Composing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos

TitleComposing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHicks, A
Ancient AuthorsPlato Phil. (TLG 0059)
Number of Pages344 pp.
PublisherOxford University Press

We can hear the universe! This was the triumphant proclamation at a February 2016 press conference announcing that the Laser Interferometer Gravity Observatory (LIGO) had detected a "transient gravitational-wave signal." What LIGO heard in the morning hours of September 14, 2015 was the vibration of cosmic forces unleashed with mind-boggling power across a cosmic medium of equally mind-boggling expansiveness: the transient ripple of two black holes colliding more than a billion years ago. The confirmation of gravitational waves sent tremors through the scientific community, but the public imagination was more captivated by the sonic translation of the cosmic signal, a sound detectable only through an act of carefully attuned listening. As astrophysicist Szabolcs Marka remarked, "Until this moment, we had our eyes on the sky and we couldn't hear the music. The skies will never be the same."

Taking in hand this current "discovery" that we can listen to the cosmos, Andrew Hicks argues that sound—and the harmonious coordination of sounds, sources, and li