1 It is clear that in general a musical work is not related to the audible appearance of the world as a representational painting or a work of one of the other representational arts is related to the visual appearance of the world; neither does it express propositions as the arts based upon the use of language do. But although music is characteristically not designed to give rise to thoughts about something other than its medium and which are essential to its appreciation in the manner either of the representational or of the literary arts, many people have thought that music can be a humanistic art. Adherents of a humanist theory of music believe that works which consist solely of music can resemble the typical products of the arts of literature and representation in engaging and providing sustenance for some of the most important human values and sympathies. Although ‘absolute’ music is essentially a form of abstract, and not representational, art and it lacks the resources of a true language, the humanist maintains that its non-representational and non-propositional nature does not prevent many of its products from having a significance that can be explained only by their relation to what we are familiar with outside music. In these works there are embodied, reflected, expressed, symbolised or in some other way presented phenomena that are integral to human life: we recognise moods, feelings, emotions, attitudes and various other states and activities of our inner life manifested in such a way that, if we are sensitive to their presence and responsive to the manner in which music makes them present to us, we value these musical works because of their essential human reference.
The most impressive representative of the opposed formalist theory that the abstract art of music is devoid of any human meaning and is