. he considers the arts in relation to the church (horizontal). Augustine’s starting point is Scripture (vertical). Augustine: Whereas Plato and Aristotle approach the arts from a metaphysical starting point with its implications on the community in mind (both vertical and horizontal). For Augustine.The Aesthetics of St.

Tertullian (3rd century).” But other. The sensible realm can distract us from focusing on God. for example. and Basil the Great believed that an appreciation of the arts may have a positive use in education. Why? Impact of Plato (Book X of The Republic) Artistic activity is concerned with the sensible realm. rejected studies that were profane. Clement of Alexandria. . like Origen. The arts were historically linked and seen in relation to the cultures and mythos of Greece and Rome. He characterized literature as “foolishness in the eyes of God.Aesthetics & church in Historical Context: Appreciation for aesthetic activities (worship) but not for the arts themselves an expression of the arts.

especially seen today with the phenomenal Cathedrals found across Europe. the arts may be used to lead people to God. Thus. But at Council at Nicaea in 787. executed for treason or martyred.The Arts in Christian Context. even demanded by Rome to worship such images. But by the sixth century. Why? Most people were illiterate. under Constantine VI. at times. cross. declaring “honorable reverence” of the visual arts in relation to the religious depictions. Those who did not worship them. they were objects of idolatry. Gregory defended the arts as necessary tools of instruction for people. were. Visual arts represented gods and emperors. Thus. the arts became a pivotal part of the Middle Ages. reversed the condemnation. Thus. . a synod (Constantinople in 754) condemned visual representations of Jesus Christ. and the Gospels. Under Constantine V.

a particular color or a sound) which its not beautiful by itself may be called beautiful when it is part of a complex whole. or a shoe with a foot. Part (e. 1. a.g. and another from mutual fitness. xiii.. is beautiful? And what is beauty? What is it that allures and unites us to the things we love. then. Distinction between that which is beautiful in itself and that which is beautiful in virtue of being applied to something else. they could by no means attract us to them? And I marked and perceived that in bodies themselves there was a beauty from their forming a kind of whole. and so on.From Confessions: “Do we love anything but the beautiful? What. b. as one part of the body with its whole. A complex may beautiful in that it is a kind of a whole.” ~ Confessions IV. and beauty is a property of the whole. for unless there were a grace and beauty in them. .

. XI. but of things” City of God. by an eloquence not of words. as it were. xviii.From City of God: “the beauty of the course of the world is achieved by the opposition of contraries arranged.

3. vision of God. truth. View of evil as corruption. conception of time and eternity. He contends: 1. emphasis on the soul. . Unity is the form of all beauty 2. Infinite goodness. & desire for spiritual and intellectual. the need for divine illumination. purification of the mind as a requirement for understanding truth. Platonic Themes: conception of beauty. and beauty are attributes of God.Neo-Platonic Worldview: Augustine assumes a Neo-Platonic worldview.

i. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ b. Communion with God through Jesus Christ. Encounters with God is not rare when one knows Christ. Depravity of humanity g. f. . not eternal. not impersonal. j. God is personal. Knowing Christ is the rest and permanence for which Augustine longed. h. Soul is created. The Promise of Redemption from Sin through Grace d. Embraces Tenets of Orthodox Christianity a. Conception of the Trinity e. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ c.Differences: Differences with Plotinus: 1.

How are to understand artistic creativity? 4. What is the function of art? 3. What is the relationship between God. the Creator. the objects of His affections? 7. How do we evaluate art? ------------------------------------------- 5. What is the mission of the church and how can the arts assist us to that end? .Augustine: 1. we. What is the purpose of art? 2. What do the Scripture teach us about the arts? 6.

Key Themes: 1. Clear distinction in creation of objects: Creation of God Creation of Man (ex nihilo): (ex materia) .

Objects possess more form and less void. Earth is lowest form of beauty.Theme # 2: God: Hierarchy of Beauty: Beauty is expressed in the possession of Form: Instead of mimesis (imitation). He is perfectly beautiful. God’s creation reflects Himself for God’s beauty emanates in the things He has made from Him to His creation in degrees. there is no beauty. . Where there is no form. God possesses perfect Form.

Scripture is the most direct knowledge of divine purpose. Better guide: Objects which do not require use of sight (least participation in the sensible). Thus.Hierarchical Ascent unto God: Words of Scripture we find statements about God. music is a higher art than painting. Understanding involves transcending the mere image (not look at literal sense alone). Nature and Art .

values. The arts have justification when it coheres with the truths of the Christian faith and reflects God’s creative power. reflection.Contributions: The use of the arts contributes to our understanding of God and His ways. It is debated whether Augustine contends that “sensible beauty” is worthy of appreciation. and study. . I conclude that he does value the arts because it points people to God in both creating and receiving.

each object has unity. b. we discover that he believes that rhythm is sourced in God for it is eternal and immutable. unity is a necessary elements of beauty. Rhythm: In Augustine’s De Musica. How? Augustine likens rhythm to mathematics. . If has existence. the more beautiful it will be. Proof: Rhythm is discovered. Thus. not created. Unity. then. 2.Key Theme # 2: Properties of Beauty: 1. The more unified. Everything exists as a whole. unless it exists. a. Therefore. An object cannot have the potential to beautiful. it will be a unified whole.

59]. I shall not cease to press the query why these things give pleasure… He transcends it and escapes from its control in judging pleasure and not according to pleasure. he will say that it is fitting. Then I shall ask him why they are beautiful. and if he is perplexed. why. First I shall ask him whether things are beautiful because they give pleasure. I shall add the question whether it is because its part correspond and are so joined together as to form one harmonious whole [De Vera Religione xxxii. . after constructing one arch. If I go further and ask why he thinks so. or that it gives pleasure to those who behold it. or give pleasure because they are beautiful. or beautiful. he builds another like it over against it.Consider: “If I ask a workman. that in a building like parts must correspond to like. he will reply. I dare say. But he will venture no further… But if I have to do with a mean with inward eyes who can see the invisible.

then it follows that rhythm is immutable. 56). which is the base of rhythm. b. “The existence of individual things as units. gives rise to proportion. 94). measure. begins from unity (De Musica. the possibility of repeating them and comparing groups of them with respect to equality or inequality. a. 4. xvii. Number measures rhythm. and number” (Beardsley. a. Equality or likeness. Number. . Since rhythm is based on number (which is immutable).Key Theme # 2: Properties of Beauty: 3.

here am I. but the motions of the limbs are done for pleasure. .’ Examine the beauty in bodily form. Examine the beauty of bodily motion and you will find everything in its due time by number…” [De Libero Arbitrio II. and you will find that everything is in its place by number. Ask what delights you in dancing and number will reply: ‘Lo. that there will be dancing. xvi. 42].Number: fundamental to both to being & beauty: “Suppose there is no actual work in hand and no intention to make anything.

i. unity. Further. Augustine’s clearest statement of this metaphysics of Beauty is to be found in De Musica” ~ Philosophies of Art & Beauty. 3) fittingness of parts (in both the elements of an object and the faculties of the human soul). . law. and beauty of God. by Hofstadter & Kuhns. then intellectual (the number of thought and memory).. 172-3. and finally innate number (the judgment of the soul by means of a harmony bestowed upon it by God). 4) the Divine. the plenitude.e. the nature of number is apprehended by man through an experience at first physical (felt number or rhythm). 2) rhythmic organization. pg.Consider… The term ‘number’ (numerus) has several meanings for Augustine: 1) mathematical proportion.

the more order (proper place). XIX. 55).Key Theme # 2: Properties of Beauty: 5. Symmetry: “in all the arts it is symmetry [or proportion] that gives pleasure. each to its own place” (City of God. xiii). Thus. the more beautiful they are. xxx. Order: “Order is the distribution which allots things equal and unequal. preserving unity and making the whole beautiful” (Of True Religion. . 6.

they do not have not art (De Musica I. iv. 5-7). .Key Theme # 3: Art is not imitation because animals imitate.

edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns “Medieval Theories of Aesthetics” by Michael Spicher In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (December 11. Perspective in Aesthetics: Plato to Camus. Beardsley. Richter . Philosophies of Art & Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger. edited by Peyton E. 2010).Bibliography: Aesthetics: From Classical Greece to the Present by Monroe C.