The Meaning of Art and Music
Schopenhauer's views on the meaning of art and music are presented and evaluated in this chapter. Schopenhauer argues that art reveals the “Platonic Forms.” He seems undecided as to whether art reveals the nature of the thing-in-itself or merely the nature of the not-quite-real “world as representation.” It is argued that Schopenhauer should have clearly said that art reveals the natural kinds or basic forces of nature, which are noumenal, not merely phenomenal, by Schopenhauer's own terms. Music, among the fine arts, is special in that it depicts all the forms and forces of nature at once, rather than depicting this or that natural form or force in particular. Schopenhauer argues that aesthetic experience involves a state of pure, will-less contemplation. Such a state ought to be impossible, given Schopenhauer's account of human psychology. Nevertheless, there is a kind of aesthetic experience that approaches such a state. In addition, there is a more common kind of aesthetic experience involving amplification, not suppression, of emotion. Both kinds of aesthetic experience have metaphysical significance, since they reveal truths about mind-independent reality. Some of Schopenhauer's remarks on the nature of genius are criticized, and it is argued that geniuses are characterized by a powerful will-to-truth.
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