Honors Bachelor of Arts

Document Type


Faculty Advisor

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.