The Golden Mean and the Physics of Aesthetics



The golden mean, Φ, has been applied in diverse situations in art, architecture, and music, and although some have claimed that it represents a basic aesthetic proportion, others have argued that it is only one of a large number of such ratios. We review its early history, especially its relationship to Mount Meru of Piṅgala. We present multiplicative variants of Mount Meru that may explain why the octave of Indian music has 22 micronotes (śruti), a question that has perplexed musicologists for a long time. We also speculate on the neurophysiological basis behind the sense that the golden mean is a pleasing proportion. We conclude that perhaps aesthetic universals do not exist, and it is cultural authority and tradition that creates them, although they may be shaped by “universals” associated with our cognitive systems.


Fibonacci Number Golden Ratio Fibonacci Sequence Seventh Century Recurrence Sequence 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer scienceOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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