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Kant on Music and the Hierarchy of the Arts

Author(s): Herman Parret


Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Summer, 1998), pp. 251-264

Published by: Wiley on behalf of American Society for Aesthetics


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HERMAN PARRET

Kanton Musicand theHierarchy


oftheArts

WithintheimmenseKantiancathedralone can In full awareness thatKant's life does not ex-


finda rarelyvisitedlittlechapel-music, it is plain his philosophy,I would nonethelesslike to
clear,was nottheprimary interest
of thephil- provide,by way of introduction,some biograph-
osopherfromKonigsberg.Everything he says ical accounts about the developmentof Kant's
aboutitis marginalcomparedtothecentralthe- attitudewith respect to music. In his texts,one
ses ofhis oeuvre;itis situatedat theedgeofhis finds precious little about his musical taste.
concerns.Kant does indeedspeak of musicin Kant kept to the "principle of austerity"in his
theCritiqueofJudgment, butwe mustnotforget philosophical work:he offerslittlein theway of
that,forhim,aestheticsis notthephilosophy of clarification or example, and what there is
artas itwillbe practiced afterthetimeofSchiller seems badly chosen and disputable. But when
and Goethe:Kant'saestheticspresentsa "criti- we listento whathis biographershave to say,we
cal" conceptionofaisthesisand ofthefaculties are served up an explicitly antimusical Kant.
responsiblefor a certainkind of judgment Jachmannwrites:
whichwill be called the"reflective judgment"
(Beurteilung) of thebeautifuland the sublime Althoughhe had no particulartasteformusicand
(das Erhabene).The considerations thatKant playedno instrument, he did attendconcertsfrom
devotesto thefinearts,itsdivisionand evalua- timetotime.He believedthatmusicwas incapableof
tion-and to music a fortiori-are marginal expressinganyidea,onlysentiments.Apartfromhis
withintheframework ofhisaesthetics, andthey actualsenseforart,Kantwas a manwithgoodtaste.2
mustbe readas such.Kanthimselfasserts,con-
traryto his custom,thathis divisionofthefine
artsis notintended tobe a deliberate
theory(be- Borowski has littleelse to add, and agrees com-
absichtigte Theorie):"It is onlyone ofa variety pletelywithJachmann:
of attempts thatcan and shouldstillbe made"
(?51, p. 190).'
Kant oftenhesitatesin passageson thefine A wordhereon Kant's artistictasteswouldbe in
arts,andwe willhaveoccasiontoindicatesome order....Kantconsideredmusicto be an inoffensive
placeswherehe mighthaveworkedouthisown pleasureofthesenses,butwhenI was sixteenhe dis-
suggestions in a moreconsistent and penetrat- couragedme, and manyothersamonghis students,
ing way.I do notthinkit necessaryto derive fromdevoting myself
toitsstudy,sinceso muchtime
fromKanta trulycoherent andfullymusicolog- is takenup beforearrivingat any degreeof profi-
ical paradigm,as someover-enthusiastic musi- ciency,andthattothedetriment ofmoreseriousstud-
cologistsdidimmediately followingtheappear- ies. ... In his youthhe wentoftento thetheatre, but
anceoftheCritiqueofJudgment andinthecourse laterhe gave thatup. Of dance,hunting, etc.,I have
ofthenineteenth century. ForI believetheKant- littleto sayhere,as one can wellimagine.3
ianconception ofmusichas limitedintrinsic im-
portance.Rather, itservesa heuristic goal in al- Wasianski, the most detailed-and, it is said,
lowingus tobetterunderstand thelinesofforce the most trustworthy-ofthe biographers,pro-
and accentsofKant'saestheticsin itstotality. vides some enlighteninganecdotes:
The Journal
ofAesthetics
and ArtCriticism
56:3 Summer1998

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252 The Journal and ArtCriticism
ofAesthetics

Duringthatsummer, themusicofthechangingofthe On thecontrary,justas Kantlovedpopularpo-


guarddelightedhim morethanbefore.Whenthey etryand melodies,his favoritesong was the
passedin front of his house,he wouldopenthedoor Rheinweinlied(witha textbyMatthiasClaudius,
totheroomintheback,listening tothefanfare atten- 1775,and musicbyJohann Andre,1776),about
tivelyandwithpleasure.One mighthavethought that whichhe said, accordingto Vorlander, thatit
theprofound metaphysician wouldonlyhavederived was "the pinnacleof musicalcompositionin
pleasurefrommusicexpressing a pureharmony, res- thatgenre."5Kant'sstudentsand colleaguesal-
olutemodulations, elegantly resolveddissonances, or ways associated the great masterwith the
fromthemusicofa learnedcomposersuchas Haydn. Rheinweinlied,bearerofGemfitlichkeit(andthis
Butthiswas notat all thecase, and hereis theproof. is not withoutsignificance,as will be estab-
In 1795he paid me a visit,accompaniedbyvonHip- below):in 1824,thecentenary
lishedfurther of
pel, to hearmypiano-orchestra. The adagio witha Kant'sbirth(twenty yearsafterhis death),the
passage on theflageolet,whose soundresembleda Rheinweinlied was even sungduringthecom-
harmonica's, seemedratherdisagreeableto him,but memoration ceremony, withtheadditionof the
theinstrument gavehimmuchgreater pleasurewhen followingverse:
thecoverwas opened,unleashingitsfullforce,and
especiallywhenit reproducedthe soundof a large Erschlumm're
sanftimHugelderZypressen
symphonic orchestra. Kantalwaysrecalledwithdis- HierandesPregels
Rand.
pleasurethefuneralmusiche hadonceheardin hon- Singt,
Freunde, soilkeineZeitvergessen
singt,
our of Moses Mendelssohn:thismusic,by his own DenteurenNamenKant!
account,draggedon in a monotonousand constant
moaning."I wouldhavethought," Of course,one wouldbe wrongto overestimate
he observed,"that
othersentiments couldhavebeenexpressed,suchas Kant'santimusicality and his apparenttastefor
thesenseof victoryoverdeath(henceheroicmusic) banaland sentimental music.Ifone weretoadd
or thesenseof thecompletion tothistheappallingsketch6fKantgivenbythe
of a work."Afterthis
cantata,heneverwenttoanother concert, psychoanalyst
inordernot Edelmanin his "contemoral"La
to sufferthesameimpressions maisonde Kant,thenone wouldindeedobtaina
again.Aboveall else,
he preferredboisterous martialmusic.4 coherent, butfundamentally unjustportrayal.6
Without wanting to"save"Kant,I wouldstilllike
Karl Vorlknder, in Kant:Der Mannunddas Werk, to make a proposalthatcan consoleme: Kant
has littleto add to the remarksof the firstbiog- did notlovemusicbecausethemusicwhichhe
raphers.He emphasizes that,for Kant, artistic couldhaveloveddidnotyetexist!
beautyis embodied above all in theartof poetry The samethingholdsfortheplasticarts:one
(especially the poetry of Wieland and King oftenreadsthatKant,relying on histhesescon-
Friedrich, whom he quotes and discusses cerningthefinearts,wouldhavelikednonfigu-
Klopstock had already fallen out of his favor rative,abstractart,and thatMondrianwould
"due to his Polish, brokenstyle")and that,as far havebeenhishero.To be sure,Kantdidnotlike
as music was concerned,his preferencewas for baroqueand classicalmusic:he discussesnei-
militarymusic, heroic fanfares,large orches- therHaydnnorMozart,tonameonlythegreats,
tras; he did not care for solo instrumentsin the buthe mightpossiblyhave likeda morecon-
least. If Kant ever attended concerts,it was- temporarysort of music. His preference for
according to Jachmann-in his youth,and Vor- heroic,loud, orchestral, emotionallyuplifting
lander has discovered that Kant seems to have musichas alreadybeenindicatedabove.On the
been particularlytaken by a comic operettaen- basis of the'Analyticof theSublime" privi-
titledDer lustigeSchuster. Withouta doubt,the legedby"postmodern" (a la Ly-
interpretations
musical life of Kdnigsberg did not amount to otard) of the thirdCritique-it will become
much, but it is known that Mozart was some- clearerhowa tastefortheheroic,themonumen-
times performed-among other works, the tal, the colossal (thinkof theexampleswhich
Magic Flute was performedin 1798 (Mozart Kant gives: the Egyptianpyramidsand St.
died in 1791, one year followingthepublication Peter'sBasilica in Rome) is reconcilablewith
of the thirdCritique),a performancewhich the theveryintensified aestheticswhichmakesthe
elderlyKant would definitelynothave attended! striving forinfinitetotalitythecoreofaesthetic

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Parret Kanton Musicand theHierarchy
oftheArts 253

experience.The experienceof the"sublime"is tonal.May thereaderforgivemyGedankenex-


thatwhichupsetsthebalancebetweenthefacul- periment and mystrategy forgivingsomeorder
ties (essentiallyreason and the imagination), to Kant'smusicalconceptionon thebasis of a
thatwhich is supportedby "extremevalues" musicwhich,in his time,didnotyetexist!
(Extremwerte). Indeed,it is musicwhich,since Here is thepathI proposeto follow.In the
Longinus-authorof the firsttreatiseon the firstpartI wouldlike to sketchKant'sexplicit
sublime-and in thecourseofa longtradition, conceptionofmusic(by summarizing themain
was believedto provokethevertigoofthesub- linesofhisargument in ?51 -on thedivisionof
lime:Longinusgivesa wonderful descriptionofthe finearts-and ?53-on theevaluationof
howthesoundofthefluteandthekitharabrings thefinearts).Fromthisit willbecomeevident
abouta rapturewhichis close to theZurack- thattherarelyquotedor discussed?52, on the
sinkenwhichKanthimselfconstantly mentions combinedarts,and especially?54, containele-
in his descriptionof theexperienceof thesub- mentswhichdisturbed Kant'sown"officialdoc-
lime.Forthemoment, we leaveasidethe"ideo- trine,"and which can explain the surprising
logical"critiqueformulated by Adornoin con- absenceofcertainaspectssuchas musicaltem-
nectionwith the "bourgeoispathos" of the porality, rhythm, and therelationbetweenmel-
sublimewhichhe claimsis present bothinKant- ody and harmony. I wouldlike to elaborateon
ian aesthetics
and in Strauss'semphatic music. thisidea by harkingback to themusicological
Adorno'ssuggestion makesitpossibleforme treatise ofMichaelis,an orthodox Kantian,pub-
to say thatKantwouldundoubtedly havelikedlishedfiveyearsaftertheappearanceoftheCri-
RichardStrauss'sAlpensymphonie (1915), intiqueofJudgment. Michaelisprofesseshimself
which the extremetonal volume of sixteen to be a greatadmirerof Kantand he proposes
horns"evokes"thepowerof theAlps through some technicalimprovements which enrich
thesheerintensity ofsound.Notonlyis thehorn Kant'sratherfragmentary ideas on musicin an
the most appropriateinstrument for such an interesting way.I will notmentiontheclearly
evocation-because of its intrinsic connectionmoresubstantial interpretations of Kant'scon-
withthealpinelandscape-but itsmonumental- ceptionofmusicgivenbySchillerandSchopen-
itysurelycauses us to fantasize:it throwsthe hauer(takenup again and changedby Nietz-
imagination out of balance withthe faculties, sche),in thebeliefthattheworkof Michaelis,
thusbringing abouttheexperienceof the sub- almostentirely neglectedtoday,meritssomese-
lime.All musicwitha "programmatic" contentriousstudy.
(suchas Beethoven's Pastoral),as mise-en-scene The secondpartof thispapercalls formore
oftheStimmung, wouldhavemovedKant.Espe- originality on mypart.I wouldliketo showhow
cially Strauss would have grippedhim: the and to whatextenta deliberatefocuson music
heroicthemeofEin Heldenleben, as wellas Todamongthefinearts(and in thisI certainlygo
undVerkldrung, thatmusicaltreatment ofa poem further thanKanthimself ) canassistus inbetter
by Ritterwhichcomes so close to theKantian understanding theessenceof Kant'saesthetics.
sublime: One coulddo thesamefora greatmanyof the
centralthemesofthethirdCritique(suchas Af-
Abermachtigt tonetihm fektandsensuscommunis), butI willrestrict
my-
Aus demHimmelraum entgegen selfto reformulating theconceptof Genie,and
Waser sehnendhiergesucht: henceofcreativity, on thebasisoftheprivileges
Welterlosung,
Weltverklarung! ofmusicwithinthehierarchy ofthearts.
The thirdpartof thistextis foundedon the
RichardStrauss,then,and surelyalso Mahler, idea thatone can findin Kant notonlya con-
who said thathis musicis situatedat thelimits ceptionof music,butalso "musicin Kant"on
of the imagination, butnotbeyondthem.The thelevelof his writing. For thisone musttake
atonalityof the second Vienna school,begin- seriouslythepertinence of textualcharacteris-
ning withSchonberg,would have been com- tics:insteadofdiggingintothetextin searchof
pletelyunacceptableforKant,sincethepurity philosophy, I willlingeroverthetextitself-its
of the sound,as we shall see, presupposesits rhetoric, itsmetaphors, and especiallyitstonal-
naturalness,and a naturalsound can only be ity.It has oftenbeensaid,quitemistakenly, that

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254 The Journal and ArtCriticism
ofAesthetics

Kant'stexthasno style,no signifier,


no body,no (on theone hand,oratory, and on theother, po-
flesh.On thecontrary,theKantiantexture has a etry,whichbringsabout the ideal connection
veryspecifictonality;
moreover, thetextis dom- and harmonyamongthe faculties),the visual
inatedby a musicalisotopywhose structure I arts (theplasticartssuchas sculpture and ar-
shallexamine.I willhavetoconcludewitha hy- chitecture, and painting,as the expressionof
pothesis:whatKant suppressesin his explicit aestheticideas throughspatialGestalten)and
conception ofmusicreappearsonthelevelofhis theartsoftheplayofsensations (SpielderEmp-
writing.In orderto knowwhatkindof music findungen) (especiallypaintingconsidered as an
thereis in Kant,we mustnotonlydecipherhis art of color,and music).Landscapegardening
but also-and I would say
conceptualization, (Lustgdrtnerei) is placedinthesecondcategory,
especially-listento thetoneand themusicin togetherwithpaintingconsideredas graphic
his mannerof speaking. (Kantseemstohavespecifically theFrenchgar-
deninmind,whichis somewhat surprising con-
I. MUSIC ACCORDING TO KANT sideringhis admirationforRousseau,himself
a greatproponentof the Englishgarden!);it
?51 oftheCritiqueofJudgment, on thedivision seemsthat,forKant,a gardenconcernsonlythe
ofthefinearts,and ?53,ontheirevaluation, dis- senseof sight,and notsmellorhearingas is the
pensethe"official" doctrineregardingthedeter- case in Anglo-Chinesegardentheory.8 As a re-
minationofmusic,while?52, on thecombined sult,musicfindsitselfin thesamecategoryas
arts,andparticularly ?54 (whichbearsthemod- paintingconsideredas an artof color.It would
est titleof "Anmerkung" and was apparently a also seem to have synaesthetic effects,since
lateraddition)containthe"suppressed remains" Kant says thatan artof "thebeautifulplayof
whichwill appear to be of greatimportance. sensations," suchas music,is nothing otherthan
Music-Tonkunst-occupiesa confusing place "theratioin thevaryingdegreesof attunement
in the divisionleadingKant to an ambiguous (tension)of the sense to whichthe sensations
evaluation.In a similarway,hearing"disturbs" belong,i.e.,withthesense'stone"(?5 1,p. 193).
the divisionof the five senses in theAnthro- In the comparisonwiththe art of color (Far-
pologie.7Thisfifth senseclearlyrenders impos- benkunst), the contrastof colors is judged by
sible thedichotomization intopairsof senses: analogywiththeratioof soundvibrations: col-
there are two subjectivesenses-taste and orsdiffer inasmuchas they"vibrate"liketones.
smell-and threeobjectivesenses,wherethe Herewe notethatwhatdistinguishes thebeauty
senseoftouchand sighthavea pureplace,while ofthetonesand colorsfromtheiragreeableness
hearing,lyingin between,linkstheimmediacy (Annehmlichkeit) is indeeda judgment: auditory
of touchwiththe distantiation of sight.The and visual sensationsare agreeableif theyin-
same problemarises withmusic-"the art of volve meresense impressions-theyonly be-
hearing"-whichalso occupiesan undecidable comebeautifulas theeffect of a judgmentcon-
place: in Kant'sevaluation,itcontinually oscil- cerningtheformin theplayof sensations.And
lates betweenthebeautifuland theagreeable, yet,as alreadymentioned, musiccontinually os-
problematizing the oppositionbetweennature cillatesback and forthbetweenthe agreeable
and art (humansong lies betweenthatof the and thebeautiful in thecourseofKant'sreflec-
nightingale and theartificial"voice"of thein- tionson musicin theCritiqueofJudgment, and
strument). it is certainlythisundecidability whichbrings
Interestingly enough,Kant's divisionof the aboutitsdevaluation.Let me just mentionone
fine arts is establishedon the groundsof an characteristic of thisjudgmentconcerningthe
analogywithlanguageand thecommunicative formintheplayofsensations: temporal division
process.It is oftenstatedthatKantneverdevel- is nottakenintoaccountin aesthetic judgment.
oped a philosophyof language,yet language It seemsas ifmusicalexperienceautomatically
turnsup hereas the schemawhichmakesthe spatializesmusicaltime,andthat,fromthevery
classification of theartspossible.On thebasis beginning, Kantequatestheformin theplayof
of the triadarticulation(words),gesticulation sensationswithspatialform-we will have to
(gestures),and modulation(tones),Kant will returnto this point,whichrepresents a great
draw a distinction betweenthe arts of speech weaknessin Kant'sconception ofmusic.

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Parret Kanton Musicand theHierarchy
oftheArts 255

The brief?52 containsa ratherinteresting cabilityof the affectsis appreciatedby Kant.


clue as wellas one ofthemostbeautiful formu- Musicis thustheexpression of"anunspeakable
lationsinthethirdCritique:themorethatmusic wealthof thought"(unnennbaren Gedanken-
is combinedwithotherarts(operaandoratorios fiulle)and thereby communicates theinexpress-
are syncretic artsbecausetheycombinemusic ible.So forKant,musicis notonlythelanguage
withlanguage,dance, and drama),and hence oftheaffects butequallythelanguageoftheun-
themoreitmovesawayfroma certainoriginal speakable.Itis eventhe"coherent" wholeofthis
purity,themoreit will be directedby pleasure "unspeakablewealthof thought" whichforms
alone,theagreeabledistraction whichcausesin the"theme"(Thema)ofthedominant affectina
oursoul (Gemiith)a somberfeelingof aversion piece of music.But since music's"content"is
(Ekel) and dissatisfaction.We will have occa- theincommunicability of theaffects, theother
sion to returnto this directionality in Kant's sideofthecoinis thatmusichas no valueon the
conception ofart:thepointoforiginanduplift- culturalladder.The "wealthofthought" cannot
ing purity is poetry,and thecombiningof arts be graspedwithinpropositions: this"unspeak-
into syncreticforms(sharplycondemnedby able wealth"is theaestheticIdea itselfwhich,in
Kant) is at theotherend of theaxis. Afterthis principle, cannotbe graspedin concepts.As a
clue,theelegantformulation, endlesslyquoted, consequence, musicprovokes "a continuous agi-
and the key to a preciseinterpretation of the tationand quickening (Belebung)of themind"
ratherdelicateproblem(which I will not be by meansof affectsconsonant(damitconson-
dealingwithhere)concerning therelationbe- ierendeAffekte) withthe sensationsof thelis-
tweennaturaland artificialbeauty,whichI re- tener.One detailmustbe addedtothisappraisal
producesolelyforthepleasureof it: "it is gen- whichwill be of importancefora morepro-
erally the beauties of naturethat are most foundreadingoftheKantiantext:itappearsthat
beneficial,ifwe arehabituated earlytoobserve, music's attraction (Reiz), so universally com-
judge,and admirethem"(?52, p. 196). municable,is groundedon inflection (Ton)-it
Kant's assessmentof the value of musicis is inflection, saysKant,whichatteststhepres-
mutable, fragmented, andcontradictory: he dis- ence of an affectin themusicand inducesthe
pensesthemarks,givinghighand low grades. same affectin thelistener.The importance of
He praisesmusicas an artofform,and he con- inflection willbe continually reaffirmed (music,
demnsitas a mereplayofsensations. He values forKant,is Tonkunst), and we shallsee thatthe
ithighlyfromthestandpoint of "charm"(Reiz) focuson inflection givesa certainprivilegeto
and"mentalagitation" (Bewegung des Gemfiths), vocal music,to the detriment of instrumental
butrejectsit fromthepointof view of culture music(whose importance, as we shall see, is
and reason.Fromthatpointof view,music"is suppressedby Kant): morethanany otherin-
reallynot serious":it has even less value than strument, it is thevoicein a songwhichis the
anyotherartbecauseit provokesno reflection bearerof inflection, so thatsingingappearsto
(Nachdenken)whatsoever. Prideof place is, in be theprivileged languageoftheaffects.
any case, reservedforpoetry,whichenlarges Butwhy,aftersuchhighpraise,is musicnot
thesoul bothby liberating theimagination and firstamongthe arts? Because music is only
provoking reflection(Nachdenken). Let us note "playingwithsensations" (blojimitEmpfindun-
thatthis hypostasisof poetryin Kant corre- genspielt).This "ludic"aspectdrainsmusicof
spondswitha mostcategorical condemnation of anyseriousness. Accordingto Kant,this"play"
oratory:he saysthathe has no respectwhatso- manifests itselfina doublevolatility,andculture
everforars oratoria,and a fortiori forrhetoric is obviouslytoo seriousto accommodatethis
whichexploitshumanweaknessesin a spiritof volatilityin itstwoaspects:a lackofdurability
persuasionand seduction.9 and a lack of "urbanity" (Urbanitit)by which
Apart frompoetry,however,music scores musiccan vanishin two different ways-it is
highlyon thescale of"charm"and"mentalagi- transitory anditextendsitselfuncontrolledly. In
tation."Music is the languageof the affects contrast tothe"artsofimageandform"(plastic
(Spracheder Affekte) and it communicates to arts,paintingas graphic),whichhavean endur-
everyonethe aestheticIdeas, more than any ing vehicle(dauerhaften Vehikel), musicalim-
otherformof art.This spontaneouscommuni- pressionsare transitory (transitorisch):it is ex-

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256 The Journal and ArtCriticism
ofAesthetics

tremely difficultfortheimagination to recalla It wouldappearthatKant,in his ratherintu-


musicalsequencein itstotality, andthisevanes- itive"musicology," makessomechoicesin de-
cenceofnotesand soundsleavesno durableim- termining thenatureof musicwhichare notat
print.Thisfirstaspectofmusicalvolatility goes all innocent.
together witha second,whichKantformulates Firstoption:musicis aboveall a questionof
in a rather
idiosyncratic way.The effects ofmu- sonority. And,fromtheoutset,a secondoption
sic,likethoseofanynoise,transgress determined is added to thisone: it is the inflection of the
limitsand imposethemselves on theneighbor- soundsthatgivesthemtheiruniquequality,for
hood: withthis,Kant suggeststhatmusicin- itis thetonethatexpressestheaffectand is uni-
volvesa certain"contamination"-even pollu- versally communicable. In ordertomeasuremu-
tion-with its noise, whichhe deeplyregrets sic's quality,Kantintroduces theidea ofpurity
and accusesofa "lackofurbanity" (Urbanitdt). ofsound,justas withcolor:itis thepurity ofthe
Music spreadsout like a perfume, withoutthe sound thatinducesthe experienceof beauty.
agreement of anypossiblelisteners.Wasianski This argumentunfoldsin ? 14, wherehe dis-
reportsthatKant was obsessivelysensitiveto cusses Euler's physicaltheoryand writesthat
noisepollution: heonceaskedthemayorofKon- "sensationsof coloras well as of toneclaimto
igsbergtointervene whentheinmatesofa prison deservebeingconsidered beautiful onlyinsofar
near his house spentthe entireday singing, as theyarepure.Andthatis an attribute thatal-
something theaustere,studiousKantcouldnot readyconcernsform,and itis moreover all that
stand!This lackofurbanity, combinedwiththe can be universallycommunicated withcertainty
lackofdurability, accountsformusic'slowscore aboutthesepresentations" (? 14, p. 70). Not all
on theculturalladder:musicdoes notinvitere- soundsare pure,onlythebeautiful ones,and a
flection(Nachdenken), whichis theessenceof puresoundhas nothingto do withan agreeable
culture.Hencemusicis demotedto thelow end one. To be sure,one can add "charms"or orna-
ofthedivisionofthefinearts,utterly unjustly! ments(parerga)to thepurityof the soundsto
That completesthe "officialdoctrine,"but make themmoreagreeable.These ornaments
therestill remains?54, whichconcludesthe are addedas an external"supplement" to"com-
'Analyticof the Beautifuland the Sublime," mendtous tasteanditscultivation" (? 14,p. 71),
bearingthesimpletitleof "Comment" (Anmer- butwhatis agreeableis onlyagreeablefor me
kung)-a long note composedin a more lei- and hence uncommunicable. One will recall
surelyand directstyle,containing someless or- how Kant'stheoryofparergaattracted theat-
ganizedbutfundamental thoughts forwhoever tention ofDerridainLa ve'rite' enpeinture, where
is interestedin theKantiantexture, in theunex- he subjectsKant's examplesfromthe plastic
pressedandrepressed. Thiscomment is a defense artstoa minuteanalysis:theframesofthepaint-
ofwhatonemightcall anEpicureanperspective: ings,the draperyof the statues.The parerga
KantspeakshighlyofEpicurus,although he ob- bringus intothedomainofpsycho-sociology: to
viouslyrejectshedonismas a moralattitude. each his owntaste!Anditis preciselyherethat
Kant claims that musical experiencehas a agreeablemusic, i.e., music with an impure
catharticeffect(in the classical Aristotelian sound,getsitsevaluation.It is ofimportance-
sense),butespeciallythatithas a directrelation andthisis thepointatwhichwe hadtoarrive-
withcorporeality. Kant correlateshis analysis thatKant'sexampleofthispsycho-sociological
of musicwithhis analysisof laughter, and it is principleof tasteis the preference whichone
by wayof thisconnection thathe seemsto im- can have forone or anotherinstrument: "one
plantthepleasureofmusicalexperience ina cer- personlovesthesoundofwindinstruments, an-
tainbodilyenjoyment. I willcomebackto this otherthatof stringinstruments. It would be
rathersurprising point(and to this"subversive" foolishif we disputedabout such differences
paragraph), foritseemstomethatitis primarily withtheintention of censuring another'sjudg-
in this "Epicurean"contextthatKant evokes ment"(?7,p. 55). One can deducefromthisex-
whatis repressed inhisofficialdoctrine. Bydig- amplethatKantindeedfeelsthatthesoundsof
ginga bitdeeper,one can even succeedin re- instruments, insofaras theyare merelyagree-
constructing theunexpressed in thetone/voice- able, musttherefore be impure.Instrumental
instrument/body/pleasure constellation. soundis buta supplement, an ornament subject

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Parret Kanton Musicand theHierarchy
oftheArts 257

to the evaluationof psycho-sociological


taste. judgment ofform, andformis thefirst qualityof
Puresoundon theotherhandis, forKant,nat- theworkof art.Accordingto thegeneraldeter-
ural sound, the sound of the voice,notthe sound minationofaestheticjudgment, itis clearlythe
of an artifact
or an instrumentwhichonlydis- formalscale, and hence harmony, whichhas
plays a derivedsonority.It appears,then,that precedence;but an analysisof Kant's explicit
song is closest to thisnaturalsource.The singing statementsconcerningthe essence of music
of birds(especiallythenightingale), frequently showsratherthatthe scale of naturalness, and
mentioned byKant,is evenconsidered tobe the hencemelody,musthaveprecedence.
mostnaturalsongpossible.Fromthiswe must And whatof rhythm in this"balance"ofhar-
concludethatmusic,forKant,is thought on the monyand melody?Kant mentionsnothingof
basis of birdsong,whichexemplifiesnatural- this:just as withtempo,rhythm seems to be
nessand purity. The tonalityof puresounds,or completely repressed. Rousseauhowever, whom
the"color"of puresounds,places thisoriginal Kant greatlyadmired,argues in his Diction-
naturalness oftheaestheticobjectina privileged nairemusicalthatmelodyand rhythm depend
relationwiththe affectof the mind(Gemlit). on eachother:a changeintherhythm ofa series
Nonetheless, theseKantianoptions-neverex- of sounds,called a melody,resultsin thecre-
plicityet clearlypresentin the "officialdoc- ation of a new melody.In fact,accordingto
trine"-generate a repressionwhichwillturnup Rousseau,one wouldhave to say thatrhythm
againontheleveloftheKantiantexture: we shall and soundtogether formmelody.Rhythm then
see how themusicalimagerythatcontrolsthis becomesan essentialcomponent ofthemusical
texture is developedas ifthemind(Gemlith) itself phenomenon. Kantsaysonlythatsoundsorga-
werea stringed instrument,an artifact,
thatsup- nizedintoa melodycan be beautiful(i.e., the
plement so plainlymarginalized byKanthimself. "miseenforme"or theputtingintorelationof
SinceKantonlytakesintoaccounttheinflec- soundsis a condition ofpossibility foraesthetic
tion of sounds,one finds in his conception appreciation). YetKantneverthinksof thisor-
of musican uncertainty regarding theintegra- ganizationor miseenformeas a rhythmization,
tionof melody, harmony, and rhythm. Harmony whereasforRousseausuch a rhythmization is
andmelodyare usedinterchangeably (e.g.,?53, theconditio sinequa nonformelodicform.Here,
p. 199) withoutanyhierarchy beingproposed. oncemore,we rediscover thepresenceofthere-
No organizationalprinciplefor melodic and pressedrhythm on thelevelof thetexture: the
harmonicelementsis providedbyKant(as itis musicalisotopywhichdominates Kant'swriting
by Schopenhauer, thatgreat"melodifier," who is constructed on a "tension"(Spannung)which
claimsto havebased his musicalaestheticson is clearlynot unrelatedto the rhythm and the
Kant's).Andwhenonebearsinmindhisgeneral tempoinherent in the veryway in whichone
contentions, one is undoubtedly forcedto con- "feels"thebody-an Epicureanperspective en-
clude thatKant is tornbetweentwopositions. thusiasticallypresented byKanthimself.
Fromthepointof viewof thescale of natural- Let us add to thisanotherworry, one which
ness and its valuationof naturalsonority, he concernsanotherabsencein theKantiancon-
wouldhave had to accordcertainprivilegesto ceptionof music.It is temporality; nevermen-
melody(birdsongis specificallycharacterized tionedby Kantas essentialand constitutive for
as a collectionofmelodicsequences).Neverthe- music.Kant insistson thetransitory character
less,fromthepointof viewof thescale offor- ofmusicwhich,as we haveseen,has no "endur-
mality, itis ratherharmony thatshoulddominate ing vehicle."It would seem thenthatKant is
theconceptof whatis musical.Of course,Kant completelyignorant(or unconscious)of the
could have subsumedthe melodiccomponent quiteempirical phenomenon ofmusicalGestalt:
under"charm"(Reiz)and theagreeable.Butbe- thatmusicalexperiencewould not even exist
cause everyformhas a mathematical basis,and withoutthe retentions and protentions neces-
because harmonyis above all mathematical saryfor"melodification." Musicis said to be a
(Kant's fascinationforthe Newtonianidea of mere"playof sensations" (accordingtothedef-
the"mathematical harmony of theuniverse"is initionin ?51) in whichtemporalization seems
wellknown),itis clearthatharmony shouldtake to playno constitutive role.One mighthaveex-
precedence.Aestheticjudgmentis, indeed,a pected thattime,as a fundamental mode of

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258 ofAesthetics
The Journal and ArtCriticism

humanreason,wouldas a rulebe crystallized in tikder dsthetischen Urtheilskraft.10 This text


musicalexperience and,consequently, inthede- showsthattheCritiqueofJudgment had an im-
termination of thenatureof musicitselfwhich mediateimpactamongst musicologists. Michaelis
would in this way be distinguished fromall seemstobe in perfect symbiosiswithKant,and
otherfinearts.But thereis nothingof thisin it is sometimesirritating how he triesto outdo
Kant.The temporality specifictomusic,namely Kant himselfwith his stiff,plodding lan-
itslackofdurability, is purelyphenomenal: this guage.11He repeatsthe mostimportant con-
temporality belongsto the"kingdomofappear- ceptsKantemployedin determining thenature
ances."Kantcouldhavedevelopedtheidea that of music,but withoutintegrating themintoa
timeis constitutiveofmusic,justas space is con- generalphilosophicalframework, whichnatu-
of painting.He does notevencontrast
stitutive rallyproducesa considerable impoverishment of
thesetwoarts,sincehe placesin thesameclass Kant'sintuitions. Nevertheless,Michaelisplaces
paintingconsideredas color and music,the someaccentshereand there,sometimes adding
colorof a paintinghavingthesamefunction as technicalelaborationsand examples.I repro-
the toneof a musicalsequence(in thissense, duce herea fewof thesedetails,ifonlyforthe
musicis always"picturesque"). Thisstrategy be- pleasureof havingdiscoveredthisenthusiastic
traysa certaintendencyto spatializemusical butstilllargelyignoredauthor.
time.If thatis indeedthecase, thenthereis no Michaelisseemstohaveunderstood verywell
longerevenanycriterion to distinguish between thatKantconsidered musicto be theexpression
the musical sequence and the musical score ofaestheticIdeas whichare "representations of
which,as a spatialdiagramofthatsequence,can the facultyof imagination" (Vorstellungen der
onlybe a poorsubstitute, neverin a positionto Einbildungskraft),'2 and especiallythatimagi-
provokemusicalexperience. Thisabsenceofthe nationproceedsbyanalogy,notby demonstra-
temporaldimensionin Kant'sdetermination of tion.13 Thereis a clearnaturalistic
tendency pres-
musicarousesa greatdeal of worry, especially ent in the workof Michaelis:he affirmsthat
whenone recallsthatLessing,alreadyin 1766, musicis "audiblenature"(horbareNatur)and
had introduced in hisLaoko5nan unambiguous thatmusicalamateursare actually"friendsof
distinctionbetweentheartsof time,to which nature"(Naturfreunde).'4 Such natureis pic-
music belonged,and the arts of space. Kant turesque(sch5nenlandschaftliche Natur) and
takes no accountof Lessing's suggestionthat Michaelis constantlydraws a correlationbe-
music effects,and even accomplishes,virtual tweenthecomposer(Tonsetzer)and the land-
time.Time is necessaryforreceivingthe suc- scape painter(Landschaftmaler); he defines
cessionof soundsin perception:memoryand "music"(Tonkunst) as "musicalpainting"(mu-
expectation are necessaryforthereto evenbe a sikalischeMalerei)and refersto Rousseauwho,
musicalexperience as sensation.But,as Lessing itappears,lovedmelancholicmelodiesbecause
says, more is needed than this "phenomenal "all of natureseemsto wantto accompanythe
time."In orderthatthissensationmaybe appre- plaintive tonesofa poignant voice."''5 Michaelis
ciated(Beurteilung) and,consequently, thatthere seemstohaveunderstood equallywelltheKant-
maybe aestheticexperience(i.e., thatthemusic ian 'Analyticof theSublime"which,in ortho-
be perceivedas beautiful), thefundamental (or dox fashion,he places in relationwiththema-
constitutive) temporality mustnot simplybe jestic,the colossal,and the wild (energischen
added to the inflection;rather,it mustbe re- wi/denMusik),invokingHandel,Mozart,and
ceivedbythemind(Gemlith) as theveryprinci- Haydnas examples.'6An entirechapteris de-
ple ofthemiseenforme. Kantremainsunsympa- voted to genius as "the languageof nature"
theticto thisidea,whichconfirms theintuition (Spracheder Natur),or as a "giftof nature"
one has whenreadinghis textthathe did not whichmanifests itselfintheanimation(Begeis-
fullyappreciatetheessenceofthemusicalphe- terung)oftheartist. 17 The changesofemphasis
nomenon. whichMichaelisproposesare illuminating. He
In 1795,fiveyearsfollowingtheappearance is obviouslyawareof Kant'sidea ofmusicas a
of theCritiqueofJudgment, Christian Friedrich "languageof the affects"and an "agitationof
Michaelispublisheda book entitledUberden themind"(Gemfithsbewegung), buthe goes into
GeistderTonkunst mitRficksicht aufKantsKri- moredetailabout"pathemics," or a theoryof

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Parret Kanton Musicand theHierarchy
oftheArts 259

thepassions,whichKantdid notdiscussin the II. KANT ACCORDING TO MUSIC


thirdCritique,relegatingittohisAnthropologie.
In this way,Michaelis describeshow certain The suggestionhas alreadybeen made thatif
musicalsequencesareable togenerate veryspe- Kanthad consistently appliedhis aestheticthe-
cificaestheticpassionssuchas enthusiasm, de- orytomusic,he wouldhaveplacedmusicat the
spair,anger,and sympathy,18 without, however, top of thehierarchy of the arts.23Indeed,his
arrivingat a coherentand exhaustive classifica- conceptionof music seems to have been too
tion.This same sense of concreteapplication much underthe influenceof anthropological
can be seen in his descriptions
of the"tension" and psycho-sociological pointsof view (recall,
(Spannungand Stimmung) of "inexpressible" forinstance,Kant's statement concerning mu-
(unnenbar)sentiments producedor revealedby sic's lack of "urbanity") which,clearly,should
piecesofmusic(Tonstficke).19Itis as ifMichaelis not have any impacton a properlyaesthetic
tookthe unexpressed"officialdoctrine"more viewpoint. Lookedatdialectically, thispossibil-
seriouslythanKanthimself.The samecouldbe ityofre-evaluating musicintheclassification of
said whenhe emphasizesthecatharticfunction thefineartsallowsus to speakof a radicalre-
ofmusic,thefeelingofhealthwhichitprovokes, versalofperspective: an aestheticsbasedon the
and the bodilyenjoyment whichit induces- natureofmusicand itsproperties. Sucha rever-
in short,theentireso-called"Epicurean"com- sal would mean thatbeautyand sublimity in
ponent.20 music,liketheintensity of musicalexperience,
Thetechnicaladditionscouldhavebeenmore wouldfunction as an excellentapproachto aes-
extensive, considering thisis theworkofa true theticsas a whole(primarily thedetermination
musicologist, particularly wherethe relations of the analyticand dialecticmomentsof aes-
betweenmelody,harmony, andrhythm arecon- theticjudgment),makingit possibleto enrich
cerned.Some definitions are formulated,2' and thetheoryofAffektibilitdt andaisthesis),
(affekt
tempo(completely neglectedby Kant) is taken of the"agitation"of themind(Gemfithsbewe-
intoconsideration without becomingreallyop- gung),as wellas thetheory concerning thecom-
erative.22Undoubtedly moresignificant is a cer- munication of sentiments by sensuscommunis
tainawarenessin Michaelisof theimportance and thenecessity, injudgments oftaste,foruni-
ofmusicaltemporality. He is notin anyposition versalagreement. This wouldbe a reconstruc-
to show preciselyhow time is constitutive of tion of "Kant accordingto music,"a further
music,but he does succeed in nuancingthe "thoughtexperiment"(Gedankenexperiment)
Kantianthesisconcerning thevolatility of mu- whichI shallcarryout foronlyone of Kant's
sic. Michaelis seems to recognizea certain aestheticcategories, thatof"genius."
"Gestalt"-isttemporality:therewouldbe,ineach It is a commonidea incontemporary aesthet-
piece of music,a dominant and enduring char- ics thattheartist"creates"newworlds,new"ob-
acter (herrschende Character;etwas Bleiben- jects" which are added to the assortment of
des) restingon a structure ofretention and pro- thingsandstatesofaffairs intheexistingworld.
tentionof whichKantseemsto haveno notion. The artist,we believe,is a "creator"becausehe
Finally,Michaelispresents thecomposersofhis producesculture,notbecause he "transforms"
time,withcomment andevaluation.Apartfrom nature.In general,Kantis notverysympathetic
Gr6try (forhis operas),Clementi,and Handel, tothisideaofa newrealitywhichis addedtoex-
he oftenmentionsBach, Haydn,and the"im- istingnature.As a result, artistic
beautyandnat-
mortal"(unsterbliche) Mozart,whomhe putin uralbeautycannotbe separated, on Kant'sview,
thefollowingorderof increasingappreciation: because it is a matterof one and the same
Bach,forhis formality and capacityto embody beauty:thereis onlya singletypeof aesthetic
mathematico-relational structuresin music; judgment whether thebeautiful orthesublimeis
Haydn,forhis fantasy;and Mozart,thebestof naturalor artistic.Culture,forKant,is highly
all, for the richnessof his Gemlith.Without cognitiveand scientific, and he is obliviousto
claimingthatMichaelisoffers a substantive and thefactthatit mightbe "worldly"and "mate-
originalphilosophy, I would still say thathis rial."Thata sculpture or a building"modifies"
Kantianmusicology, in itsfidelity,providesus thephenomenal worldbyaddingto ita newre-
withsomenotinsignificant clarifications. alityis alreadya new,undoubtedly post-Kantian,

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260 The Journal and ArtCriticism
ofAesthetics

conceptof culture. The idea thatartcontributes thesevirtues,thenitis possiblethatthiscan il-


to culture,and thefuture of artto thefuture of luminate aesthetics itself.On theonehand,then,
culture, is notveryexplicitin Kant'saesthetics. we haveassertedtheimmateriality ofmusic,its
Arthas itsfinality, butthisfinality is notitsfu- extra-worldliness, and on the otherhand, its
turein thehistorico-cultural sense.The creative nonpropositional statusand theabsenceof any
geniusdoes notcreateex nihilo.he does notadd semantics ormessage.Thesetwocharacteristics
to nature;he is, rather,thevoiceofnature.Cre- makemusicthetrueprototype ofart:itpresents
atingobjectsoutof sensibleand palpablemate- (darstellen),in an "ideal" way,aestheticIdeas
rialsis notreally,forKant,a movein thedirec- (which,we know,are distinguished fromratio-
tion of culturalenrichment: the prototypical nal Ideas and concepts).The manifestation of
culturalactivityis one thatprovokesreflection; aestheticideasrequirestaste,whichcreatesaes-
nature,via thegenius,has certainprerogatives theticexperiences through itsjudgments (Beur-
in thisarea. New objectsare quicklyidentified teilungen).Thereareno rulesfortheproduction
by Kant with"finery"(sch5nenKleinigkeiten) ofaestheticIdeas,sincerulesaretheproducts of
whichis added to theworld:theyareparerga, a comprehension resultingfromdetermined
"ornaments" suchas rococo.Anyartopposedto conceptsof theunderstanding. A trueworkof
natureis "ornament," agreeableperhapsbutcer- art is "exemplary"(exemplarisch), not a copy
tainlynotbeautiful. Intheabsenceofart'strans- (nachgetan, nachgeahmt): itis theuniquereali-
forming and modifying function in Kant'saes- zation (Darstellung)of an aestheticIdea. I
thetics,we fall back on its subtle cognitive wouldsay,then,thattheexemplarity oftheart-
function: artincitesreflection,
not,ofcourse,on workis easiertorealizeformusicthanforother
thebasis of thesemanticcontentof a message, artspreciselybecauseof its immateriality and
butrather on thebasisofform,a criterion which its a-semantism(thus avoidinga conception
belongstonature. whichwouldabolishtheaestheticIdea). Taking
The questionnowis whether musicshouldbe seriouslythe oppositionbetweenDarstellung
consideredfromthispointof view,or if it is and Vorstellung, I wouldsaythat,amongall the
evenmorelofty.It seemsto me thatit is pre- arts,it is music thatmosteasily escapes the
ciselytheimmateriality ofmusic,itsrelativein- dominationof "representation" (Vorstellung):
dependencewithrespectto worldlymaterials, lackinganyconceptualizable and representable
itsabstraction, itsmathematical base, itsextra- semanticcontent,it "presents"(darstellt)the
worldlycharacter, whichshouldhaveled Kant aestheticIdea evenmoreeasily.
to accept music as eminently cultural,in the One morecomponent ofKant'sconception of
sensehe givesthisterm.Itis clearthatmusicre- geniusmustbe added here.The geniusis the
quiresno activity of thought,sinceithas no se- creatorwhotestifies tohiscapacityforrealizing
manticcomponent:a musicalsequencehas no the"happyrelation" amongthefaculties (mainly
propositional contentsuch as is foundin lan- theunderstanding and theimagination) and for
guage(includingthemost"beautiful" language findinga universally communicable wayof ex-
possible,namelypoetry).Musicdoes notmake pressingthisrelation.Consequently, thecreativ-
us think;rather, it causes us to reflectand to ityofthegeniusis characterized by an optimal
dreammorethanany otherart:to bringabout tasteand a maximal(in factuniversal)commu-
this"dream-like thought," whichis reflection, nicability.The genius"presents" (darstellt)the
is preciselywhatculturedoes. Moreover, music aestheticIdea,inan idealmanner, byexpressing
is culturalin thatit proposesto humanbeings thefreeconformity of theimagination withthe
new ordersofperception. The composeris not understanding, andthisin sucha waythata uni-
thecreatorofnewsemanticsbutofneworgani- versalcommunicability is created.Couldwe not
zationsof sounds,whichdemandan adaptation say,then,thatthemusicalgeniushimselfserves
or transformation of our modesof perception. as a prototype of genius?Therewouldbe two
The musician,morethananyotherartist,"pro- reasonsforthisaffirmation. In thefirstplace,
vokesperception" and,in so doing,he provokes given the specificityof "musical language"
"dreaming/reflecting." Thereinlies thecreativ- (a-semantic), themusicalcreator mustideallybe
ityofthemusicalartist. in a positionto bringaboutthefreeconformity
Ifitis truethatmusicis theculmination ofall betweentheimagination andtheunderstanding;

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Parret Kanton Musicand theHierarchy
oftheArts 261

secondly,giventhissame specificity (musicas derstanding andreason.Thereis indeeda musi-


"languageof the affects"),
themusicalcreator cal economyat workin Kant'scomposition, an
wouldevenmoreeasilybe in a positiontobring attemptat harmonization and evenrhythmiza-
abouttheuniversalcommunicability of his ar- tionofthesoundsand silences,theconsonances
tisticproducts. anddissonances withinKant'stextitself.I would
These analysesremainratherschematic, and like to illustrate
thismusicaleconomyin Kant
I haveonlybeen able to suggesthow Kantian fromfourcomplementary pointsof view: mu-
aestheticsmightbe (re)thought on thebasis of sicalintrojection,
musicalexemplification, musi-
the focuson musicalexperience.To conclude cal metaphorization,and thecreationofa musi-
thissection,threepointsare worthmentioning. cal isotopy-rather barbaricterminology which
Firstofall, a musicalworkis (prototypically)
a willbecomeprogressively moreclear.
culturalwork evenifKantwas notimpressed We haveseenhowKant,in ?53 on thecom-
bythefactthatmusicmodifiesthephenomenal parisonof theaestheticvalue of thefinearts,
world,itstillremainstruethatmusictransforms placespoetryabovemusic,evenon thescale of
and enrichesourmodesofperception, and pro- "charm"(Reiz) and "agitationof the mind"
vokesour"dreaming/reflecting" betterthanany (Gemhthsbewegung). Ifonelooksdeeperintothe
otherart. Secondly,a musicalworkis (proto- texture of thisargumentation, it soon becomes
typically)a workof art-its exemplarityand its clearthatpoetryowes thisprimacy to musicit-
capacityfor"presentation" (Darstellung)is max- self(?53, pp. 196-197). Music is introjected in
imal,givenitsimmateriality and"a-semantism." poetry, whichis thensaidtosurpassandoutrank
Finally,a musical workis (prototypically) a music.Poetry,Kant says,dependson certain
workof genius-it optimallyrealizesthe free pre-established accords;furthermore, it cannot
playofthefaculties, and ideallyestablishesthe transgressthe rules of "euphonyof speech"
communicability of thesentiments by inviting, (Wohllaut); and again,as a playoftheimagina-
withan irresistiblepower,universalagreement. tion,itsformmustharmonize (einstimmig) with
Kanthimselfdidnotgo so farin the"glorifi- thelawsoftheunderstanding. Paradoxically, po-
cation"of music.He did notdo so, as has been etryreachesthe summitby obeyingthe very
suggestedalready,for "anthropological" rea- rulesof theartwhichittranscends! Evenwhen
sons.Nonetheless, an enthusiasticconception of Kantspeaksmoregenerally aboutlanguage,he
musicalexperience couldhaveservedverywell maintainsthateverylinguistic expression has a
as a heuristic
forKantianaestheticsas a whole: tone,notas decorative accompaniment, butas a
to thinkof aestheticson thebasis ofmusic,not condition ofpossibilityfortheexteriorization of
on thebasis of poetry,wouldclearlyhavepro- itssemanticcontent.So, in a certainsense,this
duceda different Kant,one whowouldhaveac- tonalitywhichmusicalizeslanguageconfersa
ceptedtheunexpressed and repressedelements transcendental statuson music.
of his "officialdoctrine"withgreatercourage Although Kantusuallykeepstothe"principle
and grace. of austerity,"whichstatesthatconceptualargu-
mentdoes notincreasein valuethrough thead-
111. THE MUSIC OF KANT'S TEXT ditionof examples,theredoes arisein thethird
Critique-whereitis a questionofanalyzingthe
In termsof its construction, thephilosophical beautifuland the sublime-a need to develop
textis generally as theworkofan ar-
presented some examples.24It is particularly worthyof
chitect.I liketospeakofKant'sthought as being note thatthe musicalexampleshave the very
a "cathedral," and Kanthimselfoftenused ar- specificfunction-clearlynot recognizedby
chitecturalvocabulary,for instancewhen he Kanthimself-offalsifying or neutralizing the
refersto the "gulfsand bridges"(Klufteund argument!To demonstrate this curiosityre-
Brficke) betweenthevariouspartsofhissystem. quiresbringing together oftenfar-flung textual
Buthe also saysthatthese"bridges"mustbring fragments, butthisexerciserewardstheeffort.
abouta harmony amongthepartsor amongthe My firstexample,thesongsof birds,shows
variousfacultiesor typesof conceptualization: howtheexampleofmusicfalsifies theargument
theremustbe a harmonization ofthediscordbe- developedby Kant.The 'Analyticof theBeau-
tweenmatter andmind,natureandfreedom, un- tiful"concludeswitha lovelycoda (endof ?22)

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262 The Journal
ofAesthetics
and ArtCriticism

whereKantarguesas follows:beautyarisesby morepositively abouttablemusic(Tafelmusik):


contrast, sincethewildbecomesbeautifulin a "a strangethingwhich is meantto be only
regularcontext, whiletheregular becomesbeau- an agreeablenoiseservingto keepthemindsin
tifulin a wildcontext.On thispoint,Kantcites a cheerfulmood, and whichfostersthe free
the description of Sumatragivenby Marsden, flowof conversation betweeneach personand
whonoticedthisphenomenon duringhisvisitto his neighbor,withoutanyone's paying the
thatisland.So itis withthesingingofbirdsand slightest attention to themusic'scomposition"
with human singing,the formerapparently (?44, p. 173). In thiscontext,musicseemsto
without regularityand thelatterconstrained by ratherencourage"reflection," thusfunctioning
the rules of music. The beauty,therefore, of to promoteculture.Thus theexampleof table
thesetwotypesof songdependson theircon- music neutralizesKant's intenseengagement
trastingposition:the "free"song of thebirds againstmusic's"barbarity" (lack of"urbanity")
willbe considered beautifulina regularcontext, and also, happily,neutralizesto some extent
humansongin a "wild"context.Nevertheless, Kant'spassionateresistanceto music.Justlike
this contrastbetweenhuman and bird song the firstexample(althoughthe firstis much
(Kant's preferred reference beingthe nightin- stronger sinceitfalsifies thethesis,whilethesec-
gale) has an entirelydifferent functionin the ond simplyneutralizes it),thissecondexample
restoftheCritiqueofJudgment: itis to demon- showsthatmusic,forKant,occupiesan undecid-
stratethatbirdsongis original,free, and natural able place,provoking ambivalent evaluations.
(Kantspeaksinlyricaltermsabout"thenightin- The Kantiantextcries out for a complete
gale's enchantingly beautifulsong" [?42, p. metaphorology. I can onlyreferhereto a single
169]),whilehumansongalwaysrunstheriskof function of musicalmetaphor in Kant:therec-
being artificialand imitative. The exampleof onciliationof oppositesor the conjunctionof
theroguishyoungster whoimitated thenightin- poles. In a remarkablebut forgotten essay,26
gale's song demonstrates, accordingto Kant, Leo Spitzerhas notedthatthisassociationruns
thatin ordertobe able totakean immediate in- through thewholehistoryof aesthetics, begin-
terestin thebeautifulas such,thatbeautymust ning withBaumgarten.Kant's textoverflows
be natural, or pass fornatural.Beautyarisesnot withHarmonisierung, withSpiel,andespecially
fromcontrast, butfromitsnaturalorigin,a the- withStimmung in all of itsderivations: Zusam-
sis whichexplicitly attemptstodismantle Mars- menstimmung, Einstimmung, Uebereinstimmung,
den'sdescription (?22). and evenBeistimmung. A largegroupof prob-
A furthermusical example-that of table lemsfindtheirconceptualsolutionsintheuseof
music (Tafelmusik)-neutralizesanother of this metaphoricsof euphony(Wohllaut)and
Kant's theses.We have seen thatmusic'slack symphony. Butitis Stimmung whichdominates.
of urbanity (Urbanitdt) and volatilityare pejo- One mustbear in mindthe dual sense of the
rativetestimonyto a lack of culture:like a term:Stimme-voice(ofa humanbeing,a choir,
perfume,musicforcesothersto participate.25 a score)-and Stimmung, agreement and tuning
The insistenceon thisproblem,formulated in (as of a piano). Kant's musical aestheticsis
strongly pathemicterms,cannotbe overlooked. dominated bythisduality:voiceandsongon the
Music imposesitselfon others,thusdoingvio- one hand,agreement and balance of poles on
lence to theirfreedom.?48, extensively ana- theother.
lyzedbyDerridainLa veriteenpeinture, shows Whenone takesaccountofthemateriality of
thatmusicrepeatstheformalstructure of dis- Kant'stext,itis evidentthatforone ofthemost
gust (Ekel): insistence(aufdrdngen) describes complicated elementsofhis terminology, Gem-
boththeactionofdisgustand theperception of uith,musicalimageryis omnipresent: themind
music.Derridaevengoes as faras to say that, (Gemfith) is presented to us as itselfa musical
forKant,musicmakesone feellike vomiting, instrument, morespecifically a stringedinstru-
just like the perfumedhandkerchief which ment.The same thingcouldbe said of theAn-
"givesall thosenextto and aroundhima treat thropologie, wheresensibility, as thefirstprop-
whether theywantitornot"(?53,p. 200). Anal- ertyof themind,is presented as a bodilyorgan
togetherdifferent sound-it can indeed be on whichsomething likemusicis played.Butit
said-is heardin ?44 whereKantspeaksmuch is in ?54 thatKantenters,in themostinnocent

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Parret Kanton Musicand theHierarchy
oftheArts 263

way,themusicalisotopy.It is well knownthat themselves in a kindofabyss.Withouta vibra-


in this sectionhe describesthe psychological tionof thefaculties,thereis no aestheticjudg-
mechanismoflaughterand places itin relation mentof thebeautifulor thesublime.The mind
to musicalexperience. Bothlaughter and musi- functions as a stringed instrument whoseinter-
cal experienceare based on corporealactivity. nal voicesare in tune.Alongwiththisinternal
In the firstplace, both experienceshave a tuning,thereis also an agreement of themind
catharticeffect(they"agitatetheintestines and withthebody,withwhichitmustbe "harmoni-
thediaphragm," havingdirectly beneficialcon- callyrelated"(harmonisch verbunden) accord-
sequencesforourhealth!).Moreover, Kantac- ingtotheEpicureanperspective whichKantde-
ceptsthe"Epicureanperspective" accordingto fendsin ?54.28 A final"harmonization" mustbe
whichtheseexperiencescause pleasureat the added to this:themind(Gemfith) vibrateslike
bodilylevel.As faras laughter is concerned (but and withthebody,butalso like nature.Nature
thesamecouldbe said ofmusic,byextension), itselfvibratesin tunewiththemind.According
thesesensations areexplainedas thereleaseofa to Kant,"natureshouldat leastshowa traceor
stateoftension:"Laughter is an affect
thatarises givea hintthatit containssomebasis or other
ifa tenseexpectation is transformed intonoth- forus to assumein its productsa lawfulhar-
ing(Verwandlung einergespannten Erwartung)" monywiththatlikingofourswhichis indepen-
(?54, p. 203). So musicalexperience can also be dentof all interest"(?42, p. 167). The wholeof
describedin termsof tenseness(expectation, ?42 consistspreciselyin refuting theidea that
tension,release).In further pursuing his analy- naturalbeautywouldbe objectiveand not"in
sis of laughter, Kant suddenlyrediscovers the tune" with the "vibrations"of the mind. Is
musicalisotopyinitsentirety. Thistextseemsto Kant'saesthetics notan aesthetics ofvibrations,
me of suchimportance thatI quoteitverbatim: andis notthemind,as thefaculty responsible for
aestheticexperience, theseatoforiginaltension?
themindlooks...oncemoreinorder togiveitanother Mytwoconclusions willtaketheformofcau-
try,andsobya rapidsuccession oftension andrelax- tiousand provisionalaphorisms. The firstcon-
ation[Anspannungund Abspannung]themindis clusionwe are forcedto drawis thatKant'sex-
bounced backandforth andmadetosway[hinund plicitconception ofmusiccontainsa number of
zurfick geschnelltundin Schwankung gesetztwird]; internaluncertainties, butthatitattempts to re-
andsuchswaying, sincewhatever wasstretching the storeits balance by repressing such necessary
string, as it were,snappedsuddenly [weil der Ab- andessentialcomponents as artifact/instrument,
sprungvondem,wasgleichsamdieSaiteanzog,plotz- thebody,passion,rhythm, and time.These ele-
lich ... geschah]..., mustcause a mentalagitation mentsreappearat thelevelof Kant'swriting it-
[Gemiithsbewegung] andaninner bodilyagitationin self:as theintrojection of theserepressedele-
harmony withit [mitihr harmonierende inwendige mentsin certainconceptualconstellations, as
kOrperliche Bewegung].(?54, p. 204) examples,as an obsessivemetaphorics, and es-
peciallyas a musicalisotopywhichdominates
Therecan no longerbe anydoubtthatthemind the"affective inflection" ofKant'stext.My sec-
is a stringed instrument,one whichvibrates. ond conclusionshouldprovidesomejustifica-
We proposean understanding oftheKantian tionformy"method"oftextualdeconstruction.
conception ofmusicon thebasisofthismusical I would concedethatit is deliberately "frivo-
isotopy.The agitationofthemind(Gemiithsbe- lous" since it (slightly)displacesthe classical
wegung)is an agreementof voices: the mind orientation of interest:insteadof a directre-
harmonizes, bringingcertainmentaltonalities coursetophilosophical thesesbyreadingthrough
in tune(Gemiitzustdnde zusammenstimmen).27thetext,I acceptthedominanceofthematerial-
Oreven:thisharmonization is a matter oftuning ityofthetext,ofthetextualbody,sincethisac-
the"string" of theunderstanding and theimag- ceptance generatesnew discoveries.Such a
ination.In contrast tothebeautiful, thesublime reading,whosefrivolity I recognize, is intended
resonateswitha sortofdissonanceon the"harp as tribute to a monument. It sees thetextof the
of the soul": indeedthe'Analyticof the Sub- CritiqueofJudgment as themonumental mani-
lime"saysthatthe"vibrations" of theimagina- festation ofa trueaestheticIdea, likea sublime
tion,whentheyreach the supersensible, lose symphony oftheimmortal Mozart.29

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264 The Journal and ArtCriticism
ofAesthetics

HERMAN PARRET serungoder Verringerung und manchfaltige Abdrnderung


Institute
ofPhilosophy derwirkliche Natur"(ibid.,p. 11).
14.Ibid.,pp. 55 and 41.
UniversityofLeuven
15. Ibid.,pp. 47-48 and II, 84.
2 - 3000 Leuven
K. Mercierplein, 16.Ibid.,p. 45.
Belgium 17."Genieistdas Talent,die Naturgabe, welchedersch6-
nen Kunstdie nichtmechanischen, durchkeineBegriffe,
sonderndurch blosse Gefuhle bestimmtenRegeln der
Schonheit giebt....Das musikalische Genie,wiejedes andre
INTERNET: HERMAN.PARRET@ HIW.KULEUVEN.AC.BE
Kunstgenie, verfdhrt nachRegeln,ohnesichihrerselbstbes-
timmt bewusstzu sein.Ein unbekannter Drangdes Geistes,
ein hinreissendes FeuerderFantasie,bringtWerkehervor,
1. The CritiqueofJudgment is citedin theEnglishtrans- welche allgemeineBewunderungerwacken,aber ihrer
lationby WernerS. Pluhar(Indianapolis:Hackett,1987). eigentlichen Entstehung nachdem Kunstlerevenso unbe-
Parenthetical referencesinthistextwillbe toKant'ssection greiflich, als seinemPublikum,sind. ... Das Genie istdie
numbersand the corresponding paginationof the Pluhar Sp)ache der-Natui; von der es gleichsambeseelt wird.
edition. Begeister-ung ist derrechteAusdruckfurden Zustanddes
2. The biographiesof Jachmann, as well as those of Tonkunstlers, als hervorbringenden Genies"(ibid.,pp.73-74).
Borowskiand Wasianski,can be foundin a bookpublished 18. Ibid.,pp. 17,22, and 25.
on theoccasionofthe250thanniversary ofKant'sbirth:Wer- 19.Ibid.,pp. 12 and 14.
war-Kant? Drei 7eitgenissischen Biogr-aphien vonLudwig 20. Ibid.,pp. 64-65.
Er-nst Borowski, ReinholdBer-nhar-d Jachmann undE. A. Ch. 21. Ibid.,pp. 22, 52, and 59,amongothers.
Wasianski,ed. SiegfriedDrescher (Pfullingen:Neske, 22. "Das Unbesstimmte der musikalischen Darstellung
1974).The textscollectedhere,written immediately follow- liegtzum Theil in den Gefuihlen und Gemiitshewegungen
ingKant'sdeathin 1804 (and a largepartofBorowski'stext selbst,welchedie Musikausdruckt. Denndiesevermischen
was alreadywritten in 1792,and revisedand ammendedby sichmannichfaltig, sinddunkel,undlassensichnichteher
Kanthimself),are reprinted in ImmanuelKant:seinLehen unterscheiden, als bis sie auf einen sehr hohen Grad
in Dar-stellungen von Zeitgenossen, editedby Felix GroB gestiegensind. Zwischendem Traurigenund Frohlichen
(Berlin: DeutscheBibliothek,1912). For the quote from giegtes unzahligeGradedes Zunehmens oderAbnehmens.
Jachmann, cf.Werwar-Kant?,pp. 171-172. Das ErhebenoderNiedersencken des Tons,die Schnelligkeit
3. Borowski,in Wer- war-
Kant?,pp.96-97. oderLangsamkeit inderAuseinanderfolge derTone,unddie
4. Wasianski,in Wer- warKant?,p. 268. Allmahlicheoder plotzlicheAbwechslung derselben,alles
5. Fortheseamusingdetails,see K. Vorldrnder, Immanuel diess dientzum Ausdrucker eines Gemutszustandes, den
Kant: Der Mann and das Weik,2nd ed. (Hamburg:Felix keineWortezu schildern in Standesind"(ibid.,pp.52-53).
Meiner,1977),pp. 388-392. 23. Cf.H. Schueller, "ImmanuelKantand theAesthetics
6. BernardEdelman,La maisonde Kant: ConteMoral of Music,"TheJou-nalofAesthetics and ArtCriticism14
(Paris:Payot,1982).HereEdelmancomments uponKant's (1955-1956): 218-247. This articleraisessomeinteresting
ideasintheAnthr-opologie: misogyny, Prussianchild-rearing, problems,as does thetextof G. Schubert,"Zur Musikas-
suppression ofthebody."I lovedKant,"recounts Edelman, thetikin Kants'KritikderUrteilskraft,'" Musik-
A-chii'ffir
"notfortheausteregrandeur ofhisthought, butforhisbeing wissenschaft 32 (1975): 12-25.
drivenbythedespairofnotbeingloved"(p. 7). 24. Cf. thetitleof ?14: "Elucidationby Examples"(Er-
7. Cf. ??15-23. Iduter-ung dut-ch Beispiele).
8. Cf. thechapteron gardensin myLe sublimedu quoti- 25. I citetherather amusingfootnote to?53,wherethereis
dien(Paris/Amsterdam: Benjamins,1988). a clearintrusion of anecdoteintoKant'sconceptualization:
9. Cf. myarticle"La rhetorique: heuristique et methode "Thosewhohaverecommended thatthesingingofhymns be
chez Kant,"in Rhitoriqueet argumentation, ed. A. Lem- includedatfamily prayer havefailedtoconsiderthatbysuch
pereur(Bruxelles:Pressesde I'ULB, 1990),pp. 103-114. a noisy(and preciselybecauseof thisusuallypharisaical)
10. ChristianFriedrichMichaelis,Uher-den Geist der worshiptheyimposegreathardship on thepublic,sincethey
Tonkunst mitRicksichtaufKantsKritik derdsthetischen Ul-- compeltheirneighbors to eitherjoin in thesingingor put
theilskr-aft(Leipzig: in den Schdferischen Buchhandlung, asidewhatever theywerethinking about"(?53,p. 200).
1795). A photostatic reproduction can be foundin Aetas 26. Leo Spitzer,Pr-olegomena to an Interpr-etation
ofthe
Kantiana(Bruxelles:Cultureet Civilisation,1970). Wor-d 'Stimmung' (JohnsHopkinsUniversity Press,1963).
11. "Wir verdanken derKritikder-dsthetischen Ur-theil- 27.Cf. ?16 as wellas ?51.
skr-aftvon Kantauch die scharfsinnigsten Untersuchungen 28. "It seems to me, therefore, thatEpicurusmay cer-
und feinstenBemerkungen uberdas Wesender Tonkunst, tainlybe grantedthatall gratification, evenifitis prompted
uberihrVerhaltnis zu andernKiinsten, unduberdie Stelle, byconceptsthatarouseaestheticideas,is animal(i.e., bod-
welchesie unterdiesennach ihrem5sthetischen oder in- ily)sensation.Forgranting thisdoes notin theleastimpair
tellektuellen Wertheverdient.Meine Absichtist, mitder theintellectual feelingofrespectformoralideas"(?54, pp.
Darstellungder KantischenGrundsatzemeine eignen 205-206).
GedankenuberMusikzu verbinden" (pp. 5-6). 29.Thisessayhasbeentranslated fromversionsinFrench
12. Michaelis,pp. 10-11, 19,and 28. and DutchbyDale Kidd. I wishto thankRudolfMakkreel
13. "Die Einbildungskraft schafftsich gleichsameine forhis advice and helpas well as anonymousrefereesfor
neue WeltdurchanalogischeZusammensetzung, Vergros- theirprofound and severereading.

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