The ready-hearability theorist is at a slight advantage in accountingfor our emotional responses to music’s expressiveness, sinceaccording to that theory one imagines that the music is aliteral expression of emotion. This means that emotional responses tomusic’s expressiveness are no more puzzling than emotionalresponses to other imagined expressive agents, such as fictionalcharacters in novels. The advantage is only slight because thequestion of how and why we respond emotionally to fictions is itself aphilosophical problem of some magnitude. Nonetheless, there areseveral theories available (see entry on ). One difficulty with appealing to a solution to the paradox of fictionis that it is not clear that our emotional responses to theexpressiveness of music are the same as those to emotionallyexpressive characters. For instance, the standard example of anemotional response to music is being made sad by a funeral march,while the standard example of emotional response to fiction is(something like) to feel pity for a sad character. If the former is tobe explained in the same way as the latter, we would expect listenersto feel pity in response to the funeral march (pity for thepersona imagined to be expressing herself through it). However, itseems reasonable to ask for more detailed examples since, on the onehand, we surely do feel sad (in some sense) in response to tragedyand, on the other, it is not obvious that we do not feel pity(or imagined pity, or whatever one’s preferred theory ofemotional response to fiction posits) in response to tragic music.


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