A Theological Aesthetic Of Musical Beauty, Drawing On The Notion Of Poetic Knowledge In The Work Of Jacques Maritain (1882-1973)

Grey, Christopher Michael (2021). A Theological Aesthetic Of Musical Beauty, Drawing On The Notion Of Poetic Knowledge In The Work Of Jacques Maritain (1882-1973). PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000131dd


This thesis is an interdisciplinary study in theological aesthetics, integrating philosophy and music. It addresses musical beauty ontologically, and in particular how the cognition of beauty relates to the genesis of a musical work. The French philosopher Jacques Maritain is neglected outside Catholic philosophical tradition, yet within his oeuvre is a well-developed, sophisticated theory of art that speaks to the same kind of questions, mostly as they relate to poetry and painting. As regards music, his theory is allusive. Maritain was the foremost champion of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the twentieth century, and Thomistic thought and method permeates his aesthetics. The epistemological divergence from post-enlightenment theories which this represents is underscored throughout the thesis.

Following a short introductory essay, the study explores musical sound in selected writings from the mid-Patristic period; the Fathers of East and West providing an aesthetic benchmark for those that came after, including Aquinas. This is followed by an exposition of Maritain’s revolutionary Art and Scholasticism, in which all references to music are collated, and basic themes of a Thomistic philosophy of music are articulated. The first half of the thesis ends with a chapter proposing how the creation of a work might be construed in terms of existence and Being.

The three chapters in the latter half of the thesis are a speculative interpretation of Maritain’s Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry. They aim to construct the realist account of musical creation and apprehension which Maritain infers a musician should undertake. At its heart lies a form of knowing that is perceptual, congenial, and even non-conceptual. Poetic knowledge exemplifies the experience of musical beauty and it is the closest artistic analogate to theological knowing. The thesis draws extensively on the writing of composers and incorporates reflection and analyses of musical works.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions