Is Music Conscious? The Argument From Motion, and Other Considerations

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Music is often described in anthropomorphic terms. This paper suggests that if we think about music in certain ways, we could think of it as conscious. Motional characteristics give music the impression of being alive, but musical motion is conventionally taken as metaphorical. The first part of this paper argues that metaphor may not be the exclusive means of understanding musical motion—there could also be literal ways. Discussing kinds of consciousness, particularly “access consciousness” (Block, 1995), the second part proposes ways in which music could (hypothetically) be conscious. The conclusion states that a greater understanding of the interactions of “phenomenal consciousness” and “access consciousness” is important in conceptualizing nonhuman consciousnesses, such as music might be conceived to have.

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