Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2020-21, Session 4

Musical Contagion and the Metaphorical Mind: What Music Teaches Us About Emotion
Federico Lauria (LanCog, University of Lisbon)

23 October 2020, 16:00 | The talk will be given in a mixed presence regime

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & live-streamed

Abstract: Music can infect us. For instance, listeners may feel sad because they perceive an Irish lament as sad. Contagion is central to musical experience and emotion regulation. What is it? What does it teach us about emotion? Many argue that contagion teaches us that the main theory of emotions as cognitive evaluations (cognitivism) is flawed. When feeling sad in response to sad music, we do not evaluate the music as unfortunate; nothing bad happened. According to the dominant picture, music contaminates us through mimicry independently of value appraisal (non-cognitivism). Against this trend, this paper proposes to rescue cognitivism from the musical challenge by offering a new account in terms of metaphor cognition: the value metaphor view. The main claim is that contagion is experiencing the music as a metaphor for emotions and for values, such as unfortunate things. Music “sounds like” emotions and values. This view can rebut the musical challenge to cognitivism. I motivate this account by arguing that non-cognitivism is poorly motivated and by making extensive use of empirical findings. As philosophers have neglected the ample empirical literature on this topic, this project fills an important gap.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: https://cful.letras.ulisboa.pt/lancog/registration/