Friday, 24 May 2019
Junxiao Bai: The Beauty of God in the Numerical Order: St. Augustine's Musical Cosmology
This research explains how, based on a musical cosmology, Augustine theorizes his concept of beauty regarding the transcendent and immanent attributes of God by examining the numerical-harmonic order. It argues that for Augustine, the beauty of God is manifested by the numerical/harmonic Modus which determines the unchangeable laws in both the physical and metaphysical realms. It deals with the term “Beauty” as an attribute of God rather than an aesthetical object and addresses music as a scientific study relating to cosmology in a historical context. This research is an interdisciplinary study combining theology, philosophy, science, and musicology for a systematic theological argument. It addresses the topics of numerical order, unchangeable elements, time, movement, measurement, and theodicy in the scope of musical cosmology. Based on the Pythagorean quadrivium, Augustine claims that the world was created according to the harmonic/numerical order and music as the science of numbers serves as the essential means of understanding the unchangeable, invisible attributes of God. As the counterpart of celestial order and the movement of well-ordered numbers, music best illustrates the unchangeable, harmonic order in both temporality and the spiritual realm. The marriage of the physical, logical, and ethical principles in musical motion not only presents a universal harmonic paradigm, but also convinces humans to reason the relationship between measurement and movement in the cosmic order: the universe cannot be in a constant, harmonious motion unless God, the Ratio, has measured it according to the harmonic order.