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The history of music theory can be viewed as the history of transformations in the form of knowledge that, often in parallel to changing scientific and philosophical ideas, redefine parameters of focus, and develop alternative viewpoints through which to understand the meaning and workings of music. The theoretical writings of Jean-Philippe Rameau and Moritz Hauptmann offer a striking instance of such a transformation, offering a relatively unambiguous view of the shift in the nineteenth century from an epistemology rooted in empirical fact and conceived in terms of a poetics of representation, to one that grounds itself on a poetics of formation and the phenomenology of the subjective cognitive act. What is brought to focus in this article is the palpably different theoretical spaces fashioned by two systematic theorists, both concerned with unifying the rules of harmony under their natural principles.
The diversity of our opinions does not arise from the fact that some people are more reasonable than others, but solely from the fact that we lead our thoughts along different paths and do not take the same things into consideration.Descartes, Discourse on Method