Organon F

Volume 28, May 2021, Issue 2, Pages 303–325

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article | Special issue on The Origins of Meaning and the Nature of Speech Acts

The Epistemic Value of Music

Marina Bakalova


Assuming that music can be expressive, I try to answer the question whether musical expressiveness has epistemic value. The article has six parts. In the first part, I provide examples of what music can express. I suggest that it can express inner states with phenomenal character. In the second part, I build up an argument in favor of the claim that, granted its expressiveness, music can convey conceptual content which is not verbal, and which cannot be expressed verbally. This conclusion is limited to concepts like lyrical, nostalgic, melancholy, joyful, distressful etc. In the third part, I explain what musical expressive content is, in contrast and by analogy to, propositional content. In the fourth part, I apply Mitchell Green’s multi- space model of artistic expression to music. I argue that Green’s theory of expression provides a powerful explanation of how a musical sequence can express states with phenomenal character. In the fifth part, I use that model to define adequacy conditions for musical expressive ascriptions. In the last part, I attempt to explain musical knowledge by combining Green’s multi-space model with Sosa-style virtue epistemology.


Cross-modal congruence; knowledge as success from ability; musical expressiveness; phenomenal concepts.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Marina Bakalova 


Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


Institute for Philosophy and Sociology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 13A Moskovska Str., Sofia 1000, Bulgaria


About this article


16 April 2019


9 September 2019


15 December 2019

Published online

25 April 2021


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Bakalova, M. (2021). The Epistemic Value of Music. Organon F28(2), 303–325.


Bakalova, Marina. 2021. "The Epistemic Value of Music." Organon F 28 (2): 303–325.


Bakalova, M.  (2021). The Epistemic Value of Music. Organon F, 28(2), pp. 303–325.

Copyright information

© Marina Bakalova

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