Saturday, December 12, 2015

On Harmony And Beauty

The Pythagoreans averred that mathematics demonstrated the exact method by which the good established and maintained its universe. Number
therefore preceded harmony, since it was the immutable law that governs all harmonic proportions. Summarizing the relationship between the
human body and the theory of architecture, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (80–15 BC) wrote in his De Architectura: "Since nature has designed the
human body so that its members are duly proportioned to the frame as a whole, it appears that the ancients had good reason for their rule,
that in perfect building the different members must be in exact symmetrical relations to the whole general scheme. Hence, while transmitting
to us the proper arrangements for buildings of all kinds, they were particularly careful to do so in the case of temples of the gods, buildings
in which merits and faults usually last forever. Therefore, if it is agreed that number was found out from the human fingers, and that there is
a symmetrical correspondent between the members separately and the entire form of the body, in accordance with a certain part selected as
standard, we can have nothing but respect for those who, in constructing temples of the immortal gods, have so arranged the members of the
works that both the separate parts and the whole design may harmonize in their proportions and symmetry." 

"Harmony is a state recognized by great philosophers as the immediate prerequisite of beauty. A compound is termed beautiful only when its parts are in harmonious combination. The world is called beautiful and its Creator is designated the Good because good perforce must act in conformity with its own nature; and good acting according to its own nature is harmony, because the good which it accomplishes is harmonious with the good which it is. Beauty, therefore, is harmony manifesting its own intrinsic nature in the world of form. The universe is made up of successive gradations of good, these gradations ascending from matter (which is the least degree of good) to spirit (which is the greatest degree of good). In man, his superior nature is the summum bonum. It therefore follows that his highest nature most readily cognizes good because the good external to him in the world is in harmonic ratio with the good present in his soul. What man terms evil is therefore, in common with matter, merely the least degree of its own opposite. The least degree of good presupposes likewise the least degree of harmony and beauty. Thus deformity (evil) is really the least harmonious combination of elements naturally harmonic as individual units. Deformity is unnatural, for, the sum of all things being the Good, it is natural that all things should partake of the Good and be arranged in combinations that are harmonious. Harmony is the manifesting expression of the Will of the eternal Good." Secret Teachings of All Ages - Manly P. Hall (1928)

Credits: Samuel Colman (1912): Nature's Harmonic Unity - A Treatise on Its Relation to Proportional Form