Few figures of the Middle Ages command the attention of so many modern disciplines as Robert Grosseteste (c. 1170-1253). Theology, Philosophy, History, and Science are all areas which his life and thought continue to have significance and to inspire re-interpretation. Accompanied by a series of original commentaries, this new edition of Grosseteste's work, with English translation, draws together the perspectives of modern scientists and medieval specialists. Volume I of a six volume series, Knowing and Speaking presents two of the earliest (...) of Grosseteste's works, the treatises On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds. These are accompanied by a significant Middle English treatise on the Seven Liberal Arts whose anonymous fifteenth-century author translated and excerpted passages from Grosseteste's treatises in a re-imagining of their structure and function.0Each work is treated separately within the volume, which is constructed in three parts. On the Liberal Arts sets Grosseteste's thoughts on the arts subjects and emphasises moral concerns about the purpose of learning. On the Generation of Sounds builds on the theories and statements of On the Liberal Arts in connection to the production of sound, elaborating the earlier position, relating the generation of sounds to human vocal and speech production. (shrink)
In this volume specialists of medieval music and philosophy put the medieval 'musica' into the context of ideas and institutions in which it existed. The significance of 'musica' cannot be understood from a modern point of view since 'music' does not match the medieval 'musica'.
This article presents a study and a critical edition of the short anonymous treatise on the rainbow starting with the incipit Inter omnes impressiones. The text was known to Nicole Oresme who engages with it twice: in his Questiones in Meteorologica de prima lectura and in Le livre du ciel et du monde. This Tractatus de iride, previously unknown to scholars, is transmitted in three late thirteenth-century manuscripts. It uses Robert Grosseteste’s theories of the rainbow as caused by the refraction (...) of sunlight and of colour as light incorporated in aereal particles. However, contrary to Grosseteste, the Tractatus de iride adopts the idea of different degrees of incorporation of light, which is also found in the scientific writings by Adam of Exeter, a Franciscan scholar belonging to the same Oxonian circle as Grosseteste. Moreover, the Tractatus de iride develops original propositions in regard to the role of individual raindrops, the importance of the angle from which the rainbow is observed, and the idea of the spirituality of the colours in the medium, which were central also for Roger Bacon’s and Nicole Oresme’s own theories of the rainbow. (shrink)
The convergence of the Neoplatonic/Neopythagorean approach with the Aristotelian organization of the sciences is one of the most interesting features that characterizes the two influential mathematical treatises on On Arithmetics and On Music by Severinus Boethius. Basing his reasoning on Nicomachus and Ptolemy, Boethius follows the philosophical tradition that had tried to reconcile Plato’s and Aristotle’s views. This attitude is examined in the present paper as regards Boethius’ response concerning the relation between numbers, ethics and aesthetics. His view emerges as (...) coming out of a rather complex construction, which assigns the ethical scope of mathematics in indicating to the human mind how to correct the ratios that realize the best relationship in movements of the soul and the body. More precisely, its ethical aim is to correct the specific form of movement of human beings, that is their actions, exemplified in the way in which mathematical ratios represent the forms of government and musical ratios evoke and heal psychophysical affections. More complex, on the other hand, is the relationship between mathematics and beauty. In clear antithesis to the position taken by Augustine on the beauty of the rhythmic patterns that better represent the beauty of unity, Boethius does not relate the mathematical ratios of the consonances to an esthetical judgment by making use of the category of beauty. For him, the physical world is totally immersed in changes and movements, and this cannot but impede things from expressing the stable unity, which is required for contemplating the beautiful. (shrink)
La dimensione teorica della musica occidentale, nella sua evoluzione storica, ha inevitabilmente fatto uso di concetti essenziali alla definizione di come il suono è musicalmente organizzato o organizzabile. Fra questi, risultano imprescindibili le nozioni di materia, forma e ordine, che implicano rispettivamente, nei pur diversi ambiti linguistici e contesti storico-filosofici di riferimento, ciò di cui è fatta la musica, ciò a cui la materia sonora tende, e come tale tensione è realizzata. Scopo di questo contributo è una valutazione d’insieme sulla (...) valenza filosofica e l’uso di tali concetti nel pensiero musicale occidentale altomedievale e in quello del Novecento, che nonostante la distanza cronologica presentano convergenze significative. Nel Medioevo, un lungo processo di elaborazione teorico-pratica permise la matematizzazione dello spazio musicale, attraverso l’adattamento di moduli melodici, trasmessi oralmente, alle strutture scalari desunte dalla teoria greco-boeziana. La forma e l’ordo musicali furono quindi riferiti ai criteri fisico-matematici atti a distinguere nella materia sonora, in sé disorganica e indefinita, ciò che è musicale da ciò che non lo è. Tale concezione sparisce con l’affermarsi del sistema tonale, ove il suono fisico è concepito come “pre-formato” e “pre-ordinato” nella gamma scalare e nei vincoli attrattivi “naturali” degli armonici. In conseguenza, i concetti di forma e ordine abbandonano il contesto acustico, andando a definire i criteri teorici della composizione artistica, in linea con l’idea filosofica del loro esprimere la coerenza logico-sintattica dell’“insieme organico” . Nell’ambito del pensiero musicale del Novecento, la crisi del sistema tonale e la messa a punto di nuove modalità e tecniche di produzione del suono hanno riorientato la valenza significante e l’uso di questi tre concetti, implicando il loro tornare a imporsi sugli elementi primari della fisica del suono, non solo l’altezza, ma soprattutto il timbro, il volume e la durata. Già Schönberg, nel 1911, affermava come “l’ordine che chiamiamo forma artistica” è “un necessario espediente” elaborato “a causa della nostra incapacità a comprendere l’indistinto e il non-ordinato”, che è la condizione propria della materia sonora. In its historical development, the Western theory of music has inevitably made use of specific concepts to define how the sound is musically organized or organizable. Among these notions, those of matter, form and order signify – in spite of the different linguistic areas and the various historical and philosophical backgrounds – that from which music is made, that to which it tends and how such tendency is realized. This paper aims to evaluate the philosophical implications and the use of these three concepts in the musical theories of the high Middle Ages and of the twentieth century, since, in spite of their chronological distance, they present significant similarities. A long process of theoretical and practical adjustments of the melodic structures of liturgical chants to the scale-systems of the Greek and Boethian theory contributed to developing what would become a familiar notion throughout the Middle Ages: that musical intervals can be expressed in mathematical terms. According to this view, the words forma and ordo signify the mathematical measures that are applied to the “matter” of sound, which is considered as inorganic and indefinite in itself. This conception gradually disappears when the tonal system begins to emerge, since this new modality of composition implies that the physical sound is “pre-formed” and “pre-ordered” within the musical scale, according to the “natural” links of the harmonics. Consequently, the concepts of “form” and “order” do not refer any more to the context of sound generation, but are now used to define the theoretical criteria of the artistic composition, so to accomplish the new philosophic idea of their expressing the logical-syntactic coherence of the “organic-whole” . In the early twentieth century, when the tonal system starts to be replaced by new methods of composition and when new modalities and techniques of sound production emerge, those three concepts are used, again, to express the basic elements of the physics of sound: not only its height, but also its timbre, volume, and duration. In 1911, Schönberg argued that the order that we call “artistic form” is a necessary device, elaborated “because of our incapacity to comprehend the indistinct and unordered thing”, that is the own condition of the matter of sound. (shrink)
Robert Grosseteste’s utilization of Greek and Arabic Aristotelian commentators represents an intriguing aspect of his approach to Aristotle. This study centres on Grosseteste’s quotations from John Philoponus’ Commentary on Posterior Analytics, which Grosseteste employed to complement his own commentary on this Aristotelian work. After revisiting the debated medieval circulation of segments of Philoponus in connection with James of Venice’s Aristotelian translations, the article delves into the Renaissance Latin versions of Philoponus’ commentary. This includes the previously overlooked translation by Maurizio Zamberti (...) (1516, unpublished) and the initial Venetian editions (1534, 1539, 1542). The Venetian prints were derived from an anonymous and unfamiliar Latin version that followed James of Venice’s translation and terminology. This distinctive feature, along with the marginalia referencing Lincolniensis (i.e., Grosseteste) in Philippus Theodosius’ revised text (Venice 1542), allows for a comparison of passages from Grosseteste and Philoponus to validate their correspondences. The final segment of this study investigates Grosseteste’s sparse and elusive references to Aristotle’s On the Soul in light of the possibility that they may stem from fragments of Philoponus’ commentary accompanying James of Venice’s translation of that Aristotelian work. (shrink)
The volume collects twenty-eight original essays by colleagues and friends of Michela Pereira offered on the occasion of her seventieth birthday. As a pioneer of the re-evaluation of fundamental areas of the Western philosophical and scientific tradition, starting with alchemy, Michela Pereira has dedicated important studies to Hildegard of Bingen, Roger Bacon, Ramon Llull, in addition to being one of the most authoritative interpreters of the feminist movement in the modern world. «Seeing in the shadow», the title of this volume, (...) recalls a suggestive image coined by Hildegard to establish a connection between the work of creation, human nature and prophetic knowledge, three contexts around which the interests of Michela Pereira turn. The essays of the volume interpret these topics in many thought-provoking ways. Covering a wide temporal arc, from late Antiquity to Early Modern Times, and ranging from alchemy and medicine to spirituality, prophecy and myth, from the body-soul relation to performative arts, such as theatre and music, they also include brief editions of unedited medieval texts and an updated bibliography of Michela Pereira’s publications. (shrink)