Cosmic vibrations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper argues that the medieval conception of musica mundana and musica humana, the idea that the universe and man are musically constructed, had an afterlife in the Enlightenment. The musical paradigm essentially dropped out of use in the seventeenth century, and was replaced by versions of Cartesian mechanism. However, by focusing on the ideas of certain British natural philosophers I show how they absorbed aspects of the harmonia mundi tradition, especially the theory that the universe is filled with a vibrating ether or spirit that also serves as the connection between body and soul.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationL'emprise des sons
PublisherMaison des sciences de l'homme d'Aquitaine
ISBN (Electronic)9782955596425
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0760-5668
ISSN (Electronic)1777-5450


  • Body
  • Enlightenment thought
  • Medical theory
  • Microcosm/macrocosm
  • Musical theory


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