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Bruno, Giordano

Bruno, Giordano

(b. Nola, Italy, 1548; d. Rome, Italy, 17 February 1600)

philosophy.

Bruno’s baptismal name was Filippo; he took the name Giordano, by which he is always known, on entering the Dominican order. His father, Giovanni, was a soldier, and probably a man of fairly good position; his mother, Fraulissa Savolino, has been conjectured to have been of German descent, although there is no real evidence. Hardly anything is known of Bruno’s early years in Nola, a small town near Naples.

At the age of fifteen, Bruno entered the Dominican order and became an inmate of the great Dominican convent in Naples. Here he acquired a grounding in Scholastic philosophy and the reverence for Thomas Aquinas (who had lived and taught in the Naples convent) that he professed throughout his life. Here, too, he became proficient in the art of memory, for which the Dominicans were noted, and was taken to Rome to display his mnemonic skill to Pope Pius V. Another influence which he may have come under in these early years was that of the famous natural magician and scientist Giambattista della Porta, who in 1560 had established in Naples his academy for investigating the secrets of nature. Bruno was formed during these years in Naples: his mind and character never lost the imprint of his training as a friar; and it was as a passionate ex-friar that he wandered over Europe, combining philosophical speculation with a religious mission evolved through deep immersion in Renaissance magic and its Hermetic sources.

Bruno’s religion was the moving force behind both his wandering career and his philosophical and cosmic speculations. He believed that he was reviving the magical religion of the ancient Egyptians, a religion older than Judaism or Christianity, which these inferior religions had suppressed but of which he prophesied the imminent return. It included a belief in the magical animation of all nature, which the magus could learn how to tap and to use, and a belief in metempsychosis. The historical origins of Bruno’s “Egyptianism” and the printed sources whence he derived it are now clear, owing to the work done by scholars in fairly recent years on the Hermetic core of Renaissance Neoplatonism.

As propagated by Marsilio Ficino, Renaissance Neoplatonism included a firm belief that both Plato and his followers had been inspired by a tradition of prisca theologia, or pristine and pure theology, which had come down to them from the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, a mythical Egyptian sage, and other figures supposedly of extreme antiquity. This belief rested on the misdating of certain late antique texts, of which the most important were the Asclepius and the Corpus Hermeticum, which were supposed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus himself.

Ficino believed that these texts contained authentic revelations about ancient Egyptian religion and that in them their supposed author prophesied the coming of Christianity—and, hence, could take on sanctity as a Gentile prophet. The scraps of Platonic notions incorporated by the late antique Gnostic writers of the Hermetic texts were, for Ficino, evidence that these ancient “Egyptian” teachings were the pristine source at which Plato and the Neoplatonists had drunk. These beliefs could be supported from works of some Church Fathers, notably Lactantius. Nor were they peculiar to Ficino; on the contrary, the whole Renaissance Neoplatonic movement contained this Hermetic core, and the religious magic, or theurgy, taught by Hermes Trismegistus, particularly in the Asclepius, seemed corroborated by the intensive Renaissance study of the later Neoplatonists, such as Porphyry and Iamblichus. As a pious Christian, Ficino was encouraged by the sanctity of Hermes Trismegistus as a Gentile prophet to embark on the astral magic described in the Asclepius, which lies behind his own work on astral magic, the De vita coelitus comparanda, although he did this hesitantly and timidly, in fear of the Church’s embargo on magic.

The extreme boldness and fearlessness that characterized Giordano Bruno are nowhere more apparent than in his choice of a religion. Discarding the belief in Hermes as a Gentile prophet, which sanctified the Hermetic writings for pious Christian Neoplatonists, Bruno accepted the pseudo-Egyptian religion described in the Hermetic texts as the true religion; he interpreted the lament in the Asclepius over the decay of Egypt and her magical worship as a lament for the true Egyptian religion, which had been suppressed by Christianity, although various signs and portents were announcing its return.

Among these signs was the heliocentricity announced by Copernicus—and it must be confessed that Copernicus himself did something to encourage such an interpretation of his discovery when, at a crucial point in his work, just after the diagram showing the new sun-centered system, he referred to Hermes Trismegistus on the sun as a visible god (a quotation from the Asclepius). In his defense of Copernicanism against the Aristotelians of Oxford, Bruno presented Copernicus as “only a mathematician” who had not understood the true inwardness of his discovery as he, Bruno, understood it—as portending a return to magical insight into living nature. In support of the movement of the earth, Bruno quoted a passage from one of the treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum, which states that the earth moves because it is alive.

The magical animism that permeates Bruno’s philosophy of nature, his vision of the living earth moving round the sun, of an infinite universe of innumerable worlds moving like great animals in space, is inseparably connected with his pseudo-Egyptian religion. It is universal animism which makes possible the activities of the magus and justifies the techniques by which he attempts to operate on nature. Bruno aspired to become such a magus, using the techniques described in the De occulta philosophia of Henry Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, a work that was itself the product of the Hermetic core within Renaissance Neoplatonism.

It is one of the most extraordinary features of Bruno’s outlook that he seems to have believed that his religion could somehow be incorporated within a Catholic framework in the coming new dispensation. He never lost his respect for Thomas Aquinas, and his preaching of his new religion retained traces of Dominican preacher’s training. Although Christ was for him a benevolent magus, as were Thomas Aquinas, Paracelsus, Ramón Lull, and Giordano Bruno himself, he proclaimed in the Spaccio della bestia trionfante that Christ was to remain in heaven as an example of a good life.

While still in the convent in Naples, he fell under suspicion of heresy and proceedings were instituted against him. The suspicion against him seems to have been of Arian tendencies; possibly his full “Egyptian” program was not yet developed. To avoid the process against him he left Naples in 1576. He went first to Rome, where he fell into new difficulties, from which he escaped by abandoning the Dominican habit and fleeing from Italy. Now began his long odyssey through France, England, Germany. He went first to Geneva, where he soon got into trouble and acquired a strong dislike of Calvinism.

From about 1579 to 1581 he was in Toulouse, where he lectured in the university on, among other things, the sphere of Sacrobosco. From Toulouse he went to Paris; here his public lectures attracted the attention of King Henry III. His first published work, the De umbris idearum (Paris, 1582), is dedicated to Henry. It is an example of his transformation of the art of memory into a deeply magical art, and its title is taken from that of a magical book mentioned in the necromantic commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco by Cecco d’Ascoli, an author whom Bruno greatly admired. Bruno thus came before the world in his first Parisian period as a magician teaching some extremely abstruse art of memory that apparently gained the interest and approval of the king of France, who gave him letters of recommendation to the French ambassador in England. This is the first indication of some mysterious political, or politicoreligious, undercurrent in Bruno’s activities and movements.

Bruno crossed the Channel to England early in 1583; the royal letters of recommendation had the desired effect, for the French ambassador, Michel de Mauvissière received him into the French embassy, where during the two years of his stay in England he lived as a “gentleman” attached to the embassy. He states that he often accompanied the ambassador to court and saw Queen Elizabeth, whom he addresses as “divine” in his works, an epithet that he had to try to explain away to the Inquisitors. The ambassadorial protection enabled Bruno to publish his extremely provocative works, in which he criticized Reformation Oxford as inferior in philosophical learning to the Oxford of the Middle Ages and attacked the whole social order of Elizabethan England for having destroyed, without adequately replacing, the institutions of Catholic times. His books were published clandestinely, with false imprints, by John Charlewood. As was to be expected, they aroused tumults against the bold ex-friar that were sometimes so violent that he dared not go outside the embassy.

Bruno opened his campaign in England with one of his obscure works on the magic art of memory, the Triginta sigilli; hidden away at the end of it there is a passionate advocacy of a new religion based on love, art, magic, and mathesis; it begins with an abusive dedication to the vice—chancellor and doctors of Oxford. This would seem to have been a strange preparation for his visit to Oxford in the train of the Polish prince, Albert Laski. A newly discovered source, first published in 1960, has thrown much light on Bruno’s famous advocacy of the Copernican theory to the recalcitrant Aristotelians of Oxford. It appears that after Laski’s party had left, Bruno returned to Oxford and delivered lectures that consisted mainly of quotation from Ficino’s book on astral magic, De vita coelitus comparanda, with which he associated the opinion of Copernicus “that the earth did go round and the heavens did stand still.” Bruno’s unacknowledged quotations from Ficino were detected by some of his auditors, as is recounted in the newly discovered report of his speech. This new information about Bruno’s Oxford lectures is external confirmation of what can also be clearly deduced from his works; that for Bruno, Copernican heliocentricity was associated with his magical and animist view of nature.

The brilliant dialogues in Italian that Bruno published while in England have been the most widely read of his works and were the main foundation for his reputation as a bold philosopher breaking out of the closed medieval universe into a new vision of the cosmos. This reputation is by no means undeserved, although it now has to be formulated in more accurate historical terms than those used by his nineteenth-century admirers, who were unaware that their hero was a magician and knew nothing of the complex political and religious situation in Elizabethan England, the scene of these exploits. In the Cena de le ceneri (1584) he defends Copernican heliocentricity against two Oxford “pedants” The angry protests that this attack aroused are described in De la causa, principio e uno (1584); Bruno here offers a slight apology for his attack on Oxford—but in the form of professing admiration for the friars of pre-Reformation Oxford, with whom he unfavorably compares their Protestant successors. This can have done little to improve the situation, and the censor can have been prevented from taking action against the book only because it was dedicated to the French ambassador. In the De l’infinito, universo e mondi (1584), Bruno sets forth his remarkable vision of an infinite universe and innumerable worlds infused with divine life.

In the Spaccio della bestia trionfante (1584), he turns to the moral, as apart from the physical or philosophical, side of his message, and outlines a universal moral and religious reform. The curious form of this work, which is based on the constellations from which vices are said to be expelled, to be replaced by virtues, is related to Bruno’s adaptations of the art of memory. The Cabala del cavallo Pegaseo (1585) is an obscure discussion of the Jewish cabala. In the De gli eroici furori (1585), Bruno expresses himself in a sequence of beautiful poems followed by commentaries explaining their philosophic and mystical meanings. This book is dedicated to Philip Sidney, as is the Spaccio della bestia trionfante. All the other Italian dialogues, with the exception of the Cabala del cavallo Pegaseo, are dedicated to the French ambassador. One is left wondering how far the extraordinary philosophical, magical, and religious views that Bruno propagated from the safety of the French embassy were acceptable to the distinguished persons to whom he dedicated these books. They are all full of Hermetic influences and are bound up with the complex religious, or politico-religious, mission for which he seems to have believed that he had the support of the king of France and to which the French ambassador seems to have lent his protection.

Meanwhile, in France the Catholic League was rising in power; Henry III’s position grew precarious; Mauvissière, the liberal ambassador, was recalled, and late in 1585 Bruno returned to Paris in his train. Immediately he began to talk and to publish, expounding his philosophy in an address delivered by a disciple in the Collège de Cambrai, which was tumultuously received. The king’s support was indirectly withdrawn; and Bruno made himself notorious in a quarrel about a compass with Fabrizio Mordente, which may have had a political background. Paris became too dangerous for him, and in 1586 he fled, this time toward Germany.

At Wittenberg he felt happy for a time: the university allowed him to lecture, and he found that he greatly preferred German Lutherans to English Calvinists. Here he wrote a number of works, particularly on Lullism, which he believed that he understood better than Lull himself. But eventually here also trouble started, and after delivering a moving farewell oration to the doctors of Wittenberg, he went on to Prague, where he dedicated to Emperor Rudolph II his Articuli adversus mathematicos (1588), in which he professed to be strongly against mathematics. This book is illustrated with magical diagrams. In the Preface he urges the emperor to lead a movement of religious toleration and philanthropy. Yet even Rudolph, who collected strange people at his court, did not extend a warm welcome to Bruno; he gave him a little money, but no position, and Bruno wandered on to Helmstedt. Here he found support from Henry Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, who may have been in sympathy with his ideas; at any rate, he allowed Bruno to deliver an oration on his recently deceased father which echoed the moral and religious program of the Spaccio della bestia trionfante. While at Helmstedt, Bruno was busily writing; the De magia and other works on magic preserved in the Noroff manuscript may have been written during this period. Henry Julius possibly gave him money toward the publication of the Latin poems that he had been writing during his travels; and Bruno went on to Frankfurt to supervise their printing.

The De immenso et innumerabilibus, the De triplici minimo et mensura, and the De monade numero et figura were published in 1591. In these poems, written in a style imitating that of Lucretius, Bruno expounded for the last time his philosophical and cosmological meditations, mingled, as in the works published in England, with powerful Hermetic influences. His last published work, also published in 1591 by Wechel at Frankfurt, was a book on the magic art of memory dedicated to the alchemist and magician Johannes Hainzell.

While at Frankfurt, Bruno received, through an Italian bookseller who came to the Frankfurt fair, an invitation from Zuan Mocenigo, a Venetian nobleman, to come to Venice and teach him the secrets of his art of memory. He accepted, and in August 1591, he returned to Italy, going first to Padua and then to Venice. There can be little doubt that Bruno believed, like many others at the time, that the conversion of Henry IV of France was a sign of vast impending religious changes in Rome, and that he and his mysterious mission would be well received in the approaching new dispensation. That he had no idea that he was running into danger is shown by the curious fact that he took with him the manuscript of a book that he intended to dedicate to Pope Clement VIII.

Bruno’s reception in Italy was tragically other than he had expected. Mocenigo informed against him, and he was arrested and incarcerated in the prisons of the Inquisition in Venice. There followed a long trial, at the end of which Bruno recanted his heresies and threw himself on the mercy of the inquisitors. He had to be sent on to Rome for another trial, however, and there his case dragged on for eight years of imprisonment and interrogation. After some wavering, he finally refused to recant any of his views, with the result that he was burned alive as a dangerous heretic on the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome.

The grounds on which Bruno was sentenced are unknown, for the processo, or official document containing the sentence, is irretrievably lost. It formed part of a mass of archives that were transported, by order of Napoleon, from Rome to Paris, where they were pulped. From the reports of the interrogations, it is, however, possible to form an idea of the drift of the case against him. To his major theological heresy, the denial of the divinity of the Second Person of the Trinity, was added suspicion of diabolical magical practices. It was probably mainly as a magician that Bruno was burned, and as the propagator throughout Europe of some mysterious magicoreligious movement. This movement may have been in the nature of a secret Hermetic sect, and may be connected with the origins of Rosicrucianism or of Freemasonry. If any philosophical or cosmological points were included in his condemnation, these would have been inextricably bound up with his “Egyptianism.”

The legend that the nineteenth century built around Bruno as the hero who, unlike Galileo, refused to retract his belief that the earth moves is entirely without foundation. Bruno’s case may, however, have affected the attitude of the Church toward the Copernican hypothesis and may have encouraged the Inquisition’s suspicion of Galileo. Although Galileo accepted the Copernican world view on entirely different grounds from Bruno, there are curious formal resemblances between his Dialogo dei due massime sistemi del mondo, in which the pedantic Simplicius takes the Aristotelian side, and Bruno’s Cena de le ceneri, in which the Oxford pedants oppose the “new philosophy.”

The history of Bruno’s reputation is instructive. Abhorred by Marin Mersenne as an impious deist, he was more favorably mentioned by Kepler. Rumors of his diabolism seem to have been circulated, and were mentioned even by Pierre Bayle in one of the footnotes to his contemptuous article on Bruno. The eighteenth-century deist John Toland revived interest in some of his works. It was not until about the mid-nineteenth century that a revival on a large scale began to gather strength and the legend of the martyr for modern science was invented—of the man who died, not for any religious belief, but solely for his acceptance of the Copernican theory and his bold vision of an infinite universe and innumerable worlds. Statues in his honor proliferated in Italy; the literature on him became immense.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Giordano Bruno was one of the most widely known, and most frequently written about, philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. His ideas, isolated from their historical context, were interpreted in terms of the then dominant type of history of philosophy, for example, by Giovanni Gentile, and the large areas in his writings that are not intelligible in terms of straight philosophical thinking were neglected or ignored. Leo Olschki was probably one of the first to notice that no coherent philosophical system could be drawn from Bruno’s works through this approach; and Antonio Corsano emphasized the magical ingredients in Bruno’s thought and the politico-religious aspects of his activities. It is, however, the work that has been done in recent years on the Renaissance Hermetic tradition that has at last made it possible to place Bruno within a context in which his philosophy, his magic, and his religion can all be seen as belonging to an outlook that, however strange, makes historical sense.

Now that Giordano Bruno has been, as it were, found out as a Hermetic magician of a most extreme type, is he therefore to be rejected as of no serious importance in the history of thought? This is not the right way to pose the question. Rather, it should be recognized that Renaissance magic, and that turning toward the world as a revelation of the divine that is the motive force in the “religion of the world” that inspired Bruno, was itself a preparation or a stage in the great movement that, running out of the Renaissance into the seventeenth century, gradually shed its irrational characteristics for the genuinely scientific approach to the world. Bruno’s leap upward through the spheres into an infinite universe, although it is to be interpreted as the experience of a Gnostic magician, was at the same time an exercise of speculative imagination presaging the advent of new world views. Although Bruno infused the innumerable worlds of which he had learned from Lucretius with magical animism, this was in itself a remarkable vision of a vastly extended universe through which ran one law. We can accept Bruno’s Renaissance vision as prophetic of coming world views, although formulated within a very strange frame of reference.

Again, Bruno’s atomism, derived from his study of Lucretius through magical interpretation of Lucretius in such a writer as Palingenius, whose Zodiacus vitae was one of Bruno’s inspirations, may have stimulated the attention of other thinkers. The Renaissance interpretation of Lucretius, which was begun by Ficino, is a stage in the history of atomism which has not yet been adequately examined. When that history comes to be written, Bruno’s magically animated atoms may be found to hold some transitional place in it.

Another example of Bruno’s thought as a presage of scientific discovery is his remarkable intuition about the circular movement of the blood, which he based on parallelism between man and the universe; he believed that “spirit” is the driving force that moves the blood, the same spirit that is diffused through the universe and that Plato defined as “number which moves in a circle.” Hence, the movement of the blood within the body, said Bruno, is circular, diffused from the heart in a circular movement.

One of the closest connections between Bruno and a seventeenth-century scientific philosopher is that which can be discerned in the influence of Bruno’s Cena de le ceneri on William Gilbert’s De magnete. The magnet is always mentioned in textbooks on magic as an example of the occult sympathies in action; and Bruno, when defending his animistic version of heliocentricity, brought in the magnet. Gilbert’s language when defending heliocentricity in the De magnete is extremely close to that of Bruno; like Bruno, he cites Hermes and others who stated that there is a universal life in nature when he is arguing in favor of earth movement. The magnetic philosophy that Gilbert extended to the whole universe seems most closely allied to that of Bruno, and it is not surprising that Francis Bacon should have listed Gilbert with Bruno as proud and fantastic magi of whom he strongly disapproved.

Even the strangest and most formidably obscure of Bruno’s works, those on his magic arts of memory, can be seen to presage, on the Hermetic plane, seventeenth-century strivings after method. Bruno aimed at arranging magically activated images of the stars in memory in such a way as to draw magical powers into the psyche. These systems were of an incredible complexity, involving combinations of memory images with the revolving wheels of Lull to form ways of grasping everything in the universe at once and in all possible combinations. Bruno’s Hermetic computers, if one may be permitted to call them such, were almost certainly known to Leibniz, who was also familiar with the art of memory and with Lullism. When introducing his universal calculus, Leibniz uses language that is remarkably similar to that in which Bruno introduced his art of memory to the doctors of Oxford. The many curious connections between Bruno and Leibniz may, when fully explored, form one of the best means of watching the transitions from Renaissance occultism to seventeenth-century science.

Within that view of the history of thought in which the Renaissance magus is seen as the immediate precursor of the seventeenth-century scientist, Giordano Bruno holds a significant place, and his tragic death early in the first year of the new century must still arrest our attention as symbolic of a great turning point in human history.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Bruno’s Latin works are in Opera latine. Francisco Fiorentino, Vittorio Imbriani, C. M. Tallarigo, Felice Tocco, and Girolamo Vitelli, eds., 3 vols. (Naples-Florence, 1879–1891), also in a facsimile reprint (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, 1962). Latin works discovered and published since this edition are Due dialoghi sconosciuti e due dialoghi noti, Giovanni Aquilecchia, ed. (Rome, 1957); and Praelectiones geometricae e ars deformationum, Giovanni Aquilecchia, ed. (Rome, 1964). The Italian works are collected in Dialoghi italiani, Giovanni Gentile, ed., revised by Giovanni Aquilecchia (Florence, 1957), which contains all the Italian dialogues in one volume; one of the works, La cena de le ceneri, has been published separately with intro. and notes by Giovanni Aquilecchia (Turin, 1955).

Translations of Bruno’s works include “Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One,” Dorothea W. Singer, trans., in Sidney Greenberg, The Infinite in Giordano Bruno (New York, 1950), pp. 77 ff.; “On the Infinite Universe and Worlds,” Dorothea W. Singer, trans., in her Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought (New York, 1950), pp. 227ff.; Des fureurs héroïques, Paul-Henri Michel, trans. (Paris, 1954); The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Arthur D. Imerti, trans. (New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1964); Giordano Bruno’s “The Heroic Frenzies,” Paul Eugene Memo, trans. (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1964).

II. Secondary Literature. A bibliography of Bruno’s works and of books and articles on him up to and including 1950 is Virgilio Salvestrini and Luigi Firpo, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno (1582–1950) (Florence, 1958). Documentary sources on his life are Vincenzo Spampanato, ed., Documenti della vita di Giordano Bruno (Florence, 1933); and Angelo Mercati, ed., Il sommario del processo di Giordano Bruno (Vatican City, 1942). The standard biography is Vincenzo Spampanato, Vita di Giordano Bruno (Messina, 1921); on the trial, see Luigi Firpo, Il processo di Giordano Bruno (Naples, 1949).

The following brief selection from a vast literature includes books illustrative of the history of Bruno’s reputation: Domenico Berti, La vita di Giordano Bruno da Nola (Florence, 1867); Felice Tocco, Le opere latine di G. Bruno (Florence, 1889), and Le fonti più recenti del Bruno (Rome, 1892); J. Lewis McIntyre, Giordano Bruno (London, 1903); Giovanni Gentile, Giordano Bruno e il pensiero del Rinascimento (Florence, 1920); Leo Olschki, Giordano Bruno (Halle, 1924), also translated into Italian (Bari, 1927); Ernst Cassirer, Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance (Berlin-Leipzig, 1927), also translated into English by Mario Domandi (New York, 1963); Antonio Corsano, Il pensiero di Giordano Bruno (Florence, 1940); Eugenio Garin, La filosofia (Milan, 1947); Walter Pagel, “Giordano Bruno: The Philosophy of Circles and the Circular Movement of the Blood,” in Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 6 (1951), 116–125; Alexandre Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe (Baltimore, 1957); Paolo Rossi, Clavis universalis (Milan, 1960), pp. 109–134; Paul-Henri Michel, La cosmologie de Giordano Bruno (Paris, 1962): Paul Oskar Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance (Palo Alto, Calif., 1964), pp. 127–144.

This article is based on my books, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (Chicago, 1964), and The Art of Memory (Chicago, 1966). On Bruno, Gilbert, and Bacon, see my essay “The Hermetic Tradition in Renaissance Science,” in Art, Science, and History in the Renaissance, Charles S. Singleton, ed. (Baltimore, 1968), pp. 255–274.

Frances A. Yates

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Bruno, Giordano

BRUNO, GIORDANO

(b. Nola, Italy, 1548; d. Rome, Italy, 17 February 1600), philosophy, physics, cosmology. For the original article on Bruno see DSB, vol. 2.

Bruno was slow to gain recognition for his scientific contributions for two reasons. First, he was condemned to the stake for his heretical theological views, and this led to efforts to expunge all traces of his works from public memory (damnatio memoriae). Hence, his works tended to be forgotten. Second, his conception of Nature was not mechanistic. He even took an interest in natural magic as a way to understand Nature. These aspects of his thinking have led historians of science, who tend to view the development of science as the development of mechanistic philosophy, to consider Bruno as more philosopher and magus than scientist. Yet between 1584 and 1588–1591, Bruno was the first to propose a scientific theory of the relativity of motion, spatial lengths, and time intervals.

An Infinite Universe. Bruno assented to the Copernican world system, but he went beyond it. He eliminated all the celestial spheres, to which celestial bodies were considered bound. He gave a physical basis to the new astronomical system: His alternative to Aristotelian physics was the medieval theory of impetus. To this theory he added a

dynamic atomism. Atoms, or monads, are not purely material and inert, but have power and form, as Democritus asserted. The vacuum is not empty but full of ether.

Since the thirteenth century the Church had condemned many points of Aristotelian physics, and a Christian natural philosophy of a sort had tentatively been constructed. Christian theology progressively deconstructed Aristotelian physics and cosmology by arguing from the standpoint of God’s absolute power (de potentia Dei absoluta). According to Bruno, the power of God’s love is actually infinite, and so the creation must be actually infinite, that is, made of living worlds and atoms, full of powers, without limit. Atomism and Christian theology thus led Bruno to conceive of the universe as infinite.

After the Reform had destroyed the univocal Catholic interpretation of the Bible, Bruno argued that the Bible gives people only ethical indications and no scientific truth about the universe. Bruno also had scientific reasons for holding that the universe is infinite. These include his atomistic physics and cosmology, and Tycho Brahe’s new astronomical observations of comets. Bruno himself argued that the stars only seem fixed because of their distance from people on Earth, and hence that the fixity of the stars cannot be used to show that the universe is finite. He also argued that mathematical abstractions can never correspond to physical measures and to physical reality. He thus countered mathematical arguments for a finite universe.

Relativity of Motion. According to Bruno, the motions of celestial bodies are not really circular, but rather are completely free in infinite ethereal space. Each body has a dynamic consistency, determined by that body’s own impetus, and is in motion in infinite space, as there are no bodies at rest. Moreover, there is no mathematical or physical center to the universe. Because no body is at rest, it is impossible to give an absolute measure of motion. Consequently, all motions are relative.

In The Ash Wednesday Supper (La cena de le ceneri, 1584, dialogue 3), Bruno sought to prove the Copernican system by arguing for the relativity of motion on a ship, an example already used in a simpler form by Jean Buridan, Nicole d’Oresme, Nicholas of Cusa, and Galileo Galilei. The relativity of motion considered by Bruno was based on the idea that everything belonging to a system participates in the motion of the system in such a way that any motion (uniform or nonuniform, rectilinear or curvilinear) without rotation does not modify any phenomenon. One cannot feel the Earth revolving around the Sun, because this motion does not affect phenomena. Rotations make a difference, but they are intrinsically relative motions among the different parts of the body. Bruno also argued that gravity is relative, giving a sort of principle of dynamic general relativity.

Galileo, in his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, 1632), repeated some of Bruno’s arguments, but he never quoted him because Bruno was condemned by the Inquisition. Hence, people must attribute the principle of the relativity of motion to Bruno, not Galileo.

Relativity of Time and Space . The relativity of time follows from an infinite universe, as Bruno discussed in The Abruptly Ended Discourse in the College of France(Camoeracensis Acrotismus1588, XXXVIII) and The Immense Universe, the Numberless and Figureless Worlds(De innumerabilibus, immenso et infigurabili1591, VII.7). According to Aristotelian and medieval definitions, time is physically and cosmically given by the motion of the eighth sphere of fixed stars, because this motion is perfectly uniform, continuous, and simple, as required by a definition of time. If the universe is infinite, there are no spheres at all, and hence there is no privileged, perfectly uniform, continuous motion for the definition of time. The universe contains infinite motions, any one of which could be used for the definition of time. Since motion is used to measure time intervals, different motions define different, nonhomogeneous proper times. Motion affects time. Thus, the relativity of motion implies the relativity of time.

The relativity of space is already implicit in the notion that space is infinite and lacks a center, but for Bruno, spatial lengths and distances are also relative. He argued for this position in Camoeracensis Acrotismus(1588, XXVII, XXXII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVII), De innumerabilibus, immenso et infigurabili(1591, IV.6), and The Threefold Minimum and the Measure(De triplici minimo et mensura1591, II.5). Bruno started from a radical epistemological critique of measurability: motion affects, and places limits on, exact measurements. Measurements of space under different conditions of motion imply different spatial lengths. Hence, lengths are relative.

Galileo followed only Bruno’s idea that motion is relative, and only when motion is limited to uniform motion and relativity is considered as kinematic relativity, and not as dynamic relativity. Bruno’s general dynamic relativity was followed only by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In different perspectives, Bruno’s dynamic relativity was reconsidered, through Leibniz’s influence, by Henri Poincaré in his special relativistic dynamics and, through the influence of Poincaré, Benedict de Spinoza, and Ernst Mach, by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity.

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Italy’s Instituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento has devoted a Web site to Giordano Bruno, available from http://giordanobruno.signum.sns.it/ that includes a bibliography of Bruno’s work. A complete archive of Bruno’s texts in Latin and in the vernacular, including indexes, is also available from this site, at http://giordanobruno.signum.sns.it/bibliotecaideale/.

Giannetto, Enrico R. A. “La relatività del moto e del tempo in Giordano Bruno.” Physis 38 (2001): 305–336.

——. “Giordano Bruno and the Origins of Relativity.” In Albert Einstein, Chief Engineer of the Universe: One Hundred Authors for Einstein, edited by J. Renn. New York: Wiley, 2005.

Enrico R. A. Giannetto

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Bruno, Giordano (1548–1600)

BRUNO, GIORDANO (15481600)

BRUNO, GIORDANO (15481600), Italian philosopher. Born to a military father, in Nola near Naples, in 1548, Bruno was baptized Filippo. He became Giordano in 1565 on entering the Dominican monastery in Naples. He was ordained a priest in 1573, but was soon in trouble for reading forbidden books. Bruno was forced to flee from Naples, and later from Rome, to escape an official enquiry.

Discarding his monk's habit, Bruno traveled north through Genoa and Venice, giving private lessons on cosmology. In 1579, he left Italy for Geneva, where he found work with the printers. Bruno repudiated John Calvin's radical concept of predestination, and was soon obliged to leave Geneva after publishing a libel, no longer extant, criticizing one of the city's most distinguished professors of philosophy. He fared better in France where, after two years teaching philosophy at the University of Toulouse, he arrived in Paris in 1581.

Bruno was soon noticed by the French king, Henry III, for his art of memory which linked the classical art, considered as a part of rhetoric, with the use of memory icons as a part of logic proposed by the thirteenth-century mystic, Ramon Lull. Appointed as one of the royal lecturers, Bruno published in Paris in 1582 his first surviving work, De Umbris Idearum, which explains his art of memory. In the same year, Bruno published in Italian the comedy Candelaio, which paints a vividly realistic picture of the corrupt activities of plebeian Naples. It is thought by some to have influenced major Elizabethan dramatists such as Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.

In the spring of 1583, Bruno left Paris for London, where he became a gentleman attendant on the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau, who was secretly supporting the cause of the Catholic Mary, queen of Scots. With the ambassador, he visited the court of Queen Elizabeth I and the University of Oxford, where he later returned to lecture on cosmology. His attempt to propose Copernicus's heliocentric astronomy was a disaster. Accused of plagiarism and treated with contempt, Bruno returned to London where, between 1584 and 1585, he wrote and published his six Italian dialogues, which argue for a post-Copernican, infinite universe in which each star is a sun, giving rise to an infinite number of solar systems similar to our own.

After returning to Paris in autumn 1585, Bruno wandered through central Europe teaching and publishing his philosophy in Wittenberg, Prague, Helmsted, and Frankfurt. In 1591, he published his Latin masterpiece, known as the Frankfurt Trilogy, prefixing his cosmological picture (De Immenso) with the first systematic modern treatise proposing an atomistic conception of matter (De Triplici Minimo). The second volume of the trilogy (De Monade) on Pythagorean number symbolism announces Bruno's final works, left unpublished at his death, which show an increased attention to magical and mystical themes in a Neoplatonic and Hermetic perspective.

Bruno returned to Italy in summer 1591, invited by a Venetian nobleman, Giovanni Mocenigo, to teach him his art of memory. In May 1592, Mocenigo denounced him to the Inquisition for heretical opinions. Bruno was arrested and tried in Venice until February 1593, when he was extradited to Rome. Refusing to recant, Bruno was burnt at the stake in Campo dei Fiori in Rome on 17 February 1600.

At the center of Bruno's philosophy lies his new picture of an infinite, homogeneous, atomistically articulated cosmos, full of infinite life. From this idea derives his concept of God as Monad, or the ineffable One whose seal or shadow is the infinite world; his refusal of the Christian incarnation on the basis that the whole universe, filled with the divine spirit, is an incarnation of God; his search for that God through a logical hunt that follows the traces of divine order observable within the natural universe; his idea of magic as filling the gap that opens up between the infinite whole and the finite mind of the philosopher, entrapped in time and space; his search for new mathematical and mnemonic arts capable of comprehending the infinite, universal whole.

Considered a precursor of major philosophers such as Baruch Spinoza or Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, Bruno was appreciated in the nineteenth century above all for his contribution to the scientific revolution and in the twentieth for his Hermetic magic and interest in the occult. The agenda for the new century appears oriented toward a more balanced and complete view of him as a thinker who amalgamated apparently conflicting doctrines of knowledge in a complex but rich oeuvre that Bruno himself referred to as "the Nolan philosophy."

See also Academies, Learned ; Cosmology ; Magic ; Philosophy ; Scientific Revolution ; Spinoza, Baruch.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Bruno, Giordano. The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584), edited and translated by E. A. Gosselin and L. S. Lerner. Hamden, Conn., 1977. Reprint: Toronto, 1995.

. The Cabala of Pegasus (1585). Edited and translated by S. L. Sondergard and M. U. Sowell. New Haven and London, 2002.

. Cause, Principle and Unity (1584) and Essays on Magic. Edited and translated by R. J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca. Introduction by Alfonso Ingegno. Cambridge, U.K., 1998.

. The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (1584). Edited and translated by A. D. Imerti. New Brunswick, N.J., 1964.

. The Heroic Frenzies (1585). Edited and translated by P. E. Memmo. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1964.

. His Life and Thought, with Annotated Translation of his Work, On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584). Edited and translated by D.W. Singer. New York, 1950.

. On the Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas (1591). Edited and translated by C. Doria and D. Higgins. New York, 1991.

. Opera latine conscripta. Edited by F. Fiorentino et al. 3 vols. in 8 parts. Naples and Florence, 18791891. Facsimile reprint, 1962.

Secondary Sources

Aquilecchia, Giovanni. Schede bruniane (19501991). Manziana, 1993.

Canone, Eugenio. Giordano Bruno 15841600: Mostra storico documentaria. Florence, 2000.

Ciliberto, Michele. Giordano Bruno. Rome and Bari, 1990.

De Léon Jones, Karen. Giordano Bruno and the Kaballah. New Haven and London, 1997.

Firpo, Luigi, and Quaglioni, Diego. Il processo di Giordano Bruno. Rome, 1993.

Gatti, Hilary. Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science. Ithaca, N.Y., 1999.

. The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge: Giordano Bruno in England. London, 1989.

Gatti, Hilary, ed. Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of the Renaissance. London, 2003.

Hodgart, Amelia Buono. Giordano Bruno's 'The Candle Bearer': An Enigmatic Renaissance Play. Lewiston, U.K., 1997.

Mendoza, Ramon. The Acentric Labyrinth: Giordano Bruno's Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology. Shaftesbury, U.K., 1995.

Ordine, Nuccio. Giordano Bruno and the Philosophy of the Ass. New Haven and London, 1996.

Yates, Frances. Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. London, 1964.

Hilary Gatti

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Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno

The Italian philosopher and poet Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) attempted to deal with the implications of the Copernican universe. Although he made no scientific discoveries, his ideas had much influence on later scientists and philosophers.

Giordano Bruno was born at Nola in southern Italy. His baptismal name was Filippo, but he took the name Giordano when he entered a Dominican monastery in Naples in 1565. During his stay in different monastic houses in southern Italy, he acquired a vast knowledge of philosophy, theology, and science. Because he developed unorthodox views on some Catholic teachings, Bruno was suspected of heresy and finally fled the monastic life in 1576. This experience reveals much about Bruno's personality. His love for knowledge and hatred of ignorance led him to become a rebel, unwilling to accept traditional authority. The price he paid for this independence was persecution and condemnation in many countries.

After making his way through northern Italy, Bruno sought refuge at Geneva in 1579. His criticism of a Genevan professor, however, forced his withdrawal from that city. The next 2 years were spent in Toulouse, where he was granted a master's degree and lectured on Aristotle. In 1581-1582 he stayed in Paris and published his first significant set of writings, in which he explained a new method for memory training and commented on the logical system of Raymond Lully.

In 1583 Bruno traveled to England, where he lived for 2 years. While there, he became friendly with some prominent Englishmen, publicly praised Queen Elizabeth I, and held a disputation at Oxford on the Copernican and Aristotelian conceptions of the universe. Most important, he published some of his best works in England during 1584-1585, namely, La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper); De l'infinito universo et mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds); and De la causa, principio et uno (Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One). In these works Bruno attempted to come to grips with the meaning of the new conception of the universe that Copernicus had developed. Bruno conceived of the universe as infinite, composed of a plurality of worlds. For him the universe has a unity that signifies a prevailing order-individual things are not isolated but are animated by a common life and a common cause. This cause is immanent, not transcendent, and the soul which gives life to the whole is God. It is God who "is not above, and not outside, but within and through, all things." It is not surprising that later examiners of Bruno's system described it as pantheistic. Bruno also published an Italian dialogue, De gli eroici furori (1585; The Heroic Furies), in which he presents the Renaissance conception of Platonic love.

Returning to France in 1585, Bruno was forced to leave that country in 1586 because of his attacks on Aristotelian philosophy. He then went to Germany, where he achieved some acclaim as a result of his lectures at the University of Wittenberg and published some works centered primarily on logic. After further travels he settled briefly in Frankfurt am Main, where he wrote a series of poems in Latin. In the three most important ones (all 1591), De minimo (On the Minimum), De monade (On the Monad), and De immenso (On the Immense), he examined what is infinitely small and infinitely great in the universe.

In 1592 Bruno went to Venice on the invitation of a Venetian nobleman who later betrayed him to the Catholic Inquisition. Bruno was arrested and imprisoned in Rome, where after a lengthy confinement and a trial for heresy he was burned at the stake on Feb. 17, 1600.

Further Reading

There is an extensive literature on Bruno in many languages. The best English biography is Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought (1950). This work also includes a translation of Bruno's important work On the Infinite Universe and Worlds. Older biographies are J. Lewis Mclntyre, Giordano Bruno (1903), and William Boulting, Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom (1916). The former is divided into two sections, one on his life, the other on his philosophy. Among the specialized works on Bruno are Sidney Greenberg, The Infinite in Giordano Bruno, with a Translation of His Dialogue: Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One (1950); Irving Louis Horowitz, The Renaissance Philosophy of Giordano Bruno (1952); John Nelson, Renaissance Theory of Love: The Context of Giordano Bruno's Eroici furori (1958); and Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964).

Additional Sources

Yates, Frances Amelia, Lull & Bruno, London; Boston: Routledge& K. Paul, 1982.

Bossy, John, Giordano Bruno and the embassy affair, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. □

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Bruno, Giordano (1548–1600)

Bruno, Giordano (15481600)

Italian philosopher who was executed for his teachings and beliefs that were contrary to Catholic doctrine. Born in Nola, in the Kingdom of Naples, Bruno was the son of a soldier. He was a prodigy as a scholar and joined the Dominican Order, becoming a priest in 1572. He studied a wide range of philosophies and also took a keen interest in astronomy and mathematics, training himself to prodigious feats of memory that led many to suspect him of dabbling in the occult arts. He took up the Hermetic tradition, based on the writings of the ancient seer Hermes Trismegistus, a renowned figure since the Middle Ages and a representative of ancient Egyptian wisdom and magic. Bruno also studied the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a leading medieval scholar; Marcilio Ficino, a Renaissance Neoplatonist, or follower of Aristotelianism; and German philosopher Nicholas of Cusa. Bruno grew familiar with the heliocentric universe proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus, but took it a dangerous step further by teaching that the universe was infinite, and that the earth was only one among an infinite variety of worlds with no particular importance. This ran counter to Christian doctrine.

Accused of heresy by the order of friars called Dominicans, Bruno left Naples in 1576 for Rome, then traveled to Geneva, where he joined the Protestant Calvinist sect but was excommunicated for slandering the philosopher Antoine de la Faye. In 1579 he left Geneva, unhappy with the strict Calvinist methods, and became a professor of philosophy at Toulouse, France. Under constant scrutiny wherever he went, he spent time in Paris and then London, where he worked in the service of French ambassador Michel de Castelnau. In England his published works and his promotion of the Copernican system offended some. He also came under suspicion for a powerful mnemonic system of memory that he described in his works The Shadow of Ideas, The Art of Memory, and Circe's Song. In 1584 he completed two of his most important works, On the Infinite Universe and Worlds and The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. Bruno arrived in Prague in 1588. He was excommunicated there by Lutheran Church officials and had to flee the city. He returned to Germany in 1591. At the invitation of a Venetian noble, Giovanni Mocenigo, he moved back to Italy and became a memory tutor to Mocenigo. The two were soon at odds over Bruno's unyielding philosophy and abrasive personality. Mocenigo denounced Bruno, who was arrested in May 1592 and charged with heresy and blasphemy. He was transferred to Rome and imprisoned, finally tried for his negative views on Catholic dogma, including the rites of the Mass and the nature of the Trinity, for practicing magic, and for his heretical belief in a multiplicity of worlds. He was found guilty after a trial that lasted seven years and burned at the stake in 1600.

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Bruno, Giordano

Giordano Bruno (jōrdä´nō brōō´nō), 1548–1600, Italian philosopher, b. Nola. The son of a professional soldier, he entered the Dominican order early in his youth and was ordained a priest in 1572, but he was accused of heresy and fled (c.1576) to take up a career of study and travel. He taught briefly at several cities including Toulouse, Paris, Oxford, and Wittenberg, but, personally restless and in constant opposition to the traditional schools, he found no permanent post. He was particularly known for his prodigious memory, and at times taught mnemonic technique. His major metaphysical works, De la causa, principio, et uno (1584, tr. The Infinite in Giordano Bruno, 1950) and De l'infinito, universo et mondi (1584), were published in France. Further works appeared in England and Germany. Bruno also wrote satire and poetry. In 1591 he returned to Venice, where he was tried for heresy by the Inquisition. After further trial and imprisonment at Rome, he was burned to death.

Bruno challenged all dogmatism, including that of the church-sanctioned Aristotelian physics and earth-centered cosmology as well as the controversial Copernican cosmology, the main tenets of which, however, he upheld. He believed that our perception of the world is relative to the position in space and time from which we view it and that there are as many possible modes of viewing the world as there are possible positions. Therefore we cannot postulate absolute truth or any limit to the progress of knowledge. The first to enunciate what is now called the cosmic theory, he pictured the world as composed of individual elements of being, governed by fixed laws of relationship. These elements, called monads, were in constant motion, ultimate, and irreducible and were based on a pantheistic infinite principle, or cause, or Deity, manifest in us and in all the world. Bruno's influence on later philosophy, especially that of Spinoza and Leibniz, was profound, and he is widely considered a forerunner of modern science.

See biography by I. D. Rowland (2008); P. H. Michel, The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno (tr. 1973); S. Drake, Copernicus—Philosophy and Science: Bruno—Kepler—Galileo (1973); F. A. Yates, Lull and Bruno (1982).

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Bruno, Giordano

BRUNO, GIORDANO

Philosopher and poet; b. Nola, 1548; d. Rome, Feb. 17, 1600. A Dominican priest, Bruno lived until 1576 in various priories in the kingdom of Naples, where he acquired a vast knowledge of philosophy, theology, and science, and became well versed in Latin and Italian letters. He conceived culture as a single common tradition containing all religious and profane doctrines, the authentic understanding of this tradition being possible only through a philosophical interpretation known only to dominant personalities. An impetuous and intolerant love for knowledge led him to attack the supine ignorance of the unlearned and the pedantic, whom he regarded as deforming the true meaning of teachings through grotesque attempts at interpretation. His violent and imprudent criticisms

against every doctrinal profession not illumined by philosophical and personal knowledge, his rejection of all authority other than reason itself, and his independent and rebellious position made him an object of condemnation and persecution in many countries and led to a tragic end.

Life and Works. Bruno fled his priory in 1576 to avoid a trial for heresy consequent upon his disrespect for current religious opinions and wandered for 15 years through many European states, testing contemporary cultures as well as various religious positions. After traveling through northern Italy in 1579, he vainly sought refuge in Calvinistic Geneva, where he was pursued by a penal lawsuit. He successfully commented upon Aristotle at the University of Toulouse from 1579 to 1581. During his consequent sojourn in Paris, he published his first important group of writings, wherein he delineated a new method for memorization and tried to develop the combinative art projected by R. lull. After an unsuccessful attempt at teaching at Oxford, he continued his abundant literary activity in London from 1583 until 1585.

In his Cena delle Ceneri Bruno originated a completely new cosmological conception based upon the Copernican criticism of geocentricity: space is infinite, without an absolute horizon or center. This concept is amplified in his De linfinito, universo e mondi, innumerable heavenly bodies move through interminable space, and various living forms populate the stars. The universal meaning of life in Bruno's conception of the universe is the soul; his cosmological teaching relies upon a metaphysics of living and generating nature, which, as an image of and emanation from God, divinely forms and gathers all things into one organic totality. This manifests itself in each living thing, in which it interiorly acts and guides, as the soul does in relation to the body. The dialogue De la causa, principio e uno explains the principal concepts upon which his unitary view of life hinges. In Spaccio della bestia trionfante, Cabala del cavallo pegaseo, and Asino cillenico, Bruno astutely used symbols to criticize positive religions by citing superstitious aspects and advancing the idea of a purely rational interpretation of traditional teachings. In another Italian dialogue, entitled Gli eroici furori, he exalted Platonic love, which enables the soul of the philosopher to rise to the contemplation of God through wisdom.

Upon returning to Paris in 1586, Bruno advanced a series of criticisms against Aristotle's philosophy in his 120 articles De Nature et Mundo adversus Peripateticos and in his Camoeracensis Acrotismus. Leaving Paris to avoid the resentment aroused by some disputes, he went into Lutheran Germany, where after a vain attempt at Marburg, he gained acclaim at the University of Wittenberg. While pursuing his research relevant to the Lullian art, he continued to study Aristotle until 1588. In 1589 he made a short visit to Prague and benefited from the liberality of Rudolph II of Hapsburg. Then he stayed at Helmstdt, where his independent conduct soon brought on an excommunication enforced by the Lutheran religious authorities of the city. His sojourn at Frankfurt am Main from 1590 to 1591 enabled him to compose a series of poems in classical Latin. These, published in Frankfurt in 1591 as De minimo, De monade, and De innumerabilibus sive de immenso, manifest the power of his imagination in reference to metaphysics. Here, starting with original interpretations about the meaning of geometric figures and mathematical functions, he tried to explore what is infinitely great and what is infinitely small in the cosmos. The metaphysical synthesis entitled Summa terminorum metaphysicorum ad capessendum logicae et philosophiae studium he composed at Zurich; this was published there by one of his disciples in 1595.

Condemnation and Critique. Bruno's speculative work was interrupted by a tragic event. Invited to Venice by the patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, who wanted to learn the mnemonic and Lullian arts, Bruno was betrayed by his host and in 1592 given over to the Inquisition. Accused of heresy and incarcerated in Venice, then in Rome, he refused to retract his teachings and was burned at the stake in the Roman Campo dei Fiori.

Bruno's teaching cannot be separated from his impetuous, genial, and confused personality, wherein a generous love for wisdom hid under a violent and intolerant temperament. He did not know how to assume social responsibility during an era that was painfully disturbed by complex changes, during which Europe gradually over-came the torment of a religious and moral crisis. It is difficult, then, to synthesize his teaching in brief formulas, inasmuch as it is involved with polemics and affected by personal and historical circumstances. Later the name of Giordano Bruno was unduly used as a symbol for movements against the Church, and he was called the precursor of immanentistic, romantic, and scientistic positions hardly reconcilable with the historical truth about him.

Bibliography: Works. Opere italiane, ed. g. gentile and v. spampanato, 3 v.; Opera latine conscripta, ed. f. fiorentino et al., 3 v.. Literature. Copleston v. 3. a. guzzo, Enciclopedia filosofica, 4 v. (Venice-Rome 1957) 1:807820. v. salvestrini, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno (15821950) (2d ed. Florence 1958). v. spampanato, Vita di Giordano Bruno, con documenti editi e inediti, 2 v. (Messina 192123); Documenti sulla vita di Giordano Bruno (Florence 1933). a. mercati, Il sommario del processo di Giordano Bruno. f. a. yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. i. l. horowitz, The Renaissance Philosophy of Giordano Bruno (New York 1952).

[a. pupi]

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Bruno, Giordano

BRUNO, GIORDANO

BRUNO, GIORDANO (15481600), Italian philosopher. Bruno was a brilliant and encyclopedic though erratic thinker of the Italian Renaissance, a man who synthesized and transformed thought in terms of the situation of his own times. Born in Nola, Bruno joined the Dominican order in Naples at the age of fifteen. He was expelled for his views on transubstantiation and the immaculate conception and fled Rome about 1576. After wandering over half of Europe, he finally returned to Italy, only to be imprisoned by the Roman Inquisition for his cosmological theories and burned as a heretic, the "martyr of the Renaissance."

Bruno was strongly influenced by the German philosopher Nicholas of Cusa and the latter's theory of the "coincidence of opposites," namely, that the infinitely great coincides with the infinitely small, and that God relates to the world as does one side of a piece of paper to the other side (panentheism). Drawing on Neoplatonic philosophy in developing his theories about the universe, Bruno rejected Aristotle's conception of the structure of the universe, held to a theory of animate monads, taught the relativity of space, time, and motion, and maintained that the universe is infinite in extension and eternal in its origin and duration.

Bruno was a prolific author and, especially in his Italian works, a beautiful writer, though some of his Latin works were prolix and confused. He had obsessions, such as his preoccupation with mnemonic theories, and he was easily distracted by strange thinkers like Ramón Lull (c. 12351315). Among Bruno's better-known works are On Heroic Rages, expounding a Neoplatonic theodicy cast in mythical form, describing the soul's ascent to God as its return to the original and highest unity; An Ash Wednesday Conversation, discussing the Copernican heliocentric theory; On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, an ecstatic vision of a single infinite universe; The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, an allegory dealing mostly with moral philosophy; and On the Beginnings, Elements and Causes of Things, his cosmic philosophy. Bruno's writings influenced Jakob Boehme, Spinoza, Leibniz, Descartes, Schelling, and Hegel.

Bibliography

Virgilio Salvestrini's Bibliografia delle opere di Giordano Bruno (Pisa, 1926) is an excellent comprehensive bibliography of Bruno's works, including references to him by other writers. The best book in English on Bruno is Dorothea Waley Singer's Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought with Annotated Translation of His Work "On the Infinite Universe and Worlds" (New York, 1968). An authoritative treatment of his thought is Giovanni Gentile's Giordano Bruno e il pensiero del rinascimento, 2d ed. (Florence, 1925). Irving Louis Horowitz's The Renaissance Philosophy of Giordano Bruno (New York, 1952) offers a general introduction to his natural philosophy or ontology and an analysis of the interactions of his philosophical system and method. Frances A. Yates's Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (London, 1964) relates his thought to the mystical and Platonic tradition.

Lewis W. Spitz (1987)

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Bruno, Giordano (1548–1600)

BRUNO, GIORDANO
(15481600)

Giordano Bruno, the most famous of the Italian philosophers of the Renaissance, was born at Nola, near Naples. At an early age he entered the Dominican order and became an inmate of the Dominican convent in Naples. In 1576 he was accused of heresy and fled, abandoning the Dominican habit. Thereafter he wandered through Europe. After visiting Geneva, and lecturing on the Tractatus de Sphaera Mundi of Sacrobosco at Toulouse, Bruno reached Paris in 1581. Here he gave public lectures that attracted the attention of King Henri III, and published two books on the art of memory that reveal him as greatly influenced by that textbook of Renaissance magic, the De Occulta Philosophia of Henry Cornelius Agrippa, from which he quotes lists of magic images of the stars, incantations, and other occult procedures. Bruno as a Renaissance magus, in line of descent from the learned philosophical magic inaugurated by Marsilio Ficino, is already present in these books. The title of one of them, De Umbris Idearum (Shadows of Ideas), is taken from the necromantic commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco by Cecco d'Ascoli, whom Bruno mentions admiringly in other works. It may be inferred that the lectures at Toulouse were probably based on this commentary.

Early in 1583 Bruno went to England with letters of recommendation from Henri III to the French ambassador in London. He lived in the French embassy during the two years he spent in England, and the ambassador protected him from the tumults aroused by his writings, which were clandestinely printed in London. These included the Triginta Sigilli (Thirty seals), an extremely obscure work on his magic art of memory; those who manage to reach the end of it find an advocacy of a new religion based on love, art, magic, and mathesis. It is dedicated to the vice-chancellor and doctors of the University of Oxford in high-sounding terms in which Bruno announces himself as "the waker of sleeping souls, tamer of presumptuous and recalcitrant ignorance, proclaimer of a general philanthropy."

In June 1583 the Polish prince Albert Alasco (Laski) visited Oxford and was entertained with public disputations. Bruno was in his train, and, according to a recently discovered account by George Abbot, afterward archbishop of Canterbury, Bruno returned to Oxford after the party had left and delivered, uninvited, lectures that were largely a repetition of Marsilio Ficino's work on astral magic, the De Vita Coelitus Comparanda (On drawing down the life of heaven), although he also maintained Nicolas Copernicus's opinion "that the earth did go round and the heavens did stand still." Abbot says that Bruno was induced to discontinue the lectures when the plagiarism from Ficino was pointed out to him.

While in England, Bruno published five dialogues in Italian. In La cena de le ceneri (The Ash Wednesday supper; 1584) he defends his version of the Copernican theory against Oxford "pedants," a reflection of his visit to Oxford. In De la causa, principio e uno (1584) he apologizes for the storms aroused by his attack on Oxford, but makes matters worse by defending the friars of pre-Reformation Oxford, whom he prefers to their Protestant successors. The De l'infinito, universo e mondi (1584) is an exposition of his vision of an infinite universe and innumerable worlds. The Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (The expulsion of the triumphant beast; 1584) envisages a universal moral and religious reform and is dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. The Cabala del cavallo pegaseo (Cabal of the horse Pegasus; 1585) indicates Bruno's adaptation of the Jewish kabbalah. The De gli eroici furori (On heroic enthusiasms; 1585) also dedicated to Sidney, is in the form of a sonnet sequence with commentaries expounding the philosophical and mystical meanings of the poems. It is upon this series of most striking and brilliant works, in which Bruno appears as the propagator of a new philosophy and cosmology, a new ethic and religion, that his fame largely rests. They are all full of Hermetic influences and are bound up with a complex religious, or politico-religious, mission for which Bruno believed he had the support of Henri III, and which cannot have been uncongenial to the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau de Mauvissière, to whom three of the books are dedicated. Sidney's reactions to Bruno are unknown.

Late in 1585 Bruno returned to Paris, where he delivered an address on his philosophy in the Collège de Cambrai, arousing strong opposition, and where he had a curious controversy with Fabrizio Mordente about the compass that Mordente had invented. Paris was in a disturbed state, on the eve of the wars of the League, and Bruno's activities added to the "tumults," from which he fled in 1586 and began his travels through Germany. He was favorably received at the University of Wittenberg, and during his stay there he wrote a number of works, particularly on the art of Ramón Lull, to which he attached great importance and which he believed he understood better than Lull himself. From Wittenberg he went to Prague, where he tried to obtain the favor of Emperor Rudolph II with his Articuli Adversus Mathematicos (1588), in which he states that he is strongly against mathematics, which he regarded as a "pedantry" lacking in deep magical insight into nature. His objection to Copernicus as a "mere mathematician" had been on similar lines. The work is illustrated with magical diagrams, representing what he called his mathesis, and its preface outlines a movement of tolerance and general philanthropy that is to replace sectarian bitterness. He next spent some time at Helmstedt, where he enjoyed the favor of the reigning duke, Henry Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and made a speech in praise of the late duke in which he outlined his program of moral reform in language similar to that used in the Spaccio de la bestia trionfante. It was probably while at Helmstedt that Bruno wrote the De Magia and other works on magic unpublished in his lifetime.

With the money Henry Julius gave him for the oration, Bruno went to Frankfurt to have printed the Latin poems he had written during his wanderings. These were the De Innumerabilibus, Immenso et Infigurabili, the De Triplici Minimo et Mensura, and the De Monade Numero et Figura, all of which were printed by John Wechel in 1591. In these Latin poems, written in a style imitating Lucretius, Bruno expresses his philosophical and cosmological speculations in their final form. Like the Italian dialogues on these themes, the Latin poems are full of Hermetic influences, particularly of the mathesis, or magical numerology, which Bruno had been further developing during his travels. He also published the last of his books on his magical arts of memory at Frankfurt.

Trial and Death

In August 1591, Bruno returned to Italy at the invitation of a Venetian nobleman who wished to learn the secrets of his art of memory. There can be little doubt that Bruno was encouraged to take this step by the hopes of greater religious toleration aroused by the conversion of Henri IV of France. Bruno had in his baggage the manuscript of a book he intended to dedicate to Pope Clement VIII. It is strange that one who had stated in his published works that Christ was a magus and that the magical religion of the Egyptians was better than Christianity should have felt that he could place himself with impunity within reach of the Inquisition. Bruno seems, however, always to have sincerely believed that his religious and moral reform could take place within a Catholic framework. He was arrested in Venice and thrown into the prisons of the Inquisition. At the end of the Venetian trial he recanted his heresies, but was sent to Rome for another trial. Here he remained in prison for eight years, at the end of which he was sentenced as a heretic (having refused, this time, to recant) and was burned alive on the Campo de' Fiori.

Although the actual processo stating on what grounds he was condemned is not extant, it seems most probable that Bruno was burned as a magician, as an "Egyptian" who had been propagating throughout Europe some movement the nature of which remains mysterious, although it may well be connected with the origins of Rosicrucianism and of Freemasonry. His philosophical views in themselves can have had little to do with the condemnation, unless insofar as they, too, were associated with the movement.

Later Interpretation

In the seventeenth century there was a conspiracy of silence about Bruno and his reputation. Where the silence was broken, he usually appeared in the character of a diabolical magician. It was rumored that he had made a speech in praise of the devil at Wittenberg (Pierre Bayle and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz heard this story). In the eighteenth century he was interpreted by John Toland as a deist. The nineteenth century rediscovered Bruno and read its own beliefs and attitudes into his works. It was then that he appeared as the martyr for modern science and the Copernican theory, and statues were erected in his honor by anticlericals in Italy. The crudity of this approach was modified in later philosophical studies of Bruno, but the attempt to isolate a philosophy or a metaphysics from his works and to discuss his thought in a context of straight history of philosophy meant that large areas in his writings must be disregarded as unimportant or unintelligible. Moreover, no coherent philosophical system could be extracted in this way, as Leonardo Olschki saw when he criticized Bruno as a confused thinker. But when Bruno is placed in the context of the Renaissance Hermetic tradition, his philosophy, his magic, and his religion can all be seen as forming part of an outlook on nature and on man which, however strange, is nevertheless perfectly coherent within its own premises.

Hermetic Philosophy

The extraordinary prestige of the Hermetica in the Renaissance was encouraged by the belief that they were the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, an Egyptian sage who foretold Christianity and whose wisdom had inspired Plato and the Platonists. The Hermetic core in Renaissance Neoplatonism was an important factor in the revival of magic. Christian magi, like Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, used some caution in their approach to the magical passages in the Hermetic Asclepius, which is the basis of the astral magic described by Ficino in his De Vita Coelitus Comparanda. These safeguards were largely abandoned by the magician Cornelius Agrippa and totally abandoned by Bruno, who adopted the position that the Hermetic magical religion was the true religion, the religion of nature in contact with its powers. The cure for the wars, persecutions, and miseries of contemporary Europe was a return to the magical religion of the Egyptianshence the long quotations in the Spaccio de la bestia trionfante from the passages in the Asclepius describing the religious practices of the Hermetic pseudo Egyptians, ecstatically interpreted by Bruno as their worship of "God in things," and as a "profound magic" by which they were able to draw down cosmic powers into the statues of their gods. The lament for the Egyptian religion in the Asclepius was interpreted by Bruno as a lament for a better religion, destroyed by Christianity. Since Augustine had condemned these passages as referring to the wicked demon worship of the Egyptians, it is easy to see how Bruno's "demonic" reputation arose. Bruno's "Egyptian" religion included belief in metempsychosis, which he also derived from the Hermetic writings.

Bruno's views on religion are organically related to his philosophy, for the philosophy of the living Earth moving around the divine sun and of the innumerable worlds, moving like great animals with a life of their own in the infinite universe, is the animist philosophy of a magus who believes he can establish contact with the divine life of nature. The sun is frequently mentioned in the Hermetic writings as a god, and it is the chief of the astral gods worshiped in the religion described in the Asclepius. Ficino's use of the astral magic of the Asclepius was chiefly directed toward the sun, whose beneficent influences he sought to draw down through solar talismans and incantations.

Bruno's Copernicanism

That Bruno thought of the Copernican sun in the context of the magic of Ficino's De Vita Coelitus Comparanda is indicated in the report of his lectures at Oxford, in which he is said to have repeated the Ficinian text while also maintaining the opinion of Copernicus. This report fits in with passages in Bruno's works in which the sun appears in a magical context, and particularly with his defense of the Copernican opinion against the Oxford doctors in La cena de le ceneri, where he describes Copernicus as "only a mathematician" who has not seen the true meaning of his discovery as he, Bruno, has seen it. When a speaker in these dialogues asks what is the cause of Earth's movement around the sun, the reply is an almost verbatim quotation from Corpus Hermeticum XII, in which Hermes Trismegistus explains that the energy of life is movement and that therefore nothing in the living universe is immobile, not even Earth. Bruno applied these words as an explanation of the cause of Earth's movement around the sun. The Copernican opinion had, for him, confirmed the "Egyptian" philosophy of universal animation. He also repeated from the same Hermetic treatise one of his most characteristic doctrines: that there is no death in nature, only change.

Thus Bruno's acceptance of Copernican heliocentricity did not rest on Copernicus's mathematical arguments. On the contrary, Copernicus as a mere math-ematician was despised by him as a superficial person who had not understood the true meaning of his discovery. Bruno was always "against" mathematics. Although he had some acquaintance with the scientific basis of the Copernican theory, it was not on mathematical grounds that Bruno defended Copernicanism from reactionary Aristotelians, but on animist and magical grounds. In fact, when the passages on the sun in the different works are compared, it becomes apparent that Copernican heliocentricity was for Bruno a kind of celestial portent of the approaching return of "Egyptian" philosophy and religion. "Aristotelianism" was for Bruno a symbol of all that is dead and dryor, as he would say, "pedantic"in philosophy and religion (the two were for him inseparable), compared with his own philosophy and religionin contact, so he believed, with living, divine nature.

New Vision of the Universe

The essence of the Hermetic writings is that they give a religious impulse toward the world. It is within the setting of the universe, not through any divine mediator, that the Hermetic gnostic achieves his religious experience. The closest parallel to Bruno's imaginative leap upward through the spheres is the description in the Hermetic Pimander of how man "leant across the armature of the spheres, having broken through their envelopes." So did Bruno break through the spheres in his ecstatic ascent to his new vision of the universe. The immediate source of his vision of infinite space and innumerable inhabited worlds was Lucretius's poem De Rerum Natura, But Bruno transformed the Epicurean and Lucretian notions by imparting animation to the innumerable worldsa feature totally absent from Lucretius's universeand by imparting the function of being an image of the infinite divinity to the infinite. The godless universe of Lucretius turns in the Brunian vision into a vast extension of Hermetic gnosis; in order to receive this within himself, man, that "great miracle," as he is defined in the Asclepius, must expand himself infinitely. The magnum miraculum est homo passage is quoted from Trismegistus near the beginning of the De Immenso as a preliminary to the new vision of the world to be revealed in the poem.

This infinitely extended All was nevertheless One. The unity of the All in the One is a basic theme of the Hermetic writings and also of Bruno's. The unity of the All in the One is for Bruno "a most solid foundation for the truths and secrets of nature. For you must know that it is by one and the same ladder that nature descends to the production of things and the intellect ascends to the knowledge of them; and that the one and the other proceeds from unity and returns to unity" (De la causa, principio e uno, in Dialoghi italiani, edited by Giovanni Aquilecchia, p. 329).

This is the philosophy conducive to magicthat the magus can depend on the ladders of occult sympathies running through all nature. When this philosophy is not only a magic but also a religion, it becomes the religion of the Hermetic pseudo Egyptians who, as Bruno says in the Spaccio de la bestia triofante, "with magic and divine rites ascended to the height of the divinity by that same scale of nature by which the divinity descends to the smallest things by the communication of itself" (Dialoghi italiani, p. 777). Bruno's philosophy and religion are one and the same, and both are Hermetic. This accounts for the main aspects of his philosophy, his panpsychism and his monism, and also for the magic and the references to magical practices with which his books are filled.

Like all Renaissance magi, Bruno was a syncretist and drew from his vast reading many philosophies which had accreted to the Hermetic core. The pre-Socratics, Plato and the Platonists, the Scholastics (Bruno revered Thomas Aquinas as a great magus), Nicholas of Cusaall were incorporated into the central theme. Bruno's chief textbook of magic was Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia ; he also used the conjuring books of Trithemius and admired, and perhaps practiced, the Paracelsian medicine.

Art of Memory

The side of Bruno's work that he regarded as the most important was the intensive training of the imagination in his occult arts of memory. In this he was continuing a Renaissance tradition that also had its roots in the Hermetic revival, for the religious experience of the Hermetic gnostic consisted in reflecting the universe within his own mind or memory. The Hermeticist believed himself capable of this achievement because he believed that man's mens is in itself divine and therefore able to reflect the divine mind behind the universe. In Bruno, the cultivation of world-reflecting magic memory becomes the technique for achieving the personality of a magus, and of one who believes himself to be the leader of a religious movement. Strange though these beliefs and practices are, Bruno had some profound things to say in his books on memory concerning the imagination, which he made the sole cognitive power (sweeping away the divisions of the Aristotelian faculty psychology by a kind of inner anti-Aristotelianism), and on the mental image in relation to the psychology of the "inspired" personality. When the magical aspect (which includes such practices as the use of talismans or images of the stars as mental images) is discounted or allowed for, Bruno's bold explorations of the inner world may become important to the historian of psychology.

Significance and Influence

The emphasis on the Hermetic and magical side of Bruno's thinking does not discredit his significant contribution to the history of thought. He exemplifies the Hermetic religious impulse as a motive force behind the imaginative formulation of new cosmologies. From within his own frame of reference, this highly gifted man made guesses that may have given hints to seventeenth-century thinkers. A notable example is his transformation of the Democritean atoms, of which he read in Lucretius, into magically animated monads; this may well have been a stage leading to Leibniz's monadology, and there are other curious links between Bruno and Leibniz. Although Bruno was obviously not in the line leading to the mathematical advances, his extraordinary vision of an immensely expanded universe, ruled by the laws of magical animism, may be said to prefigure, on the Hermetic plane, the new cosmology of the seventeenth century. Drained of its animism, with the laws of inertia and gravity substituted for the psychic life of nature as the principle of movement, Bruno's universe would turn into something like the universe of Isaac Newton, moving under laws placed in it by a God who is not a magician but a mathematician and a mechanic. In the Hermetic phase of European thought, which was the immediate prelude to the seventeenth-century revolution, Bruno is an outstanding figure. Regarding him in this light, the old legend of the martyrdom of the advanced thinker becomes almost true again, although not in the old sense.

See also Hermeticism.

Bibliography

Additional works by Bruno in Italian are Dialoghi italiani, edited by Giovanni Gentile and revised by Giovanni Aquilecchia (Florence, 1957), which contains all the Italian dialogues in one volume, and Il candelaio, a comedy, edited by Vincenzo Spampanato (Bari, 1923). In Latin, see Opera Latine, edited by Francisco Fiorentino, Vittorio Imbriani, C. M. Tallarigo, Felice Tocco, and Girolamo Vitelli, 3 vols. (Naples: Morano, 18791891), issued in eight parts; there is also a facsimile reprint (Naples and Florence, 1962).

Translations include The Heroic Enthusiasts, translated by L. Williams (London: Redway, 1887); Des Fureurs héroïques, translated by P.-H. Michel (Paris, 1954); Giordano Bruno's The Heroic Frenzies, translated by P. E. Memmo Jr. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1964); The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, translated by A. D. Imerti (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1964); "On the Infinite Universe and Worlds," in D. W. Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought (New York: Schuman, 1950), pp. 227ff.; and "Concerning the Cause, Principle and One," translated by D. W. Singer in S. Thomas Greenberg, The Infinite in Giordano Bruno (New York: King's Crown Press, 1950), pp. 77ff.

Documentary sources on Bruno's life are Vincenzo Spampanato, ed., Documenti della vita di Giordano Bruno (Florence, 1933), and Angelo Mercati, ed., Il sommario del processo di Giordano Bruno (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1942). A biography is Vincenzo Spampanato, Vita di Giordano Bruno (Messina: Principato, 1921). On his trial, see Luigi Firpo, "Il processo di Giordano Bruno," in Rivista storica italiana 60 (1948): 542597, and 61 (1949): 559.

For a bibliography of Bruno's works and of books and articles on him up to and including 1950, see Virgilio Salvestrini and Luigi Firpo, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno 15821950 (Florence, 1958).

Studies of Bruno include Felice Tocco, Le opere latine di Giordano Bruno (Florence: Sansoni, 1889), and Le fonti più recenti del Bruno (Rome, 1892); J. L. McIntyre, Giordano Bruno (London: Macmillan, 1903); Giovanni Gentile, Giordano Bruno e il pensiero del Rinascimento (Florence, 1920); Leonardo Olschki, Giordano Bruno (Halle, 1924), which has also been translated into Italian (Bari, 1927); Ernst Cassirer, Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance (Leipzig: Teubner, 1927), translated by Mario Domandi as The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy (New York: Harper, 1963); Antonio Corsano, Il pensiero di Giordano Bruno (Florence: Sansoni, 1940); Eugenio Garin, La filosofia (Milan, 1947); Alexandre Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1957); Paolo Rossi, Clavis Universalis (Milan, 1960); P.-H. Michel, La cosmologie de G. Bruno (Paris: Hermann, 1962); and Paul O. Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964). Also see Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).

other recommended titles

Byrum, Stephen C. "A Proposal for Considering Giordano Bruno's Influence on Descartes." Philosophy Research Archives 9 (1983): 303336.

Calcagno, Antonio. Giordano Bruno and the Logic of Coincidence: Unity and Multiplicity in the Philosophical Thought of Giordano Bruno. New York: Peter Lang, 1998.

Decker, Kevin S. "The Open System and Its Enemies: Bruno, the Idea of Infinity, and Speculation in Early Modern Philosophy of Science." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 74 (4) (2000): 599620.

Dynnik, M. A. "Man, Sun, and Cosmos in the Philosophy of Giordano Bruno." Soviet Studies in Philosophy 6 (1967): 1421.

Gatti, Hilary. Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.

Gatti, Hilary, ed. Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of the Renaissance. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2002.

Gatti, Hilary. "The Natural Philosophy of Giordano Bruno." Midwest Studies in Philosophy 26 (2002): 111123.

Granada, Miguel A. "Aristotle, Copernicus, Bruno: Centrality, the Principle of Movement and the Extension of the Universe." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 35a (1) (2004): 91114.

Maiorino, Giancarlo. "The Breaking of the Circle: Giordano Bruno and the Poetics of Immeasurable Abundance." Journal of the History of Ideas 38 (1977): 317327.

Massa, Daniel. "Giordano Bruno's Ideas in Seventeenth-Century England." Journal of the History of Ideas 38 (1977): 227242.

Paris, Paul-Henri. The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R. E. W. Maddison. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973.

Paterson, Antoinette Mann. The Infinite Worlds of Giordano Bruno. Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1970.

Voise, Waldemar. "Bruno on the Morality of the Inhabitants of the Infinite Universe and on the Cognitive Passion of Copernicus." Dialectics and Humanism 6 (1979): 115123.

White, Michael. The Pope and the Heretic: The True Story of Giordano Bruno, the Man Who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition. New York: Morrow, 2002.

Yates, Frances A. Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Frances A. Yates (1967)

Bibliography updated by Tamra Frei (2005)

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Bruno, Giordano (1548–1600)

Bruno, Giordano (1548–1600)

Bruno, Giordano (1548–1600) Italian philosopher and poet. Giordano Bruno attempted to deal with the implications of the Copernican universe. Although he made no scientific discoveries, his ideas had much influence on later scientists and philosophers.

Giordano Bruno was born at Nola in southern Italy. His baptismal name was Filippo, but he took the name Giordano when he entered a Dominican monastery in Naples in 1565. During his stay in different monastic houses in southern Italy, he acquired a vast knowledge of philosophy, theology, and science. Because he developed unorthodox views on some Catholic teachings, Bruno was suspected of heresy and finally fled the monastic life in 1576. This experience reveals much about Bruno's personality. His love for knowledge and hatred of ignorance led him to become a rebel, unwilling to accept traditional authority. The price he paid for this independence was persecution and condemnation in many countries.

After making his way through northern Italy, Bruno sought refuge at Geneva in 1579. His criticism of a Genevan professor, however, forced his withdrawal from that city. The next two years were spent in Toulouse, where he was granted a master's degree and lectured on Aristotle. In 1581–1582 he stayed in Paris and published his first significant set of writings, in which he explained a new method for memory training and commented on the logical system of Raymond Lully.

In 1583 Bruno traveled to England, where he lived for 2 years. While there, he became friendly with some prominent Englishmen, publicly praised Queen Elizabeth I, and held a disputation at Oxford on the Copernican and Aristotelian conceptions of the universe. Most important, he published some of his best works in England during 1584–1585, namely, La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper); De l'infinito universo et mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds); and De la causa, principio et uno (Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One ). In these works Bruno attempted to come to grips with the meaning of the new conception of the universe that Copernicus had developed. Bruno conceived of the universe as infinite, composed of a plurality of worlds. For him the universe has a unity that signifies a prevailing order-individual things are not isolated but are animated by a common life and a common cause. This cause is immanent, not transcendent, and the soul which gives life to the whole is God. It is God who "is not above, and not outside, but within and through, all things." It is not surprising that later examiners of Bruno's system described it as pantheistic. Bruno also published an Italian dialogue, De gli eroici furori (1585; The Heroic Furies), in which he presents the Renaissance conception of Platonic love.

Returning to France in 1585, Bruno was forced to leave that country in 1586 because of his attacks on Aristotelian philosophy. He then went to Germany, where he achieved some acclaim as a result of his lectures at the University of Wittenberg and published some works centered primarily on logic. After further travels he settled briefly in Frankfurt am Main, where he wrote a series of poems in Latin. In the three most important ones (all 1591), De minimo (On the Minimum), De monade (On the Monad), and De immenso (On the Immense), he examined what is infinitely small and infinitely great in the universe.

In 1592 Bruno went to Venice on the invitation of a Venetian nobleman who later betrayed him to the Catholic Inquisition. Bruno was arrested and imprisoned in Rome, where after a lengthy confinement and a trial for heresy he was burned at the stake on Feb. 17, 1600.

EWB

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Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno

1548-1600

Italian philosopher and scientist who wrote on a number of topics, including memory and the effect of language on human behavior. Initially a Dominican friar, Bruno's unorthodox views caused him trouble, so he left Italy and traveled throughout Europe. He mistrusted mathematics, preferring symbols and images, which gave his works a mystical tone. He enthusiastically supported the ideas of Nicolaus Copernicus, despite Church opposition. When he returned to Italy in 1592 he was arrested for heresy and, eventually, burnt at the stake.

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