May we be guided by Truth
May we have Beauty revealed to us
& may it result in the Good
- “All those possessing even a small share of good sense always call upon
the Divinity at the outset of any undertaking, small or great; therefore we,
who are proposing to present a discourse concerning the universe, must
invoke the Gods and Goddesses, praying that all we say may be approved
by them in the first place, and second by us. Grant then that we have duly
invoked the Deities; we must also invoke ourselves so that you may most
easily learn, and I may most clearly expound on the subjects before us.
“Thus Socrates, if in our treatment of a great host of matters regarding the
Gods and the generation of the Universe we prove unable to give accounts
that are always in all respects self-consistent and perfectly exact, do not be
surprised; rather we should be content if we can furnish accounts that are
inferior to none in likelihood, remembering that both I who speak and you
who judge are but human creatures, so that it becomes us to accept the
likely account of these matters and forebear to search beyond it.”
—Plato (Timaeus 27)
Ancient architects and artists had a way of striking resonant chords in those who
viewed of their work. However, this skill seems to have disappeared.
Beauty Memory Unity points toward a possibility of regaining a new sense of
unity in the visual arts through a combination of theoretical ideas and practical
methods, of narrative description and visual exercises.
Proportion—the use of number and geometry as the tools of design—is seen in the
context of the search for the Beautiful, a state the soul achieves when one recognizes
the phenomenon of unity. From the theoretical symbolic mathematics of the
Pythagoreans, Platonists, and Neo-Platonists, Steve Bass proposes an aesthetic
theory—a way of approaching beauty—rooted in the idea of psyche, expressed
through the ancient arts and sciences of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
- an explanation of the concept of symbolic or qualitative number
- an introduction to Pythagorean and Platonic numerical philosophy
- the nature of beauty and its relation to number
- the derivation of the ancient musical octave
- the Golden Section, its mathematics, geometry, and relation to philosophy,
especially its role as a geometric logos
- the connection of these ideas to the numerical–geometrical canons of
These concepts are illustrated, step by step, as they apply to the elements and the
archetypal compositions of classical architecture, such as the order and portico, using
arithmetic, geometric, and harmonic ratio methods.
The proportional idea is illustrated with reconstructions of exemplary buildings, based
on the methods described by the author, following through the historical periods of
Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance, and the Enlightenment.
Although Beauty Memory Unity focuses on architecture in particular, artists and designers
in any visual ?eld may use the methods presented here. The author suggests several
pathways along which contemporary designers might move forward to create a sane
and beautiful world by merging art and science.