Published in “Marulic” 2004/01
Aspects of Music in the Philosophy of Arts
Miho Monaldi (Dubrovnik 16 c.)
Finished in Zagreb, June 1982
Miho Monaldi (c.1540-1592), philosopher, poet and mathematician from the Republic of Ragusa/Dubrovnik *, is highly significant in terms of Croatian cultural heritage. Up to the 1980's he is mentioned only in the history of Croatian literature as a member of the Ragusian Platonic society “The Academy of Concord”. Up to now, his work is not completely researched, a fact that is all the more surprising as Monaldi is one of many Croatian authors who have left a complete system of philosophy of the arts. This paper deals specifically with the insufficiently analysed work "Irene, ovvero della bellezza" published posthumously in Venice in 1599 by his nephew Maro Battitore.
The eight dialogues from his Neoplatonic paper is a very considerable achievement for a theoretician of music concerned with philosophical-aesthetical considerations. His paper is not just a synthesis of all knowledge of music at this time, but much more. In the paper on the phenomenon of music, he integrates the great philosophical cognitions of the ancient Greeks and medieval scholastics, as well as those of his contemporaries. Although he hardly ever mentions the names of the philosophers whose knowledge he reflects, Monaldi's terminology yields, with a bit of effort, insights into the thinking of Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Pythagoras (who is mentioned), Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Campanella, Giordano Bruno and other philosophers. Many of them did not say anything on music or simply put forward superficial observations. However, as an enlightened man, Monaldi gained the important insight: that the general principles of these thinkers were in direct structural connection with music as a whole.
Monaldi's great merit in connecting philosophy and music consists in the fact that he appears to have been the first renaissance thinker who saw that the abstract-ontological, metaphysical, and critical psychological cognitions of the ancient philosophers corresponded to the formal structure of music and to the psychic experience of the reception of music.
To check the accuracy of Monaldi's deliberations I have undertaken an analysis of both the text and the reception of the music and in expressing it through accessible terminology compared my conclusions with those of Monaldi. The results are very interesting: using the terminology of his time or the terminology of the ancient Greeks Monaldi usually expressed the same thought; experienced the same conclusion.
My research is based on a translation of Monaldi's text from Old Italian by Katica Drinkovich.
In approaching the dialogues, I divided my paper into five main sections, each one elaborated by a series of minor thematic chapters. The first is a major section on types of music, with thematic chapters dealing with angelic, heavenly, natural and human music. The second section deals with Semiotics of Music, with minor chapters entitled “The Reception of Music” and “ Music as a Language of Communication”. The third section is entitled “Teleology of Music” and is constructed in two parts: a) a treatment on the aesthetic foundation of music, and b) a discussion on the usefulness of music, as understood in Monaldi's time. The fourth and fifth sections deal with specific themes: the first overlaps politics, ethics, pedagogy and music; the second realizes the connection between mathematics and music.
* Dubrovnik is Ragusa, in Latin. The Republic of Dubrovnik is both a city and a state.