Thesis Director: Dr. Timmothy S. Quinn; Reader, Dr. Thomas Strunk; HAB Course Director: Dr. Thomas Strunk
Music has the power to transcend the confines of mere spatial geometry into the bounds of philosophy and emotion. In the views of the ancient philosophers Plato and Aristotle, music, namely the Greek modes, is valuable pedagogically in two ways: first, as a means to knowing the Good, e.g., the Dorian and Phrygian modes, and second as a means for suiting people for political life. Since their goal is to educate future rulers, Plato and Aristotle need to heighten some but censor other musical modes, e.g., the Lydian and Aeolian modes, due to some of the unsavory feelings, or affects, which those modes produce. Since musical modes take on moral and social roles, the emotions they evoke become vastly important due to the ancient connection between the “beautiful and the good” (καλόν ἀγαθόν). By contrast, a purely aesthetic view of the modes provides a much more inclusive experience of all the modes, but disassociates the beautiful from the Good. This focus on intellectualism downplays the emotional effects which are felt in the arts, e.g., the musical modes. Analyses of both Platonic-Aristotelian and aesthetic views of the modes results in the need for a middle ground that presents a more holistic approach as opposed to a competitively agonistic understanding of the philosophic and musical intersections of the modes.
Crawford, Robert, "Mode of Operations: A Critique of the Agonistic View of Greek Musical Modes in Plato and Aristotle" (2017). Honors Bachelor of Arts. 33.
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