New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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RELATIVISM                                              139
say than I used to be. It's dreadful how diffident getting a little deeper into things makes oneone sees too much to say anything/ " 89
As a final example of the misguided dogmatism which usually results when the principle of psychological relativism is ignored or discarded, I shall cite Mrs. Langer's discussion of music.90 According to her view, music is symbolic; it is denotative and connotative rather than emotional; it "is not self-expression, but formulation and representation of emotions, moods, mental tensions, and resolutions"; and its content invites "not emotional response, but insight/' Now Mrs. Langer's analysis of this position is suggestive, acute, and stimulating; and the position is applicable to a great deal of musical creation and response. Moreover, from the brief consideration earlier in this book of works of art as symbols, it is evident that, to a large degree, I am in sympathy with her approach. What I object to, then, is not her exposition of music as symbolism, but her claim that a different, though widely held approach toward music should be ruled out of court. Though at one moment she condemns critics for entirely rejecting her symbolic interpretation of music, at other moments she herself entirely rejects the interpretation of music as self-expression. And she does so in the face of such powerful testimonywhich she herself citesas the following:
From Rousseau to Kierkegaard and Croce among philosophers, from Marpurg to Hausegger and Riemann among music critics, but above all among musicians themselvescomposers, conductors, and performerswe find the belief very widely disseminated that music is an emotional catharsis, that its essence is self-expression. Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, to mention only the great, have left us testimonials to that effect.
89.  Woolf, Roger Fry, p. 286.
90.  See Susanne Langer, Philosophy in a New Key, chap. viii.