Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 3 (2017)

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Numbers: Harmonic Ratios and Beauty in Augustinian Musical Cosmology

Junxiao Bai


This article explains how, according to the Pythagorean concept of the first four numbers (1-2-3-4), Augustine develops his own musical cosmology in Christian theological context. Augustine agrees with the Pythagorean cosmology that numbers as the essence of the cosmos have been measured and arranged in a harmonic order and the sequence of the first four numbers perfectly illustrates the harmonic order. Based on the unchangeable nature of numbers, Augustine argues that the ratios of the first four numbers (1/1, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4) are not only the fundamental of harmonic law, but also the highest Modus, by which God created all beauties/forms.

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