Topics Worth Investigating

  1. What does Spencer mean by a "language of feeling"? Is that expression only to be regarded metaphorically or is it meant to be a symbolic language of the same status as "the language of the intellect"?

  2. Contemporary psychological theories of emotion postulate that physiological arousal is occasioned by emotion. Survey the psychological literature as to the effects of different kinds of music on behaviorally verifiable consequences of physiological arousal of test subjects.

  3. Spencer concludes that physiological responses from different feelings are genetically based:

    [F]eeling is a stimulus to muscular action—a law conformed to throughout the whole economy, not of man only, but of every sensitive creature—a law, therefore, which lies deep in the nature of animal organisation. The expressiveness of these various modifications of voice is therefore innate.

    Yet, at the same time he argues for an associationist basis for the connection to vocal sounds:

    Having been conscious of each feeling at the same time that we heard ourselves make the consequent sound, we have acquired an established association of ideas between such sound and the feeling which caused it.

    To what extent is Spencer's principle underling all vocal phenomena empirically learned and to what extent is it a result of instinct?

  4. A number of philosophers, including Pythagoras and BoŽthius, argue that music is reducible to mathematical ratios. If so, how would this reduction relate to Spencer's hypothesis that music is essentially language of the emotions?