PROFESSOR R.A. SHARPE ; Scholar of Musical Aesthetics

By Cockburn, David | The Independent (London, England), May 15, 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

PROFESSOR R.A. SHARPE ; Scholar of Musical Aesthetics


Cockburn, David, The Independent (London, England)


The philosopher R. A. Sharpe was most widely known through his work in aesthetics. His Contemporary Aesthetics: a philosophical analysis appeared in 1983, and The Philosophy of Music in 2004. In his Music and Human-ism (2000), described by one reviewer as "a richly observed and highly insightful piece of writing that should be read by anybody seriously interested in the current state of musical aesthetics", Sharpe examines the humanist conception of music as a language, stressing the fundamental connections between music and human life, and argues against the persistent tendency to underestimate the cognitive element in our response to music.

His deep commitment to the idea that our tastes in the arts can be more or less well informed was closely linked with his anger at images that have come to dominate public thinking about education: for example, the image of pupils and students as "customers". In a letter to The Independent(15 August 2001), he wrote, with characteristic passion:

The dreadful thing about all this is that nobody will be surprised that such stupid and ill-considered twaddle comes from the Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council in an address to the Royal Society of Arts. The rock-bottom morale in education in this country is not only a product of the way that endless and pointless paper chases have interfered with teaching and learning' it is also a result of the way education seems to be run by people who have no understanding of the way education enriches lives or the way it can be a voyage of discovery, and who lack the wit to see the obvious objections to their view that education is just another form of business.

Alongside numerous other publications in aesthetics, ethics, the philosophy of science, psychoanalysis, and the philosophy of mind, in the last 10 years of his life Sharpe was increasingly concerned with what he regarded as the deeply corrupting effect that religious belief may have on morality. In his book The Moral Case against Religious Belief (1997) he argues that some important virtues cease to be virtues at all when set in a religious context, and that, consequently, a religious life is, in many respects, not a good life to lead.

In another book on the same theme, on which he was working when he died, he writes that his tone in the earlier work had been more generous to believers than some might think appropriate "partly because I owed much to a Christian upbringing and because much of it I still value". He adds that the sequel will be "much harsher" because "the intervening decade has brought home to us the terrible results of religious conviction".

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

PROFESSOR R.A. SHARPE ; Scholar of Musical Aesthetics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?