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Harmonia, Melos, and Rhythmos

Fiecconi, EC; (2016) Harmonia, Melos, and Rhythmos. Ancient Philosophy , 36 (2) pp. 409-424. 10.5840/ancientphil201636226. Green open access

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Aristotle believes that music is very important for the formation of character. Musical education can lead us toward virtue when we are still young and unable to understand what virtue and happiness are, and why they matter (see Pol. viii 1340a1 ff. and NE x 1179b20 ff.). In Classical Greece, the beneficial effects of musical education were to a large extent taken for granted. Understanding Ancient Greek views on the moral effects of musical education is especially difficult for us because they often seem to amount to an unreflective acceptance of a traditional belief. In this paper, I look at Aristotle’s theory of musical education as we find it in the Politics viii and in the Problems xix. Starting from Aristotle’s focus on melody and rhythm, I argue that he does provide his theory of musical education with solid philosophical grounding. In his view, musical education does not rely on the blind transmission of emotions, but it is a kind of perceptual training. This training teaches us to perceptually recognise fine actions and characters and to enjoy and pursue them for their own sake.

Type: Article
Title: Harmonia, Melos, and Rhythmos
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5840/ancientphil201636226
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.5840/ancientphil201636226
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10038787
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