, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 877-882

A musical exploration of consciousness

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The 20 chapters comprising Music and Consciousness collectively attempt to answer the question: “Does music simply offer an insight into consciousness—in principle no better or worse than a whole range of human activities….—or does it have a special claim in this respect that may be of broader significance?” (xix).

All references are to Clarke & Clarke (2011), unless otherwise indicated.

In other words, does the study of music contribute a unique and significant perspective to the study of consciousness? After finishing the volume, I am left with no definite answer. However, a poetic optimism that is nevertheless difficult to ground is kindled: in its own specific, but not insubstantial way, the study of music can potentially shine new light on basic phenomenological structures such as time consciousness, self-awareness, and embodiment. Furthermore, analysis of music from philosophical, psychological, and sociological perspectives offers tools for pinpointing how these structures can be