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Music, phenomenology, and the “natural attitude”: analysing Sibelius, thinking with Husserl, reflecting on Dennett’

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David ClarkeORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Oxford University Press, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This chapter explores the intersection of music and phenomenology as potentially fertile ground for the study of consciousness. Taking the philosophy of Edmund Husserl as a touchstone, and the Violin Concerto, Op. 47 of Jean Sibelius as a case study, the chapter considers how phenomenological concepts such as epoché, noesis, eidos, and the transcendental subject all find resonances within a formal analysis of this musical work. The chapter also juxtaposes Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology and his critique of the ‘natural attitude’ against Daniel Dennett’s physicalist account of consciousness and Wilfrid Sellars’ concept of the ‘scientific image’. In negotiating a pathway between these positions, the chapter considers whether music—and its determination of an autonomous aesthetic sphere—may offer a productive alternative perspective to the often competing claims of philosophy and science in our understanding of consciousness.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clarke D

Editor(s): Ruth Herbert, David Clarke, Eric Clarke

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Music and Consciousness 2: Worlds, Practices, Modalities

Year: 2019

Pages: 143-168

Online publication date: 01/07/2019

Acceptance date: 31/07/2018

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Place Published: Oxford & New York


DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804352.003.0009

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780198804352