, optimism, pride, mournfulness, and pensiveness are all sophisticated, intentional emotions and not mere sensations or moods. This is part of our folk psychological conception of these emotions. Folk psychology—that is, our common-sense conception of mental states— tells us not merely that the sort of emotions I am focusing on are propositional attitudes with a qualitative aspect, but also that they stand in certain essential rational relations to other propositional attitudes, such as beliefs and desires. When I say that propositional attitudes stand in essential rational relations, what I mean is that it is essential to a propositional attitude being the type of propositional attitude that it is (belief, desire, hope, or fear, for example) that it is rational or irrational to have that propositional attitude given other propositional attitudes, or that having that propositional attitude makes rational having other propositional attitudes.8 For example, it is irrational to feel pride unless one believes there is something good about what one is proud of; and fearing something rationalizes avoiding it. (These norms are pro tanto norms—that is, they can be outweighed by other rational norms, and indeed by norms of other sorts.) There are established debates over the rational properties of belief and 7 To adduce a quotation from a critic: Sidney Finkelstein writes in his notes to Szigetti’s recording of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas, ‘Tragic feelings suffuse the first half of  sonata [no. 2 in A minor] . . . It moves to a poignant climax and close. The Fugue, though bouncy and positive in its mood, has tragic overtones in its touching chromaticisms . . .’ 8 See my ‘Direction of Fit and Normative Functionalism’, Philosophical Studies, vol. 91 (1998), pp. 173–203. 32 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC desire, but not as yet over emotion. It is not clear that we know what the issues are yet. Nevertheless, I think it is clear that emotions, as we conceive of them in folk psychology, do stand in essential rational relations to other propositional attitudes. Given the foregoing, it is easy to see that emotions cannot be possessed by music. Emotions must be felt by a rational being—that is, a bearer of propositional attitudes that stand in rational relations. But a piece or stretch of music—whatever it is—is not a being with propositional attitudes that stand in rational relations. So music cannot literally feel emotions such as sadness. That is the easiest and quickest anti-emotion conclusion.9 Not much progress, you might think. But it is because the possession theory is so implausible, that many reach for an indirect view to the effect that music expresses, arouses, or represents emotion. On an indirect view, it is not that the music itself is sad or whatever. Rather, the music stands in some relation to sadness. In John Searle’s terms, music has ‘derived’ rather than ‘intrinsic’ emotional intentionality.10 The trouble is that to reach for an indirect expression, arousal, or representation theory is already to put some distance between the theory and the data to be explained. For it seems that what we describe when we describe music in emotional terms is something in the music. To move to an arousal, expression, or representation theory is likely to take one too far away from this. For when we hear music we hear it as itself possessing the (non-relational) properties that we describe in emotional terms. This is a problem for all indirect theories. The possession theory, for all its glaring faults, does better at respecting this phenomenology. Music has no mental states, so it is not itself mournful, anguished, or optimistic. But it does seem that the music itself has intrinsic features that we are talking about when we describe it in these terms. It does not seem that we are talking about some relation that the music stands in. So, despite its obvious flaws, the possession theory does have something important going for it.11 9 As one of my students put it in an exam: ‘Sad music is not sad because it recently split up with the composer!’ 10 John Searle, Intentionality (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1983). The dialectic is like that over Saul Kripke’s ‘Humphrey’ objection to David Lewis’s possible world theory of modality (Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity [Cambridge, MA: Harvard U.P., 1980]; David Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds [Blackwell: Oxford, 1986]). Lewis says that to say that Humphrey might have won is to say that someone very like Humphrey in another possible world did win. Kripke objected that to say that Humphrey might have won is not to talk about a distinct person, who is very similar to Humphrey, and to say of him (the distinct person) that he won. We are talking about Humphrey, not about someone rather like him. The standard reply to Kripke on Lewis’s behalf is that to say that Humphrey might have won is say of Humphrey that he stands in relation to someone just like him, so the modal claim is after all about Humphrey himself. But this standard reply is ineffective, for Kripke can counter that attributing the possibility to Humphrey is intuitively not to attribute any such relational property to him. 11 NICK ZANGWILL 33 II. AROUSING EMOTIONS? Is it essential to music to arouse emotions? Many theorists say that it is. However, folk psychology also rules out thinking that the immediate experience of music is an emotion that has the music as its object. Folk psychology says that emotions have certain essential rational relations to beliefs and desires. Suppose we describe some music as proud—for example, ‘El Gato Montez’ (the most famous Spanish brass band bullfighting tune). Think of the experience of that music. The intentional object of that experience is the quality of the music that prompts us to describe it as proud. It is easy to see that this experience cannot be the emotion of pride. For pride must be rationally related to the belief that one has some meritorious property or that one is related somehow to something that possesses some meritorious property.12 One is proud of possessing that property or of being related to something that possesses that property. But the experience of the property of the music that we describe as proud is not so related to such a thought. It is not required that one has such a thought about oneself when one experiences the music. So the experience is not pride.13 It is crucial to hold on to the fact that our state of mind when we listen to music has the music as its object. (For this reason, I find it peculiar when aestheticians appeal to the idea that we have ‘objectless emotions’ when we hear music.) On many theories there is a danger of losing the idea that musical experience is directed onto the music. This is a point that I frequently find myself wanting to make when reading the literature on musical expression. The tendency among some writers is to focus on anything but the music itself and our experience of it.14 It is almost as if they are frightened of the music! We need to redirect our focus to the music itself and to the fact that our experience is of the music itself. Given that almost all emotions, like pride or fear, have intentional objects other than the music, in so far as we are having such emotions when listening to music, we are not listening to or thinking about the music. We are thinking about what the emotions are about instead. The object of such emotions is not the music. Such emotions are a distraction from musical experience! 12 Of course, one can feel pride even though one merely thinks of oneself as having or as being related to something that has a meritorious property, without believing it. This is irrational pride. It is essential to pride that it makes us subject to rational requirements, not that we conform to them. Similarly, one can fear something without believing it to be dangerous. But that is irrational. 13 I went to see the famous Iranian singer Googoosh sing in London in 2001. She had not sung in public since the Iranian revolution, twenty-two years previously. It was a very emotional event. She was crying, and most of the audience was crying. But what they were crying about had a content that went far beyond the music. To give one example, Kendall Walton thinks, implausibly, that it is very often true that in listening to music ‘. . . one introspects one’s own psychological states . . .’ (Kendall Walton, ‘What Is Abstract about the Art of Music?’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 46 , pp. 351–364 at p. 360, his emphasis). 14 34 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC Of course, it cannot be denied that we sometimes feel emotions while listening to music. The music may remind us of some emotionally charged event. Perhaps it makes us sad by reminding us of something that once made us sad. But in this purely causal sense, sad music can make us happy and happy music can make us sad. Sad music sometimes makes us sad and sometimes makes us happy, and happy music sometimes makes us happy and sometimes makes us sad; but little of interest hangs on that. The same goes for the artist’s feelings when he makes music. The fact that he is sad might cause him to make sad music. But it also might not. It might also make him make happy music. How better to counteract the sadness! These causes and effects are irrelevant to the essential nature of music—to what music is.15 This point about music being the intentional object of the immediate experience of music is related to the following substitutability point. When it is said that music arouses emotions, we need to ask whether something quite different could arouse the same emotions. If the arousal is a purely causal matter, then the answer will be ‘yes’. But then the music is a replaceable cause of the experience, and we have lost the idea that the experience necessarily has that intentional object. But if the intentional object of the experience is the music itself, then the music itself is not a replaceable cause. That experience could only be produced by that particular piece of music, or at any rate by one very like it.16 It has been reported that playing certain kinds of classical music to cows enhances their milk-production. So should we seek to understand this music in terms of cow ’s milk-production? Such a theory is perhaps more plausible than the standard emotional arousal accounts of music! For it is at least generally true that music has this effect on cows, whereas the effect of music on human emotions is actually quite variable.17 But even if music did have standard effects on human emotions, having these effects would be inessential and not what it is to be music. It would have these standard effects in virtue of some independently constituted musical experience. What about the idea that the experience of music is a specifically musical emotion? Such an emotion would have the music as its intentional object. I am sceptical about this idea. There are of course ordinary emotions that we can have towards music. For example, one might be proud of some music if one were responsible for it. But the proudness of much Spanish brass band music is another matter. One could be proud of music that was not at all proud. By contrast, specifically 15 16 17 Hanslick concedes that music can arouse emotion, as winning a prize can (Eduard Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, p. 7). But he quite rightly argues that such arousal is quite incidental to the music. Parallel points concerning intentionality and replaceability will carry over to the alleged expression of the artist’s emotions, which I discuss in Section IV. Perhaps there is some convergence in the way we are prone to describe music in emotional terms; but that is quite different from convergence in emotional response to music. NICK ZANGWILL 35 musical emotions are supposed to be unlike ordinary emotions such as pride. But what can we say about them? If all we say about them is that they are the experience of features of the music that we tend to describe in emotional terms, then the idea that such a reaction is an emotion in any interesting sense has dropped out. Why call it an emotion if it does not stand in any of the rational relations that we normally think characterize emotions? We are left with a potentially obscurantist view which speaks of emotion but which is not prepared to pay the price, which is the spelling out of the rational relations that would justify us in doing so.18 III. AROUSING MOODS? What about moods? (Recall that I stipulated that moods differ from emotions in that they lack intentional objects.) There is no denying that there are sometimes causal connections between hearing music we want to describe as sad and the inducement of a certain sad mood (as opposed to emotion) in the listener. As with (intentional) emotions, I suspect that that connection is a variable one. One piece of music will cause different moods in different people at different times. However, some people think that there is considerable convergence in response. But even if there were, it would still not be essential to the music to have such effects. Two familiar points are decisive here. First, by contrast with the merely causal connection between music and mood, genuine musical experience is intentionally directed onto sounds and onto their musical qualities. There is a more intimate connection than a merely causal connection between music and mood, since the musical experience is of the musical qualities. But since moods are contentless, they cannot have the music itself as their object. Genuine musical experience is both caused by the music and has it as its intentional object. The music may also cause us to have moods as a consequence of genuine musical experience. This is most manifest when the music stops and we are left with a mood. But this is an inessential and variable causal relation. Second, such causal relations as there are, whether variable or whether standard, hold in virtue of our immediate experience of the music. Hence, the moods that might or might not 18 I think that Peter Kivy is absolutely right to demand what he calls ‘Uncle Charlie’ explanations of ‘garden-variety’ emotions. There should be some reason why one is angry. See, for example, his ‘Feeling the Musical Emotions’, British Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 39 (1999), pp. 1–13 at p. 4 (or see his New Essays on Human Understanding [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003], p. 102). However, in that paper, he goes on to say that we do feel emotions when we listen to music, but they are ‘nameless’ emotions, like those we feel when looking at a sunset or the face of a child or when thinking of a generous kind action. Do these allegedly garden variety emotions have Uncle Charlie explanations? If not, my inclination is to say that they are feelings of pleasure, not emotions, just because they lack Uncle Charlie explanations and they are not subject to rational requirements. Kivy’s theory in that paper is a variety of the specifically musical emotion theory. But surely not all pleasures are emotions, and indeed not all emotions are pleasant or unpleasant. On the other hand, I strongly agree with Kivy that these feelings or experiences—whatever they are—have the sunset, the child’s face, the kind and generous action, and the music as their intentional objects. See also Kivy’s Music Alone (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U.P., 1990), especially ch. 8. 36 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC be caused by the music are irrelevant to the essential nature of the music and to the essential nature of our immediate experience of the music. They are downstream from what we are really interested in. Jenefer Robinson has argued that music can arouse emotions.19 She thinks that there is a close connection between the music’s expressive properties and the arousal of emotions or feelings. She agrees that some emotions can be distinguished by their ‘cognitive content’. But she insists that some emotions, such as the startle reaction, only involve affective and physiological reactions, and music can induce such emotions.20 In effect, she classifies some of what I would call moods as emotions. For example, she observes, with some plausibility, that music can make us feel disturbed or calm. And music can be soothing, exciting, unsettling, or relaxing. So she thinks that music can be calming or unsettling in a quite literal sense. Thus there can be a straightforward relation between the ‘expressive’ properties of music and the arousal of this kind of emotion in listeners. This is an interesting suggestion. But in my view, it will not do as a quite general theory of emotional description of music, for the feelings she adduces, such as calm, are all what I would call moods not emotions, or if they are to be classified as emotions, they are contentless emotions in a way that cannot fit with the sort of emotional descriptions that we very often give of music and of our experience of it. These descriptions ascribe intentional emotions that have interesting rationality conditions. Robinson is within her rights to draw our attention to reactions such as the startle reaction. But such states do not have the cognitive and rational sophistication of the sort of emotional descriptions that are usually in question in the philosophy of music. In the description of music, we are, for the most part, dealing with the sort of emotions for which there are interesting rationality conditions, unlike the startle reaction. Robinson is right that some music is calming or disturbing, in virtue of its capacity to arouse the corresponding states in us. But we also want to describe some music as optimistic, resolute, proud, and so on, and Robinson’s account does not cover these descriptions. So while Robinson may be right that calm music makes us calm and exhilarating music makes us exhilarated, that does not go far enough for a general theory of emotion emotional descriptions of music. Concession: it might be essential to some particular piece of music that it has the function of producing a mood. Some music is mood music. Perhaps lift music, film music, marching music, shopping music, or fighting music have such a function. These are all examples of non-absolute music. (Non-absolute music need not be representational.) I concede that music can involve a non-musical function, and in some cases that function may be, or may in part be, that of 19 Jenefer Robinson, ‘The Expression and Arousal of Emotion in Music’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 52 (1994), pp. 13–22. 20 Ibid., pp. 18–19. See also Jenefer Robinson, ‘Startle’, Journal of Philosophy, vol. 92 (1995), pp. 53–74. NICK ZANGWILL 37 producing a mood of a certain sort. (I am less hostile to the idea that music can have the function of producing moods than to the idea that it can have the function of producing emotions.) Still, much music is not like this. So a mood-production theory could not work as a general account of music. Furthermore, where music does have the function of producing a mood, the immediate experience of that music is not a mood. The moods that are caused by the music are causally downstream from our immediate musical experience of the music. The music causes a musical experience, which has the music as its intentional object, and that musical experience causes a mood, which has no intentional object. There can only be mood music because the immediate experience of music is not a mood. IV. EXPRESSING EMOTION? What might the expression of emotion be? Some writers on music think that they can take it as a datum that music ‘expresses’ emotion or is ‘expressive’ of emotion. But ‘expresses’ and ‘expressive’ are usually being used as technical philosophical terms in the philosophy of music. It is unclear what might be meant by these words. Either they need to be explicitly given a sense, or they need to be mapped onto one or other aspect of an established sense. There is a redundant use of ‘expressive’ whereby to say of some music that it expressive of emotion X is simply to say that the music is X. But that just lands us back where we started, in search of an understanding of what is being said when we ascribe emotion to music. Expression is normally thought to differ from representation. A work of representational art might involve emotion by portraying people experiencing emotions or by portraying scenes that arouse emotions. And if music can represent—which is not obvious—then music could represent emotion in this way. But this is a quite different matter from what is in question when people debate whether non-representational instrumental music can express emotion. Representing someone experiencing an emotion would be quite different from any notion of expression whereby the music stands in relation to an emotion in the mind of the composer or musician. In order to represent someone having emotions or in order to represent a situation with the aim of arousing emotions, one would need the concept of those emotions to figure in one’s intentions, but one would not need to have the emotions in question. One possible theory would be that someone expresses an emotion when he makes something that arouses, or which he believes arouses, an emotion. But then all the difficulties of arousal theories will be inherited by this suggestion. And the idea is not really anything like the usual notion of expression, which surely involves some relation between the artist’s emotion and what he does or 38 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC makes, rather than a relation between what the artist does or makes and the audience’s responses. So we can put this idea to one side. Another view might be that music expresses emotion in the sense in which we can express emotion in rational action, as when my reaching out for a glass of water ‘expresses’ my desire to drink. This might seem to be a more hopeful model. What might rational artistic ‘expressive’ action be? On such a view, the artist must intend to express his emotion E in object O. What is going on here? What is the content of this intention? And how does it help to explain what I think is so crucial, which is how E can be manifest in O, in the sense that the emotional description describes properties of the music that are the object of musical experience? The trouble is that the appeal to expression as rational activity does not help with elucidating the connection between E and O. It just says that some such significant relation obtains and the artist strives to realize it. But if it is difficult to see how proud music stands in an appropriate relation to its maker’s emotion of pride, then it is equally difficult to see how he might strive to make it the case that proud music stands in such a relation to his emotion of pride. In the usual case of rational action on an emotion, we act on the beliefs and desires that are partly constitutive of the emotion. For example, we act rationally on fear when we act so as to remove the object of fear, since presumably we desire its absence. But the musical expression of emotion would clearly not be rational in that way. It would not help to satisfy whatever desire lay at the root of the emotion that was allegedly expressed. For example, if someone created proud music, his action would not connect in any rational way with what he is proud of. So this kind of rational activity does not seem to be in question in musical ‘expression’. There is a purely causal sense of ‘express’ according to which (absolute) music expresses emotion when an emotion causes someone to make music. In this sense, of course, it is uncontroversial that music can express emotion. The trouble with this is that in this sense, the emotion need not be manifest in the music. That is, the emotion that caused the music to be made need not be something that an audience can hear in the music. Moreover, being happy might cause someone to make sad music, and being sad might cause someone to make happy music. So a purely causal relation between emotion and music would not suffice for an interesting sense in which music can ‘express’ emotion. The relation between emotion and music needs to be more intimate than that. There needs to be a sense in which emotion causes someone to make or do something and the emotion is somehow experiencable in what is made or done. For example, a natural reaction such as blushing can be said to ‘express’ an emotion in this sense: it is caused by embarrassment but it also makes people look as if they are embarrassed. But music does not ‘express’ emotion in this way. For music-making is hardly an involuntary reaction like blushing. Music-making is deliberate activity. On the other hand, smiling can be said to ‘express’ happiness NICK ZANGWILL 39 or pleasure both as an involuntary reaction and as a deliberate action. (‘Smile please’, we ask.) The outward manifestation of inner emotions can sometimes be willed. Someone might smile deliberately (but not blush deliberately) in order to ‘express’ the happiness or pleasure they feel. Or someone might draw a smiley face or make a smiling mask to show how they feel. This opens up a possibility, which some have explored. A St Bernard’s face can look like it manifests the emotion of sadness, even though it does not really feel that emotion. Similarly, one might adopt a facial expression or make a mask with the aim of doing or making something that looks as if it sprang from an emotion, even though it doesn’t. A good aspect of this phenomenon as a model for musical ‘expression’ is that it makes the emotion something we can experience in the music. However, this model does not involve a relation between an emotion in the music-maker and qualities of the music in which the emotion can be heard. For in this sense, one can ‘express’ an emotion without having the emotion in question. So this theory does not really appeal to emotions after all, but only to the music-makers thoughts about emotion. Suppose a man is proud of being a good bullfighter. Then he might deliberately ‘express’ this emotion in a proud facial expression. We might expect this. It makes sense. But might he also express his pride by making a proud-looking mask or in making proud-sounding music? Why might someone do this? It seems rather an odd thing to do! I suppose we can imagine circumstances in which Pedro is in fact a proud bullfighter, but due to his inherently modestlooking features he has gained an unfortunate reputation for humility, which does not befit his profession. So he might seek to counter this false impression by making a proud-looking mask or by making proud-sounding music. He might say ‘This is how I feel!’. Or suppose that Gonzales does not feel pride, but decides to ‘express’ that emotion in a facial expression, or in a mask, or in sound. Why might he do that? We can imagine that Gonzales is a shy, modest, and scared bullfighter who wants to convince his rivals and the public that he is really proud and fearless. Clearly, then, it is possible to imagine situations where someone ‘expresses’ emotions he does not have. However, this will not do as a model of musical ‘expression’. Firstly, when we experience that quality of the music that we call ‘pride’, it is not the basis for an inference to the emotions of the music-maker. We don’t experience proud music as symptomatic of the existence of pride in the (actual) music-maker. And secondly, even if this were how we experienced ‘expressive’ music, it is difficult to see why we would bother, in most cases, to make such ‘expressive’ music. It is uncontroversial, I would have thought, that you do not have to be proud for it to be worthwhile to make proud music. Yet on this notion of ‘expression’, it is difficult to see why it would be worthwhile. Or else the sort of situation in which it would be worthwhile—such as the cases of the shy-looking but proud bullfighter or the really shy bullfighter 40 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC who wants others to think he is proud—are so unusual that they are not remotely plausible as an analysis of the motives of most of those who make proud music. The only remaining hope I can see for expression theories is to appeal to the sense in which one might ‘express’ an emotion when one acts arationally on it. Rosalind Hursthouse introduced the useful category of an ‘arational’ action.21 An example would be when one throws a cup at a wall out of anger at a pay-cut. That act is fully intentional, but it is not fully rational, for smashing the mug is hardly thought of as a means of restoring one’s wages. Perhaps music expresses emotion in the sense in which smashing the mug expresses my anger. This model would also seem to be better placed to answer the manifestation problem, for it seems that my anger is somehow manifest in the smashing of the mug. That does seem to be a lot more appropriate than gently stroking a feather! Nevertheless, it is difficult to see how arational action can really be a model for the musical expression of emotion. In many cases of arational action, such as the case of smashing a mug out of anger, there is a loss of control. The smashing is a kind of release—displacement activity. But nothing like this is going on in a normal case of musical creation. Music-making is fully deliberate. It is rational, not arational. On the other hand, some arational actions are fully deliberate. Examples would be self-consciously symbolic actions, such as standing up for an important guest, or stamping on a wine-glass at a Jewish wedding. Again, it seems that these cases are unlike the case of musical action. When we stand up for a guest, we are aware that we are standing up because of their importance and out of respect. But music-making surely need not involve such a self-conception on the behalf of the person who is making music. One need not be aware of some independently identifiable emotion that needs venting in musical action. Of course, one sometimes produces sounds (or the means to produce them) because one wants to vent some independently identifiable non-musical emotion that one has to some non-musical situation. I don’t deny that this happens. However, the problem for the arational action model is that when there is a separately identifiable emotion that is arationally expressed in the music, the emotion is not a feature of the music itself that we experience. It is not manifest in the face of the music. For these reasons, I think that the arational action model cannot help after all. We have found it very difficult to say how making music is intelligible so long as we see musical activity as being driven by emotion. By elimination, then, it seems that the only sense in which music can express emotion is the purely causal sense, which is insignificant. V. REPRESENTING EMOTION? Lastly, what about the idea that music represents emotion? It would be easy to 21 Rosalind Hursthouse, ‘Arational Actions’, Journal of Philosophy, vol. 88 (1991), pp. 57–68. NICK ZANGWILL 41 argue that music does not represent emotion if we can derive that claim from the thesis that music cannot represent anything.22 But even if this general negative thesis were in fact false, it might be thought that there are special difficulties with representing emotion, in particular. One problem is that emotions are psychological states and do not have any colour, shape, or sound. So there seems not to be enough in common between the representation and that which is represented. I take it, following Richard Wollheim, that if there is a representational relation between two things then we must be able to perceive one in or as the other.23 We can only perceive something in or as another if there is quite a lot in common between them. So, for example, we can see a two-dimensional pattern as a threedimensional object. But it seems difficult to see how we could really hear an emotion in the music, when music is composed of sounds and emotion is not. The category difference here is too great. Emotions have no sonic nature. So it is difficult to see how sound can represent emotions. On the other hand, this kind of argument may be too strong, since a similar argument also seems to show that pictures cannot represent emotions. However, even if music can represent emotions, despite the great difference between what is represented and that which represents, it is surely only exceptional cases of music that do this. It is hardly what is going on in standard cases where we describe music in emotional terms. For example, proud Spanish brass band music surely does not represent pride. Whose pride? The pride of some bullfighter, perhaps? To represent his pride, the music would have to represent the intentional content of his pride—what the bullfighter was proud of—which it surely does not. And the idea that we represent some abstract emotion type, independent of any particular content, is even more bizarre than the idea that we are representing particular cases of emotion. It might be suggested, in response, that music represents, not the emotions themselves, but the behavioural manifestation or upshot of emotion. And thus we are indirectly representing the emotions responsible for that behaviour. This theory avoids the problem of the lack of similarity between sounds and emotions, and it avoids the problem of having to represent the contents of emotions. But this theory has next to nil in the way of plausibility if it is proposed as an account of what is going on in standard cases of the emotional description of music. What behavioural manifestation of pride does proud Spanish brass band music represent? 22 23 See Roger Scruton’s persuasive essay, ‘Representation in Music’, in The Aesthetic Understanding (London: Carnet, 1983). See also Roger Scruton, The Aesthetics of Music (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1997), ch. 5. In my view, Scruton’s case is very strong. Jennefer Robinson responds to Scruton’s arguments in ‘Representation in Music and Painting’, Philosophy, vol. 56 (1981). In ‘Music as a Representational Art’, in Philip Alperson (ed.), What is Music? (College Park, PA: Penn State U.P., 1994), her position is that music in principle can represent, but that it rarely does. Richard Wollheim, ‘Seeing-as, Seeing-in, and Pictorial Representation’, in Art and its Objects, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1980). 42 AGAINST EMOTION: HANSLICK WAS RIGHT ABOUT MUSIC I assume a distinction between symbolism and representation. There can of course be a purely symbolic relation between very different things. Elements of some pieces of music might, in principle, symbolize various emotions, since virtually anything can be used to symbolize anything. The composer might decide or stipulate that a particular sequence of notes symbolizes grief, just as a sequence of notes might symbolize a wolf or a shipwreck. But, again, not much music is like this—certainly not enough to explain the ordinary emotional descriptions of music with which we began. Moreover, such symbolic relations are too extrinsic to what we experience in the music. Hence the idea that standard emotional descriptions of music are to be explained in terms of the symbolism of emotion is as hopeless as the idea that standard emotional descriptions of music are to be explained in terms of the representation of emotion. CODA What role, then, does emotion play in what music is, and in our experience of music? Answer: none of any significance. Emotion is a thorough distraction when thinking about the nature of music. The experience of music may cause emotions, just as making music may be caused by emotions. But the immediate experience of music itself is not an emotion, and the thoughts most immediately involved in making or composing music are not emotions.24 It is true that music possesses important qualities that we often describe in metaphorical emotional terms, and we often describe the experience of music in metaphorical emotional terms.25 A positive account needs to be given of this.26 But there is little plausibility in the idea that in these emotional descriptions we are literally describing either the presence of genuine emotion in the music or some relation between the music and genuine emotion, any more than it is plausible that music that we call ‘delicate’ is literally delicate in the sense of being likely to break, or music that we call ‘unbalanced’ is literally unbalanced in the sense of being likely to fall over, or else that we are describing some relation in which the music stands to other things that are literally delicate or unbalanced. A quite general account needs to be given of the role of metaphor in our descriptions of music, where this applies equally to emotional and non-emotional 24 25 26 Since music cannot literally involve emotion in an essential way, I think we should be sympathetic with Peter Kivy’s view that music is ‘sonic wallpaper’, in ‘The Fine Art of Repetition’, in The Fine Art of Repetition (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1993). I see no inconsistency is Hanslick’s use of emotional descriptions in his music criticism, so long as they are understood metaphorically. Hanslick was not out to ban emotional decription of music, nor was he insisting on the paraphrasability of such description into non-emotional terms, as is sometimes alleged. See further my ‘Metaphor and Realism in Aesthetics’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 49 (1991), pp. 57–62, reprinted with substantial revisions in my book The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U.P., 2001). See also my ‘Music and Aesthetic Metaphor’, in preparation. NICK ZANGWILL 43 metaphors. What is clear is that in neither case are we describing genuine emotion or some relation to genuine emotion. Hanslick was right.27 Nick Zangwill, St Anne’s College, Oxford OX2 6HS. Email: nick.zangwill@philosophy. ox.ac.uk 27 Earlier versions of this paper were presented at an American Society of Aesthetic meeting in Washington, DC, where Lydia Goehr responded, and at a conference on the emotions in Manchester. I am very grateful for very helpful comments from Malcolm Budd, Peter Lamarque, and Jerry Levinson, and for conversations with Peter Franklin.