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Public Lecture—”The Worlds Beauty is Decai’d”? Overcoming Ancient Materiality and Modern Aesthetics

October 15, 2014 at 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Location:303 Paterson Hall
Key Contact:Gregory MacIsaac

David Butorac
Chair, Department of Philosophy
Fatih University, Istanbul


Plato’s account in Timaeus, following Parmenides & Pythagoras, of the universe as a perfect sphere whose planets and stars each had a musical pitch dominates cosmology for the next 1800 years. The cosmos and all of nature are possessed of some essence, some soul or life, even the planets.

In the Consolation of Philosophy, Lady Philosophy make constant reference to the spheres and how Boethius must turn away from the earth and ascend through the planets towards the heavenly empyrean. This imaginative ascent gives Boethius true consolation and freedom in the contemplation of the unmoved creator of the universe.

With the advent of modern cosmology, the universe goes from being laden with beauty and value to mere extension. Descartes observes that the moon is just a rock. With this came radical changes in aesthetics, philosophy and morality. As John Donne (1572-1631) observed, “The worlds beauty is decai’d… Loth to goe up the hill, or labour thus / To goe to heaven, we make heaven come to us” (An anatomy of the world. The first anniversary).

David Butorac argues that this change in cosmology, rather than corrupting the morality or the beauty of the world, both places the human subject more deeply in the world and transforms our experience of it in a positive way, as we can witness in baroque art and music.

david butorac

David Butorac did his B.A. and M.A. at the University of King’s College and the Dalhousie Department of Classics, Halifax, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He lectures in Philosophy at Fatih University, Istanbul.

Butorac Poster