Although many of the world's musical traditions recognize the positive value of music for ethical life, the Western philosophical tradition has largely forgotten this idea. The dominance of formalism in musical aesthetics has encouraged this abandonment of the idea that music has an ethical dimension. Greater attention to musical experience and to the way that context affects the meaning that music has to performers and listeners helps to bring music's ethical potential into focus. In The Music of Our Lives, Kathleen Higgins argues that the arguments that Plato used to defend the ethical value of music are still applicable today. Music encourages ethically valuable attitudes and behavior, provides practice in skills that are valuable in ethical life, and symbolizes ethical ideals and the possibility of interpersonal harmony. In these ways it develops our ability to live well and to think clearly about our ethical situation. Music provides a model for the good human life.
Kathleen Marie Higgins is professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Nietzsche's Zarathustra.
Chapter 1 Foreword to the Revised Edition Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 Music "in Itself": Its Development and Status Chapter 4 The Many Faces of Form Chapter 5 Music and Emotions: The History Chapter 6 Music and Emotions: Theories, Problems, and Solutions Chapter 7 The Ethical Aspects of Music: Music as Influence and Educator Chapter 8 The Ethical Aspects of Music: Music as Metaphor, Symbol, and Model Chapter 9 How Music can Assist Philosophical Ethics