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Giordano Bruno
Full name Giordano Bruno
Born 1548
Nola, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Died February 17, 1600 (aged 51–52)
Rome
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Europe
Main interests Philosophy, Cosmology, and Memory

Giordano Bruno, born Filippo Bruno (1548 – February 17, 1600), was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, who is best known as a proponent of the infinity of the universe. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in identifying the sun as just one of an infinite number of independently moving heavenly bodies: he is the first man to have conceptualized the universe as a continuum where the stars we see at night are identical in nature to the Sun. He was burned at the stake by authorities in 1600 after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy. After his death he gained considerable fame; in the 19th and early 20th centuries, commentators focusing on his astronomical beliefs regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas. Recent assessments suggest that his ideas about the universe played a smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs, which differed from the interpretations and scope of God held by Catholicism.[1][2]

In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensive works on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. More recent assessments, beginning with the pioneering work of Frances Yates, suggest that Bruno was deeply influenced by the Astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism.[3] Other recent studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.[4]

Contents

Life

Early years, 1548–1576

Filippo Bruno was born in Nola (in Campania, then part of the Kingdom of Naples) in 1548, the son of Giovanni Bruno, a soldier, and Fraulissa Savolino. As a youth, he was sent to Naples for education. He was tutored privately at the Augustinian monastery there, and attended public lectures at the Studium Generale.[5] At the age of 17, he entered the Dominican Order at the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, taking the name Giordano, after Giordano Crispo, his metaphysics tutor. He continued his studies there, completing his novitiate, and became an ordained priest in 1572 at age 24. During his time in Naples he became known for his skill with the art of memory and on one occasion traveled to Rome to demonstrate his mnemonic system before Pope Pius V and Cardinal Rebiba. Bruno in later years claimed that the Pope accepted his dedication to him of the lost work On The Ark of Noah at this time.[6]

Such an honor suggests that Bruno was distinguished for outstanding ability. But Bruno's taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused him difficulties, and given the controversy he caused in later life it is surprising that he was able to remain within the monastic system for eleven years. In his testimony to Venetian inquisitors during his trial, many years later, he indicates that proceedings were twice taken against him for having cast away images of the saints, retaining only a crucifix, and for having made controversial reading recommendations to a novice. Such behavior could perhaps be overlooked, but Bruno's situation became much more serious when he was reported to have defended the Arian heresy, and when a copy of the banned writings of Erasmus, annotated by him, was discovered hidden in the convent privy. When he learned that an indictment was being prepared against him in Naples he fled, shedding his religious habit, at least for a time.[7]

First years of wandering, 1576–1583

Woodcut illustration of one of Giordano Bruno's less complex mnemonic devices

Bruno first went to the Genoese port of Noli, then to Savona, Turin and finally to Venice, where he published his lost work On The Signs of the Times with the permission (so he claimed at his trial) of the Dominican Remigio Nannini Fiorentino. From Venice he went to Padua where he met fellow Dominicans who convinced him to wear his religious habit again. From Padua he went to Bergamo and then across the Alps to Chambéry and Lyon. His movements after this time are obscure.[8]

In 1579 he arrived in Geneva. As D.W. Singer, a Bruno biographer, notes, "The question has sometimes been raised as to whether Bruno became a Protestant, but it is intrinsically most unlikely that he accepted membership in Calvin's communion"[9] During his Venetian trial he told inquisitors that while in Geneva he told the Marchese de Vico of Naples, who was notable for helping Italian refugees in Geneva, "I did not intend to adopt the religion of the city. I desired to stay there only that I might live at liberty and in security." Bruno had a pair of breeches made for himself, and the Marchese and others apparently made Bruno a gift of a sword, hat, cape and other necessities for dressing himself; in such clothing Bruno could no longer be recognized as a priest. Things apparently went well for Bruno for a time, as he entered his name in the Rector's Book of the University of Geneva in May of 1579. But in keeping with his personality he could not long remain silent. In August he published an attack on the work of Antoine de la Faye, a distinguished professor. He and the printer were promptly arrested. Rather than apologizing, Bruno insisted on continuing to defend his publication. He was refused the right to take sacrament. Though this was eventually reversed, he left Geneva.

He left for France, arriving first in Lyon, and thereafter settling for a time (1580–1581) in Toulouse, where he took his doctorate in theology and was elected by students to lecture in philosophy. It seems he also attempted at this time to return to the Catholic fold, but was denied absolution by the Jesuit priest he approached. When religious strife broke out in the summer of 1581, he relocated to Paris. There he held a cycle of thirty lectures on theological topics, and he also began to gain fame for his prodigious memory. Bruno's feats of memory were based, at least in part, on his elaborate system of mnemonics, but some of his contemporaries found it easier to attribute them to magical powers. His talents attracted the benevolent attention of the king Henry III. The king summoned him to the court. Bruno subsequently reported "I got me such a name that King Henry III summoned me one day to discover from me if the memory which I possessed was natural or acquired by magic art. I satisfied him that it did not come from sorcery but from organised knowledge; and, following this, I got a book on memory printed, entitled 'The Shadows of Ideas', which I dedicated to His Majesty. Forthwith he gave me an Extraordinary Lectureship with a salary."[10]

In Paris Bruno enjoyed the protection of his powerful French patrons. During this period, he published several works on mnemonics, including De umbris idearum (On The Shadows of Ideas, 1582), Ars Memoriae (The Art of Memory, 1582), and Cantus Circaeus (Circe's Song, 1582). All of these were based on his mnemonic models of organised knowledge and experience, as opposed to the simplistic logic-based mnemonic techniques of Petrus Ramus then becoming popular. Bruno also published a comedy summarizing some of his philosophical positions, titled Il Candelaio (The Torchbearer, 1582). On The Shadows of Ideas was dedicated to King Henry III. In the 16th century dedications were, as a rule, approved beforehand, and hence were a way of placing a work under the protection of an individual. Given that Bruno dedicated various works to the likes of King Henry III, Sir Philip Sidney, Michel de Castelnau (French Ambassador to England), and possibly Pope Pius V, it is apparent that this wanderer had experienced a meteoric rise and moved in powerful circles.

England, 1583–1585

In April 1583, Bruno went to England with letters of recommendation from Henry III as a guest of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. There he became acquainted with the poet Philip Sidney (to whom he dedicated two books) and other members of the Hermetic circle around John Dee, though there is no evidence that Bruno ever met Dee himself. He also lectured at Oxford, and unsuccessfully sought a teaching position there. His views spurred controversy, notably with John Underhill, Rector of Lincoln College and from 1589 bishop of Oxford, and George Abbot, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, who poked fun at Bruno for supporting “the opinion of Copernicus that the earth did go round, and the heavens did stand still; whereas in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still.”[11] and who reports accusations that Bruno plagiarized Ficino's work. Still, the English period was a fruitful one. During that time Bruno completed and published some of his most important works, the "Italian Dialogues," including the cosmological tracts La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584), De la Causa, Principio et Uno (On Cause, Principle and Unity, 1584), De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584) as well as Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 1584) and De gl' Heroici Furori (On Heroic Frenzies, 1585). Some of the works that Bruno published in London, notably the The Ash Wednesday Supper, appear to have given offense. It was not the first time, nor was it to be the last, that Bruno's controversial views coupled with his abrasive sarcasm lost him the support of his friends. While conclusive proof is wanting, the theory has been advanced that, while he was staying in the French Embassy in London, Bruno was also spying on Catholic conspirators under the pseudonym 'Fagot' for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State.[12]

Last years of wandering, 1585–1592

In October 1585, after the French embassy in London was attacked by a mob, Bruno returned to Paris with Castelnau, finding a tense political situation. Moreover, his 120 theses against Aristotelian natural science and his pamphlets against the mathematician Fabrizio Mordente soon put him in ill favor. In 1586, following a violent quarrel about Mordente's invention, "the differential compass," he left France for Germany.

Woodcut from "Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatis mathematicos atque philosophos," Prague 1588

In Germany he failed to obtain a teaching position at Marburg, but was granted permission to teach at Wittenberg, where he lectured on Aristotle for two years. However, with a change of intellectual climate there, he was no longer welcome, and went in 1588 to Prague, where he obtained 300 taler from Rudolf II, but no teaching position. He went on to serve briefly as a professor in Helmstedt, but had to flee again when he was excommunicated by the Lutherans, continuing the pattern of Bruno's gaining favor from lay authorities before falling foul of the ecclesiastics of whatever hue.

During this period he produced several Latin works, dictated to his friend and secretary Girolamo Besler, including De Magia (On Magic), Theses De Magia (Theses On Magic) and De Vinculis In Genere (A General Account of Bonding). All these were apparently transcribed or recorded by Besler (or Bisler) between 1589 and 1590.[13] He also published De Imaginum, Signorum, Et Idearum Compositione (On The Composition of Signs, Images and Ideas, 1591).

The year 1591 found him in Frankfurt. Apparently, during the Frankfurt Book Fair, he received an invitation to Venice from the patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, who wished to be instructed in the art of memory, and also heard of a vacant chair in mathematics at the University of Padua. Apparently believing that the Inquisition might have lost some of its impetus, he returned to Italy.

He went first to Padua, where he taught briefly, and applied unsuccessfully for the chair of mathematics, which was assigned instead to Galileo Galilei one year later. Bruno accepted Mocenigo's invitation and moved to Venice in March 1592. For about two months he functioned as an in-house tutor to Mocenigo. When Bruno announced his plan to leave Venice to his host, the latter, who was unhappy with the teachings he had received and had apparently developed a personal rancour towards Bruno, denounced him to the Venetian Inquisition, which had Bruno arrested on May 22, 1592. Among the numerous charges of blasphemy and heresy brought against him in Venice, based on Mocenigo's denunciation, was his belief in the plurality of worlds, as well as accusations of personal misconduct. Bruno defended himself skillfully, stressing the philosophical character of some of his positions, denying others and admitting that he had had doubts on some matters of dogma. The Roman Inquisition, however, asked for his transferral to Rome. After several months and some quibbling the Venetian authorities reluctantly consented and Bruno was sent to Rome in February 1593.

Imprisonment, trial and execution, 1592–1600

In Rome he was imprisoned for seven years during his lengthy trial, lastly in the Tower of Nona. Some important documents about the trial are lost, but others have been preserved, among them a summary of the proceedings that was rediscovered in 1940.[14] The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo lists them as follows:[15]

The trial of Giordano Bruno by the Roman Inquisition. Bronze relief by Ettore Ferrari, Campo de' Fiori, Rome.
  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ's divinity and Incarnation.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
  • Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
  • Believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
  • Dealing in magics and divination.
  • Denying the Virginity of Mary.

In these grim circumstances Bruno continued his Venetian defensive strategy, which consisted in bowing to the Church's dogmatic teachings, while trying to preserve the basis of his philosophy. In particular Bruno held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. Instead he appealed in vain to Pope Clement VIII, hoping to save his life through a partial recantation. The Pope expressed himself in favor of a guilty verdict. Consequently, Bruno was declared a heretic, and told he would be handed over to secular authorities. According to the correspondence of one Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, he is said to have made a threatening gesture towards his judges and to have replied:

"Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam (Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it)."[16] He was quickly turned over to the secular authorities and, on February 17, 1600 in the Campo de' Fiori, a central Roman market square, "his tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words" he was burned at the stake.[17] His ashes were dumped into the Tiber river. All Bruno's works were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1603.

Late Vatican regret

On the 400th anniversary of Bruno's death, Cardinal Angelo Sodano declared Bruno's death to be a "sad episode". Despite his regret, he defended Bruno's persecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors "had the desire to preserve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life" by trying to make him recant and subsequently by appealing the capital punishment with the secular authorities of Rome.[18]

Retrospective views of Bruno

The monument to Bruno in the place he was executed, Campo de' Fiori in Rome.

Some authors have characterized Bruno as a "martyr of science," suggesting parallels with the Galileo affair. They assert that, even though Bruno's theological beliefs were an important factor in his heresy trial, his Copernicanism and cosmological beliefs also played a significant role for the outcome. Others oppose such views, and claim this alleged connection to be exaggerated, or outright false.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology."[19]

Similarly, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) asserts that "Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skilful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc."[20]

However, the webpage of the Vatican Secret Archives discussing the document containing a summary of legal proceedings against him in Rome, suggests a different perspective: "In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno’s heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration."[21]

Following the 1870 Capture of Rome by the newly created Kingdom of Italy and the end of the Church's temporal power over the city, the erection of a monument to Bruno on the site of his execution became feasible. In 1885 an international committee was formed for that purpose,[22] including Victor Hugo, Herbert Spencer, Ernest Renan, Ernst Haeckel, Henrik Ibsen and Ferdinand Gregorovius.[23][24] The monument was sharply opposed by the clerical party, but was finally erected by the Rome Municipality and inaugurated in 1889.

A statue of a stretched human figure standing on its head designed by Alexander Polzin depicting Bruno's death at the stake was placed in Potsdamer Platz station in Berlin on March 2, 2008.[25] [26]

Cosmology

Cosmology before Bruno

According to Aristotle and Plato, the universe was a finite sphere. Its ultimate limit was the primum mobile, whose diurnal rotation was conferred upon it by a transcendental God, not part of the universe, a motionless prime mover and first cause. The fixed stars were part of this celestial sphere, all at the same fixed distance from the immobile earth at the center of the sphere. Ptolemy had numbered these at 1,022, grouped into 48 constellations. The planets were each fixed to a transparent sphere.

Illuminated illustration of the Ptolemaic geocentric conception of the Universe.

In the first half of the 15th century Nicolaus Cusanus (not to be confused with Copernicus a century later) reissued the ideas formulated in Antiquity by Democritus and Lucretius and dropped the Aristotelean cosmos. He envisioned an infinite universe, whose center was everywhere and circumference nowhere, with countless rotating stars, the Earth being one of them, of equal importance. He also considered that neither were the rotational orbits circular, nor was the movement uniform.

In the second half of the 16th century, the theories of Copernicus (1473–1543) began diffusing through Europe. Copernicus conserved the idea of planets fixed to solid spheres, but considered the apparent motion of the stars to be an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis; he also preserved the notion of an immobile center, but it was the Sun rather than the Earth. Copernicus also argued the Earth was a planet orbiting the Sun once every year. However he maintained the Ptolemaic hypothesis that the orbits of the planets were composed of perfect circles—deferents and epicycles—and that the stars were fixed on a stationary outer sphere.

Few astronomers of Bruno's time accepted Copernicus's heliocentric model. Among those who did were the Germans Michael Maestlin (1550–1631), Christoph Rothmann, Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), the Englishman Thomas Digges, author of A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes, and the Italian Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). Curiously, Bruno's Nolan compatriot, Nicola Antonio Stigliola, born just two years before Bruno himself, believed in the Copernican model. The two, however, likely never met after their youth.

Bruno's cosmology

Bruno believed (and praised Copernicus for establishing a scientific explanation for the fact) that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that the apparent diurnal rotation of the heavens is an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth around its axis. Bruno also held (following Nicholas of Cusa) that because God is infinite the universe would reflect this fact in boundless immensity. Bruno also asserted that the stars in the sky were really other suns like our own, around which orbited other planets. He indicated that support for such beliefs in no way contradicted scripture or true religion.

In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues, in which he argued against the planetary spheres. (Two years later, Rothmann did the same, as did Tycho Brahe in 1587.) Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance—a "pure air," aether, or spiritus -- that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus. Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical universe. The Earth was just one more heavenly body, as was the Sun. God had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other. God, according to Bruno, was as present on Earth as in the Heavens, an immanent God, the One subsuming in itself the multiplicity of existence, rather than a remote heavenly deity.

Bruno also affirmed that the universe was homogeneous, made up everywhere of the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air), rather than having the stars be composed of a separate quintessence. Essentially, the same physical laws would operate everywhere, although the use of that term is anachronistic. Space and time were both conceived as infinite. There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian notions of divine creation and Last Judgement.

Under this model, the Sun was simply one more star, and the stars all suns, each with its own planets. Bruno saw a solar system of a sun/star with planets as the fundamental unit of the universe. According to Bruno, infinite God necessarily created an infinite universe, formed of an infinite number of solar systems, separated by vast regions full of Aether, because empty space could not exist. (Bruno did not arrive at the concept of a galaxy.) Comets were part of a synodus ex mundis of stars, and not—as other authors maintained at the time—ephemeral creations, divine instruments, or heavenly messengers. Each comet was a world, a permanent celestial body, formed of the four elements.

Bruno's cosmology is marked by infinitude, homogeneity, and isotropy, with planetary systems distributed evenly throughout. Matter follows an active animistic principle: it is intelligent and discontinuous in structure, made up of discrete atoms. This animism (and a corresponding disdain for mathematics as a means to understanding) is the most dramatic respect in which Bruno's cosmology differs from what today passes for a common-sense picture of the universe.

During the later 16th century, and throughout the 17th century, Bruno's ideas were held up for ridicule, debate, or inspiration. Margaret Cavendish, for example, wrote an entire series of poems against "atoms" and "infinite worlds" in Poems and Fancies in 1664. Bruno's true, if partial, rehabilitation would have to wait for the implications of Newtonian cosmology.

Bruno's overall contribution to the birth of modern science is still controversial. Some scholars follow Frances Yates stressing the importance of Bruno's ideas about the universe being infinite and lacking geocentric structure as a crucial crosspoint between the old and the new. Others disagree. Others yet see in Bruno's idea of multiple worlds instantiating the infinite possibilities of a pristine, indivisible One a forerunner of Everett's Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.[27]

Note on the Bruno portraits

The earlier of the two Bruno portraits, first published in 1715 in Germany, more than a century after his death.

Retrospective 'scientific' iconography of Bruno shows him with a Dominican cowl but not tonsured. Edward Gosselin has suggested that it is likely Bruno kept his tonsure at least until 1579, and it is possible that he wore it again thereafter. When Bruno was imprisoned by the Venetian inquisition in May of 1592 records describe him as a man "of average height, with a hazel colored beard and the appearance of being about forty years of age."

The later of two Bruno portraits often uncritically accepted as genuine. Engraved by C. Meyer in Paris, first quarter of the 19th century

Otherwise, there is a passage in a work by George Abbot suggesting that Bruno was short, "When that Italian Didapper, who intituled himselfe Philotheus Iordanus Brunus Nolanus, magis elaborata Theologia Doctor, &c with a name longer than his body...".[28]

In addition to mentioning his name is "longer than his body" Abbot uses the derisive term "didaper" which in period meant "a small diving waterfowl". Neither of these descriptions offers enough material upon which to base a portrait, and no period portrait is known to exist. The supposed "portraits" of Bruno often seen derive from two sources, the earlier of which is clearly the inspiration for the later. The more recent of the two dates from 1824, and appeared in a book discussing heroes of modern 'scientific' thought. The oldest is an engraving published in 1715.[29] According to Salvestrini the earlier of the two is "the only known portrait of Bruno". He suggests it might be a re-engraving made from a lost print. Its authenticity is doubtful.[30]

Works

Notes

  1. ^ See for example, Michel, Paul Henri. The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell, 1962; Birx, Jams H.. "Giordano Bruno". The Harbinger, Mobile, AL, November 11, 1997.; Turner, William. "Giordano Bruno". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 13 Jan. 2009; http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=203945; and http://www.pantheism.net/paul/brunphil.htm.
  2. ^ 19th and early 20th century portrayals of Bruno often focus on his role as a 'martyr' for free thought, or intellectual freedom. In this regard McIntyre, J. L., Giordano Bruno: Mystic Martyr, London, 1903 is one representative example among the many available. He is portrayed by some as a martyr for science (e.g. Griggs, E.H., Great Leaders in Human Progress, Ayer Publishing, 1969, Ch. 9 "Giordano Bruno, The Martyr of Science"). Saiber notes: Kepler admitted to accepting Bruno's theory of infinite worlds (but not an infinite universe); Leibniz drew from Bruno's monadology, and Spinoza from Bruno's ideas of a infinite, pantheistic universe. In 1926, in Sydney, Australia, the Theosophical Society chose 2GB (2 for the State, New South Wales, G for Giordano and B for Bruno) as its call sign as a tribute to Bruno. In 1960 Soviet astronomers named a crater of the moon after Bruno. Also in 1960, the Dutch astronomers Cornelius Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld discovered an asteroid which they subsequently designated 5148, a permutation of Bruno's birth year (Saiber 2005: 43-45). However, today, many feel that any characterization of Bruno's thought as 'scientific' (and hence any attempt to position him as a martyr for 'science') is hard to accept. e.g. "Ever since Domenico Berti revived him as the hero who died rather than renounce his scientific conviction of the truth of the Copernican theory, the martyr for modern science, the philosopher who broke with medieval Aristotelianism and ushered in the modern world, Bruno has been in a false position. The popular view of Bruno is still roughly as just stated. If I have not finally proved its falsity, I have written this book in vain" Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964, p450; see also: Adam Frank, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, University of California Press, 2009, p24
  3. ^ The primary work on the relationship between Bruno and Hermeticism is Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and The Hermetic Tradition, 1964; for an alternative assessment, placing more emphasis on the Kabbalah, and less on Hermeticism, see Karen Silvia De Leon-Jones, Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah, Yale, 1997; for a return to emphasis on Bruno's role in the development of Science, and criticism of Yates' emphasis on magical and Hermetic themes, see Hillary Gatti, Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science, Cornell, 1999
  4. ^ Alessandro G. Farinella and Carole Preston, "Giordano Bruno: Neoplatonism and the Wheel of Memory in the 'De Umbris Idearum'", in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 2, (Summer, 2002), pp. 596-624; Arielle Saiber, Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language, Ashgate, 2005
  5. ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950.
  6. ^ This is recorded in the diary of one Guillaume Cotin, librarian of the Abbey of St. Victor, who recorded recollections of a number of personal conversations he had with Bruno. Bruno also mentions this dedication in the Dedicatory Epistle of The Cabala of Pegasus (Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo, 1585).
  7. ^ Gosselin has argued that Bruno kept his tonsure after fleeing Naples, and suggests that Bruno's report that he returned to Dominican garb in Padua suggests that he kept his tonsure at least until his arrival in Geneva in 1579. He also suggests it is likely that Bruno kept the tonsure even after this point. According to this view the tonsure would show a continued and deep religious attachment contrary to the way in which Bruno has been portrayed as a martyr for modern science. Instead, Gosselin argues Bruno should be understood in the context of reformist Catholic dissenters. Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 673–78.
  8. ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950 "Following the northern route back through Brescia, Bruno came to Bergamo where he resumed the monastic habit. He perhaps visited Milan, and then leaving Italy he crossed the Alps by the Mont Cenis pass, and came to Chambéry. He describes his hospitable reception there by the Dominican Convent, but again he received no encouragement to remain, and he journeyed on to Lyons. Bruno's next movements are obscure. In 1579 he reached Geneva."
  9. ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950; Singer points out in a footnote that Bruno's name appears in a list, compiled one hundred years later, of Italian refugees who had belonged to the Protestant church of Geneva. However, she does not find this evidence convincing.
  10. ^ William Boulting, Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom, 1916, p58
  11. ^ Andrew D. Weiner, "Expelling the Beast: Bruno's Adventures in England", in Modern Philology, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Aug., 1980), pp. 1–13.
  12. ^ Bossy, John: "Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair." Yale University Press, 1991.
  13. ^ Giordano Bruno, Cause Principle and Unity, and Essays on Magic, Edited by Richard J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca, Cambridge, 1998, xxxvi
  14. ^ "II Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101.
  15. ^ Luigi Firpo, Il processo di Giordano Bruno, 1993.
  16. ^ This is discussed in Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950, ch. 7, "A gloating account of the whole ritual is given in a letter written on the very day by a youth named Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, a recent convert to Catholicism to whom Pope Clement VIII had shown great favour, creating him Knight of St. Peter and Count of the Sacred Palace. Schopp was addressing Conrad Rittershausen. He recounts that because of his heresy Bruno had been publicly burned that day in the Square of Flowers in front of the Theatre of Pompey. He makes merry over the belief of the Italians that every heretic is a Lutheran. It is evident that he had been present at the interrogations, for he relates in detail the life of Bruno and the works and doctrines for which he had been arraigned, and he gives a vivid account of Bruno's final appearance before his judges on 8th February. To Schopp we owe the knowledge of Bruno's bearing under judgement. When the verdict had been declared, records Schopp, Bruno with a threatening gesture addressed his judges: "Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it." Thus he was dismissed to the prison, gloats the convert, "and was given eight days to recant, but in vain. So today he was led to the funeral pyre. When the image of our Saviour was shown to him before his death he angrily rejected it with averted face. Thus my dear Rittershausen is it our custom to proceed against such men or rather indeed such monsters."
  17. ^ "II Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101; the precise terminology for the tool used to silence Bruno before burning is recorded as una morsa di legno, "a vise of wood", which will hopefully be noted and put to rest the sensationalistic claims (as though being burned alive were not sensationalistic enough) that his tongue was pierced with an iron spike.
  18. ^ Seife, Charles, "Vatican Regrets Burning Cosmologist", in ScienceNOW, March 1st, 2000.
  19. ^ Sheila Rabin, Nicolaus Copernicus in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online, accessed 19 November 2005).
  20. ^  "Giordano Bruno". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Giordano_Bruno. 
  21. ^ Vatican Secret Archives accessed 3 November 2006.
  22. ^ Site of Bruno's execution: 41°53′44″N 12°28′20″E / 41.89556°N 12.47222°E / 41.89556; 12.47222.
  23. ^ Alan Powers, Bristol Community College, Campania Felix: Giordano Bruno’s Candelaio and Naples accessed 27 May 2007
  24. ^ Hans-Volkmar Findeisen: „Gegenpapst und Designer des Darwinismus“ – Wer kennt heute eigentlich noch Ernst Haeckel? (in German) accessed 27 May 2007
  25. ^ Bhattacharjee, Yudhiijit (March 13, 2008). "Think About It". Science 319: 1467. 
  26. ^ http://bruno-denkmal.de/index.html Bruno-Denkmal website in German
  27. ^ Max Tegmark, Parallel Universes, 2003
  28. ^ Robert McNulty, "Bruno at Oxford", in Renaissance News, 1960 (XIII), pp 300-305
  29. ^ Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), p 674
  30. ^ Virgilio Salvestrini, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno, Firenze, 1958

References

  • Blackwell, Richard J.; de Lucca, Robert (1998). Cause, Principle and Unity: And Essays on Magic by Giordano Bruno. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59658-0. 
  • Blum, Paul Richard (1999). Giordano Bruno. Munich: Beck Verlag. ISBN 3-406-41951-8. 
  • Bombassaro, Luiz Carlos (2002). Im Schatten der Diana. Die Jagdmetapher im Werk von Giordano Bruno. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag. 
  • Culianu, Ioan P. (1987). Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-12315-4. 
  • Gatti, Hilary (2002). Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8785-4. 
  • Kessler, John (1900). Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher. Rationalist Association. 
  • McIntyre, J. Lewis (1997). Giordano Bruno. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-564-59141-7. 
  • Mendoza, Ramon G. (1995). The Acentric Labyrinth. Giordano Bruno's Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology. Element Books Ltd.. ISBN 1852306408. 
  • Rowland, Ingrid D. (2008). Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0-809-09524-6. 
  • Saiber, Arielle (2005). Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language. Ashgate. ISBN 0-754-63321-7. 
  • Singer, Dorothea (1950). Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought, With Annotated Translation of His Work - On the Infinite Universe and Worlds. Schuman. ISBN 1-11731-419-7. 
  • White, Michael (2002). The Pope & the Heretic. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 0060186267. 
  • Yates, Frances (1964). Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226950077. 
  • Michel, Paul Henri (1962) The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell. ISBN 0801405092
  • The Cabala of Pegasus by Giordano Bruno, ISBN 0300092172
  • Giordano Bruno, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol 4, 1987 ed., pg. 634
  • Il processo di Giordano Bruno, Luigi Firpo, 1993
  • Giordano Bruno,Il primo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il trattato sull'intelligenza artificiale, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
  • Giordano Bruno,Il secondo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il Sigillo dei Sigilli, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
  • Giordano Bruno, Il terzo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, La logica per immagini, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Giordano Bruno, Il quarto libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, L'arte di inventare con Trenta Statue, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Giordano Bruno L'incantesimo di Circe, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Guido del Giudice, WWW Giordano Bruno, Marotta & Cafiero Editori, 2001 ISBN 8888234012
  • Giordano Bruno, De Umbris Idearum, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Guido del Giudice, La coincidenza degli opposti, Di Renzo Editore, ISBN 8883231104 , 2005 (seconda edizione accresciuta con il saggio Bruno, Rabelais e Apollonio di Tiana, Di Renzo Editore, Roma 2006 ISBN 8883231481)
  • Giordano Bruno, Due Orazioni: Oratio Valedictoria - Oratio Consolatoria, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2007 ISBN 8883231740
  • Giordano Bruno, La disputa di Cambrai. Camoeracensis Acrotismus, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2008 ISBN 8883231996

External links

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Giordano Bruno
File:Giordano Bruno Campo dei
Full name Giordano Bruno
Born 1548
Nola, Kingdom of Naples, in present-day Italy
Died February 17, 1600 (aged 51–52)
Rome, Papal States, in present-day Italy
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Europe
Main interests Philosophy, Cosmology, and Memory

Giordano Bruno (1548 – February 17, 1600), born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, who is best known as a proponent of the infinity of the universe. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in identifying the Sun as just one of an infinite number of independently moving heavenly bodies: he is the first European man to have conceptualized the universe as a continuum where the stars we see at night are identical in nature to the Sun. He was burned at the stake by authorities in 1600 after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy. After his death he gained considerable fame; in the 19th and early 20th centuries, commentators focusing on his astronomical beliefs regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas. Recent assessments suggest that his ideas about the universe played a smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs, which differed from the interpretations and scope of God held by Catholicism.[1][2] In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensive works on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. More recent assessments, beginning with the pioneering work of Frances Yates, suggest that Bruno was deeply influenced by the astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism.[3] Other recent studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.[4]

Contents

Life

Early years, 1548–1576

Filippo Bruno was born in Nola (in Campania, then part of the Kingdom of Naples) in 1548, the son of Giovanni Bruno, a soldier, and Fraulissa Savolino. In his youth he was sent to Naples for education. He was tutored privately at the Augustinian monastery there, and attended public lectures at the Studium Generale.[5] At the age of 17, he entered the Dominican Order at the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, taking the name Giordano, after Giordano Crispo, his metaphysics tutor. He continued his studies there, completing his novitiate, and became an ordained priest in 1572 at age 24. During his time in Naples he became known for his skill with the art of memory and on one occasion traveled to Rome to demonstrate his mnemonic system before Pope Pius V and Cardinal Rebiba. In his later years Bruno claimed that the Pope accepted his dedication to him of the lost work On The Ark of Noah at this time.[6]

Such an honor suggests that Bruno was distinguished for outstanding ability. But Bruno's taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused him difficulties, and given the controversy he caused in later life it is surprising that he was able to remain within the monastic system for eleven years. In his testimony to Venetian inquisitors during his trial, many years later, he indicates that proceedings were twice taken against him for having cast away images of the saints, retaining only a crucifix, and for having made controversial reading recommendations to a novice. Such behavior could perhaps be overlooked, but Bruno's situation became much more serious when he was reported to have defended the Arian heresy, and when a copy of the banned writings of Erasmus, annotated by him, was discovered hidden in the convent privy. When he learned that an indictment was being prepared against him in Naples he fled, shedding his religious habit, at least for a time.[7]

First years of wandering, 1576–1583

Bruno first went to the Genoese port of Noli, then to Savona, Turin and finally to Venice, where he published his lost work On The Signs of the Times with the permission (so he claimed at his trial) of the Dominican Remigio Nannini Fiorentino. From Venice he went to Padua where he met fellow Dominicans who convinced him to wear his religious habit again. From Padua he went to Bergamo and then across the Alps to Chambéry and Lyon. His movements after this time are obscure.[8]

In 1579 he arrived in Geneva. As D.W. Singer, a Bruno biographer, notes, "The question has sometimes been raised as to whether Bruno became a Protestant, but it is intrinsically most unlikely that he accepted membership in Calvin's communion"[9] During his Venetian trial he told inquisitors that while in Geneva he told the Marchese de Vico of Naples, who was notable for helping Italian refugees in Geneva, "I did not intend to adopt the religion of the city. I desired to stay there only that I might live at liberty and in security." Bruno had a pair of breeches made for himself, and the Marchese and others apparently made Bruno a gift of a sword, hat, cape and other necessities for dressing himself; in such clothing Bruno could no longer be recognized as a priest. Things apparently went well for Bruno for a time, as he entered his name in the Rector's Book of the University of Geneva in May of 1579. But in keeping with his personality he could not long remain silent. In August he published an attack on the work of Antoine de la Faye, a distinguished professor. He and the printer were promptly arrested. Rather than apologizing, Bruno insisted on continuing to defend his publication. He was refused the right to take sacrament. Though this was eventually reversed, he left Geneva.

He left for France, arriving first in Lyon, and thereafter settling for a time (1580–1581) in Toulouse, where he took his doctorate in theology and was elected by students to lecture in philosophy. It seems he also attempted at this time to return to the Catholic fold, but was denied absolution by the Jesuit priest he approached. When religious strife broke out in the summer of 1581, he relocated to Paris. There he held a cycle of thirty lectures on theological topics, and he also began to gain fame for his prodigious memory. Bruno's feats of memory were based, at least in part, on his elaborate system of mnemonics, but some of his contemporaries found it easier to attribute them to magical powers. His talents attracted the benevolent attention of the king Henry III. The king summoned him to the court. Bruno subsequently reported "I got me such a name that King Henry III summoned me one day to discover from me if the memory which I possessed was natural or acquired by magic art. I satisfied him that it did not come from sorcery but from organised knowledge; and, following this, I got a book on memory printed, entitled 'The Shadows of Ideas', which I dedicated to His Majesty. Forthwith he gave me an Extraordinary Lectureship with a salary."[10]

In Paris Bruno enjoyed the protection of his powerful French patrons. During this period, he published several works on mnemonics, including De umbris idearum (On The Shadows of Ideas, 1582), Ars Memoriae (The Art of Memory, 1582), and Cantus Circaeus (Circe's Song, 1582). All of these were based on his mnemonic models of organised knowledge and experience, as opposed to the simplistic logic-based mnemonic techniques of Petrus Ramus then becoming popular. Bruno also published a comedy summarizing some of his philosophical positions, titled Il Candelaio (The Torchbearer, 1582). On The Shadows of Ideas was dedicated to King Henry III. In the 16th century dedications were, as a rule, approved beforehand, and hence were a way of placing a work under the protection of an individual. Given that Bruno dedicated various works to the likes of King Henry III, Sir Philip Sidney, Michel de Castelnau (French Ambassador to England), and possibly Pope Pius V, it is apparent that this wanderer had experienced a meteoric rise and moved in powerful circles.

England, 1583–1585

In April 1583, Bruno went to England with letters of recommendation from Henry III as a guest of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. There he became acquainted with the poet Philip Sidney (to whom he dedicated two books) and other members of the Hermetic circle around John Dee, though there is no evidence that Bruno ever met Dee himself. He also lectured at Oxford, and unsuccessfully sought a teaching position there. His views spurred controversy, notably with John Underhill, Rector of Lincoln College and from 1589 bishop of Oxford, and George Abbot, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, who poked fun at Bruno for supporting “the opinion of Copernicus that the earth did go round, and the heavens did stand still; whereas in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still.”[11] and who reports accusations that Bruno plagiarized Ficino's work. Still, the English period was a fruitful one. During that time Bruno completed and published some of his most important works, the "Italian Dialogues," including the cosmological tracts La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584), De la Causa, Principio et Uno (On Cause, Principle and Unity, 1584), De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584) as well as Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 1584) and De gl' Heroici Furori (On Heroic Frenzies, 1585). Some of these were printed by John Charlewood. Some of the works that Bruno published in London, notably The Ash Wednesday Supper, appear to have given offense. It was not the first time, nor was it to be the last, that Bruno's controversial views coupled with his abrasive sarcasm lost him the support of his friends. While conclusive proof is wanting, the theory has been advanced that, while he was staying in the French Embassy in London, Bruno was also spying on Catholic conspirators under the pseudonym 'Fagot' for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State.[12]

Last years of wandering, 1585–1592

In October 1585, after the French embassy in London was attacked by a mob, Bruno returned to Paris with Castelnau, finding a tense political situation. Moreover, his 120 theses against Aristotelian natural science and his pamphlets against the mathematician Fabrizio Mordente soon put him in ill favor. In 1586, following a violent quarrel about Mordente's invention, "the differential compass," he left France for Germany.

1588]]In Germany he failed to obtain a teaching position at Marburg, but was granted permission to teach at Wittenberg, where he lectured on Aristotle for two years. However, with a change of intellectual climate there, he was no longer welcome, and went in 1588 to Prague, where he obtained 300 taler from Rudolf II, but no teaching position. He went on to serve briefly as a professor in Helmstedt, but had to flee again when he was excommunicated by the Lutherans, continuing the pattern of Bruno's gaining favor from lay authorities before falling foul of the ecclesiastics of whatever hue.

During this period he produced several Latin works, dictated to his friend and secretary Girolamo Besler, including De Magia (On Magic), Theses De Magia (Theses On Magic) and De Vinculis In Genere (A General Account of Bonding). All these were apparently transcribed or recorded by Besler (or Bisler) between 1589 and 1590.[13] He also published De Imaginum, Signorum, Et Idearum Compositione (On The Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas, 1591).

The year 1591 found him in Frankfurt. Apparently, during the Frankfurt Book Fair, he received an invitation to Venice from the patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, who wished to be instructed in the art of memory, and also heard of a vacant chair in mathematics at the University of Padua. Apparently believing that the Inquisition might have lost some of its impetus, he returned to Italy.

He went first to Padua, where he taught briefly, and applied unsuccessfully for the chair of mathematics, which was assigned instead to Galileo Galilei one year later. Bruno accepted Mocenigo's invitation and moved to Venice in March 1592. For about two months he functioned as an in-house tutor to Mocenigo. When Bruno announced his plan to leave Venice to his host, the latter, who was unhappy with the teachings he had received and had apparently developed a personal rancour towards Bruno, denounced him to the Venetian Inquisition, which had Bruno arrested on May 22, 1592. Among the numerous charges of blasphemy and heresy brought against him in Venice, based on Mocenigo's denunciation, was his belief in the plurality of worlds, as well as accusations of personal misconduct. Bruno defended himself skillfully, stressing the philosophical character of some of his positions, denying others and admitting that he had had doubts on some matters of dogma. The Roman Inquisition, however, asked for his transferral to Rome. After several months and some quibbling the Venetian authorities reluctantly consented and Bruno was sent to Rome in February 1593.

Imprisonment, trial and execution, 1592–1600

In Rome he was imprisoned for seven years during his lengthy trial, lastly in the Tower of Nona. Some important documents about the trial are lost, but others have been preserved, among them a summary of the proceedings that was rediscovered in 1940.[14] The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo lists them as follows:[15] , Rome.]]

  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ's divinity and Incarnation.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
  • Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
  • Believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
  • Dealing in magics and divination.
  • Denying the Virginity of Mary.

In these grim circumstances Bruno continued his Venetian defensive strategy, which consisted in bowing to the Church's dogmatic teachings, while trying to preserve the basis of his philosophy. In particular Bruno held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. Instead he appealed in vain to Pope Clement VIII, hoping to save his life through a partial recantation. The Pope expressed himself in favor of a guilty verdict. Consequently, Bruno was declared a heretic, and told he would be handed over to secular authorities. According to the correspondence of one Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, he is said to have made a threatening gesture towards his judges and to have replied:

"Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam (Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it)."[16] He was quickly turned over to the secular authorities and, on February 17, 1600 in the Campo de' Fiori, a central Roman market square, "his tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words" he was burned at the stake.[17] His ashes were dumped into the Tiber river. All Bruno's works were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1603.

Late Vatican regret

On the 400th anniversary of Bruno's death, Cardinal Angelo Sodano declared Bruno's death to be a "sad episode". Despite his regret, he defended Bruno's persecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors "had the desire to preserve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life" by trying to make him recant and subsequently by appealing the capital punishment with the secular authorities of Rome.[18]

Retrospective views of Bruno

in Rome.]]

Some authors have characterized Bruno as a "martyr of science," suggesting parallels with the Galileo affair. They assert that, even though Bruno's theological beliefs were an important factor in his heresy trial, his Copernicanism and cosmological beliefs also played a significant role for the outcome. Others oppose such views, and claim this alleged connection to be exaggerated, or outright false.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology."[19]

Similarly, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) asserts that "Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skilful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc."[20]

However, the webpage of the Vatican Secret Archives discussing the document containing a summary of legal proceedings against him in Rome, suggests a different perspective: "In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno’s heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration."[21]

Following the 1870 Capture of Rome by the newly created Kingdom of Italy and the end of the Church's temporal power over the city, the erection of a monument to Bruno on the site of his execution became feasible. In 1885 an international committee was formed for that purpose,[22] including Victor Hugo, Herbert Spencer, Ernest Renan, Ernst Haeckel, Henrik Ibsen and Ferdinand Gregorovius.[23][24] The monument was sharply opposed by the clerical party, but was finally erected by the Rome Municipality and inaugurated in 1889.

A statue of a stretched human figure standing on its head designed by Alexander Polzin depicting Bruno's death at the stake was placed in Potsdamer Platz station in Berlin on March 2, 2008.[25] [26]

Cosmology

Cosmology before Bruno

According to Aristotle and Plato, the universe was a finite sphere.[dubious ] Its ultimate limit was the primum mobile, whose diurnal rotation was conferred upon it by a transcendental God, not part of the universe, a motionless prime mover and first cause. The fixed stars were part of this celestial sphere, all at the same fixed distance from the immobile earth at the center of the sphere. Ptolemy had numbered these at 1,022, grouped into 48 constellations. The planets were each fixed to a transparent sphere.


In the first half of the 15th century Nicolaus Cusanus (not to be confused with Copernicus a century later) reissued the ideas formulated in Antiquity by Democritus and Lucretius and dropped the Aristotelean cosmos. He envisioned an infinite universe, whose center was everywhere and circumference nowhere, with countless rotating stars, the Earth being one of them, of equal importance. He also considered that neither were the rotational orbits circular, nor was the movement uniform.

In the second half of the 16th century, the theories of Copernicus (1473–1543) began diffusing through Europe. Copernicus conserved the idea of planets fixed to solid spheres, but considered the apparent motion of the stars to be an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis; he also preserved the notion of an immobile center, but it was the Sun rather than the Earth. Copernicus also argued the Earth was a planet orbiting the Sun once every year. However he maintained the Ptolemaic hypothesis that the orbits of the planets were composed of perfect circles—deferents and epicycles—and that the stars were fixed on a stationary outer sphere.

Few astronomers of Bruno's time accepted Copernicus's heliocentric model. Among those who did were the Germans Michael Maestlin (1550–1631), Christoph Rothmann, Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), the Englishman Thomas Digges, author of A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes, and the Italian Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). Curiously, Bruno's Nolan compatriot, Nicola Antonio Stigliola, born just two years before Bruno himself, believed in the Copernican model. The two, however, probably never met after their youth.

Bruno's cosmology

Bruno believed (and praised Copernicus for establishing a scientific explanation for the fact) that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that the apparent diurnal rotation of the heavens is an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth around its axis. Bruno also held (following Nicholas of Cusa) that because God is infinite the universe would reflect this fact in boundless immensity. Bruno also asserted that the stars in the sky were really other suns like our own, around which orbited other planets. He indicated that support for such beliefs in no way contradicted scripture or true religion.

In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues, in which he argued against the planetary spheres. (Two years later, Rothmann did the same, as did Tycho Brahe in 1587.) Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance—a "pure air," aether, or spiritus -- that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus. Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical universe. The Earth was just one more heavenly body, as was the Sun. God had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other. God, according to Bruno, was as present on Earth as in the Heavens, an immanent God, the One subsuming in itself the multiplicity of existence, rather than a remote heavenly deity.

Bruno also affirmed that the universe was homogeneous, made up everywhere of the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air), rather than having the stars be composed of a separate quintessence. Essentially, the same physical laws would operate everywhere, although the use of that term is anachronistic. Space and time were both conceived as infinite. There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian notions of divine creation and Last Judgement.

Under this model, the Sun was simply one more star, and the stars all suns, each with its own planets. Bruno saw a solar system of a sun/star with planets as the fundamental unit of the universe. According to Bruno, infinite God necessarily created an infinite universe, formed of an infinite number of solar systems, separated by vast regions full of Aether, because empty space could not exist. (Bruno did not arrive at the concept of a galaxy.) Comets were part of a synodus ex mundis of stars, and not—as other authors maintained at the time—ephemeral creations, divine instruments, or heavenly messengers. Each comet was a world, a permanent celestial body, formed of the four elements.

Bruno's cosmology is marked by infinitude, homogeneity, and isotropy, with planetary systems distributed evenly throughout. Matter follows an active animistic principle: it is intelligent and discontinuous in structure, made up of discrete atoms. This animism (and a corresponding disdain for mathematics as a means to understanding) is the most dramatic respect in which Bruno's cosmology differs from what today passes for a common-sense picture of the universe.

During the later 16th century, and throughout the 17th century, Bruno's ideas were held up for ridicule, debate, or inspiration. Margaret Cavendish, for example, wrote an entire series of poems against "atoms" and "infinite worlds" in Poems and Fancies in 1664. Bruno's true, if partial, rehabilitation would have to wait for the implications of Newtonian cosmology.

Bruno's overall contribution to the birth of modern science is still controversial. Some scholars follow Frances Yates stressing the importance of Bruno's ideas about the universe being infinite and lacking geocentric structure as a crucial crosspoint between the old and the new. Others disagree. Others yet see in Bruno's idea of multiple worlds instantiating the infinite possibilities of a pristine, indivisible One a forerunner of Everett's Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.[27]

Note on the Bruno portraits

Retrospective 'scientific' iconography of Bruno shows him with a Dominican cowl but not tonsured. Edward Gosselin has suggested that it is likely Bruno kept his tonsure at least until 1579, and it is possible that he wore it again thereafter. When Bruno was imprisoned by the Venetian inquisition in May of 1592 records describe him as a man "of average height, with a hazel colored beard and the appearance of being about forty years of age." Otherwise, there is a passage in a work by George Abbot suggesting that Bruno was short, "When that Italian Didapper, who intituled himselfe Philotheus Iordanus Brunus Nolanus, magis elaborata Theologia Doctor, &c with a name longer than his body...".[28]

In addition to mentioning his name is "longer than his body" Abbot uses the derisive term "didaper" which in period meant "a small diving waterfowl". Neither of these descriptions offers enough material upon which to base a portrait, and no period portrait is known to exist. The supposed "portraits" of Bruno often seen derive from two sources, the earlier of which is clearly the inspiration for the later. The more recent of the two dates from 1824, and appeared in a book discussing heroes of modern 'scientific' thought. The oldest is an engraving published in 1715.[29] According to Salvestrini the earlier of the two is "the only known portrait of Bruno". He suggests it might be a re-engraving made from a lost print. Its authenticity is doubtful.[30]

Works

Notes

  1. ^ See for example, Michel, Paul Henri. The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell, 1962; Birx, Jams H.. "Giordano Bruno". The Harbinger, Mobile, AL, November 11, 1997.; Turner, William. "Giordano Bruno". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 13 Jan. 2009; http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=203945; and http://www.pantheism.net/paul/brunphil.htm.
  2. ^ 19th and early 20th century portrayals of Bruno often focus on his role as a 'martyr' for free thought, or intellectual freedom. In this regard McIntyre, J. L., Giordano Bruno: Mystic Martyr, London, 1903 is one representative example among the many available. He is portrayed by some as a martyr for science (e.g. Griggs, E.H., Great Leaders in Human Progress, Ayer Publishing, 1969, Ch. 9 "Giordano Bruno, The Martyr of Science"). Saiber notes: Kepler admitted to accepting Bruno's theory of infinite worlds (but not an infinite universe); Leibniz drew from Bruno's monadology, and Spinoza from Bruno's ideas of a infinite, pantheistic universe. In 1926, in Sydney, Australia, the Theosophical Society chose 2GB (2 for the State, New South Wales, G for Giordano and B for Bruno) as its call sign as a tribute to Bruno. In 1960 Soviet astronomers named a crater of the moon after Bruno. Also in 1960, the Dutch astronomers Cornelius Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld discovered an asteroid which they subsequently designated 5148, a permutation of Bruno's birth year (Saiber 2005: 43-45). However, today, many feel that any characterization of Bruno's thought as 'scientific' (and hence any attempt to position him as a martyr for 'science') is hard to accept. e.g. "Ever since Domenico Berti revived him as the hero who died rather than renounce his scientific conviction of the truth of the Copernican theory, the martyr for modern science, the philosopher who broke with medieval Aristotelianism and ushered in the modern world, Bruno has been in a false position. The popular view of Bruno is still roughly as just stated. If I have not finally proved its falsity, I have written this book in vain" Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964, p450; see also: Adam Frank, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, University of California Press, 2009, p24
  3. ^ The primary work on the relationship between Bruno and Hermeticism is Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and The Hermetic Tradition, 1964; for an alternative assessment, placing more emphasis on the Kabbalah, and less on Hermeticism, see Karen Silvia De Leon-Jones, Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah, Yale, 1997; for a return to emphasis on Bruno's role in the development of Science, and criticism of Yates' emphasis on magical and Hermetic themes, see Hillary Gatti, Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science, Cornell, 1999
  4. ^ Alessandro G. Farinella and Carole Preston, "Giordano Bruno: Neoplatonism and the Wheel of Memory in the 'De Umbris Idearum'", in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 2, (Summer, 2002), pp. 596-624; Arielle Saiber, Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language, Ashgate, 2005
  5. ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950.
  6. ^ This is recorded in the diary of one Guillaume Cotin, librarian of the Abbey of St. Victor, who recorded recollections of a number of personal conversations he had with Bruno. Bruno also mentions this dedication in the Dedicatory Epistle of The Cabala of Pegasus (Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo, 1585).
  7. ^ Gosselin has argued that Bruno kept his tonsure after fleeing Naples, and suggests that Bruno's report that he returned to Dominican garb in Padua suggests that he kept his tonsure at least until his arrival in Geneva in 1579. He also suggests it is likely that Bruno kept the tonsure even after this point. According to this view the tonsure would show a continued and deep religious attachment contrary to the way in which Bruno has been portrayed as a martyr for modern science. Instead, Gosselin argues Bruno should be understood in the context of reformist Catholic dissenters. Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 673–78.
  8. ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950 "Following the northern route back through Brescia, Bruno came to Bergamo where he resumed the monastic habit. He perhaps visited Milan, and then leaving Italy he crossed the Alps by the Mont Cenis pass, and came to Chambéry. He describes his hospitable reception there by the Dominican Convent, but again he received no encouragement to remain, and he journeyed on to Lyons. Bruno's next movements are obscure. In 1579 he reached Geneva."
  9. ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950; Singer points out in a footnote that Bruno's name appears in a list, compiled one hundred years later, of Italian refugees who had belonged to the Protestant church of Geneva. However, she does not find this evidence convincing.
  10. ^ William Boulting, Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom, 1916, p58
  11. ^ Andrew D. Weiner, "Expelling the Beast: Bruno's Adventures in England", in Modern Philology, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Aug., 1980), pp. 1–13.
  12. ^ Bossy, John: "Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair." Yale University Press, 1991.
  13. ^ Giordano Bruno, Cause Principle and Unity, and Essays on Magic, Edited by Richard J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca, Cambridge, 1998, xxxvi
  14. ^ "II Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101.
  15. ^ Luigi Firpo, Il processo di Giordano Bruno, 1993.
  16. ^ This is discussed in Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950, ch. 7, "A gloating account of the whole ritual is given in a letter written on the very day by a youth named Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, a recent convert to Catholicism to whom Pope Clement VIII had shown great favour, creating him Knight of St. Peter and Count of the Sacred Palace. Schopp was addressing Conrad Rittershausen. He recounts that because of his heresy Bruno had been publicly burned that day in the Square of Flowers in front of the Theatre of Pompey. He makes merry over the belief of the Italians that every heretic is a Lutheran. It is evident that he had been present at the interrogations, for he relates in detail the life of Bruno and the works and doctrines for which he had been arraigned, and he gives a vivid account of Bruno's final appearance before his judges on 8th February. To Schopp we owe the knowledge of Bruno's bearing under judgement. When the verdict had been declared, records Schopp, Bruno with a threatening gesture addressed his judges: "Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it." Thus he was dismissed to the prison, gloats the convert, "and was given eight days to recant, but in vain. So today he was led to the funeral pyre. When the image of our Saviour was shown to him before his death he angrily rejected it with averted face. Thus my dear Rittershausen is it our custom to proceed against such men or rather indeed such monsters."
  17. ^ "II Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101; the precise terminology for the tool used to silence Bruno before burning is recorded as una morsa di legno, "a vise of wood", which will hopefully be noted and put to rest the sensationalistic claims (as though being burned alive were not sensationalistic enough) that his tongue was pierced with an iron spike.
  18. ^ Seife, Charles, "Vatican Regrets Burning Cosmologist", in ScienceNOW, March 1st, 2000.
  19. ^ Sheila Rabin, "Nicolaus Copernicus" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online, accessed 19 November 2005).
  20. ^  "Giordano Bruno". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  21. ^ Vatican Secret Archives accessed 18 September 2010.
  22. ^ Site of Bruno's execution: 41°53′44″N 12°28′20″E / 41.89556°N 12.47222°E / 41.89556; 12.47222.
  23. ^ Alan Powers, Bristol Community College, Campania Felix: Giordano Bruno’s Candelaio and Naples accessed 27 May 2007
  24. ^ Hans-Volkmar Findeisen: „Gegenpapst und Designer des Darwinismus“ – Wer kennt heute eigentlich noch Ernst Haeckel? (in German) accessed 27 May 2007
  25. ^ Bhattacharjee, Yudhiijit (March 13, 2008). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Think About It"]. Science 319: 1467. 
  26. ^ http://bruno-denkmal.de/index.html Bruno-Denkmal website in German
  27. ^ Max Tegmark, Parallel Universes, 2003
  28. ^ Robert McNulty, "Bruno at Oxford", in Renaissance News, 1960 (XIII), pp 300-305
  29. ^ Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), p 674
  30. ^ Virgilio Salvestrini, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno, Firenze, 1958

References

  • Blackwell, Richard J.; de Lucca, Robert (1998). Cause, Principle and Unity: And Essays on Magic by Giordano Bruno. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59658-0. 
  • Blum, Paul Richard (1999). Giordano Bruno. Munich: Beck Verlag. ISBN 3-406-41951-8. 
  • Bombassaro, Luiz Carlos (2002). Im Schatten der Diana. Die Jagdmetapher im Werk von Giordano Bruno. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag. 
  • Culianu, Ioan P. (1987). Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-12315-4. 
  • Gatti, Hilary (2002). Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8785-4. 
  • Kessler, John (1900). Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher. Rationalist Association. 
  • McIntyre, J. Lewis (1997). Giordano Bruno. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-564-59141-7. 
  • Mendoza, Ramon G. (1995). The Acentric Labyrinth. Giordano Bruno's Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology. Element Books Ltd.. ISBN 1852306408. 
  • Rowland, Ingrid D. (2008). Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0-809-09524-6. 
  • Saiber, Arielle (2005). Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language. Ashgate. ISBN 0-754-63321-7. 
  • Singer, Dorothea (1950). Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought, With Annotated Translation of His Work - On the Infinite Universe and Worlds. Schuman. ISBN 1-11731-419-7. 
  • White, Michael (2002). The Pope & the Heretic. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 0060186267. 
  • Yates, Frances (1964). Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226950077. 
  • Michel, Paul Henri (1962) The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell. ISBN 0801405092
  • The Cabala of Pegasus by Giordano Bruno, ISBN 0300092172
  • Giordano Bruno, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol 4, 1987 ed., pg. 634
  • Il processo di Giordano Bruno, Luigi Firpo, 1993
  • Giordano Bruno,Il primo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il trattato sull'intelligenza artificiale, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
  • Giordano Bruno,Il secondo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il Sigillo dei Sigilli, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
  • Giordano Bruno, Il terzo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, La logica per immagini, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Giordano Bruno, Il quarto libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, L'arte di inventare con Trenta Statue, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Giordano Bruno L'incantesimo di Circe, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Guido del Giudice, WWW Giordano Bruno, Marotta & Cafiero Editori, 2001 ISBN 8888234012
  • Giordano Bruno, De Umbris Idearum, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Guido del Giudice, La coincidenza degli opposti, Di Renzo Editore, ISBN 8883231104 , 2005 (seconda edizione accresciuta con il saggio Bruno, Rabelais e Apollonio di Tiana, Di Renzo Editore, Roma 2006 ISBN 8883231481)
  • Giordano Bruno, Due Orazioni: Oratio Valedictoria - Oratio Consolatoria, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2007 ISBN 8883231740
  • Giordano Bruno, La disputa di Cambrai. Camoeracensis Acrotismus, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2008 ISBN 8883231996

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There was in me, whatever I was able to do, that which no future century will deny to be mine, that which a victor could have for his own: Not to have feared to die, not to have yielded to any equal in firmness of nature, and to have preferred a courageous death to a noncombatant life.

Giordano Bruno (15481600-02-17) was an Italian philosopher, astronomer, satirist, occultist, mystic, and martyr, who was burned at the stake as a heretic; born Filippo Bruno, in Nola, Italy, he often called himself Il Nolano (The Nolan).

Contents

Sourced

Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.
The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.
If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom...
  • Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.
    • His famous response to his judges upon his conviction as a heretic, prior to his transfer to the civil authorities for execution. (16 February 1600); as quoted by Gaspar Schopp of Breslau in a letter to Conrad Rittershausen; as translated in Giordano Bruno : His Life and Thought (1950) by Dorothea Waley Singer
    • Variant translations:
      Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it.
      It may be you fear more to deliver judgment upon me than I fear judgment.
      You pronounce sentence upon me with greater fear than I receive it.
  • The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.
    • As quoted in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 - 1600 (1913) by Coulson Turnbull
  • Heroic love is the property of those superior natures who are called insane (insano) not because they do not know, but because they over-know (soprasanno).
    • As quoted in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), by Miguel de Unamuno, as translated by J. E. Crawford Flitch; Conclusion : Don Quixote in the Contemporary European Tragi-Comedy
  • If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom. What can Juno give which thou canst not receive from Wisdom? What mayest thou admire in Venus which thou mayest not also contemplate in Wisdom? Her beauty is not small, for the lord of all things taketh delight in her. Her I have loved and diligently sought from my youth up.
  • Nature is none other than God in things... Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion.
    • As quoted in Elements of Pantheism (2004) by Paul A. Harrison

The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584)

La cena de le ceneri (1584)
  • A constellation of the most pedantic, obstinate ignorance and presumption, mixed with a kind of rustic incivility, which would try the patience of Job.
    • Declaration about the scholars of England, particularly those of Oxford.

Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)

De la Causa, Principio e Uno (1584) [Various translations]
Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • It is manifest... that every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity... The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe... Naught is mixed, yet is there some presence.
    Anything we take in the universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • The universal Intellect is the intimate, most real, peculiar and powerful part of the soul of the world. This is the single whole which filleth the whole, illumineth the universe and directeth nature to the production of natural things, as our intellect with the congruous production of natural kinds.
  • We find that everything that makes up difference and number is pure accident, pure show, pure constitution. Every production, of whatever kind, is an alteration, but the substance remains always the same, because it is only one, one divine immortal being.
  • The Universe is one, infinite, immobile. The absolute potential is one, the act is one, the form or soul is one, the material or body is one, the thing is one, the being in one, one is the maximum and the best... It is not generated, because there is no other being it could desire or hope for. since it comprises all being. It does not grow corrupt. because there is nothing else into which it could change, given that it is itself all things. It cannot diminish or grow, since it is infinite.
    • As translated by Paul Harrison
This whole which is visible in different ways in bodies, as far as formation, constitution, appearance, colors and other properties and common qualities, is none other than the diverse face of the same substance...
Everything that consists in generation, decay, alteration and change is not an entity, but a condition and circumstance of entity and being...
  • This whole which is visible in different ways in bodies, as far as formation, constitution, appearance, colors and other properties and common qualities, is none other than the diverse face of the same substance — a changeable, mobile face, subject to decay, of an immobile, permanent and eternal being.
    • As translated by Paul Harrison
  • Everything that makes diversity of kinds, of species, differences, properties… everything that consists in generation, decay, alteration and change is not an entity, but a condition and circumstance of entity and being, which is one, infinite, immobile, subject, matter, life, death, truth, lies, good and evil.
    • Variant: Everything that makes diversity of kinds, of species. differences, properties, everything that consists in generation, decay, alteration and change, is not an entity, but condition and circumstances of entity and being, which is one, infinite, immobile, subject, matter, life, soul, truth and good.
  • All things are in the Universe, and the universe is in all things: we in it, and it in us; in this way everything concurs in a perfect unity.
  • It is manifest that every soul has a certain continuity with the soul of the Universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity. The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the Universe. It is not mixed, yet is there in some presence.
  • Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • The universe comprises all being in a totality; for nothing that exists is outside or beyond infinite being, as the latter has no outside or beyond.
  • This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the centre of things.

On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)

De l'infinito universo et mondi (1584) On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1950) by Dorothea Waley Singer
What you receive from others is a testimony to their virtue; but all that you do for others is the sign and clear indication of your own.
That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me.
  • When the end comes, you will be esteemed by the world and rewarded by God, not because you have won the love and respect of the princes of the earth, however powerful, but rather for having loved, defended and cherished one such as I ... what you receive from others is a testimony to their virtue; but all that you do for others is the sign and clear indication of your own.
    • Dedication
  • To a body of infinite size there can be ascribed neither centre nor boundary... Thus the Earth no more than any other world is at the centre.
  • It is then unnecessary to investigate whether there be beyond the heaven Space, Void or Time. For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this one on which we live and grow. This space we declare to be infinite, since neither reason, convenience, possibility, sense-perception nor nature assign to it a limit. In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own.
  • When we consider the being and substance of that universe in which we are immutably set, we shall discover that neither we ourselves nor any substance doth suffer death. for nothing is in fact diminished in its substance, but all things, wandering through infinite space, undergo change of aspect.
    • Introductory Epistle
  • After it hath been seen how the obstinate and the ignorant of evil disposition are accustomed to dispute, it will further be shewn how disputes are wont to conclude; although others are so wary that without losing their composure, but with a sneer, a smile, a certain discreet malice, that which they have not succeeded in proving by argument — nor indeed can it be understood by themselves — nevertheless by these tricks of courteous disdain they pretend to have proven, endeavouring not only to conceal their own patently obvious ignorance but to cast it on to the back of their adversary. For they dispute not in order to find or even to seek Truth, but for victory, and to appear the more learned and strenuous upholders of a contrary opinion. Such persons should be avoided by all who have not a good breastplate of patience.
    • "Introductory Epistle : Argument of the Third Dialogue"
  • Make then your forecasts, my lords Astrologers, with your slavish physicians, by means of those astrolabes with which you seek to discern the fantastic nine moving spheres; in these you finally imprison your own minds, so that you appear to me but as parrots in a cage, while I watch you dancing up and down, turning and hopping within those circles.
  • I cleave the heavens and soar to the infinite.
    And while I rise from my own globe to others
    And penetrate ever further through the eternal field,
    That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me.
    • Variant translation: While I venture out beyond this tiny globe
      Into reaches past the bounds of starry night
      I leave behind what others strain to see afar.
  • I pray you, magnificent Sir, do not trouble yourself to return to us, but await our coming to you.
    • Third Dialogue

The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (1584)

Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (1584)
Divinity reveals herself in all things... everything has Divinity latent within itself.
  • Divinity reveals herself in all things... everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
  • Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; this Nature... is none other than God in things... Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion.... To the extent that one communicates with Nature, so one ascends to Divinity through Nature.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
  • Those wise men knew God to be in things, and Divinity to be latent in Nature, working and glowing differently in different subjects and succeeding through diverse physical forms, in certain arrangements, in making them participants in her, I say, in her being, in her life and intellect.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
  • If he is not Nature herself, he is certainly the nature of Nature, and is the soul of the Soul of the world, if he is not the soul herself.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
  • Of the eternal corporeal substance (which is not producible ex nihilo, nor reducible ad nihilum, but rarefiable, condensable, formable, arrangeable, and "fashionable") the composition is dissolved, the complexion is changed, the figure is modified, the being is altered, the fortune is varied, only the elements remaining what they are in substance, that same principle persevering which was always the one material principle, which is the true substance of things. eternal, ingenerable and incorruptible.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
  • Of the eternal incorporeal substance nothing is changed, is formed or deformed, but there always remains only that thing which cannot be a subject of dissolution, since it is not possible that it be a subject of composition, and therefore, either of itself or by accident, it cannot be said to die.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)

Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus (1585)

Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo con l'aggiunta dell' Asino Cillenico, Descritta dal Nolano [Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus with Appendix on the Cillenican Ass, Described by the Nolan] (1585)
The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life...
  • The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life. The greatest asses of the world are those who, lacking all understanding and instruction, and void of all civil life and custom, rot in perpetual pedantry; those who by the grace of heaven would reform obscure and corrupted faith, salve the cruelties of perverted religion and remove abuse of superstitions, mending the rents in their vesture. It is not they who indulge impious curiosity or who are ever seeking the secrets of nature, and reckoning the courses of the stars. Observe whether they have been busy with the secret causes of things, or if they have condoned the destruction of kingdoms, the dispersion of peoples, fires, blood, ruin or extermination; whether they seek the destruction of the whole world that it may belong to them: in order that the poor soul may be saved, that an edifice may be raised in heaven, that treasure may be laid up in that blessed land, caring naught for fame, profit or glory in this frail and uncertain life, but only for that other most certain and eternal life.
  • Pray, O pray to God, dear friends, if you are not already asses — that he will cause you to become asses... There is none who praiseth not the golden age when men were asses: they knew not how to work the land. One knew not how to dominate another, one understood no more than another; caves and caverns were their refuge; they were not so well covered nor so jealous nor were they confections of lust and of greed. Everything was held in common.
  • Oh holy asinity! holy ignorance!
    Holy foolishness and pious devotion!
    You who alone do more to advance and make souls good
    Than human ingenuity and study...

On the Monad, Number, and Figure (1591)

De monade, numero et figura (1591)
  • Even to have come forth is something, since I see that being able to conquer is placed in the hands of fate. However, there was in me, whatever I was able to do, that which no future century will deny to be mine, that which a victor could have for his own: Not to have feared to die, not to have yielded to any equal in firmness of nature, and to have preferred a courageous death to a noncombatant life.

De immenso (1591)

De innumerabilibus, immenso et infigurabili, usually referred to as De immenso (1591)
The infinity of All ever bringing forth anew, and even as infinite space is around us, so is infinite potentiality, capacity, reception, malleability, matter.
Eternity maintaineth her substance throughout time, immensity throughout space, universal form throughout motion.
The single spirit doth simultaneously temper the whole together; this is the single soul of all things; all are filled with God.
  • The wise soul feareth not death; rather she sometimes striveth for death, she goeth beyond to meet her. Yet eternity maintaineth her substance throughout time, immensity throughout space, universal form throughout motion.
    • I 1
  • Our philosophy... reduceth to a single origin and relateth to a single end, and maketh contraries to coincide so that there is one primal foundation both of origin and of end. From this coincidence of contraries, we deduce that ultimately it is divinely true that contraries are within contraries; wherefore it is not difficult to compass the knowledge that each thing is within every other.
    • As translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • The one infinite is perfect, in simplicity, of itself, absolutely, nor can aught be greater or better, This is the one Whole, God, universal Nature, occupying all space, of whom naught but infinity can give the perfect image or semblance.
    • II 12 as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • The single spirit doth simultaneously temper the whole together; this is the single soul of all things; all are filled with God.
    • IV 9; as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • All things are in all.
    • V 9; as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • Before anything else the One must exist eternally; from his power derives everything that always is or will ever be. He is the Eternal and embraces all times. He knows profoundly all events and He himself is everything. He creates everything beyond any beginning of time and beyond any limit of place and space. He is not subject to any numerical law, or to any law of measure or order. He himself is law, number, measure, limit without limit, end without end, act without form.
    • VIII 2, as quoted in The Acentric Labyrinth (1995) by Ramon Mendoza
  • For nature is not merely present, but is implanted within things, distant from none... And while the outer face of things changeth so greatly, there flourisheth the origin of being more intimately within all things than they themselves. The fount of all kinds, Mind, God, Being, One, Truth, Destiny, Reason, Order.
    • VIII 10 as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)

Misattributed

  • It was proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people. However, he cautioned that they should not be influenced by the fervor of speech, but by the weight of his argument and the majesty of truth.
    • This is a summation of the arguments of Bruno's speech in a debate at the College of Cambray (25 May 1588) made by Coulson Turnbull in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 — 1600 (1913), p. 41. It is not presented as a direct translation of his statements, but a slight alteration of the first two sentences has sometimes appeared on the internet as a quotation of Bruno: "It is a proof of a base and low mind..."

Quotes about Bruno

The First Great Star — Herald of the Dawn — was Bruno... ~ Robert Green Ingersoll
  • We hereby, in these documents, publish, announce, pronounce, sentence, and declare thee the aforesaid Brother Giordano Bruno to be an impenitent and pertinacious heretic, and therefore to have incurred all the ecclesiastical censures and pains of the Holy Canon, the laws and the constitutions, both general and particular, imposed on such confessed impenitent pertinacious and obstinate heretics... We ordain and command that thou must be delivered to the Secular Court... that thou mayest be punished with the punishment deserved... Furthermore, we condemn, we reprobate, and we prohibit all thine aforesaid and thy other books and writings as heretical and erroneous, containing many heresies and errors, and we ordain that all of them which have come or may in future come into the hands of the Holy Office shall be publicly destroyed and burned in the square of St. Peter before the steps and that they shall be placed upon the Index of Forbidden Books, and as we have commanded, so shall it be done..
Bruno is the first thinker who based the soul's duty to itself on its own nature: not on external authority, but on inner light... ~ William Boulting
  • Bruno is the first thinker who based the soul's duty to itself on its own nature: not on external authority, but on inner light... Of Bruno, as of Spinoza, it may be said that he was "God-intoxicated." He felt that the Divine Excellence had its abode in the very heart of Nature and within his own body and spirit. Indwelling in every dewdrop as in the innumerable host of heaven, in the humblest flower and in the mind of man, he found the living spirit of God, setting forth the Divine glory, making the Divine perfection and inspiring with the Divine love. The Eroici is full of the pantings of his soul for intellectual enfranchisement and contact with Truth, the divine object.... The heroic soul, says Bruno, shall seek truth and find it. The time had not then come for Pilate's question to be put again. Bruno was happily unvexed by the problem of truth... there is a view implicit in the Eroici and in all but the earliest of his philosophical writings, and this is that our truth is a progressive, ideal approximation towards that whole Truth which is one with the inmost nature of Being.
    • William Boulting, in Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom (1916) online excerpt
Bruno lost no opportunity of keeping his readers awake by the oddness of his antics... ~ William Boulting
  • There is a real unity underlying each of his works; but all give the impression of disorder... Bruno lost no opportunity of keeping his readers awake by the oddness of his antics; he surprises them by bombardments and unexpected raking fires. He thinks to throw each noble design, each lofty thought into relief by the dodge (not unknown to modern writers) of smart paradox... All is overdone: there is not a thought of repose. Penetrative insight, soaring observation, novel wisdom, severe thought have a setting of jest and jeer, clumsy buffoonery and sheer indecency.
Bruno proceeded to rethink man's relationship to the universe, to himself, and to God by the unimaginable light of countless stars. His conclusions were simply unbelievable for a late medieval mind... the presence of God not atop an empyrean throne past the threshold of the farthest stars, but inhabiting every atom of matter... ~ Bill Kuhns
  • I propose to give an account of the life of Giordano Bruno... who was burnt under pretence of atheism, at Rome, in the year 1600 and of his works which are perhaps the scarcest books ever printed... The most industrious historians of speculative philosophy have not been able to procure more than a few of his works... out of eleven, the titles of which are preserved to us I have had an opportunity of perusing six.
  • The real story of our times is seldom told in the horse-puckey-filled memoirs of dopey, self-serving presidents or generals, but in the outrageous, demented lives of guys like Lenny Bruce, Giordano Bruno, Scott Fitzgerald — and Paul Krassner. The burrs under society's saddle. The pains in the ass.
  • Bruno stood at the stake in solitary and awful grandeur. There was not a friendly face in the vast crowd around him. It was one man against the world. Surely the knight of Liberty, the champion of Freethought, who lived such a life and died such a death, without hope of reward on earth or in heaven, sustained only by his indomitable manhood, is worthy to be accounted the supreme martyr of all time. He towers above the less disinterested martyrs of Faith like a colossus; the proudest of them might walk under him without bending.
  • Bruno — one of the greatest and bravest of men — greatest of all martyrs — perished at the stake, because he insisted on the existence of other worlds and taught the astronomy of Galileo...
  • The First Great Star — Herald of the Dawn — was Bruno... He was a pantheist — that is to say, an atheist. He was a lover of Nature, — a reaction from the asceticism of the church. He was tired of the gloom of the monastery. He loved the fields, the woods, the streams. He said to his brother-priests: Come out of your cells, out of your dungeons: come into the air and light. Throw away your beads and your crosses. Gather flowers; mingle with your fellow-men; have wives and children; scatter the seeds of joy; throw away the thorns and nettles of your creeds; enjoy the perpetual miracle of life.
  • He is one martyr whose name should lead all the rest. He was not a mere religious sectarian who was caught up in the psychology of some mob hysteria. He was a sensitive, imaginative poet, fired with the enthusiasm of a larger vision of a larger universe... and he fell into the error of heretical belief. For this poets vision he was kept in a dark dungeon for eight years and then taken out to a blazing market place and roasted to death by fire.
    • "Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher" by John J. Kessler
  • Joyce gives the ghost guises like Saint Bruno and The Nolan of the Cabashes and Noland's brown and Nolan Browne and Bruno Nowlan and Nolans Brumans and Mr. Brown and Bruno Nolan and many others. The encyclopedic Joyce was deeply impressed by Bruno's heady coincidence of contraries, and was no doubt sympathetic to Bruno's hectic and finally tragic bouts with the Inquisition. McLuhan the Joycean scholar was certainly conscious of Joyce's debt to Bruno. But I like to think there was more: that when "Bruno Nolan" winked from one of paper sleeves, McLuhan made a recognition as if glimpsing a companion from across the centuries and winked back.
  • "History has not yet registered a stable appraisal for Giordano Bruno" writes Giorgio de Santillana in The Age of Adventure. Perceptions of Bruno were volatile enough in his lifetime; many have remained polarized to this day. Radoslav Tsanoff calls Bruno "the outstanding philosopher of the Renaissance," and Harold Hoffding cites Bruno's work as "the greatest philosophical thought-structure executed by the Renaissance." Yet Bertrand Russell despairs of crediting Bruno with philosophy at all: "There were fruitful intuitions lost in that disorder, but they had not yet reached the point of precision at which philosophy begins." The chasm of opinion dividing Bruno, even to this day, is one of the many improbables of this turbulent and exultant figure.
    • Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996)
  • In 1584, twenty-five years before Galileo lifted a telescope, Bruno took the Copernican hypothesis to the outrageous new conclusion that the sun is merely one of an infinity of stars, which stretch across boundless and inexhaustible space. It was consummate audacity to proclaim an infinite universe in the teeth of the doctrinal dogfights of the 16th century. It was yet bolder to exult in the de immenso with the bounding wonder of a poet. The prospect of our earth reduced to a turning speck in endless space was terrifying to contemplate. An ecstatic Bruno cried, "My thoughts are stitched to the stars!" and contemplated little else. With an impetuous abandon that his contemporaries found reckless and even dangerous, Bruno proceeded to rethink man's relationship to the universe, to himself, and to God by the unimaginable light of countless stars.
    His conclusions were simply unbelievable for a late medieval mind: infinite other worlds, inhabited like our own, spread throughout space; a structure to the universe of suns and clusters of suns circling in grand orbits, but no "center" except in the ground beneath two human feet; the presence of God not atop an empyrean throne past the threshold of the farthest stars, but inhabiting every atom of matter; an eternal span to matter, which can change its form but never be exhausted in any proportion; and finally a logic infinity demanded of him — an innate union of all contraries, by which evil and good, history and the future, localized humanity and an infinite universe inform and express one another...
    • Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996)
  • He was drawn to the centers of learning to announce his startling philosophy; from most he was curtly expelled... He was contradictory, capricious, often insufferable: his moods could flash abruptly from antic lampooning to raw invective, from wild exhilaration to fierce bitterness, from clownishness to a blackdog melancholy. "Gay in sorrow, sorrowful in gaiety," he said of himself, and the contraries of the tempestuous Bruno survive in his writings, where exalted and discerning passages seem to bob and dip in great waves of bombast... Controversial and largely dismissed in his lifetime, Bruno fared no better after his death. If his ideas were disputed, so was his martyrdom. For centuries, rumor and doubt shrouded the terrible fire in the Campo dei Fiore and as late as 1885 there are references to the "legends" of Bruno's burning at the stake... Only in the twentieth century has Bruno begun emerging from his long neglect into prominence.
    • Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996)
  • You I admire as being more, — much more — a man, and more believer too, than half the canting orthodox.
    • Morris West, in his play about Bruno: The Heretic (1968)

External links

Wikipedia
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GIORDANO BRUNO (c. 1548-1600), Italian philosopher of the Renaissance, was born near Nola in the village of Cicala. Little is known of his life. He was christened Filippo, and took the name Giordano only on entering a religious order. In his fifteenth year he entered the order of the Dominicans at Naples, and is said to have composed a treatise on the ark of Noah. Why he submitted to a discipline palpably unsuited to his fiery spirit we cannot tell. In consequence of his views on transubstantiation and the immaculate conception he was accused of impiety, and after enduring persecution for some years, he fled from Rome about 1576, and wandered through various cities, reaching Geneva in 1579. The home of Calvinism was no restingplace for him (T. Dufour, Giordano Bruno et Geneve, Geneva, 1884), and he travelled on through Lyons, Toulouse and Montpellier, arriving at Paris in 1581. Everywhere he bent his energies to the exposition of the new thoughts which were beginning to effect a revolution in the thinking world. He had drunk deeply of the spirit of the Renaissance, the determination to see for himself the noble universe, unclouded by the mists of authoritative philosophy and church tradition. The discoveries of Copernicus were eagerly accepted by him, and he used them as the lever by which to push aside the antiquated system that had come down from Aristotle, for whom, indeed, he had a perfect hatred. Like Bacon and Telesio he preferred the older Greek philosophers, who had looked at nature for themselves, and whose speculations had more of reality in them. He had read widely and deeply, and in his own writings we come across many expressions familiar to us in earlier systems. Yet his philosophy is no eclecticism. He owed something to Lucretius, something to the Stoic nature-pantheism, something to Anaxagoras, to Heraclitus, to the Pythagoreans, and to the Neoplatonists, who were partially known to him; above all, he was a profound student of Nicolas of Cusa, who was indeed a speculative Copernicus. But his own system has a distinct unity and originality; it breathes throughout the fiery spirit of Bruno himself.

Bruno had been well received at Toulouse, where he had lectured on astronomy; even better fortune awaited him at Paris, especially at the hands of Henry III. He was offered a chair of philosophy, provided he would receive the Mass. He at once refused, but was permitted to deliver lectures. These seem to have been altogether devoted to expositions of a certain logical system which Bruno had taken up with great eagerness, the Ars Magna of Raimon Lull. With the exception of a satiric comedy, Il Candelajo, all the works of this period are devoted to this logic - De Umbris Idearum, Ars Memoriae, De cornpendiosa architecture et complemento artis Lullii, and Cantus Circaeus. To many it has seemed a curious freak of Bruno's that he should have so eagerly adopted a view of thought like that of Lull, but in reality it is in strict accordance with the principles of his philosophy. Like the Arabian logicians, and some of the scholastics, who held that ideas existed in a threefold form - ante res, in rebus and post res - he laid down the principle that the archetypal ideas existed metaphysically in the ultimate unity or intelligence, physically in the world of things, and logically in signs, symbols or notions. These notions were shadows of the ideas, and the Ars Magna furnished him with a general scheme, according to which their relations and correspondences should be exhibited. It supplied not only a memoria technica, but an organon, or method by which the genesis of all ideas from unity might be represented intelligibly and easily. It provided also a substitute for either the Aristotelian or the Ramist logic, which was an additional element in its favour.

Under the protection of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau, sieur de Mauvissiere, Bruno passed over in 1583 to England, where he resided for about two years. He was disgusted with the brutality of English manners, which he paints in no flattering colours, and he found pedantry and superstition as rampant in Oxford as in Geneva. Indeed, there still existed on the statute a provision that "Masters and Bachelors who did not follow Aristotle faithfully were liable to a fine of five shillings for every point of divergence, and for every fault committed against the logic of the Organon." But he indulges in extravagant eulogies of Elizabeth. He is generally said to have formed the acquaintance of Sir Philip Sidney, Fulke Greville and other eminent Englishmen, but there has been much controversy as to the facts of his life in London. It seems probable that he lived in the French embassy in some secretarial or tutorial position. He may conceivably have met Bacon, but it is quite incredible that he met Shakespeare in the printing shop of Thomas Vautrollier. In Oxford he was allowed to hold a disputation with some learned doctors on the rival merits of the Copernican and so-called Aristotelian systems of the universe, and, according to his own report, had an easy victory. The best of his works were written in the freedom of English social life. The Cena de le Ceneri, or Ash Wednesday conversation, devoted to an exposition of the Copernican theory, was printed in 1584. In the same year appeared his two great metaphysical works, De la Causa,Principio, ed Uno, and De l'Infinito, Universo, e Mondi; in the year following the Eroici Furori and Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo. In 1584 also appeared the strange dialogue, Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante (Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast), an allegory treating chiefly of moral philosophy, but giving the essence of Bruno's philosophy. The gods are represented as resolving to banish from the heavens the constellations, which served to remind them of their evil deeds. In their places are put the moral virtues. The first of the three dialogues contains the substance of the allegory, which, under the disguise of an assault on heathen mythology, is a direct attack on all forms of anthropomorphic religion. But in a philosophical point of view the first part of the second dialogue is the most important. Among the moral virtues which take the place of the beasts are Truth, Prudence, Wisdom, Law and Universal Judgment, and in the explanation of what these mean Bruno unfolds the inner essence of his system. Truth is the unity and substance which underlies all things; Prudence or Providence is the regulating power of truth, and comprehends both liberty and necessity; Wisdom is providence itself in its supersensible aspect - in man it is reason which grasps the truth of things; Law results from wisdom, for no good law is irrational, and its sole end and aim is the good of mankind; Universal Judgment is the principle whereby men are judged according to their deeds, and not according to their belief in this or that catechism. Mingled with his allegorical philosophy are the most vehement attacks upon the established religion. The monks are stigmatized as pedants who would destroy the joy of life on earth, who are avaricious, dissolute and the breeders of eternal dissensions and squabbles. The'mysteries of faith are scoffed at. The Jewish records are put on a level with the Greek myths, and miracles are laughed at as magical tricks. Through all this runs the train of thought resulting naturally from Bruno's fundamental principles, and familiar in modern philosophy as Spinozism, the denial of particular providence, the doctrine of the uselessness of prayer, the identification in a sense of liberty and necessity, and the peculiar definition of good and evil.

In 1585-1586 he returned with Castelnau to Paris, where his anti-Aristotelian views were taken up by the college of Cambrai, but was soon driven from his refuge, and we next find him at Marburg and Wittenberg, the headquarters of Lutheranism. There is a tradition that here or in England he embraced the Protestant faith; nothing in his writings would lead one to suppose so. Several works, chiefly logical, appeared during his stay at Wittenberg (De Lampade combinatoria Lulliana, 1587, and De Progressu et Lampade venatoria logicorum, 1587). In 1588 he went to Prague, then to Helmstadt. In 1591 he was at Frankfort, and published three important metaphysical works, De Triplici Minimo et Mensura; De Monade, Numero, et Figura; De Immenso et Innumerabilibus. He did not stay long at Prague, and we find him next at Zurich, whence he accepted an invitation to Venice from a young patrician, Giovanni Mocenigo. It was a rash step. The emissaries of the Inquisition were on his track; he was thrown into prison, and in 1593 was brought to Rome. Seven years were spent in confinement. On the 9th of February 1600 he was excommunicated, and on the 17th was burned at the stake.

For more than two centuries Bruno received scarcely the consideration he deserved. On the 9th of June 1889, however, as a result of a strong popular movement, a statue to him was unveiled in Rome in the Campo dei Fiori, the place of his execution.

To Bruno, as to all great thinkers, philosophy is the search for unity. Amid all the varying and contradictory phenomena of the universe there is something which gives coherence and intelligibility to them. Nor can this unity be something apart from the things; it must contain in itself the universe, which develops from it; it must be at once all and one. This unity is God, the universal substance, - the one and only principle, or causa immanens, - that which is in things and yet is distinct from them as the universal is distinct from the particular. He is the efficient and final cause of all, the beginning, middle, and end, eternal and infinite. By his action the world is produced, and his action is the law of his nature, his necessity is true freedom. He is living, active intelligence, the principle of motion and creation, realizing himself in the infinitely various forms of activity that constitute individual things. To the infinitely actual there is necessary the possible; that which determines involves somewhat in which its determinations can have existence. This other of God, which is in truth one with him, is matter. The universe, then, is a living cosmos, an infinitely animated system, whose end is the perfect realization of the variously graduated forms. The unity which sunders itself into the multiplicity of things may be called the monas monadum, each thing being a monas or self-existent, living being, a universe in itself. Of these monads the number is infinite. The soul of man is a thinking monad, and stands mid-way between the divine intelligence and the world of external things. As a portion of the divine life, the soul is immortal. Its highest function is the contemplation of the divine unity, discoverable under the manifold of objects.

Such is a brief summary of the principal positions of Bruno's philosophy. It seems quite clear that in the earlier works,particularly the two Italian dialogues, he approached more nearly to the pantheistic view of things than in his later Latin treatises. The unity expounded at first is simply an anima mundi, a living universe, but not intelligent. There is a distinct development traceable towards the later and final form of his doctrine, in which the universe appears as the realization of the divine mind.

Bruno's writings had been much neglected when Jacobi brought them into notice in his Briefe fiber die Lehre Spinozas (2nd ed., 1879). Since then many have held that Descartes, Spinoza and Leibnitz were indebted to him for their main principles. So far as Descartes is concerned, it is highly improbable that he had seen any of Bruno's works. Schelling, however, called one of his works after him, Bruno. Bibliography. - The chief edition of the Latin works is that published at the public expense by F. Fiorentino, F. Tocco and H. Vitelli (Naples, 1879-1891), which superseded that of A. F. Gfrorer (Stuttgart, 1834, incomplete). The Italian works were collected by A. Wagner (Leipzig, 1830), and a new edition was published by P. de Lagarde (Göttingen; 1888-1889); also Opere Italiane, ed. Croce and G. Gentile (1907 foil.), with notes by the latter. In Germany, Gesammelte Werke, trans. L. Kuhlenbeck (1904 foil.). English translations: - The Spaccio, by Morehead, not as has been supposed by J. Toland (dated 1713, but probably printed earlier and very rare); of the preface to De l'Infinito (J. Toland in posthumous works); Eroici Furores, L. Williams (1888). There are also French and German translations.

The chief English work on Giordano Bruno is that of J. Lewis M'Intyre (London, 1903), containing life, commentary and bibliography. See also C. Bartholmess, J. Bruno (Paris, 1846-1847); Domenico Berti, Giordano Bruno da Nola (2nd ed., 1889); H.

Prunnhofer, Giordano Brunos Weltanschauung (Leipzig, 1883); M. Carriere, Philosophische Weltanschauung der Reformationszeit, pp. 4 11 -494 (2nd ed., 1887); F. J. Clemens, Giordano Bruno and Nicolaus von Cusa (Bonn, 1847); Miss I. Frith, Life of Giordano Bruno the Nolan (London, 1887); C. E. Plumptre, Life and Works of Giordano Bruno (London, 1884); Chr. Sigwart, in Kleine Schriften, 1st series, pp. 4912 4, 2 93-3 0 4; A. Riehl, G. Bruno (1889, ed. 1900; Eng. trans. Agnes Fry, 1905); Landsbeck, Bruno, der Martyrer der neuen Weltanschauung (1890); Owen, in Sceptics of the Italian Renaissance (London, 1893); C. H. von Stein, G. Bruno (1900); R. Adamson, Development of Modern Philosophy (Edinburgh and London, 1903); G. Louis, G. Bruno, seine Weltanschauung and Lebensauffassung (1900); O. Juliusberger, G. Bruno and die Gegenwart (1902); J. Reiner, G. Bruno and seine Weltanschauung (1907). The most important critical works are perhaps those of Felice Tocco, Le Opere Latine di Giordano Bruno (Florence, 1889), Le Opere Inedite di Giordano Bruno (Naples, 1891), Le Fonti piu recenti della fibs. del Bruno (Rome, 1892). See also H. Hoffding, History of Modern Philosophy (Eng. trans., 1900); J. M. Robertson, Short History of Freethought (London, 1906); G. Gentile, Giordano Bruno nella Storia della cultura (1907). For other works see G. Graziano, Bibliografia Bruniana (1900). (R. AD.; J. M. M.)


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Simple English

Giordano Bruno
Full name Giordano Bruno
Region Western Philosophy
Main interests Philosophy & Cosmology
File:Relief Bruno Campo dei Fiori
The trial of Giordano Bruno by the Roman Inquisition. Bronze relief by Ettore Ferrari

Giordano Bruno (1548 – 17 February 1600), born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian philosopher, priest, mathematician, and astronomer. He is best known as believing in the infinity of the universe. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model.

Brunothought the Sun was just one of an infinite number of independently moving heavenly bodies. He is the first man to have thought the stars we see at night are identical in nature to the Sun. For publishing these beliefs, and for other beliefs, he was burnt at the stake as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition of the Catholic Church.

Bruno also wrote extensive works on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles.[1]

The charges

The charges against Bruno were:[2]

  • Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ's divinity and Incarnation.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
  • Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
  • Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
  • Believing in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
  • Dealing in magics and divination.
  • Denying the Virginity of Mary.

Bruno did accept and promote Copernicus' idea that the Earth revolves round the Sun. Many believe this was one of main reasons for his downfall; others think his theological beliefs were more critical.[3] In 1584 he published two dialogues which argued for his idea on astronomy.[4] Eight years later he was arrested, and his trial took another eight years. His accusers demanded complete recantation of all his 'erroneous' beliefs. He refused, and went to his death. Later the Inquisistion used his example to terrify Galileo into withdrawing his works from publication.

References

  1. Yates, Frances A. 1966. The art of memory.
  2. Firpo, Luigi 1993. Il processo di Giordano Bruno.
  3. Yates, Frances A. 1964. Giordano Bruno and the hermetic tradition. Chicago.
  4. De la causa, principio, et Uno (1584) Full Italian text, Giordano Bruno.info: Download; De l'infinito universo et Mondi (1584) Full Italian text, Giordano Bruno.info: Download;


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