UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Divine and sublime creativity : a comparison of Schenkerian and Ciceronian principles Mansoori-Dara, Reva


As is clear from the title, this thesis presents a comparison of Schenkerian and Ciceronian principles. The thesis will focus mainly on the characteristics of the creative process essential for producing a sublime and intellectual work. Admittedly comparing a Roman lawyer/philosopher (Cicero) to a 20th century musician/theorist (Schenker) will bring forth many obstacles and will suffer from numerous imperfections. Stressing the commonalties between two men of time frames too far apart is an arduous task. I found it most helpful to go about this problem through three stages: first, by presenting an overview of the lives, historical circumstances, and careers of the two mentioned figures; second, by presenting a basic comparison of the two branches of thought; and third, by dealing with some of the more complicated philosophical issues for a better understanding of the two doctrines. Since many of the Schenkerian and Ciceronian principles are heavily rooted in Platonism, an overview of Plato's theory of 'forms and ideas' is presented to guide the reader toward a better grasp of the concepts. The reader may, however, be uncertain regarding the objective of this thesis: is this a comparison of the two philosophies or an evaluation of them? Of course, in order to achieve a satisfactory comparison, one must first understand the two philosophies; this demands an explicit analysis which, in my view, is a form of evaluation. I have also shown and questioned some of the ambiguities of the two philosophies without offering any solutions. This will perhaps help the reader to understand the path I had to take in completing this thesis. I have included these philosophical remarks in the endnotes. Furthermore, Schenkerian philosophy reveals many other important influences other than Platonism; although not the focus of this thesis, numerous references to great thinkers such as Nietzsche, Spinoza, Hanslick, and Freud illustrate this point. Much of the presented bibliographical material on the life of Cicero can be found in the On the Commonwealth and On the Laws. Furthermore, Michael B. Fuster's Masters of Political Thought has been used as a source of reference for a great portion of the philosophical interpretations. Much of what I have presented on Schenker and Schenkerian literature has been gathered through my studies and conversations with Dr. Benjamin, my advisor: the most reliable source with whom I am acquainted. This is perhaps the reason for not including any other philosophical writings on Schenkerian literature in the bibliography.

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