"The End of Pythagoreanism: Music Theory, Philosophy, and Science from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment"

The core beliefs of “Pythagoreanism”—that the order of our finite cosmos is provided by simple numerical ratios and proportions, and that these exercise a causal effect on the natural world, including the human organism, while simultaneously standing as exemplars of rationality—constituted the metaphysical and epistemological bases of speculative music theory in its role as a branch of “philosophy” or “science” from antiquity until (for some theorists) well into the eighteenth century. After presenting and analyzing this complex of ideas and intellectual predilections as it came down to the medieval West from antiquity, this book will trace the long and involved historical process by which it all gave way to modes of music-theoretical thought and discourse that we now call “modern,” as it gradually crumbled under the successive assaults of newer, competing ways of thinking, from medieval Aristotelian scholasticism to Newtonian physics and the empiricist and materialist philosophies of the Enlightenment.