The Number and Kind of the Faculties of the Soul in Accordance with the Harmoniesby Johannes Kepler
How are those harmonies from the point of view of the soul itself.
Harmonic proportions are sensed by a twofold faculty:
- Contemplative or mental
This is again twofold; for either it is for discovering the actual proportions in abstract quantities, or it is for recognizing or noticing the chosen proportions in sensible things.
The faculty which hunts for harmonic ratios is the same as that which also embraces the remaining branches of knowledge and the arts, that is to say the higher part of the human mind.
For nothing is said here about God, inasmuch as it does not hunt for Him by contemplation and study but knows Him from eternity.
That faculty which notices and recognizes the noble proportions in sensible things, or even in other things established outside itself, is a lower faculty of the soul giving form to the senses from close to, or yet lower, that is to say only the vital faculty of the soul, that is one which neither contemplates, as is the habit of philosophers, or uses logic for this purpose, and does not exist only in Man, but also in wild beasts and cattle, and the sublunary soul.
You may ask if it is not capable of contemplation, and that means it would not be able to grasp knowledge of the harmonic proportions, from which it would have the ability to recognize them when they were proffered from without.
For to recognize is to compare some external sensible thing with ideas which are internal, and to judge that they are congruent.
That is splendidly expressed by Proclus by the term “awakening,” as if from sleep.
For just as sensible things which we meet externally make us recollect what we had known beforehand, similarly sensible mathematical things, if they are recognized, therefore, elicit intellectual things which are previously present within, so that things now in actuality shine forth in the soul which were hidden in it before, as if under a veil of potentiality. How, then, did they break in? I reply that the ideas or formal causes of the harmonies, in accordance with our earlier 307 How many faculties of the soul are concerned with the harmonies?
Harmonic ratios are innate in souls.
The soul is in a sense a circle.
The basis of influences on horoscopes. Book 4 discussion of them, are completely innate in those who possess this power of recognition; but they are not after all taken within them by contemplation, but rather depend on a natural instinct, and are innate in them, as the number (something intellectual) of the leaves in the flower and of the segments in a fruit are innate in the forms of plants.
The result of this finding in plants, resembling the harmonic ratios (for number and proportion are akin, as was made clear above), is that I cannot confidently deny even to the vegetative faculty of the soul, and to the plants themselves, the power of recognizing the harmonic proportions of the sidereal rays; though I assert nothing with out appropriate tests.
It therefore turns out that boys, that primitives, peasants, and barbarians, and the very wild beasts, perceive harmonies in notes, though they know nothing about the theory of harmony.
But if you were to ask whence they get this instinct, I shall either take refuge in God, Who shapes and imposes on bodies these forms, all images of Himself, though more or less close, and makes them display the harmonic ratios in themselves, just as He has embraced them in His mind from eternity, and has expressed them in His creation, as has been stated above; or else, which comes to the same thing, I shall adduce the affinity, touched on in Chapter I, of these souls, even the inferior ones, with the circle, in accordance with which, as with a rule or law, they have been arranged and shaped, while along with the circle, and its constructibility, they have also taken on the idea of the harmonic proportions which depend on it.
For this philosophy is strongly confirmed by horoscopes, as we see that the character of the concurrence of celestial rays at the same point, as if from a common circle, is imprinted on the mind of the new born.^^ More on this will follow in Chapter 7.
Furthermore the media which these lower faculties of the soul use to perceive harmonies in externals are the same by which they also take the actual external objects within themselves. If they are sensible, they are also perceived by the senses, that is to say, by the faculties of the soul which give shape to the senses, and which themselves also are no less occupied than the higher faculty in the comparison of particular things, but by instinct, not by contemplation.
So by the hearing of a sound, and by the power which controls it, consonances are distinguished from dissonances. So architectonic proportions are perceived by the eyes, and by that faculty which controls the sight, beautiful and congruous proportions are distinguished from the incongruous.
However, if the things themselves in which the harmonic ratio exists are not sensible, but happen to be perceptible by another faculty, by the same faculty also the actual proportions of things shine out in the soul, just as was found by comparison with the proportions of the sidereal rays. How those are perceived by the sublunary soul we shall enquire below in Chapter 7.
However, this perception of the harmonies in the inferior faculties of the soul is dull and dim, and in a sense material, and under a cloud of ignorance; for they do not know that they perceive, as when we see something but do not notice that we are seeing it.
Such are those emotions and terrors celebrated by the Stoics,^^ which are natural and unintentional, and involuntary. Such also is the natural feeling of hate or love, especially with a remarkable predisposition, as judging the goodness of another soul, or its resemblance to one’s own, by the symmetry of the parts of the body and the qualities of voice and temperament, he is wonderfully inflamed towards it.
Therefore, the crazy youth loves the girl; and he does not know why, nor what he loves in her most of all, because no courtesan whom he meets can surpass her, if it is an improper love, nor can any marriageable girl, if it is a legitimate one.
But if a physiognomist comes on the scene, he finds in both personalities some resemblance of character; and if the characters are defective, they give occasion for perpetual strife in the marriage, but if they are good, for perpetual tranquility in life.
So we must attribute to this the universal physiognomic instinct, as although it is dumb, and in a sense irrational (as it is hardly at all acquired by art, though it can be developed by it), yet it is a unique interpreter and umpire of human affairs.
For a man attains prosperity (speaking naturally) to the extent to which his appearance, the symmetry of his body, the gait and motion of his limbs, smile to those who are in possession, and to which he insinuates himself on them, as if by stealth, though they have no other reason than that, so that they often testify that they love or hate someone without knowing the cause.
There is in the inferior faculties of the soul such a sense of proportions without sensation. Indeed they neither distinguish the proportion from its terms or what is subject to it (as when we hear some pleasant tune, but do not consider the musicianship apart from the sounds) nor clearly distinguish between different harmonies.
For they only notice that they are, and do not know what they are or how they differ. Of course the ideas of the harmonies, which these inferior faculties of the soul have within themselves, are clearly not known by instinct in their purity, but along with the wrappings of the emanation which is subject to them, that is of that which is the object of each faculty.
The faculty of hearing (to use the example of consonant sounds to stand for all), which holds a position very close to the body, was too coarse, and so also unfit to receive the purest idea of proportion, as I shall now immediately explain at greater length.
The Active Faculties
For I now come to the active faculties, which are concerned with the harmonic proportions.
This also is twofold: for either it operates on its own account, or in things which are outside itself, in either case adapting its operations to the proportions, or bringing the proportions into them. The former case is indeed like something passive;
The latter is beyond argument occupied in activity. The former therefore is again the offspring of the inferior faculties of the soul, the latter of the superior. The former is subject to the powers of nature, the latter to the will of man.
The former is plainly strong by the motion of the alteration which it brings to its body, so that it is completely subject to the vital faculty.
For our delight in the harmonies of sounds has the character of an experience, in fact of being anointed or caressed, and hence the philosophers also call it, from its being passive, a response shared between minds and music.
However, it is in reality an operation of the soul, acting by its natural motion on itself, and exciting itself; and it is brought to that not by intention or will but by natural instinct.
In fact, it has from their very origin the ideas both of the harmonies incorporated into sound and of the feelings of the mind which respond to them linked together and, so to speak, conflated into one, so that the idea of harmony is implanted in it only insofar as it delights in it, and is something pleasurable, and insofar as it is bound up with the idea of the associated motion.
This, I believe was what Proclus meant above, when he declared that the patterns of mathematical things (and so also of harmonies, and much more so) were in the mind *intellectually, but in the soul tvitally.
For similarly they were also in the faculty of hearing soundingly, in the vital faculty of sublunar things radiantly and operatively: that is, they are not the actual pure internal patterns, but representations of them, derived from without.
However, the fact that we are not only delighted by harmony in music, but also fit the movements of fingers, mouth, feet, and body to it, we now attribute to the animal faculty, coupled with the will.
But when we also fit the voice to intelligible harmonies, when we study a melodic piece of music which we have not heard before, in this case we are using all the highest and lowest faculties —the highest because we employ both will and intention; but the lowest because we are able to, and because even without understanding of the proportions, we express the ideas of the intervals alone, which have been implanted by Nature, in music, excluding everything unmelodic, and roaming over the melodic intervals alone.
Therefore, the harmonic faculties explained up to this point have been breathed out by that essential harmony, God Himself, in the act of creation, inasmuch as he is “existence in activity”; and he has breathed this particle of His own image into all souls absolutely, more or less closely.
With this lesson I shall also put an end to this Chapter.