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Though most philosophers appeal to typical experience and empiricaldata to reject the plausibility of Kivy’s position, they admitthe problem that motivates it, namely, the conceptual tension betweenthe nature of music and the nature of the emotions we feel in responseto it. To elaborate, there is some consensus that emotions arecognitive, in the sense that they take intentional objects—theyare about things—and that the nature of a givenemotion’s intentional object is constrained. For instance, inorder to feel fear, one must believe that there is somethingthat is threatening (the “intentional object” ofthe emotion). When one listens to a sad piece of music, however, oneknows there is nothing literally feeling an emotion of sadness, andthus it is puzzling that one should be made sad by the experience.
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Stephen Davies (1994: 316–20) argues that the kinds of solutionsgiven above construe the problem too narrowly. Though he agrees thatwe accept the negative responses some music elicits because we areinterested in understanding it, he points out that this gives rise tothe further question of why we should be so interested inunderstanding something that brings us pain. His short answer is“We are just like that” (1994: 317) and he begs off givingthe long answer, since it seems to be the equivalent of giving anaccount of human nature or the meaning of life. However, he points outthat human life is suffused with activities that people willinglyengage in despite, or indeed partially because of, the difficultiesthey bring about. Many things, from watching the news, throughmountain-climbing, to raising children, are fraught with well-knowndifficulties, including negative emotional responses. Yet weenthusiastically engage in such activities because that is the kind ofcreature we are.