A STUDY OF MUSICAL ARCHETYPES: (I) THE SYMBOLIC OF NUMBERS
(Fragment 1)
Corneliu Dan Georgescu
“Music can be only described metaphorically”
1. Twenty-five hundred years ago, Pythagoras stated in his HIEROS LOGOS the idea of
Archetype as a supreme principle of the Universe (“all things are ordered by numbers”) and the idea of
Music (Mousikē) as a measure of the universal harmony ^{2}. For Plato, the Number represents
degree of knowledge, knowledge itself ^{3},the essence of the Universal harmony ^{4} ; to the idea of
Archetypes he adds the idea of Form (i.e. the number reflected in geometry), then the Proportion
generally, the Analogy ^{5}. The realms of Numbers and of Forms are not distinct; they are but the aspects of
the Universe governed by the laws of proportion ^{6}. However, the Mediterranean cultural area was not solely
responsive to the virtues of the Number. About 5,000 years B.C., in the Far East, YI KING (or „The book of
transformations”) - which was assessed by C. G. Jung as „the most beautiful collection of archetypes”
used numbers (eight trigrams formed around the fundamental binary opposition yin/yang
combination into sixty-four hexagrams) as a basis for a unitary system including life with its complex
mobile manifestations, a “true alchemy of concepts” ^{8}
.2. The idea of Number is apparently the core of the entire contemporary epistemology ^{9} ;Gottlob Frege and
Bertrand Russell gave a logical analysis of the number which underlines the history of the human effort to
understand its own method of cognition. The natural number defined by its intension, or its logical content,
its “substance”: the principle of identity ^{10}. The number means knowledge, sensible experience (whose
symbol, sign and name it is), unmediated intuition of reality; it is not only the outcome of an operation (i.e.
the quantitative definition of the object) but also the result of thought in which the operation is only the
form assumed by thought: the direct, concrete, “vertical” relation of identity ^{11}. Together with Space, Time
and Motion, the Number may considered as a fundamental category of knowledge ^{12}
.3. Carl Gustav Jung defined the number in psychological terms as being both aspect of the real and
physical realm and of the imaginary and psychic realm. Above the conscious level, the numbers are
numeration; below, they are autonomous psychical entities of quantitative relevance which manifest
themselves in orders anticipating any judgement ^{13}. Among the other archetypes, the numbers hold a
peculiar position: they can be symbolically expressed through a figure (i.e. through a real, concrete,
commensurable, hierarchised element), which does not mean that their essence is thus exhausted.