Why Beauty is Truth in all we know: Aesthetics and mimesis in Neoplatonic science

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Abstract

The question addressed in this programmatic paper, which connects to ongoing discussions in philosophy of science, is how beauty figures in the scientific practice according to Proclus. In order to answer that question, Neoplatonic aesthetics, philosophy of ἐπιστήμη, and philosophy of language are brought together. I present an overview of the properties associated with beauty, the nature of aesthetic experience, Proclus’ ideal of scientific knowledge, his notion of truth, and the metaphysical background of the expression of scientific knowledge. From an elaboration of these issues using Proclus’ views of the beauty of mathematics as a case-study, it becomes clear that the beauty of ἐπιστήμη lies especially in aspects of its reasoning, through which a connection is established between an ἐπιστήμη and transcendent reality. Beauty is shown to be both a criterion of the truth of scientific proofs and a tool in the reversion of the human soul to transcendent Being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-92
JournalProceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventBACAP lecture - Boston
Duration: 1 Jan 20101 Jan 2010

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Bibliographical note

Place of publication: Boston
Editors: G.M. Gurtler, W. Wians

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