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date: 30 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter sets out the ways that changing medical ideas of listening have influenced thinking on music, in ways that go much deeper than the sometimes-marginalized phenomenon of music therapy. After setting out the role of medicine and the body in the cosmological speculation and humoral conceptions of the body from antiquity until the seventeenth century, it examines the way that medical ideas of listening as nervous stimulation have been used to explain the aesthetic, emotional, moral, therapeutic, and even pathological power of music. It then considers how these ideas developed in the nineteenth century in the context of idealist aesthetics and positivist science, including not only anatomy and psychiatry but also gynecology, phrenology, and “scientific racism.” Finally, it looks at changing thinking on music, the body, and the mind from Sigmund Freud to contemporary neuroscience.

Keywords: therapy, nerve, degeneration, neuroscience, brain

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