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Grant number: FA-57992-14

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Benjamin Steege
Columbia University (New York, NY 10027-7922)

Musical Values and the Question of Psychology, 1890–1960

This book is a critical history of the relationship between musical aesthetics and psychology. The idea that music is most truthfully discussed in psychological terms has just recently come to seem self-evident. It has even been suggested that only through the insights of mind-oriented theories of music do we attain a truly “humanist” understanding of the art. This study, by contast, has two broad aims: 1) to make the dominant public status of music-psychological discourse appear somewhat less inevitable by retelling the story of how things came to be this way; 2) to emphasize how deeply entwined music psychology has always been with ethical concerns, including assumptions about the moral status of the “subjects” psychology has historically imagined. Highlighting historically rejected alternatives from early phenomenology to Marxist critical theory to postwar semiotics, this account throws fresh light on our assumptions about the role of psychology in aesthetic thought.

Project fields:
Aesthetics; History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Music History and Criticism

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2014 – 6/30/2015