Harmony of the spheres

“The Harmony of the World", by Ebenezer Sibly (1806)
“The Harmony of the World”, by Ebenezer Sibly (1806)

Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras proposed that all planets emit their own unique resonance based on their orbital revolution – the sound of their unique movement in space. He also identified that the pitch of a musical note is proportionate to the length of the string that produces it, and that intervals between harmonious sound frequencies form simple numerical ratios – thus highlighting the mathematical properties of music. Plato described both astronomy and music as studies of sensual recognition, arguing that the numerical properties of astronomy are recognized by the eyes, and those of music by the ears. I find the idea that proportions in the movements of heavenly bodies create a form of aesthetically perceptible experience an interesting comment to the materialist conception of mind and the conflict between dualism, idealism and materialism. The idea of such a harmony is founded on a conception of the world as ordered and (divinely?) harmonious – of things existing in “right relation” to each other. Because this harmonic planetary expression supposedly is not perceptible to the physical ear, it presupposes some sort of “inner” perception of ratios and relations that are all the same rationally expressible through mathematical concepts. Thus, these relationships are potentially medium-independent – like the proposed “consciousness” of artificial intelligence.

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