John Owen, The Skeptics of the Italian Renaissance (1893) - extracts

[Source: John Owen, The Skeptics of the Italian Renaissance [2nd edn.] (NY: S. Sonnenschein & Co.; London: Macmillan 1893), xix, 419pp, xxxcvi, 8°; copy at University of Michigan available at Internet Archive - online.]

    On related pages ...
  • I[sabella] Frith, Life of Giordano Bruno the Nolan [English and foreign philosophical library; Vol. XXXI] (London: Trübner 1887), xii, 395pp. [as attached].
  • J. Lewis McIntyre, Giordano Bruno (London: Macmillan 1903), 353pp. [as attached].
  • Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought (NY: Schuman 1950), xi, 389pp. ill. [as attached].

Search: Aristotle; Spinoza; Monad; pantheism/istic; God-intoxicated; peripetetic/ism; &c.

Firstly - The author deems it necessary to advise his readers that he has adopted the orthography of Skeptic and Skepticism partly for the sake of conformig to the increasing and true taste of spelling foreign words in their own manner, but chiefly for the purpose of bringing back, if possible, a much abused philosophical term to its primitive use. In these volumes Skepticism is assigned its original and classical meaning; in other words, it denotes simply the exercise of the questioning and suspensive faculty; and the Skeptic is above all things the Inquirer, the indomitable, never-tiring Searcher after Truth - the restless energetic thinker for whom search may be a necessity even more imperious that the definitige attainment of the object sought. It follows that Skepticism is confined to no race, or religious or secular belief. (p.x.)

[Owen counts Bruno among those who threatened Aristotle with subversion, p.72]

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Chap. V: Giordano Bruno (pp.245-344)

[Venice Inquisition - n.b. Arius & craft Jesus:]
Bruno’s trial before the Venetian Inquisitors began on the 26th of May. The booksellers Giotto and Brutanno, who had known him in Frankfort, were cited to bear evidence concerning him. Answering the interrogatories of his judges, Bruno explained the reason why he had left Frankfort and come to Venice. He then proceeded to recount in order the chief events of his life. For several days he continued his narrative, and this autobiography, preserved in the Venetian documents, now constitutes the sole authority for most of his life. Coming to his opinions, he laid stress on the doctrine of Twofold Truth, then so generally recognized in Italy. He said that he was a Philosopher, not a Theologian; as such he claimed a freedom of inquiry and exposition to which he confessed a theologian would have had no claim. This is the key-note of his defence, and he repeatedly recurs to it. He admitted that indirectly his doctrine might come into conflict with the Christian faith just as it might with the teaching of Aristotle or Plato. He denied that he had ever [282] taught or written anything directly contrary to Christianity. [...]

[Ftn. Documenti interno a Giordano Bruno. Borne, 1880. They are translated in Miss Frith’s History [sic], pp. 262-65. Note: the Documenti are by Berti.]

The Inquisitors, probably puzzled at a scheme of theology, which, preserving the terms of Christian orthodoxy, interpreted them in a manner so novel, requested Bruno to repeat the outlines of his system. He readily consented, using nearly the same terms. They suggested that he had been accused of Arianism, to which he immediately answered, that in conversation he had more than once avouched his opinion that the doctrine of Arius was less pernicious than was commonly supposed. With equal readiness he replied to other allegations respecting his relation to the Church; maintaining that he held what the Church taught, at the same time admitting that he was to blame for not observing her rules more precisely; and promised amendment for the time to come. Being asked his opinion respecting miracles, he answered that he had always believed the miracles of Christ were [283] divine, true, real, and not pretended - consequently a secondary testimony of His divinity, as its higher attestation is the Law of the Gospels. He said he believed in the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ really and substantially; only he excused himself for not attending mass, assigning as an impediment his excommunication. To the same impediment he ascribed his neglect of confession for sixteen years; although he held that the Sacrament of Penance was ordained to purge our sins, and he believed that every man dying in mortal sin would be damned. Bruno’s defence had already comprehended some of the counts of Mocenigo’s indictment; but more alarming ones still remained. Among other strange allegations, Mocenigo said, Bruno had told him that Jesus was a crafty personage, who might easily have foreseen His crucifixion, because He did crafty deeds to deceive the people - that He was a magician and performed apparent miracles, and so also did the apostles - that he himself had a mind to perform as many, and even more than they did. That there was no punishment for sin. That souls passed from one body into another, and are begotten of corruption as all other animals. That our faith is full of blasphemies - that the monks are apes. That St. Thomas and all the doctors are ignoramuses; and that he knew enough to put all the theologians in the world to silence - that he intended to apply himself to the Art of Divination so that all nations should run after him. That the usages of the Church then were not those the apostles employed. That the world could not last much longer as it was - that a general reform was needful - that on this point he hoped great things of the king of Navarre - that he was therefore anxious to publish his works so as to bring himself into credit, because he was sure of a place at the head of this reform, and would enjoy the treasures of others - that he was fond of women, and thought it no sin to obey the impulses of Nature.

Such an imbroglio of accusations, probable, specious and utterly absurd could only have occurred to a mind like Mocenigo’s, a combination of intellectual imbecility and gloomy fanaticism. To all these allegations Bruno gave a distinct and even vehement denial. When e.g. he was confronted with the charge of calling Jesus crafty, a doer of cunning works, his features assumed an expression of deep pain, while he exclaimed he did not know how such a thing could have been imputed to him. When he was further charged with terming Christ a magician, and saying he was confident he could do the same miracles that Christ and His apostles had done, he lifted his hand to heaven, and in a passionate tone of voice said, “What thing is this? Who has invented this devilish accusation? [284] Not only have I never uttered such things, but they have never even crossed my imagination. God, what does this mean? I would rather die than say such a thing.” He had himself given a list of his works to the tribunal. Of these he fully admitted the authorship and accepted the responsibility. He gave reasons why some, which were printed in London bore Venice or Paris on their title-pages. He added - not the least mark of the bona fides and candour which characterize Bruno in these trying scenes - that his writings sufficiently demonstrated the measure of his excellence; and that no examination of them would discover that he had sought to bring the Catholic religion into contempt. (pp.282-85.)

Giordano Bruno in a well-known sonnet brands the typical religionism of Rome with the name of Asinity. (p.76. Note: the poem is given on p.295:

Sainted Asinity. Ignorance most holy!
Stupidity most sacred! Devotion most profound
Thou alone can’st make us learned, good and sound,
While human thought and study are void of value wholly.

Little availeth the search that men so fully
Employ by every art or science-operation,
Little availeth their sky-ward contemplation,
To gain the heavenly seat which is thy object solely.

What boots then, ye curious, your persistent exploration?
The wish to learn the secret of nature’s laws and ways,
If the stars be water, earth, or fiery exhalation?
Holy Asinity despises wisdom’s rays.

Folded hands and knees form her sole occupation,
Expecting from Providence the luck of better days,
All passes, nothing stays,
Save the fruition of that eternal peace,
Which God will give her after her decease.

-Owen’s translation; p.295.

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[Theory of coinciding contraries:]
The main article of his creed was a primary and immediate inference from the new astronomy, i.e. The Infinite. This was the point of view from which he contemplated everything, heaven, earth, humanity, religion. This was the standard by which he assessed their value, the approximation to which constituted the measure of their truth and validity. When the conviction burst on him that truth, religion and morality had their roots in the Infinite and Eternal, when he began to weary of the limits of earth, - the bounded and partial character of the traditional verities most widely embraced by his fellow-men, - when he stretched forth the wings of imagination and spiritual yearning to worlds which filled the measureless expanse above him and in comparison with which our [300] globe is but a tiny speck, we are not told, that he describes the event as comparable to the escape of a man from prison. These are his words:

Away from the prison-cell narrow and gloomy,
Where so many years error closely hath bound me,
Leaving the fetters and chains which around me
My foe’s cruel hand hath entwined to entomb me.

And in other lines, which we may accept as his own description of his mental career, he says:

Securely to the air my pinions I extend,
- Fearless of all barriers feigned by men of old
The heavens I freely cleave - to the Infinite I tend.

So leaving this, to other worlds my upward flight I wend,
Aetherial fields I penetrate, with dauntless heart and bold
And leave behind what others deem, a prospect without end.

-Eroic. Fur., Op. ital. ii, p.396.
Italian orig.:
  [...] L’ale sicure a l’aria porgo
Ne temo intoppo di cristallo e vetro
Ma feno i cieli e a l’Infinito m’ergo
E mentre dal mio globo agli altri sorgo
E per l’eterno campo oltre penetro
Quel ch’altri lungi vede, lascio al tergo.
-Owen’s translation; p.301.

As Bruno thus inferred the Infinite from Nature, especially in the larger acception whcih modern astronomy has imparted to the term, so the qualities with which he endued [sic] it were similarly derived from the contents of Nature’s boundlessness and variety. Chiefest among these was the Union of Contraries. This is in truth, the key to Bruno’s system. In its very idea the Infinite will be complex and differentiated, not simple and uniform. This complexity Bruno discerned everywhere. It was the common attribute both of mind and matter, the chief quality of the primary substance underlying both. Discernible in the Infinite of Nature, it also characterized the Infinite of human reaons. What to some thinkers might seem contradictions and antagonisms mutually destructive of each other, he regarded as only different musical notes, which combine to make up a broad and rich harmony (symphonia). There is therefore, as you may observe, a close approximation in Bruno’s idealism to modern German transcendentalism, which accounts for the peculiar fascination he exercised on all its great luminaries from Jacobi to Hegel. (p.301; see ftn.)

[Ftn.: ‘This aspect [i.e., contraries] ... has been so often commented on [...] that is seems needless to give a list of such authorities [...]” (n.2; 301-02.)

[...] The apparent warfare of varying principles and laws in Nature, the progress by antagonism, is only the outward reflexion of the divine motions and impulses, doubts and opinions he found within his own being. [...] the more vigorous the intellectual development the more conscious is he of the conflict of contradictions of which it consists, the less disturbed by the contemplation of their adverse relations, and the more skill and experience does he acquire in neutralizing their varying aspects my merging them in wider generalizations. (p.302.)

Another correlative form of the idea of Infinity, Bruno denotes by the metaphysical concept of the One. Like the early Greek thinkers, he proclaimed as the issue his investigation, “the whole is one.” “Oneness,” verified the term of existence, as “the Infinite” characterized its immeasurable variety and extent, as “the Absolute” concluded its limitations and conditions. Here again the thought was suggested by Bruno’s Nature-investigations in combination with his powerful imagination. The convergence of multgfarious natural operations in the production of a single result is a fact frequently dwelt upon by evidential theology as a proof of the one mind or will which governs the universe. Bruno does not direclty employ the argument for monotheistic purposes, though indirectly his reasoning points in the same direction. (p.302; see ftn.)

[Ftn. cites, inter al., Brunhofer’s G. Bruno’s Weltanschauung [q.d.].]

[Quotes Bruno:] ‘The supreme Being is the substance of the universe, the pure essence of all life and realty, the source of all [306] being, the force of all forces, the virtue of all virtues.’ (here pp.306-07; citing Profundius naturae uniusujusque fundamentum est Deus, in Op. lat., p.48; cf. Op. Ital., i, p.130.)

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[On Monads:]
[...] It should be added that Bruno is not always consistent in his metaphysical interpretation of Nature; sometimes he employs the transcendentalism of the Neo-Platonists, according to which God may be conceived without Nature, though Nature is inconceivable without God. At other times, and most generally, he adopts the pure naturalism of Spinoza, which limits the divinity by the bounds of actual existence. But whatever the point of view, Bruno is an ardent worshipper of Nature. In this respect he yields to none of the votaries of naturalism that belong to the Renaissance. He describes her charms in the amorous language a passionate lover might employ of his mistress. [...] But it is not Nature in her static, materialistic aspect with which Bruno is enamoured. In that sense indeed she had for him no existence. It is Nature, moving, energizing, fluctuating, changing, instinct with life and energy, that is the object of Bruno’s adoration. This was the “Anima Mundi”, or Nature-soul, which as we have seen he identified as the third person of the Trinity. For if on the one hand Nature is an instrument of Divine Providence, she is also a living power, a creative faculty standing in the same relation to inert matter as a sculptor does to his marble, or a painter to his canvas. Hence the visible creation is only an idolon of that incomprehensible spirit which fills and animates all things. Bruno thus shares with his compatriots Telesio, Vanini and Campanella the idea of Nature as a colossal animal, a living being of infinite extent and most elaborate organization, which engenders and nourishes, and in turn destroys and devours, all subordinate beings - the common source of life and death and of every other movement and energy in creation. [309]

Such is Nature in her totality grasped, as Bruno loved to grasp all of such concepts, from the point of view of the Infinite. What Nature is in detail in the relation of single parts to the enormous and composite whole he tells us in his Doctrine of Monads. These spiritual atoms stand in the same relation to the Infinite as a material atom stands to the physical universe. They constitute principles of continuity which underlie all transitory existence - the minute indestructible bases on which all individual beings are founded, and of which they are so many superstructures and developments. The monad is the centre of all activity in living beings, and of mere existence in inanimate things. Without itself possessing those attributes, it is the basis of everything that has movement, figure or extension. By its self-multiplication and division, by its countlessly diverse co-ordinations and associations, it becomes the actual cause of all the varied, processes and phenomena we see in Nature. The analogy on which Bruno founds and by which he explains his Monad Theory is the property of Numbers. [See ftn.]

[Ftn.: ‘Numerus est accidens monadia, et monas est essentia numerii: sic compositio accidit atomo, et atomus est essentia compositi,’ etc. - De Trip. Mai., etc., p.10.]

The unit must needs enter into every possible combination of number, as its initial basis, its final constituent and its absolute measure. Similarly into all the different products of Nature, endlessly various as they are, enters the monad as the eternal unit of each. All beings, in whatever scale of existence, are only different aggregates of monads, and all natural processes, simple or complex, are only varied transformations and modifications of these primary units, just as all the operations of arithmetic start from the numerical unit. There will of course be a hierarchy among monads as in numbers. Highly endowed and complex beings such as man will consist of a far greater number of monads than beings of a lower order. Every species of being may be represented by its own lowest determination, which thereby becomes its own special monad, just as in arithmetic the number ten is taken as the basis or unit of the decimal system. Throughout the whole of creation, entering into every process and every form of existence, runs this chain of monads, as a permanent and living principle, ultimately ending where it begins with the Supreme Being.

The root-thought of Bruno’s monad-speculations is easily perceived. He makes the law and order of numbers subserve the same purpose in his scheme of philosophy as Spinoza’s universal substance does in his own system; the same office in point of fact which numbers have continually discharged in the history of philosophy from the time of Pythagoras downwards. It is his principle of cohesion and [310] uniformity applied to the details of nature-products and processes: hence it is only a crude mode of explaining such truths as are expressed by the correlation and conservation of forces, the perpetuity of energy, the laws of causation, gravitation, chemical affinity, and other formulas of the same kind with which modern science abounds. Perhaps we may go even further, and may regard the return to atoms and molecules which distinguishes some departments of modern thought, as a reproduction to a certain extent of such theories as Bruno’s monads; nor is it difficult to foresee that a still greater scope for speculations of a similar kind will inevitably mark the science of the future. The actual practical value of Bruno’s theories is of course nil; but the monads both of his own philosophy and that of Leibnitz, their descendants, will always retain historical interest, as connecting the speculations of Demokritus [Democritus] and the Greek atomists with those of scientists of our own day.

But, besides the order of natural processes, Bruno’s monads help to explain, at least to illustrate, the unifying or merging all contrarieties in an absolute oneness. Just as infinite number comprehends every conceivable numerical quantity, no matter how divergent from each other, so does the One include and involve every imaginable discrepancy and contradiction; however great their mutual differences. By this means, as we have observed, Nature loses all her antinomies; corruption and production, progress and regress, death and life, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, perfection and imperfection, form component elements, unit-sums of varying amounts, of the same absolute innumerable whole. As also all numbers form a series leading from one to infinity, so do the processes of Nature, in harmony with our own instincts, tend towards the Infinite: Bruno’s conception thus harmonizing with St. Paul’s words, ‘The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.’ (p.311.)

[Continues - Pantheism:]
That these speculations point in the direction of Pantheism is clear; but that Bruno was an undoubted Pantheist is not so obvious. Nothing is easier than to discover in the ideas of comprehensive and imaginative thinkers when applied to the infinitive existence and omnipresent energy of the Supreme Being, traces of Pantheism ; as we have already noticed. Bruno’s metaphysical intellect and poetic imagination rendered him peculiarly liable to excesses of this kind. The very attempt to set bounds to the Infinite, to bring it, in other words, within the limits of our own narrow and finite existence, would have seemed to him both false and impious, - false as contravening the witness afforded by Nature of its Author’s infinity ; impious as placing a limit, for our personal convenience, to the illimitable. Hence many are the passages in his works in which he seems to confound the [311] Creator with His creation - the material with the efficient cause - the living force with its physical manifestation. In the same general direction of Pantheism point also his views of the necessity of creation, his definition of the Creator as “Naturizing nature” (natura naturans), his doctrine of monads, and of the “Anima mundi.” On the other hand must be taken into account the mode in which he frequently describes the Deity as possessing a separate Being and personality, distinct from the universe of His creation, terming him the Creator, the mind and orderer of all things. On a complete view of the question, we may pronounce the evidence for Bruno’s Pantheism doubtful, and this is the conclusion to which the most impartial of his biographers and critics have also arrived.

But though I admit Bruno’s Pantheistic leanings, and his frequently expressed affection for the Divine which exists in Nature, neither this nor the cognate abstractions of the Infinite and Absolute, so far as they express definite and final attainment, are the supreme objects of his passionate love. Of all of these he admits the inherent incomprehensibility. Like Lessing, he prefers search for truth to discovered truth; or as he is a poet almost more than a philosopher, we may compare him to Sir John Suckling and his preference for desire as superior to fruition. In this respect Bruno is, as I have already hinted, a complete skeptic; as one who loves and searches for; what he is aware he cannot attain. Bruno’s mistress, like that of so many platonizing thinkers, is ( intellectual Beauty’ - the passion rather than its object, or the passion transformed and elevated to an object. He describes her charms with an ardent tenderness and ecstatic rapture which a material and human object of passion could hardly have inspired. The work in which he does this is called Gli eroici furori, and we may take it, I think, as a philosophical “sursum corda”! the point where his idealism becomes sublimated and con- secrated into a cultus. M. Bartholmèss has well observed how Bruno attempted in this work to bring about a revolution in Italian ideas respecting love. The poetry of the Troubadours, of Dante and Petrarca, had, while eliminating, or at least refining, the more sensual elements of the earthly passion, exalted it to an extravagant and absurd excess. Treading in the steps of Plato and Plotinus, Bruno wished to divert the sentiment in another direction, and to another object - not the human form, with its attributes of perishable- ness and mortality, ought to be the object of the wise man’s affections; but divine beauty and spiritual wisdom, which is invisible, unchange- able, and imperishable, nay, which is but one aspect of God Himself. (p.312; end page.)


Reading Bruno’s Eroici furori, one is forcibly reminded of Schleiermacher’s glowing description of Spinoza as a “God-intoxicated man”: [313] ‘Ihn durchdrang der hohe Weltgeist; das Unendliche war seine Anfang und sein Ende, das Universum seine einzige und ewige Liebo; in heiliger Unschuld und tiefer Demuth spiegelte er sich in der ewiger Welt: Voller Religion war er und voll heiligen Geistes; und darum steht er auch da allein und unereicht, Meister in seiner Kunst, aber erhaben über die profane Zunft, ohne Jünger und ohne Burgerrecht!” With a trifling modification of one or two terms, this magnificent eulogy is as applicable to Bruno as to Spinoza. Indeed, of the two I think the author of Gli eroici furori is a few stages further advanced in God-intoxication than even Spinoza. That a man capable of conceiving such a noble and elevated object for human affections, of being permeated by such a divine passion, [n.1.] should have actually suffered death as an atheist, must be pronounced one of the most monstrous perversions of justice which defile the pages of history. Unhappily, it is not a solitary instance of the irony which occasionally overrules human destinies, and with diabolical humour prescribes slavery as the lot of lovers of liberty, compulsory falsehood or the stake as the destiny of lovers of truth; as well as persecution and death as an atheist for the God-intoxicated enthusiast. [n.2]

Note 1. Few things in Bruno’s works are more remarkable than the depth and sincerity of his God-passion. The title which next to Philosophus he most affected is Theophilus (lover of God). From his point of view no doubt the terms are synonymous.

Note 2. (‘Bruno e stato bruciato vivo a Roma come sprezzatore della religione e di Dio. Oramai sappiamo che cosa importano questo accuse, e possiamo dire anche noi con tutta ragione. “Eh! Prole dolor! res eo jam pervenit ut qui assertè fatentur, se Dei ideam non habere, et Deum non nisi per res creatas (quorum causas ignorant) cognoscere, non erubescant philosophos atheismi accusant”’ Spaventa, Saggi, p. 167, quoting Spinoza, Tract. Theo. Pol., om op., ii. p.82.

The relation which Bruno’s idealism bears to his free-thought, and his vehement vindication of the rights of the human conscience, both public and private, is a distinguishing feature of his speculations. Man’s reason being an integral part of the universal reason, partakes also of its qualities; it is therefore both necessary and absolute. As such it forms the true basis both of morality and of speculative freedom. Bruno thus anticipates Descartes in laying stress on the reason, or consciousness, as the supreme principle of knowledge. Both reason as the intellectual, and conscience as the ethical, organ of truth are free and autonomous, partaking as they do of the unrestricted liberty of their Creator. Indeed, the knower and the thing known do not exist, except so far as God knows them. All clearness, all evidence emanates from Him. Senses, conscience, reflexion, reason, all the modes and stages of intelligence, the different branches of knowledge, all the efforts of mind and of wisdom, need that divine [314] light, which, itself inaccessible like the sun, still irradiates all objects within its luminous sphere. It is because every perception, every knowledge, whether of the senses or the mind, has God for its first source, for its principal organ, that man ought to rely implicitly upon verifiable evidence. God does not deceive, nor can He be deceived. He cannot deceive because he is unable to will deception, His will being as perfect as His knowledge. Truth therefore, so far as attainable, is manifested by enquiry and research ; and all reasonable methods of pursuing it are to be followed freely and fearlessly, with the conviction that whatever deficiency may arise from the inevitable limita- tions of our senses and knowledge, is not to be compared with the dense ignorance which must result from their entire disuse.

Bruno therefore concludes that the human mind, by its native instincts and operations, is made for knowledge and for freedom. No bounds indeed can be rightly placed to the speculative and imaginative powers of man. In this respect the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm, sharing its most peculiar attribute of infinity. Hence any repression of research is an indignity offered, through man, to the Highest Reason which he shares. He lays it down that thought, by its own free spiritual nature, cannot be the object of punitive justice; for if sincere it can be no offence to God or to human law. Thus personal, and in a considerable degree, political freedom, is the outcome, the dictate, of his own mental constitution. The limitless character of his thoughts and speculations he transferred, as far as possible, to his practical and political life. The process no doubt was, or might have been, somewhat dangerous; but political liberty in the sixteenth century was by no means sufficiently advanced to run the risk of encountering such dangers. Nor was Bruno unaware that the social and political condition of men necessitated some limitations; though to every concession in this direction he is careful to add the proviso that the philosophical and religious freedom of the individual should be as much as possible respected.

Having thus brought before you a few of the salient points in the philosophy of this most remarkable thinker, it is time to sum up this part of my subject.

Bruno was one of those gigantic intellects, those myriad-minded men whose multifarious erudition, eclectic methods, and many-sided sympathies render a summary of their operation very difficult, if not impossible. Like a survey of a widely-extended landscape, or an enormous building, the conspectus will only be a piecing, more or less rude and imperfect, of separate and fragmentary points of view. Employing his own illustration of the infinite powers and feelings of the human mind, we might almost say, of his own intellect, that its [315] centre is everywhere, its circumference nowhere. A child of the sixteenth century, his speculations comprehend and his sympathies embrace methods of thought current in ancient times on the one hand, and in our own day on the other. The immense range of his studies is proved by the fact that there is hardly an author, certainly not a subject known in his day, to which he does not seem to have paid attention, and on which he has not thrown some light.

1. To us his chief interest arises from his skepticism. The nature and extent of this I have already glanced at. As in the case of so many other philosophical enquirers it was, perhaps, more in intent than reality, limited and methodical. Bruno doubted to know. Skepticism was the foundation of his philosophy and his science. Surrounded by despotic powers and principles, philosophical, religious, and political, which demanded a blind submission from every man, Bruno boldly protested against them all. They were so many external restrictions and antiquated prejudices which possessed no inherent validity except so far as they received the approval of a man’s own conscience. Hence he opposed himself to Peripateticism, to scholasticism, to mediaeval science, and Papal Christianity. He even carries I his opposition to the ruling convictions of his time further than his own system of thought appears altogether to warrant. For although e.g. he himself places such stress on abstractions, he attacks the abstract ideas of scholastic logic in the true spirit of nominalistic criticism. The truth moreover that he finally attains by his idealism is so far imperfect and indemonstrable that his highest knowledge consists in a direction rather than a goal, an effort than an achievement, a perpetual struggle than a definite crowning victory. He also shares with Galileo, [Cf. Berti, Il Processo originale di Galileo Galilei, [5-line Italian quotation from Gallileo follows] and other thinkers of the time, the conviction of a distinct separation between theology and philosophy, and is so far a maintainer of double truth. Indeed this doctrine could have presented no difficulty to a thinker who regarded truth as essentially multiple, though its various forms and aspects finally met and were united in the absolute one. Nor can it be said that the final merging of his own idealism in the mystic cabbala of Raymund Lulli imparted the conviction of absolute and demonstrable truth for which he had been searching all his life. [...; 316.] (pp.313-16.)


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[Quotes sonnet by Tansillo which is generally accepted as being written by Bruno, who adopted it in his own writings:]

Since I my wings to sweet desire do lead
The more the air uprises ’neath my feet,
The swifter on the gale my pinions beat,
And earth despising, toward heaven I tend.
Nor for the son of Daed’lus’ guilty end
Feel I dismay, nay, rather boyant heat
His deadly fall I joyfull would meet,
Peer to such a death what life could mortal spend.
Soaring I hear my trembling hearts’ refrain
“Where bearest me, O rash one? The fell steep
Too arduous is not climb’d without much pain.”
“Fear not,” I answer, “for the fatal leap
Serene I cleave the clouds and death disdain,
If death so glorious heaven will that I reap.”
-Eroic. Fur”., in Op. ital. ii, p.396.; Owen, p.330.

[Owen comments: ‘Bruno borrows from Tansillo the verses which have generally been accepted as his own prediction of his fate, and which express so nobly his feelings at the prospect. (idem.)

Further: Like another son of Daedalus, at least an investigator of the “Natura Daedala rerum”, “the Daedalian nature of things”, Bruno’s eagle flight was cut off in mid air’; and he fell as he wished, and prognosticated, the victim of dogma but the heir of immortal fame.’ (Idem.)

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[Quotes Schioppus:] ‘Thus burnt, he perished miserably; he is gone, I suppose, to recount to those other worlds imagined by himself the way in which Romans treat blasphemous and impious men.’ (Bartholomew, I, p.338.)

Ftn.: Sicque ustulatus misere periit, renunciatarus credo in reliquis illis quae finxit mundis quonam pacto homines blasphemi et impii a Romanis tractari solent. (Idem.)

[Trevor:] We need not again reopen the general question, discussed in our Bruno chpater, how ar a certain amount of Pantheism is a necessary ingrediation in Christian orthodoxy, and involved in the ascription to Deity of such qualities as omnipresence, &c. Bruno, no doubt, had pantheistic tendencies; tough, as we saw reason to think, he was a religious if not a Christian Pantheism. (p.413.)

Note: Bruno lectured in Oxford on “the immortaity of the soul” and on “the five-fold sphere” - subjects allied to his theological metaphysics and his Copernican astronomy. (p.274.)

It is needless to say that the Oxford of 1583 did not evince very warm sympathies with a theology so far removed from both Romanist and Anglican creeds, nor with a physical science not founded on Aristotle. [...] He took a public part in the contests, as the defender of the Copernicans system, against the Ptolemaic; and as the implacable foe of the Peripateticism then rampant at Oxford. (Owen, p.274.)

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