29.06.2017: Ospite d´onore: Religious Unmusicality. What Does it Mean? And Does It Matter?

On June 26th, 2017, a study day entitled “Religious Unmusicality: What Does it Mean? And Does it Matter?” with Paolo Costa (Senior Researcher, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trient; Research Fellow at the research platform Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society as well as Visiting Fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaft vom Menschen) took place at the research platform RaT.

The concept of religious unmusicality dating back to a private letter from Max Weber to Ferdinand Tönnies from 1909 was brought up by Weber in order to express his own experiences of estrangement relative to spirituality and religion. Simultaneously, by maintaining the difficulty of the articulation this concept reflects the then emerging possibility of living an authentically areligious life.

First Paolo Costa introduced the topic by asking about the reasons enabling one to become estranged from something that used to be familiar. Alongside the remaining mysterious aspect, approaches were discussed that could be opened up by others, whereby the issue of a lack of self-receptivity emerged. But Costa showed that upon closer examination this seems to depend on the ability of resonating with the affective part of the religious experience on the one hand and on the necessity of participation on the other hand.

The dimension of the so-called upstream disagreement, which was explained through music, was a further focal point. Here the attention was turned to the functioning of corporeity as a bridge and to the essential aspect of self-abandonment. At the same time Costa emphasized that when the experience of being deeply moved fails to happen, no translation - in the sense of some form of verbalization - can be achieved that would make the experience-related dimension accessible externally. Therefore, the articulation through which the relation of resonance remains central seemed to constitute the core element of the upstream disagreement of religious unmusicality.

Paolo Costa