Music, Passion and Virtue in Two Quodlibetal Questions of the Philosopher Pierre d’Auvergne

Joseph Dyer - University of Massachusetts, Boston


The two quaestiones to which the philosopher-theologian Pierre d’Auvergne responded during his last Quodlibetal (1301) at the University of Paris are among the rare examples of interest in music in the literature of academic quaestiones disputatae. Pierre’s answers to the questions are not restricted to philosophical argument but extend to physiological considerations. His goal is to prove not only that music can arouse passion and promote virtue but to explain how it does so. He will explain how apprehension of a stimulus (music) by the senses is transformed by the circulation of blood, warmth, spirit, and ‘first qualities’ into a passion that involves the entire body. Music also possesses the power to encourage the practice of virtue through a correspondence between musical proportion and comparable proportions in the human body. For this purpose vocal music is preferable to instrumental music. Boethius is cited but Pierre’s proofs do not depend on the proportions of musica instrumentalis and musica humana, but on principles of natural science.

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Registrazione presso la Cancelleria del Tribunale di Pavia n. 552 del 14 luglio 2000 – ISSN elettronico 1826-9001 | Università degli Studi di Pavia Dipartimento di Musicologia | Pavia University Press

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