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Composing the WorldHarmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos$
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Andrew Hicks

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190658205

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190658205.001.0001

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Composing the Human

Composing the Human

Harmonies of the Microcosm

(p.113) 3 Composing the Human
Composing the World

Andrew Hicks

Oxford University Press

This chapter inaugurates the analysis of the Boethian tripartition of music, following the reordered twelfth-century presentation (as argued in the preceding chapter) and beginning with “human music,” the harmonies of the soul, body, and their conjunction. Ranging widely across the terrain of psychology (in Plato’s Phaedo), physiology (in the medieval reception of Galen), and cosmogony (the creation account in Plato’s Timaeus), the chapter argues that the “problem” of substance dualism was a “non-problem” for twelfth-century cosmologists precisely because of their harmonic conception of the body-soul union. The body is made suitable for ensoulment by dint of the proper proportioning of its parts, its “instrumental” harmony. The body as instrument (corpus organicum) is gladly received by the soul, through which it exercises its otherwise voiceless agency. The soul’s affect and the body’s agency together forestall the vulnerability of the fragile conjunction that is the life of the human organism.

Keywords:   psychology, dualism, functionalism, physiology, Phaedo, Harmony Thesis, instrumental body, William of St. Thierry, William of Conches

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