Music exists in a variety of sorts (I forgot how this double expression is called). There is music to dance to, music to march to (maybe a kind of dance too...), music to relax, music to meditate, music to express feelings, music to express thoughts, and even a 4-minute piece of silence.
If you look at music physically music is just a pattern in air pressure.
If you look at it phenomenologically, it's a pattern of sounds.
If you look at music psychologically, it can be used as a therapeutic instrument.
If you look at it from a biological viewpoint it can be used for a mating process.
If you look at music from an anthropological viewpoint it can be used for honoring the gods or maintain tribal coherence.
From a political perspective, it can be seen as an instrument for keeping the masses in control.
From a theological perspective, it can be seen as an instrument to come closer to god.
From a materialistic brain perspective, music can be seen as a (big) bunch of neurons firing in concert.

And there are more viewpoints that can be used at the same time. Philosophy is not contained in these viewpoints. But I can imagine it exists. How would it look like? Is, there a philosophy of music, just as there is a sound?

  • See SEP “Music”: plato.stanford.edu/entries/music
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 12:51
  • "We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" "Without music life would be a mistake" -Nietzsche. He argued music is a precondition for language discussed in this paper: jstor.org/stable/2709725 It is notable that parrots are one of the only other animals to dance spontaneously, & also have complex vocalising & some very high intelligence
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


Charles Darwin is seldom regarded as a philosopher, but his ideas certainly have profound philosophical implications. His view, in summary, was:

"As neither the enjoyment nor the capacity for producing musical notes are faculties of the least use to Man in reference to his daily habits of life, they must be ranked among the most mysterious with which he is endowed."

  • 1
    Nice quote indeed. I think one of the differences between old-school scientists and modern ones is that they were both philosophers and scientists in one.
    – user52804
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 23:27

... one of the differences between old-school scientists and modern ones ...

I've long abhorred the Copenhagen Interpretation as marking the death of true scientific philosophy and the beginning of modern Scientism. Few realize - especially Scientists - that there is no such thing as "scientific truth". Science has no concern with truth: it's an investigative methodology, a body of data, and an evolving set of interpretations that prompt new insights and an ongoing need for further investigation.

Truth is within the purview of philosophy, 'philos' being a lover or seeker and 'sophia' being truth or wisdom. Such distinctions are today forgotten or ridiculed.

Music is properly the art of expressing emotion using sound, but as you've correctly noted, it can be applied scientifically to manipulate emotions and therefore belief and actions. I doubt that such distinctions are taught any longer.

  • I wonder what you would think of this picture of truth, as matching expectations: 'Why is a measured true value “TRUE”?' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/81655/… I would say, investigating the definition of truth is philosophy, but not all uses of the word.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 12:26

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