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In this essay I take it for granted that for many people to listen attentively to a great work of music is an exciting, important, and meaningful event, and that they will describe their experiences with the work by saying, for instance, that they found it very beautiful. I also take it for granted that the “aesthetic ideas” which the work presents are such that to them “no determinate thought whatsoever, i.e. no concept, can be adequate, so that no language can express it completely and allow us to grasp it.” What I would like to accomplish in this essay is to present reasons for why this is so. But before turning to this task I first want to clarify more carefully what I do not mean to do, and precisely what it is that I wish to argue for. Furthermore, I also shall make a few remarks about certain assumptions which I have discussed already elsewhere and, therefore, need not repeat here in detail.
As for the first point, it is manifestly not my intention to claim that it would be impossible to say anything meaningful about music in general or about specific works of music in particular. For, first of all, the history of music has been able to unearth many important and interesting insights and ideas that can shed light on each given work of music.