“The Problematic Power of Music”

Freedom Center Colloquium Series

On January 14th, Aryeh Tepper will be giving a talk as part of the Freedom Center Colloquium Series, in collaboration with the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. Aryeh is a visiting scholar with The Tikvah Fellowship and a contributing writer for Jewish Ideas Daily. Here is an abstract:

The title of this lecture, “The Problematic Power of Music: A Jewish View,” might sound strange to many ears. What exactly is the problem? With an MP3 file in hand there’s no limit to when and where you can commune with the muse. And when the headphones come off, music is the background sound that soothes you while you’re put on hold and the beat that moves you while you shop. You like what you like, and I like what I like, so what’s the problem?

But a little reflection should help us remember that music is a mysterious thing. Play the right song and you can stimulate a man to make love, or war – and sometimes the love is adulterous while the war is just. Music holds out the promise of marrying the rational and passionate parts of our soul and fashioning a harmonious personality, but it can also damn the voice of reason and, in a romantic swirl of emotion, supply the soundtrack for murder. Music is, in other words, a power, and a very ambiguous power at that.

In this lecture I examine the Bible’s two-fold teaching regarding music’s ambiguous power. The lecture will begin with a general philosophical discussion of the problem and then continue with two sections in which the Bible’s two-fold approach to the problem is examined. Within each section, the Biblical view is deepened through philosophical, theological, and literary variations on, and illustrations of, the original Biblical principles. I will conclude the lecture by exploring the limits of the Biblical teaching.

Please join us in the Kendrick Room at the Freedom Center for Aryeh’s talk!