May we have Beauty revealed to us
& may it result in the Good
“Thus Socrates, if in our treatment of a great host of matters regarding the Gods and the generation of the Universe we prove unable to give accounts that are always in all respects self-consistent and perfectly exact, do not be surprised; rather we should be content if we can furnish accounts that are inferior to none in likelihood, remembering that both I who speak and you who judge are but human creatures, so that it becomes us to accept the likely account of these matters and forebear to search beyond it.” —Plato (Timaeus 27)
Ancient architects and artists had a way of striking resonant chords in those who viewed of their work. However, this skill seems to have disappeared. Beauty Memory Unity points toward a possibility of regaining a new sense of unity in the visual arts through a combination of theoretical ideas and practical methods, of narrative description and visual exercises.
Proportion—the use of number and geometry as the tools of design—is seen in the context of the search for the Beautiful, a state the soul achieves when one recognizes the phenomenon of unity. From the theoretical symbolic mathematics of the Pythagoreans, Platonists, and Neo-Platonists, Steve Bass proposes an aesthetic theory—a way of approaching beauty—rooted in the idea of psyche, expressed through the ancient arts and sciences of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
- an explanation of the concept of symbolic or qualitative number
- an introduction to Pythagorean and Platonic numerical philosophy
- the nature of beauty and its relation to number
- the derivation of the ancient musical octave
- the Golden Section, its mathematics, geometry, and relation to philosophy, especially its role as a geometric logos
- the connection of these ideas to the numerical–geometrical canons of classical architecture
These concepts are illustrated, step by step, as they apply to the elements and the archetypal compositions of classical architecture, such as the order and portico, using arithmetic, geometric, and harmonic ratio methods.
The proportional idea is illustrated with reconstructions of exemplary buildings, based on the methods described by the author, following through the historical periods of Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance, and the Enlightenment.
Although Beauty Memory Unity focuses on architecture in particular, artists and designers in any visual ?eld may use the methods presented here. The author suggests several pathways along which contemporary designers might move forward to create a sane and beautiful world by merging art and science.