Call for Papers: ‘Music and Transcendence’

Music and Transcendence
29 November 2011
Cambridge, U.K.

About the conference
This interdisciplinary conference will explore the ways in which music relates to transcendence. Papers will consider the ways in which music relates to infinite and ‘ultimate’ meaning as well as the ways in which music enables the creation of meaning and fulfilment within an ‘immanent’ frame.

Within certain strands of contemporary discourse, philosophy and theology are set in opposition. Modern philosophy tends to deny the existence of a transcendent realm whilst theology affirms it, yet both attempt to find a stable ground for the construction of meaning. Historically, they can be said to have shared a common end: both have been concerned with ontology in its deepest and broadest sense, since both question the nature of existence, asking what it is to be, and so making suggestions as to how one might live.

The aim of the conference is to return to the common ground shared by philosophy and theology through an exploration of the ways in which they engage with music. Music has not only featured prominently in many philosophical and theological accounts of the nature of existence and the self, but also provides a valuable resource for the creation of meaning on a day-to-day basis. The practice of music is inherently relational and it is thus that it is able to facilitate different forms of transcendence: within both the performance and reception of music the self is placed in relation to others and otherness.

Keynote speakers will include Professor Roger Scruton and Professor Bruce Ellis Benson.

Call for Papers and Performances
Papers addressing any area of the relationship between music and transcendence from philosophical, theological and musicological perspectives are welcome. Proposals for performances illuminating issues relating to the call through practice are also welcomed: these will take place as part of a public concert.

Please email submissions to

Call deadline: 16 September 2011

Conference Website

Supported by Anglia Ruskin University

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