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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 Cosmic

Composing the Cosmic

Harmonies of the Macrocosm

(p.189) 5 Composing the Cosmic
Composing the World

Andrew Hicks

Oxford University Press

This chapter completes the Boethian tripartition with a consideration of cosmic music. While the idea of the “music of the spheres” has garnered the most attention, indeed has become a reductive synecdoche of “Pythagoreanism” itself, for the twelfth-century cosmologists, the music of the spheres was the symptom of a more fundamental theory, that of the world soul. Tracing this harmony through both the world’s body (in the form of elemental theory) and the world’s soul (as articulated in Plato’s Timaeus and elaborated by Calcidius and Macrobius, among others), this chapter argues that the “music of the spheres,” along with the aspirational aurality that it entails, is more an epistemic attitude than a cosmic ontology. Hence the attitude it encourages can, and did, survive the gradual eclipse of its materially grounded reality and its absorption into a more generic concept of nature.

Keywords:   music of the spheres, elements, atomism, Calcidius, Macrobius, World Soul, epistemology, ontology, aurality

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