Jonathan Neufeld

Associate Professor and Department Chair

Address: 14 Glebe Street, Room 202
Phone: 843.953.4987

My research interests are in philosophy and music, aesthetics, political philosophy, and philosophy of law. I began university life as a viola performance major studying with Roland Vamos. After a year of hard practice and being in awe of my colleagues, I discovered the joys of political theory and U.S. constitutional law. After writing an M.A. thesis on deliberative democracy and the limits of public reason, I began to work on a Ph.D. dissertation on legal interpretation where I explored what has turned out to be a very fruitful parallel between musical performance and the interpretation of law in constitutional democracies. This led me carefully to consider the myriad relationships between the public performance of music and the political public sphere and has resulted two book projects: Music in Public: How Performance Shapes Democracy (under contract with OUP) and Aesthetic Disobedience: Protest, Democracy and the Arts. I have published articles on musical performance, opera, the relationship between music and the public sphere, art and politics, art and human rights, musical ontology, and the concept of reasonable disagreement. My interest in the actual practice of music has not waned: I still play the viola (not particularly well), I write music criticism, and in 2010, sociologist Jennifer C. Lena and I founded the Music, Authority, and Community project that commissioned a new musical work by Guggenheim and Grammy award winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank. The piece, Hilos, was premiered and recorded in Nashville by the Alias Chamber Ensemble. The CD was released by Naxos in February 2011. Here at C of C I lead the Aesthetics Work Group, an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students who get together, sometimes with guests from other universities, to discuss contemporary work in philosophy and the arts.


Ph.D. Philosophy, Columbia University

M.A. Philosophy, King's College, London

B.A. Political Science, University of Minnesota

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Music
  • Aesthetics
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Law

Courses Taught

PHIL282: Philosophy and Music

PHIL280: Aesthetics

PPLW399: Authority and Obligation in the Law (Philosophy, Politics and Law concertration Senior Seminar)

PHIL210: Philosophy, Law and the Arts

FYSE129: Music, Self and Society

Honors and Awards

Innovative Teaching Award

First Year Experience Major Events grant

Summer Undergraduate Sesearch Fellowship Grant (Supervised Mathew Rabon)

Research and Development Grant (College of Charleston)

Research Fellowship Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna (2011).  “Performative Evidence: Philosophy, Criticism, and the Musical Public Sphere.”

Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research Grant, Vanderbilt University (2009-10) with Jennifer E. Lena, Department of Sociology, Barnard College. The project, “Music, Authority, and Community,” investigated notions of legitimate authority, coercion, taste, and deliberation in musical communities. It culminated in a commission of a new work from Gabriela Lena Frank (Guggenheim and Grammy award winning composer) premiered in Nashville and recorded on Naxos by ALIAS chamber ensemble. Once funded, the project attracted further funding by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Schubert Club of St. Paul, The Metro Nashville Arts Commission, and the Tennessee Arts Commission.


Aesthetic Disobedience,” Journal for Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Volume 73.2 (Spring 2015).

Musical Ontology: Critical, not Metaphysical,” Contemporary Aesthetics, Volume 12 (2014).

“Billy Budd’s Song: Authority and Music in the Public Sphere,”  Opera Quarterly vol. 28 (February, 2013), pp. 1-20.

“Critical Performances,” Teorema, Volume XXXI/3, (Autumn, 2012), pp. 89-104.

“On Epistemic Abstemiousness and Diachronic Norms: Another Reply to Bundy,” with Robert Talisse, Scott Aikin, and Michael Harbour,  Logos and Episteme, Volume 3, Issue 1 (Spring, 2012).

“Reply to Bundy,” with Robert Talisse, Scott Aikin, and Michael Harbour, forthcoming Logos and Episteme, Volume 3 Issue 1 (2011).

“Living the Work: Meditations on a Lark,” Journal of Aesthetic Education 45.1 (Spring, 2011).

“Epistemic Martyrs and Epistemic Converts,” with Robert Talisse, Scott Aikin, and Michael Harbour, Logos and Episteme, Volume 1 Issue 2 (Winter, 2011).

“Musical Formalism and Political Performance,” Contemporary Aesthetics, Volume 7 (2009).