Campanella, Tommaso

views updated May 18 2018


(b. Stilo, Calabria, Italy, 5 September 1568;

d. Paris, France, 21 May 1639), philosophy of nature, natural magic, astrology, medicine. For the original article on Campanella see DSB, vol. 15, Supplement I.

Philosopher and theologian Campanella outlined in his extensive writings an impressive project of social reform and the reconstruction of the entire body of knowledge, seeking to reconcile the heritage of the Renaissance with the principles of the Counter-Reformation and of the new science. The primary focal points of his thought concern not only the philosophy of nature, politics, and religion, but also literature—Campanella is the author of an extraordinary collection of philosophical poetry. The principle that bestows unity and coherence upon the various parts of his complex, pluriform, and multifaceted philosophy is the constant reference to nature which, because it is the expression of rationality and divine truth, Campanella regarded as the ideal model for inspiring reforms in philosophy as well as in social and political structures.

The Early Years . Campanella was born 5 September 1568 in Stilo, Calabria, which was part of the viceroyalty of Naples and governed by the king of Spain. When he was barely fourteen years of age he entered the Dominican Order, which, given his family’s very modest means, afforded him his only opportunity to pursue the studies for which he demonstrated a precocious and remarkable aptitude. In the Calabrian monasteries of the Dominicans he studied the works of Aristotle and his followers, but even in his early youth he was deeply intolerant of them. In his opinion the Peripatetics were too respectful of the authority of their master and were more interested in annotating Aristotle’s books than in investigating firsthand the natural world; in this way, he believed, philosophic research had degenerated into sophistic and sterile disputations. On the other hand, Campanella felt an immediate attraction for the work of Bernardino Telesio. The latter’s De rerum natura iuxta propria principia (1565, 1586; On the nature of things according to its own principles) proposed to seek truth through sensitive experience and the internal principles of nature itself, thus reestablishing the correct connections between “things” and “words.” According to Campanella, the books written by human beings are partial and imperfect copies of the “book of nature,” which, because it was written by God, is the sole depository of absolute truth; human books, therefore, must be continually compared and corrected in the light of the natural book.

The critique of Aristotelian philosophy on the physical, cosmological, and metaphysical levels and the defense of Telesian philosophy—strengthened with topics derived from other philosophies and authors (the pre-Socratics, Plato, Neoplatonism, Hermetism, Pliny’s Natural History)—comprise the contents of Campanella’s first work, Philosophia sensibus demonstrata (1591; Philosophy demonstrated by the senses). In this work of his youth and in later ones, the foundations of the Aristotelian system are demolished and replaced by new Telesian doctrines on such fundamental concepts as space, matter, movement, and the composition of celestial bodies. The work was published in Naples, a city where Campanella often met with Giambattista della Porta, one of the most famous proponents of the tradition of natural magic. But the young monk’s adherence to the philosophy of Telesio rather than to scholastic and Aristotelian doctrines aroused the suspicions of theologians. Although he was imprisoned in 1592, Campanella was acquitted of the accusations against him, after which he went first to Rome and then to Florence and Bologna, where the manuscripts of his works were seized by emissaries of the Inquisition.

Settling in Padua, he met Galileo, a friend whom he would always hold in esteem. Unfortunately, Campanella was to face further and more perilous judiciary problems: In October 1594 he was incarcerated in the prison of the Holy Office in Rome. Forced to abjure “for most grave suspicion of heresy,” at the end of 1597 Campanella was ordered back to Calabria, and in the summer of 1598, at nearly thirty years of age and after having been away for a decade, Campanella found himself once more in Stilo. Here he would become involved in the most dramatic events of his life, events that would influence the rest of his career. Prophetic and astrological texts, natural and heavenly signs, but especially conditions of serious social and political disorder in Calabria, persuaded Campanella that, as the century drew toward its end, a period of radical changes was approaching. He thus became the leader of a broad conspiracy that proposed to free the province from the tyranny of the king of Spain and to transform it into a republic founded on natural and rational principles. Betrayed to the Spanish authorities by two of its accomplices, the conspiracy was crushed at birth by an army sent at the order of the viceroy. Accused of the double crime of lèse-majesté and of heresy, Campanella avoided the death penalty only by feigning madness; he spent the next twenty-seven years in Neapolitan prisons.

Natural Philosophy . During his long years of imprisonment and under very harsh living conditions, Campanella devoted himself to composing his most important works. In them, nature plays a principal role even in the religious and political fields. In Ateismo trionfato (Atheism vanquished; Rome, 1631, and Paris, 1636) for example, Campanella set out to prove that religion is not a human invention, not a useful trick dreamed up by priests and princes in order to seize and maintain power, as the followers of Machiavelli and the “reason of State” affirmed; on the contrary, Campanella asserted, it is a virtus naturalis (natural power) intrinsic in mankind and in even the smallest aspect of nature. As for his political thought, early in his incarceration Campanella composed his most famous work, the Città del Sole (City of the Sun, 1623). The ideal city is presented as a “body of the republic” in which the individual members are part of a unified organism and contribute to the welfare of all. In order to avoid the errors and injustice of existing societies, Campanella founded his “philosophic city” on natural principles, such as an equitable division of labor based on the capabilities and the inclinations of the individuals; communal ownership of wealth; attention to procreation (eugentic norms); education available to all and made easier and more pleasant through images painted on the walls of the buildings that would gird the city in seven circles. The work was issued in Latin translation in the corpus of the Philosophia realis, published in Frankfurt in 1623 by Tobias Adami, a German scholar who had come into contact with the prisoner in Naples. Political reflection is a constant feature of the thought of Campanella, who in other texts treated themes relating to the prospect of a universal monarchy and of the reunification of humanity in “a single flock under a single shepherd”; in the Monarchia di Spagna(Monarchy of Spain, 1640), he emphasized the providential role of the Catholic king who, like the biblical Cyrus, has the duty to unite people in a single faith.

A prominent aspect of Campanella’s philosophy of nature is natural magic, elaborated with particular effectiveness in De sensu rerum et magia (On the sense of things and on magic, 1620), in which Campanella expounded his vision of the natural world, considered as an organism whose individual parts are invested with life and sensitivity. Every natural being tends toward self-preservation, and to this end it is endowed, in differing degrees, with “sense,” that is to say feelings and a capacity to distinguish what is useful for its own life and that should be sought and pursued, from what is perceived as destructive and that one should avoid and flee. In animal organisms the cognitive and vital functions are connected with the spiritus, the warm, wafting, pliant breath issuing from matter rendered extremely tenuous by the heat of the sun. It resides in the brain and, passing through very thin nerve channels, comes into contact, by means of the sensory organs, with the exhalations, motions, and light that exude from external objects; all its passions and knowledge arise from the modifications that the spiritus undergoes. In Book IV of the De sensu rerum, Campanella reinterpreted the tradition of natural magic in the light of the doctrine of the sense of things and of the spiritus. The magician is he who understands the sense inherent in each being and is capable of inducing certain alterations and passions into the spiritus. He knows how to activate the vital forces by suggesting appropriate foods, beverages, climates, sounds, and herbal and animal remedies; he understands the secrets of procreation and of illnesses; and he can explain natural divinations and the prophecies of dreams or the changes in those bitten by a rabid dog or by tarantulas, changes effected by the spread and the domination in their organism of the “spirit” of the animal that attacked them. The spiritus and its passions also play a central role in the Medicina (1653; Medicine), in which Campanella, revisiting some themes of Hippocrates and especially of Marsilio Ficino, defined medicine as “a kind of magical practice” (quaedam magica praxis) dedicated to avoiding or caring for illnesses through a knowledge of all human aspects—physical, psychological, emotional, and environmental.

Campanella’s relations with Galileo occupied a central role in his thought. Campanella showed a steadfast interest in the astronomical and scientific discoveries of the scientist, even if he often did not agree with his positions, especially those that touched upon atomism. The most important text of this friendship is the Apologia pro Galileo (A defense of Galileo), written in 1616 and published in Frankfurt in 1622. In this work, which demonstrates his deep competence in theology, Campanella does not defend personal philosophic doctrines: his image of nature as a living organism is very far from that of Galileo, according to whom nature is a book written in mathematic characters; moreover, the heliocentric doctrine is scarcely compatible with Telesian physics, which maintains that the Sun is the locus of heat and the origin of movement, while Earth is the seat of cold and the prime cause of immobility and weight. Campanella’s intention is to support the libertas philosophandi (freedom of thought) of Galileo whose fundamental right and duty is to give priority to the reading of the book of nature over that of the book of men. The discoveries of Galileo do not create a crisis in theological principles, even though Aristotelian philosophy, regarded as an erroneous reading of the book of nature, must be substituted by a different philosophy more in harmony with the new celestial phenomena.

Later Years . Campanella was released from the prison at Castel Nuovo on 23 May 1626 and then transferred to the palace of the Inquisition in Rome. The most sensational episode of his Roman sojourn is the one involving the forecasts of astrologers who predicted the imminent death of Pope Urban VIII because of unpropitious dispositions of the stars. Campanella had written a treatise on astrology, seeking to free it from Arab superstitions and to base it on natural principles. Aligning himself with the position of Thomas Aquinas, he maintained that the stars exercise an influence on the corporal spiritus and its passions, while the will and human reason remain free. Summoned by the pope, Campanella, hoping to avoid the perils of an eclipse, engaged in the practice of natural and stellar magic as advocated by Ficino and described by Campanella in his booklet De siderali fato vitando (How to avoid the fate destined by the stars). The publication of this pamphlet as the seventh book of the Astrologicorum libri (1629) caused a great scandal, for it risked compromising the pope himself in accusations of superstitious practices. To allay all suspicions, Urban VIII decided to act decisively against astrologers: in 1630 he ordered imprisonment for Orazio Morandi, in whose convent of Saint Praxedes the practice of astrology was enmeshed with political intrigues; Morandi died after a few months in prison, with poisoning suspected as the cause of death. In 1631 the pope promulgated the extremely harsh Papal Bull, Inscrutabilis, against astrology and every form of divination.

In 1634, again for political reasons, Campanella was forced to seek refuge in Paris, where he busied himself with the publication of his Opere (Works). Besides a second edition of Atheismus triumphatus (and other minor texts), 1636, and a second edition of De sensu rerum et magia (1636 and 1637), Campanella edited in Paris three volumes of his Opera omnia: the Philosophia realis (1637), the Philosophia rationalis (1638), and the monumental Metaphysica (1638). He also began once more to write political texts in order to demonstrate how France, difficulties and setbacks notwithstanding, was in an ascendant phase of “increasing fortune,” while the Spanish-Hapsburg powers were experiencing the descending parabola of an inexorable decline. His last work was an eclogue in Latin hexameters celebrating the birth of the future Louis XIV, the Sun King, an event that occurred on Campanella’s seventieth birthday. Turning again to the astrological and prophetic themes so dear to him, in these verses he foresaw the approach of a new epoch in which peace, justice, and harmony would prevail among men. He died at dawn on 21 May 1639.


Luigi Firpo, Bibliografia degli scritti di Tommaso Campanella (Turin: V. Bona, 1940) is the only available work offering a comprehensive description of Campanella’s works. Subsequent editions of his works can be found in John M. Headley, Tommaso Campanella and the Transformation of the World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), and the journal Bruniana & Campelliana (1995–).


Philosophia sensibus demonstrata. 1591. Edited by Luigi De Franco. Naples, Italy: Vivarium, 1992.

De sensu rerum et magia. Frankfurt: E. Emmelius, 1620; Paris: L. Boullenger, 1636 (Latin text).

Del senso delle cose e della magia. Edited by Antonio Bruers. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1925 (Italian text). A new edition of the Italian text, edited by Germana Ernst, is forthcoming; publication is set for October 2007.

Apologia pro Galileo—A Defense of Galileo. 1622. Edited by Richard J. Blackwell. Notre Dame, IN; London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994. Contains both Latin and English versions.

La Città del Sole—The City of the Sun. 1623 (Civitas Solis, Latin text). 2nd ed. Edited by Daniel J. Donno. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA; London: Kessinger Publishing, 2004. In Italian and English.

Atheismus triumphatus. Rome: B. Zannetti, 1631; Paris: T. Dubray, 1636 (Latin text).

L’Ateismo trionfato. 2 vols. Edited by Germana Ernst. Pisa, Italy: Edizioni della Normale, 2004 (Italian text with the autograph manuscript by the author).

Monarchia Messiae/La Monarchie du Messie. 1633 (Monarchia Messiae, Latin text). Edited by Paolo Ponzio. Translated into French by Véronique Bourdette. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2002.

Medicinalium libri VII. Lyons: I. Pillehotte, 1635.

Disputationum in quatuor partes suae philosophiae realis libri quatuor. Paris: Denis Houssaye, 1637.

Metaphysica. 1638. Anastatic reprint. Edited by Luigi Firpo, Turin, Italy: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1961.

De Monarchia Hispanica. 1640 (Italian text). Monarchie d’Espagne et Monarchie de France. Edited by Germana Ernst. Translated into French by Serge Waldbaum and Nathalie Fabry. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1997.

De libris propriis et recta ratione studendi syntagma. 1642. Edited by Vincenzo Spampanato. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1927. A new edition, edited by Germana Ernst, is forthcoming.

Lettere. Edited by Vincenzo Spampanato. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1927.

Epilogo magno. Edited by Carmelo Ottaviano. Rome: Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1939.

Tutte le opere di Tommaso Campanella. Vol. 1, Scritti letterari. Edited by Luigi Firpo. Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1954. Opera latina Francofurti impressa annis 1617–1630. Edited by Luigi Firpo. Turin, Italy: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1975. Anastatic reprint of the following works, first published in Frankfurt: Vol. 1, Prodromus philosophiae instaurandae, De sensu rerum et magia, Apologia pro Galileo. Vol. 2, Realis philosophiae epilogisticae partes IV, Astrologicorum libri VII.

Opere letterarie. Edited by Lina Bolzoni. Turin, Italy: Utet, 1977.

Le poesie. Edited by Francesco Giancotti. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1998.

Opuscoli astrologici: Come evitare il fato astrale, Apologetico, Disputa sulle Bolle. Edited by Germana Ernst. Milan, Italy: Rizzoli, 2003. Includes the Latin text with an Italian translation.


Amabile, Luigi. Fra Tommaso Campanella, la sua congiura, i suoi processi e la sua pazzia. 3 vols. Naples, Italy: Morano, 1882. Because of their generous documentation, these volumes (and the two cited Amabile volumes below) constitute the point of departure for scholarly studies on the life and thought of Campanella.

———. Fra Tommaso Campanella ne’ castelli di Napoli, in Roma e in Parigi. 2 vols. Naples, Italy: Morano, 1887. Anastatic reprint, Turin: Nino Aragno, 2007. A recent anastatic reprint of the five volumes by Amabile, with new documents, a foreword by Nicola Badaloni and an introduction by Tonino Tornitore.

Badaloni, Nicola. Tommaso Campanella. Milan, Italy: Feltrinelli, 1965.

Blanchet, Léon. Campanella. Paris: Félix Alcan 1920. Reprint, New York: Franklin, 1964. A comprehensive monograph that is in many ways dated but still interesting.

Canone, Eugenio, and Germana Ernst, eds. Enciclopedia Bruniana e Campanelliana. Pisa, Italy: Istituti editoriali e poligrafici internazionali, 2006. A collection of articles on the major philosophic concepts of Giordano Bruno (sixteen articles) and Tommaso Campanella (sixteen articles).

Ernst, Germana. Religione, ragione e natura: Ricerche su Tommaso Campanella e il tardo Rinascimento. Milan, Italy: Franco Angeli, 1991.

———. II carcere, il politico, il profeta. Saggi su Tommaso Campanella. Pisa, Italy: Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 2002.

———. Tommaso Campanella: Il libro e il corpo della naturaI Rome: Laterza, 2002. A monograph that reconstructs the principal stages of Campanella’s intellectual itinerary.

———. “Campanella,” 2005. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available from

Firpo, Luigi. Ricerche campanelliane. Florence, Italy: Sansoni, 1947.

———. “Campanella, Tommaso.” In Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, Vol. 17. Rome: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 1974.

———. I processi di Tommaso Campanella. Edited by Eugenio Canone. Rome: Salerno Editrice, 1998.

Headley, John M. Tommaso Campanella and the Transformation of the World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997. The most complete and comprehensive work on Campanella in English.

Lerner, Michel-Pierre. Tommaso Campanella en France au XVIIe siècle. Naples, Italy: Bibliopolis, 1995.

Mönnich, Michael W. Tommaso Campanella: Sein Beitrag zur Medizin und Pharmazie der Renaissance. Stuttgart, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1990.

Walker, D. P. Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella. 1958. Reprinted, with an introduction by Brian P. Copenhaver. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000.

Germana Ernst

Campanella, Tommaso

views updated May 23 2018


(b. Stilo, Calabria, Italy, 5 September 1568; d. Paris, France, 21 May 1639)

natural philosophy.

Campanella. the son of Geronimo and Catarinella Martello Campanella, showed remarkable intellectual ability at a very early age. In 158 2. inspired by the lives of Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus, he entered the Dominican order, where his name was changed from Giovan Domenico to Tomaso, by which he has been known since. After his early philosophical studies, based on Aristotle, Campanilla moved to the Dominican house at Cosenza in 1588 to study theology. There he read Telesio’s De rerum nature in the 1570 edition, a work that remained a dominant influence for the remainder of his life. Telesis’s work led him to publish Philosophic sensibus demonstrate (written 1589, published 1591) in response to G. A. Mar-ta’sPugnaculum Aristotelis ad versus principia B. Telesii (Rome, 1587). In 1589 Campanella went to Naples, where he met Giambattista della Porta and a Jewish astrologer named Abraham. He became active in della Porta’s group, participating in its protoexperimentalism; through Abraham he became acquainted with the astrological and pseudo-scientific traditions, which were important factors in his later thought. During this time he put forward his Telesian views more and more openly.

In May 1592 Campanella was denounced to the Inquisition for heresy and was confined to the Convent of San Domenico. Thus began a long series of imprisonments, trials, tortures, and other punishments that ended only with his release in 1629. His internment, in Naples (1599 - 1626) and in Rome (1626–1629), was sometimes under the most brutal conditions, while at other times he was allowed a certain degree of freedom for writing, reading, having visitors, and teaching. During these years Campanella continued his studies as far as was possible, and a number of manuscripts were smuggled out of prison to be published in Germany. They could not be issued in Italy, owing to the regulations imposed by the Inquisition.

After Campanella had had several years of partial freedom in Rome, the Inquisition discovered a plot in Naples (1634) by one of Campanella’s followers and Campanella was implicated. He fled Rome before he could be arrested, reaching Aix-en-Provence in November 1634; there he was enthusiastically received by Peiresc and Gassendi, who had known of him and his work for some years. A few months later Campanella arrived in Paris, There Cardinal Richelieu came to his aid and helped him in various ways for the rest of his life, and he was also received at the court of Louis XIII. Finally accorded the honor he had been denied in Italy for so long, Campanella spent his last years writing and preparing for the press numerous works, which could be published in France with official approval. He died in the Dominican convent on Rue St.-Honoré and was buried in the adjoining Church of the Annunciation, which was destroyed during the Revolution (1795).

Campanella’s writings cover a wide range of subjects. Although perhaps best known for work on political philosophy (Civitas solis) and metaphysics, he also wrote on most of the other branches of the comprehensive seventeenth-century philosophy cursus. The early attraction to Telesian science was never lost, and was reinforced by an attachment to Renaissance Neoplatonism and contact with della Porta’s brand of experimentalism and magic. Although trained as a Dominican, Campanella very early recognized the limitations of Aristotelian philosophy and science, and a strong anti-Aristotelian tendency can be seen throughout his works.

Telesio’s De return natura must be seen as the foundation stone of Campanula’s thought (although not the only one). From it he derived a number of key principles, such as the reduction of active forces operating in the universe to those of heat and cold, and the conception of a void space in which natural events take place. Although Telesio’s empirical view was still emphasized and reinforced by his contacts with the Neapolitan pro-toexperimentalists, Campanlla also grafted strong theological and metaphysical elements onto it. Like Ficino and others before him, he viewed man as composed of the triad body-spiritus-soul. This position gave him scope to place man in a macrocosm-microcosm framework in which the use of magic and astrology could play a central interpretive role. Although scholars disagree somewhat on the precise extent to which magic influenced Campanella’s thought, there is no doubt that it had a significant place. Like Ficino, but unlike Telesio, his world view allowed a key position to astrology and pseudoscience, as evidenced by works such as De sensu rerum et magia (1620) and Astrologi- corum libri VII (1629). The latter work shows that Campanella acted as a consultant for Pope Urban VIII in astrological matters.

In addition to his interests in the astrological side of stellar phenomena. Campanella was a sup-porter of the Copernican system as defended by Galileo. In several works, principally the Apologia pro Galilaeo (1622), he sided with the embattled Florentine, not only in supporting the Copernican theory but also on broader issues, including those involving the competing claims of religion and science. Like Galileo, Campanella held that natural truth was not revealed in Scripture, but in the physical world. Thus the study of natural phenomena was seen as an important step toward theological understanding. Science and theology were to be clearly distinguished, however; both led to an understanding of God, who had revealed Himself in two books (codices), Nature and Scripture. While Galileo was essentially satisfied with an understanding of natural, physical reality, Campanella endeavored to go beyond this and to find the ultimate metaphysical truth of things. Again like Galileo, Campanella stressed –unfortunately for him, counter to the dominant opinion of his fellow Italians–the necessity of a libertas philosophandi. He was perhaps the first to use this particular formulation, later popularized by Spinoza and others.

Campanula’s writings encompass a very broad range of scientific topics, and he must be viewed as one of the important systematizers of the seventeenth century. Iconoclastic and antitraditional, he attempted to provide a new system of natural knowledge based on the empirical, Neoplatonic, and astrological traditions at his disposal. While scientific knowledge played a more important role in his thought than most interpreters have admitted, it was basically subjugated to his very strong metaphysical and theological orientation, which aimed for ultimate causal explanations of physical phenomena. Thus Campanula’s importance in the history of science was not so much through his own scientific discoveries as through his animistic. yet empirical, interpretation of the world, which influenced a number of contemporaries and successors.


I. Original Works Campanella’s output was voluminous. Owing to the circumstances of his life, many of his writings were destroyed; others were rewritten several times in various forms ; some were circulated or even published without his knowledge; and others remained hidden until recent times. All of this makes for a very confusing state of affairs that is impossible to cover briefly yet in detail. For a thorough treatment see L. Firpo, Bibliografia degli scritti di Tommaso Campanella (Turin, 1940), and his biographical article cited below.

Among the works most important for the aspects of Campanella’s work discussed in this article are Philosophia senibus demonstrata (Naples, 1591); Prodromus philosophiae instaurandae (Frankfurt, 1617); De sensurerum et magia (Frankfurt, 1620; Paris, 1637), also in Italian as Del senso delle cose e della magia, A. Bruers, ed. (Bari, 1925); Apologia pro Galilaeo (Frankfurt, 1622), repr. with intro. and Italian trans. by s. Femiano (Milan, 1971); Astrologicoram libri VII (Lyons, 1629; Frankfurt. 1630): Medicinalium juxta propria princcipia libri VII (Lyons, 1635); Philosophia realis(Paris, 1637); Lettere, V. Spampanato, ed.(Bari, 1927); Mathematica, R. Amerio, ed., in Archivim Fraturm Praedicatorum,V (1935), 194–240; and Epilogo magno, C. Ottaviano, ed. (Rome, 1939).

II. Secondary Literature The literature on Campanella is vast, and the reader is referred to the following bibliogarphies by L. Firo: “Campanella nel settecento,”m in Rinascimento,4 (1953), 105–154; “Cinquant’anni di studi sul Campanella (1901–1950),” ibid.,6 (1955), 209–348; Campanella net secolo XIX (Naples, 1956), repr . from Calabria nobilissima,6–10 (1952–1956); and “Un decennio di studi sul Camanella (1951–1960),” in Studi scenteschi,3 (1960), 125–164. The best and most recent brief account of his life and activities, with an excellent bibliographical survey, is Firpo’s article in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, XVII (1974), 372–401. Still fundamental are L. Amabile, Fra Tommaso Campanella, la sua congiuria, isuoi processi e la sua pazzia,3 vols. (Naples, 1882); and FraTommaso Campanella ne’castelli di Napoli, in Roma e in Parigi,2 vols. (Naples, 1887). Also see L. Firpo, Ricerche campanelliane(Florence, 1947). Of the vast interpretive literature, the more importance studies include the following, listed chronologically: L. Blanchet, Campanellam (Paris, 1920); G. di Napoli, Tommaso Campanella. filosofo della restaurazione cattolica (Padua, 1947); A. Corsano, Tommaso Campnella (Bari, 1961); N. Badaloni, Tommaso Campanella (Milan, 1965) ; and G . Bock, Thomas Campanella: Politisches Interesse und philosophische Spekulation (Tubingen, 1974). Anumber of publication appeared in connection with the 400th anniversary of his birth, including Tommaso Campanella (1569–1638) (Naples, 1969).

Charles B. Schmitt

Campanella, Tommaso

views updated Jun 08 2018


Dominican philosopher; b. Stilo, Calabria, Italy, Sept. 5, 1568; d. Paris, May 21, 1639. Campanella entered the religious life at an early age and was educated in the houses of studies of his order. Becoming dissatisfied with the Aristotelian teachings of his day, he favored instead the naturalistic views of B. telesio, whom he undertook to defend against his opponents. In 1599 he was arrested by order of the Spanish authorities and taken in chains to Naples, where he had to stand trial on charges of heresy and conspiracy. Although subjected to physical torture, he never confessed to crime or heresy and even resisted by feigning insanity. In 1602 he was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, and, whether rightly or not, spent a total of 27 years in a Neapolitan dungeon. Released in 1626, he was again arrested and brought before the Holy Office in Rome. After regaining his freedom, he spent some time at the Dominican priory of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but fearing further persecution, he followed the advice of Pope Urban VIII and fled to France in 1634. The 71-year-old friar ended his troubled days in the quiet of the priory of Saint-Jacques in Paris.

Campanella was an extremely prolific writer, and the critical edition of his works (ed. L. Firpo, Milan 1954) will fill many volumes. He antedated Descartes as the first philosopher to assert the need of positing a universal methodic doubt at the beginning of his system and to state the principle of self-consciousness as the basis of knowledge and certitude. His philosophy was an attempt to fuse, into a new original synthesis, the naturalistic doctrines of his time and the traditional scholastic teaching; it showed a marked tendency toward Platonic augus tinianism. Campanella conceived being as a transcendental composition of power, knowledge, and will, which are its "primalities" or essential principles. This panpsychic conception of reality is matched by his theory that being and nonbeing are the metaphysical constituents of all creatures, which are thus distinguished from God who is pure being. For Campanella, to know is to be (cognoscere est esse ), a principle that underlies his complex theory of knowledge. The central idea of his theology is Christ as universal reason. In politics he advocated a universal monarchy headed by the pope. The City of the Sun, his best-known work, is a political dialogue in the tradition of Plato's Republic and St. Thomas More's Utopia.

See Also: renaissance philosophy.

Bibliography: Works. Del senso delle cose e della magia, ed. a. bruers (Bari 1925); Epilogo magno, ed. c. ottaviano (Rome 1939); Atheismus triumphatus (Paris 1636); Disputationum in quatuor partes suae philosophiae realis libri quatuor (Paris 1637); Philosophiae rationalis partes quinque (Paris 1638); Universalis philosophiae seu metaphysicarum rerum iuxta propria dogmata, partes tres, libri XVIII (Paris 1638); Theologicorum libri XXX, ed. in part r. amerio (Milan 1936); Aforismi politici, ed. l. firpo (Turin 1941); "The City of the Sun," tr. w. j. gilstrap, in The Quest for Utopia, ed. g. r. negley and j. m. patrick (New York 1952). Literature. r. amerio, Enciclopedia filosofica 1:866874. n. picard, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 195765) 2:907. l. firpo, Bibliografia degli scritti di Tommaso Campanella (Turin 1940). g. di napoli, Tommaso Campanella, filosofo della restaurazione cattolica (Padua 1947). b. m. bonansea, The Theory of Knowledge of Tommaso Campanella, Exposition and Critique (Washington 1954); "The Concept of Being and Non-Being in the Philosophy of T. C.," The New Scholasticism 31 (1957) 3467; "The Political Thought of T. C.," Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, ed. j. k. ryan (Washington 1963) 211248.

[b. m. bonansea]

Tommaso Campanella

views updated Jun 11 2018

Tommaso Campanella

The Italian philosopher, political theorist, and poet Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) was persecuted for his attempts to achieve utopian reforms.

Giovanni Domenico Campanella was born at Stilo in Calabria on Sept. 5, 1568; he assumed the name Tommaso when he entered the Dominican order about 1583. In Naples he made his first contact with the anti-Aristotelian doctrines of Bernardino Telesio. In 1592, after his first ecclesiastical trial, he was sentenced to return to his province and to abandon his Telesian sympathies. Campanella instead set out for the north, sojourning briefly in Rome, Florence, Bologna, and Padua. Between 1593 and 1595 he suffered several minor trials and periods of imprisonment on a number of charges.

After Campanella was released from prison in 1595, he passed the next few years in apparent quiet in a small monastery at Stilo. But this was actually a period of febrile secret activity. Campanella became the head of a conspiracy to overthrow the despotic Spanish rule of impoverished southern Italy and replace it with a theocratic republic, with himself as supreme priest and king. The plot was savagely repressed, and in 1602 he was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. The subsequent 24 years of Campanella's life were spent in the bowels of various Neapolitan dungeons.

Despite discomforts and privations, this was a period of incredible literary productivity for Campanella, and many of his major works (the Metaphysica, the Monarchia Messiae, the Atheismus triumphatus, the Apologia pro Galileo, and others) date from this period. His best-known work, Civitas solis (The City of the Sun), was completed in 1623. This utopian work was based on Plato's Republic, and it presented Campanella's principal political ideal— universal theocratic monarchy, with its supreme head either the pope or the Spanish king. Regardless of who the ruler might be, the underlying principle remained constant: peace and well-being were impossible without unity.

In 1626, by order of the Spanish viceroy, Campanella was released from prison. When he reached Rome, he was imprisoned by the Pope but was soon freed. But the Curia's opposition to him because of his open defense of Galileo and his outspoken views, together with Spanish hostility, rendered his position in Rome precarious. Fearing further persecution, he fled from Rome in October 1634 and found refuge in France, where he was warmly welcomed in scholarly circles and at court. His central occupation now became the publication in 10 volumes of his writings, many of which had never appeared in print, while others had previously been brought out in unauthorized editions. This project was interrupted by Campanella's death on May 22, 1639.

Further Reading

The best comprehensive study of Campanella in English is Bernardine M. Bonansea, Tommaso Campanella: Renaissance Pioneer of Modern Thought (1969). It includes a good bibliography of the primary and secondary literature, with a listing of the writings by Campanella that are available in English translation. □

Campanella, Tommaso

views updated Jun 11 2018

Campanella, Tommaso

(b. Stilo, Calabria, Italy, 5 September 1568; d. Paris, France, 21 May 1639),

philosophy, geology.

For a detailed study of his life and work, see Supplement.