Music and Spirit in Early Modern Thought

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


The relationship between music and spirit in the early modern period is essentially to do with health and well-being. This chapter shows the belief that music's sympathetic action on the spirit could restore and maintain well-being was remarkably enduring. It focuses on Francis Bacon's treatment of music and spirit in his Sylva Sylvarum (1626), with a view to showing how on the one hand he drew on an intellectual tradition effectively started by Marsilio Ficino and on the other he was to influence later generations of natural philosophers, including Richard Brocklesby. The chapter highlights that music conceptualizes in the early modern period as an animating principle which shares its characteristics with the life force, a relationship that explains why it can have such an immediate effect on body, soul and spirit.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmotions and Health, 1200-1700
ISBN (Electronic)9789004252936
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2013

Publication series

NameStudies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions


  • Early modern period
  • Francis Bacon
  • Marsilio Ficino
  • Music
  • Richard Brocklesby
  • Spirit


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