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Title: The Hard Problem of Consonance and Its Influence on 17th Century Philosophy
Authors: Romagni, Domenica
Advisors: Garber, Daniel
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Consonance
Early Modern philosophy
Music theory
Subjects: Philosophy
Music history
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the subject of musical consonance, defined as a property that is possessed by a particular collection of musical intervals (i.e. two pitches sounding simultaneously) in virtue of which they are perceived as pleasant-sounding by a listener. In the three main body chapters of the dissertation (Chapters II-IV), I put forth three main claims. Firstly, the problem of defining the nature of musical consonance played a key role in reshaping the dominant conception of fundamental ontology at the turn of the 17th century that has been generally overlooked until now. Secondly, one 17th century disagreement on the nature of consonance between Mersenne and Kepler demonstrates some of the unique ways that theorists attempted to fuse traditional theoretical methods with new empirical findings. It also highlights the kinds of features that theorists at the time looked for in a good scientific theory. Thirdly, the problem of consonance is particularly relevant to understanding Descartes’ philosophy of mind, especially his theory of sense perception, since it highlights both the representational and motivational content of sensory ideas. The final chapter of the dissertation (Chapter V) serves as a conclusion and tracks the evolution of theories of consonance since the 17th century. The aims of this conclusion are, first, to cast into relief the special status of the problem of consonance in the 17th century, and second, to show how subsequent changes in the status of the problem of consonance have re-contextualized its relevance for us today.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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