Music and Philosophy may not be a very obvious combination for many. Nevertheless, it has played a very important role for a number of great philosophers. Even Plato and Aristotle regarded music as one of the first subjects to consider with respect to Paideia, the Greek term referring to the upbringing of the ideal civilian for the Polis.  


Later, in the philosophy of Schopenhauer, music played an even more important part. According to Schopenhauer there was a direct relation between reflecting on music and the 'secret of the world', since music according to Schopenhauer does not symbolize the world as representation; music speaks from the 'heart of things' - it is the sounding Ding an sich. Nietzsche's philosophy too is strongly tied to music. Without music, life would be an aberration, he said. What do these philosophers have to offer for our understanding of arts and music today? And what can we do differently in our approaches to engaging with works of art?

But apart from these examples, music of course forms part of the philosophical discipline that goes by the name of aesthetics, 'the art' of philosophizing on arts. It is the discipline that poses the question why people find themselves attracted to art in the first place. Surely because they like it, one could assert; we enjoy listening to great sounding music for instance. However, this doesn't seem to tell us much. What is it that we like? What makes an aesthetic experience so precious? After all, we also enjoy good food or playing a game. Do aesthetic experiences bear something more special somehow?

Besides, we say some artworks are more beautiful or worth more than others. But who decides here? Is it only a matter of taste or is it possible to say something more? What is art anyway? And what is music? Is it relative to culture or can art transcend these limimtations? Would it be possible to live without? These are all philosophical questions that I like to discuss in my programmes about the philosophy of music. Here you can read more about philosophy in schools.