Philosophical Perspectives on Music and Emotion: Cognitive vs. Emotive Expressions

May 1, 2016 / By: Mya Scaralato

This paper examines the connections between absolute music (that without a text) and human emotion through the philosophical lenses of both the cognitivist--who holds that emotion in music is primarily a cognitively perceived experience--and the emotivist--who holds that emotion is directly felt by the listener throughout the musical experience. The cognitivist philosophies present in this paper stem from the general belief that emotions are the product of cognitive perceptions of the world and involve evaluations of ideas and situations, while the emotivist philosophies assume an automatic, non-cognitive relationship between emotion and perception of circumstances, such that the experience of emotion is the product of pre-programmed responses to changes in one's environment.