Author: LIU Chunyang, Associate Professor, College of Chinese Language and Literature, Wuhan University
The great theologian Augustine firmly believed that art plays a meaningful role in the process of salvation. In the Greco-Roman world, music was one of the six traditional arts. This essay explores Augustine’s thinking on music and attempts to offer a systematic review and critique of Augustine’s aesthetics of music by contrasting two of Augustine’s key works– Confessiones and De Musica. In Confessiones, Augustine praises music for bringing about his conversion and as the best interpreter of his ear- ly post-baptismal Christian life. Simultaneously, however, he warns that the beauty of music could distract attention from true spiritual worship of God. In De Musica, Augustine investigates the nature of music, time and human existence, where “music is the science of modulating well” (Musica est scientia bene modulandi) and consists of number, order, and measure. The article explores how music, based on the human intellectus, is for Augustine a divine guide to lead us to the good life.
music, number, order, measure, salvation, Augustine
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