Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Xunzi pp 269-289

Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 7) | Cite as

Xunzi on Music

Chapter

Abstract

Similar to the situation in ancient Greece, ancient Chinese thinkers carried on a lively philosophical debate about music. The discussions of music in the Xunzi, especially chapter 20 of the text, constitute a high point in that debate, and they remain philosophically interesting in their own right, even today. Here we provide an overview of Xunzi’s ideas about music and their relations to some of the surrounding historical context, and end by presenting a few issues for further reflection, based on comparisons with the views of Allan Bloom, Roger Scruton, and other contemporary thinkers who have theorized about the effects and importance of music.

Bibliography

  1. Allen, Joseph. 1996. “A Literary History of the Shi Jing.” In The Book of Songs, trans. Arthur Waley, edited with additional translations and postface by Joseph Allen. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. 4th c. BCE/1957. Politics. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. In Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics, ed. Benjamin Jowett and Thomas Twining. New York: The Viking Press. (Aristotle’s Politics spends much of its last two chapters devoted to the role that music should play in education and civic life. There are interesting similarities and differences between Aristotle’s views and Xunzi’s.)Google Scholar
  3. Bloom, Allan. 1987. The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. New York: Simon and Schuster. (A broad-based critique of contemporary American culture and trends in higher education. His attack on rock music in Part One, forms the basis for his view that youth culture undermines learning. Music from the Western classical tradition, by contrast, he thinks, conduces to proper education and development.)Google Scholar
  4. Brindley, Erica. 2006. “Music and ‘Seeking One’s Heart-Mind’ in the ‘Xing Zi Ming Chu.’” Dao 5(2): 247–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brindley, Erica. 2012. Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  6. Carroll, Noël. 1996. “Moderate Moralism.” British Journal of Aesthetics 36(3): 223–38. (In this article, Carroll distinguishes between two views of the relationship between ethics and aesthetics: moralism, which holds that it is appropriate for moral views to affect judgments of aesthetic value, and autonomism, which denies this. He defends moralism against objections.)Google Scholar
  7. Cook, Scott. 1995. “Yue Ji 樂記—Record of Music: Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Commentary.” Asian Music 26(2): 1–96.Google Scholar
  8. Cook, Scott. 1997. “Xun Zi on Ritual and Music.” Monumenta Serica 45: 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DeWoskin, Kenneth. 1982. A Song for One or Two: Music and the Concept of Art in Early China. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gracyk, Theodore. 2002. “Music’s Worldly Uses, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and to Love Led Zeppelin.” In Arguing about Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates, 2nd ed., ed. Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley. New York: Routledge. (Gracyk responds to Scruton’s critiques of popular music’s meanings by illustrating how popular music can be much richer than is generally understood.)Google Scholar
  11. Harold, James. 2011. “Autonomism Reconsidered.” The British Journal of Aesthetics 51(2): 137–47. (An argument for the autonomism of aesthetics from ethics and an exploration of the underlying metaphysical assumptions at work in talk about autonomism and moralism.)Google Scholar
  12. Harold, James. Forthcoming. “On the Idea that Music Shapes Character.” Dao.Google Scholar
  13. Hanslick, Eduard. 1891/1986. On the Musically Beautiful: A Contribution towards the Revision of the Aesthetics of Music. Trans. and ed. Geoffrey Payzant. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing. (The classic statement of musical formalism: that music’s meaning and value is given not in the feelings it engenders, but in terms of its formal sonic properties.)Google Scholar
  14. Hutton, Eric. 2002. “Moral Reasoning in Aristotle and Xunzi.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 29(3): 355–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hutton, Eric, trans. 2014. Xunzi: The Complete Text. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Cited here as “H” followed by “page number.line number.”)Google Scholar
  16. Johnston, Ian, trans. 2010. The Mozi: A Complete Translation. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kivy, Peter. 1990. Music Alone: Reflections on the Purely Musical Experience. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. (The core argument of the book is a defense of the enjoyment and appreciation of music considered apart from any representational, causal, or semantic qualities. Kivy’s view is a contemporary, and more moderate, descendant of Hanslick’s.)Google Scholar
  18. Lau, D.C. 劉殿爵, and F.C. Chen 陳方正, eds. 1996. A Concordance to the Xunzi 荀子逐字索引. Hong Kong: The Commercial Press 商務印書館. (Cited here as “HKCS.”)Google Scholar
  19. Robinson, Jenefer. 2005. Deeper than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art. New York: Oxford University Press. (An empirically-informed account of the relationship between emotion and the arts, focusing on emotion as a primarily affective and physiological phenomenon. Robinson calls the physiological and motor effects of music on the body “the jazzercise effect.” Part IV is particularly relevant.)Google Scholar
  20. Sacks, Oliver. 2008. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  21. Scruton, Roger. 1997. The Aesthetics of Music. New York: Oxford University Press. (A comprehensive theory of the nature of music and its aesthetic qualities. Discussions of the value of music and its social importance occur throughout, but the final chapter, “Culture,” includes many of the key arguments discussed here.)Google Scholar
  22. Sizer, Laura. 2000. “Towards a Computational Theory of Mood.” The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science 51(4): 743–69. (An account of moods as objectless affective states, distinct from but causally related to emotions.)Google Scholar
  23. Van Norden, Bryan. 2007. Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wu, Wenzhang 吳文璋. 1994. Xunzi’s Philosophy of Music 荀子的音樂哲學. Taipei: Wenjin Chubanshe 文津出版社.Google Scholar
  25. ZB: 1983. [Wang Xianqian’s 王先謙] Collected Interpretations of the Xunzi, with Additional Commentary [by Kubo Ai 久保愛] and Supplementation of Omissions [by Ikai Hikohiro 豬飼彥博] 增補荀子集解. Taipei: 蘭臺書局 Lantai Shuju. Reprint of Hattori Unokichi 服部宇之吉, ed. 1913. Collected Interpretations of the Xunzi 荀子集解. Kanbun Taikei vol. 15. Tokyo: 冨山房 Fuzanbō.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyMount Holyoke CollegeSouth HadleyUSA

Personalised recommendations