We first read about the planets producing sounds whilst moving through their orbits in Plato’s Republic, though later sources report that the Pythagorean School taught this doctrine long before Plato. Roman, Hellenistic and Medieval thinkers subsequently adopted and developed this idea, but always within the premise that each planet ‘sang’ a single note of the scale, thus generating monophonic diatonic melodies in their rotation. It is only in the 15th century that the theoretician Giorgio Anselmi suggests that the Music of the Spheres could also be polyphonic, just as medieval music had been since about the 9th century. This paper will report on his proposal, which marks the first time in history that the polyphonic dimension is considered for the Music of the Spheres.
Polish medieval scholars (working at the Cracow University in the 15th century) took the Aristotle’s De anima (403a 30 ) as a starting point for their studies on the human soul. Paul de Worczyn, Benedictus Hesse and other Polish philosophers – following Nicolas Oresme and John Buridan – agreed that psychology is part of the more general study of the ‘science of nature’, and they applied methods used in physics in their psychological investigation. One of most significant feature of their account was an identification of the acts of volition with impetus. They tried to describe the act of will as an undetermined and autonomous motion. In consequence, they worked out the theory of will, which plays the crucial role in initiating the human (intellectual as well as appetitive) activities.
English polymath John Dee has long been perceived as the epitome of the ‘Renaissance magus’. This title has thus associated him with a specifically ‘Early Modern’ learning. The influence upon him of the medieval past has been eschewed by those who would prefer to maintain periodising narratives. This paper will argue that Dee was not only aware of the importance of his medieval inheritances but utilised them in ways which would not be thought proper for a man of his repute. By providing examples of his assimilation of medieval texts and thought into his own life and works, I suggest that Dee becomes rather more ‘polytemporal’ than has been previously accepted.