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Giordano Bruno

Birthdate: 1548
Date of death: 17. February 1600

Giordano Bruno , born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and cosmological theorist. He is known for his cosmological theories, which conceptually extended the then-novel Copernican model. He proposed that the stars were just distant suns surrounded by their own exoplanets and raised the possibility that these planets could even foster life of their own . He also insisted that the universe is in fact infinite and could have no celestial body at its "center".

Starting in 1593, Bruno was tried for heresy by the Roman Inquisition on charges of denial of several core Catholic doctrines, including eternal damnation, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and transubstantiation. Bruno's pantheism was also a matter of grave concern, as was his teaching of the transmigration of the soul . The Inquisition found him guilty, and he was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo de' Fiori in 1600. After his death, he gained considerable fame, being particularly celebrated by 19th- and early 20th-century commentators who regarded him as a martyr for science, although historians have debated the extent to which his heresy trial was a response to his astronomical views or to other aspects of his philosophy and theology. Bruno's case is still considered a landmark in the history of free thought and the emerging sciences.

In addition to cosmology, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. Historian Frances Yates argues that Bruno was deeply influenced by Arab astrology , Neoplatonism, Renaissance Hermeticism, and legends surrounding the Egyptian god Thoth. Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial concepts of geometry to language.

Works

Candelaio
Giordano Bruno

„Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the centre of things.“

—  Giordano Bruno

Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)
Context: This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the centre of things.

„The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life.“

—  Giordano Bruno

Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus (1585)
Context: The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life. The greatest asses of the world are those who, lacking all understanding and instruction, and void of all civil life and custom, rot in perpetual pedantry; those who by the grace of heaven would reform obscure and corrupted faith, salve the cruelties of perverted religion and remove abuse of superstitions, mending the rents in their vesture. It is not they who indulge impious curiosity or who are ever seeking the secrets of nature, and reckoning the courses of the stars. Observe whether they have been busy with the secret causes of things, or if they have condoned the destruction of kingdoms, the dispersion of peoples, fires, blood, ruin or extermination; whether they seek the destruction of the whole world that it may belong to them: in order that the poor soul may be saved, that an edifice may be raised in heaven, that treasure may be laid up in that blessed land, caring naught for fame, profit or glory in this frail and uncertain life, but only for that other most certain and eternal life.

„Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of his kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds.“

—  Giordano Bruno

On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)
Context: Make then your forecasts, my lords Astrologers, with your slavish physicians, by means of those astrolabes with which you seek to discern the fantastic nine moving spheres; in these you finally imprison your own minds, so that you appear to me but as parrots in a cage, while I watch you dancing up and down, turning and hopping within those circles. We know that the Supreme Ruler cannot have a seat so narrow, so miserable a throne, so trivial, so scanty a court, so small and feeble a simulacrum that phantasm can bring to birth, a dream shatter, a delusion restore, a calamity diminish, a misdeed abolish and a thought renew it again, so that indeed with a puff of air it were brimful and with a single gulp it were emptied. On the contrary we recognize a noble image, a marvellous conception, a supreme figure, an exalted shadow, an infinite representation of the represented infinity, a spectacle worthy of the excellence and supremacy of Him who transcendeth understanding, comprehension or grasp. Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of his kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds.

„To the extent that one communicates with Nature, so one ascends to Divinity through Nature.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (1584)
Context: Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; this Nature... is none other than God in things... Diverse living things represent diverse divinities and diverse powers, which, besides the absolute being they possess, obtain the being communicated to all things according to their capacity and measure. Whence all of God is in all things (although not totally, but in some more abundantly and in others less) … Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion…. To the extent that one communicates with Nature, so one ascends to Divinity through Nature.

„Our philosophy… reduceth to a single origin and relateth to a single end, and maketh contraries to coincide so that there is one primal foundation both of origin and of end.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950) <!-- p. 84 -->
De immenso (1591)
Context: Our philosophy… reduceth to a single origin and relateth to a single end, and maketh contraries to coincide so that there is one primal foundation both of origin and of end. From this coincidence of contraries, we deduce that ultimately it is divinely true that contraries are within contraries; wherefore it is not difficult to compass the knowledge that each thing is within every other.

„In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own.“

—  Giordano Bruno

<!-- V Singer p. 59 -->
On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)
Context: It is then unnecessary to investigate whether there be beyond the heaven Space, Void or Time. For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this one on which we live and grow. This space we declare to be infinite, since neither reason, convenience, possibility, sense-perception nor nature assign to it a limit. In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own.

„The universal Intellect is the intimate, most real, peculiar and powerful part of the soul of the world.“

—  Giordano Bruno

Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)
Context: The universal Intellect is the intimate, most real, peculiar and powerful part of the soul of the world. This is the single whole which filleth the whole, illumineth the universe and directeth nature to the production of natural things, as our intellect with the congruous production of natural kinds.

„Heroic love is the property of those superior natures who are called insane (insano) not because they do not know (no sanno), but because they over-know (soprasanno).“

—  Giordano Bruno

As quoted in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), by Miguel de Unamuno, as translated by J. E. Crawford Flitch; Conclusion : Don Quixote in the Contemporary European Tragi-Comedy
The Italian original is from Francesco de Sanctis, Storia della letteratura italiana, 1871/1890, p. 255 http://it.wikisource.org/wiki/Pagina:Storia_della_letteratura_italiana_II.djvu/267: "L'amore eroico è proprio delle nature superiori, dette insane, non perché non sanno, ma perché soprasanno..."
Disputed

„If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As quoted in Giordano Bruno : His Life and Thought (1950) by Dorothea Waley Singer http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/bruno03.htm#CH3
Context: If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom. What can Juno give which thou canst not receive from Wisdom? What mayest thou admire in Venus which thou mayest not also contemplate in Wisdom? Her beauty is not small, for the lord of all things taketh delight in her. Her I have loved and diligently sought from my youth up.

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„What he was, he became through having liberated himself from certain false axioms of the common and vulgar philosophy — I will not say blindness.“

—  Giordano Bruno

Thoughts on Nicolaus Copernicus, as translated in Agnes Mary Clerke: Copernicus in Italy http://www.archive.org/stream/edinburghreview146londuoft#page/116/mode/2up
The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584)
Context: He was a man of grave and cultivated mind, of rapid and mature intelligence; inferior to no preceding astronomer, unless in order of succession and time; a man, who in natural ability was far superior to Ptolemy, Hipparchus, Eudoxus, and all those others who followed in their footsteps. What he was, he became through having liberated himself from certain false axioms of the common and vulgar philosophy — I will not say blindness. Nevertheless, he did not depart far from them; because, studying mathematics rather than Nature, he failed to penetrate and dig deep enough altogether to cut away the roots of incongruous and vain principles, and thus, removing perfectly all opposing difficulties, free himself and others from so many empty investigations into things obvious and unchangeable. In spite of all this, who can sufficiently praise the magnanimity of this German, who, having little regard to the foolish multitude, stood firm against the torrent of contrary opinion, and, although well-nigh unarmed with living arguments, resuming those rusty and neglected fragments which antiquity had transmitted to him, polished, repaired, and put them together with reasonings more mathematical than philosophical; and so rendered that cause formerly contemned and contemptible, honourable, estimable, more probable than its rival, and certainly convenient and expeditious for purposes of theory and calculation? Thus this Teuton, although with means insufficient to vanquish, overthrow, and suppress falsehood, as well as resist it, nevertheless resolutely determined in his own mind, and openly confessed this final and necessary conclusion : that it is more possible that this globe should move with regard to the universe, than that the innumerable multitude of bodies, many of which are known to be greater and more magnificent than our earth, should be compelled, in spite of Nature and reason, which, by means of motions evident to the senses, proclaim the contrary, to acknowledge this globe as the centre and base of their revolutions and influences. Who then will be so churlish and discourteous towards the efforts of this man, as to cover with oblivion all he has done, by being ordained of the Gods as an Aurora — which was to precede the rising of this Sun of the true, ancient philosophy, buried during so many centuries in the tenebrous caverns of blind, malignant, froward, envious ignorance; and, taking note only of what he failed to accomplish, rank him amongst the number of the herded multitude, which discourses, guides itself, precipitates to destruction, according to the oral sense of a brutal and ignoble belief, rather than amongst those who, by the use of right reason, have been able to rise up, and resume the true course under the faithful guidance of the eye of divine intelligence.

„That I shall sink in death, I know must be;
But with that death of mine what life will die?“

—  Giordano Bruno

As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, in The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429
Context: That I shall sink in death, I know must be;
But with that death of mine what life will die? Across the air, I hear my heart's voice cry:
Where dost thou bear me reckless one? Descend!
Such rashness seldom ends but bitterly'
"Fear not the lofty fall" I answer "rend
With might the clouds, and be content to die,
If God such a glorious death for us intend."

„Blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
Deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
Crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
Will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
Will not place the veil before my eyes,
Will never bring it about that I shall not
Contemplate my beautiful Sun.“

—  Giordano Bruno

"Of Love" as translated in The Infinite in Giordano Bruno : With a Translation of His Dialogue, Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One (1978) by Sidney Thomas Greenburg, p. 89
Variant translation:
Cause, Principle and One, the Sempiterne,
On whom all being, motion, life, depend.
From whom, in length, breadth, depth, their paths extend
As far as heaven, earth, hell their faces turn :
With sense, with mind, with reason, I discern
That not, rule, reckoning, may not comprehend
That power and bulk and multitude which tend
Beyond all lower, middle, and superne. <p> Blind error, ruthless time, ungentle doom,
Deaf envy, villain madness, zeal unwise,
Hard heart, unholy craft, bold deeds begun,
Shall never fill for one the air with gloom,
Or ever thrust a veil before these eyes,
Or ever hide from me my glorious sun.
As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429
Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)
Context: Cause, Principle, and One eternal
From whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
And which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
To whatever is in Heaven, on Earth, and Hell;
With sense, with reason, with mind, I discern,
That there is no act, measure, nor calculation, which can comprehend
That force, that vastness and that number,
Which exceeds whatever is inferior, middle, and highest;
Blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
Deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
Crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
Will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
Will not place the veil before my eyes,
Will never bring it about that I shall not
Contemplate my beautiful Sun.

„Divinity reveals herself in all things… everything has Divinity latent within itself.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (1584)
Context: Divinity reveals herself in all things... everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being.

„Her beauty is not small, for the lord of all things taketh delight in her. Her I have loved and diligently sought from my youth up.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As quoted in Giordano Bruno : His Life and Thought (1950) by Dorothea Waley Singer http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/bruno03.htm#CH3
Context: If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom. What can Juno give which thou canst not receive from Wisdom? What mayest thou admire in Venus which thou mayest not also contemplate in Wisdom? Her beauty is not small, for the lord of all things taketh delight in her. Her I have loved and diligently sought from my youth up.

„We find that everything that makes up difference and number is pure accident, pure show, pure constitution.“

—  Giordano Bruno

Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)
Context: We find that everything that makes up difference and number is pure accident, pure show, pure constitution. Every production, of whatever kind, is an alteration, but the substance remains always the same, because it is only one, one divine immortal being.

„Cause, Principle, and One eternal
From whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
And which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
To whatever is in Heaven, on Earth, and Hell“

—  Giordano Bruno

"Of Love" as translated in The Infinite in Giordano Bruno : With a Translation of His Dialogue, Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One (1978) by Sidney Thomas Greenburg, p. 89
Variant translation:
Cause, Principle and One, the Sempiterne,
On whom all being, motion, life, depend.
From whom, in length, breadth, depth, their paths extend
As far as heaven, earth, hell their faces turn :
With sense, with mind, with reason, I discern
That not, rule, reckoning, may not comprehend
That power and bulk and multitude which tend
Beyond all lower, middle, and superne. <p> Blind error, ruthless time, ungentle doom,
Deaf envy, villain madness, zeal unwise,
Hard heart, unholy craft, bold deeds begun,
Shall never fill for one the air with gloom,
Or ever thrust a veil before these eyes,
Or ever hide from me my glorious sun.
As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429
Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)
Context: Cause, Principle, and One eternal
From whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
And which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
To whatever is in Heaven, on Earth, and Hell;
With sense, with reason, with mind, I discern,
That there is no act, measure, nor calculation, which can comprehend
That force, that vastness and that number,
Which exceeds whatever is inferior, middle, and highest;
Blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
Deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
Crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
Will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
Will not place the veil before my eyes,
Will never bring it about that I shall not
Contemplate my beautiful Sun.

„There are countless suns and countless earths all rotating round their suns in exactly the same way as the seven planets of our system.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As quoted in The Discovery of Nature (1965), by Albert W. Bettex
Context: There are countless suns and countless earths all rotating round their suns in exactly the same way as the seven planets of our system. We see only the suns because they are the largest bodies and are luminous, but their planets remain invisible to us because they are smaller and non-luminous. The countless worlds in the universe are no worse and no less inhabited than our earth. For it is utterly unreasonable to suppose that those teeming worlds which are as magnificent as our own, perhaps more so, and which enjoy the fructifying rays of a sun just as we do, should be uninhabited and should not bear similar or even more perfect inhabitants than our earth. The unnumbered worlds in the universe are all similar in form and rank and subject to the same forces and the same laws. Impart to us the knowledge of the universality of terrestrial laws throughout all worlds and of the similarity of all substances in the cosmos! Destroy the theories that the earth is the center of the universe! Crush the supernatural powers said to animate the world, along with the so-called crystalline spheres! Open the door through which we can look out into the limitless, unified firmament composed of similar elements and show us that the other worlds float in an ethereal ocean like our own! Make it plain to us that the motions of all the worlds proceed from inner forces and teach us in the light of such attitudes to go forward with surer tread in the investigation and discovery of nature! Take comfort, the time will come when all men will see as I do.

„Nature is none other than God in things…“

—  Giordano Bruno

As quoted in Elements of Pantheism (2004) by Paul A. Harrison
Context: Nature is none other than God in things... Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion.

„It does not grow corrupt. because there is nothing else into which it could change, given that it is itself all things.“

—  Giordano Bruno

As translated by Paul Harrison <!-- Fifth dialogue ?-->
Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)
Context: The Universe is one, infinite, immobile. The absolute potential is one, the act is one, the form or soul is one, the material or body is one, the thing is one, the being in one, one is the maximum and the best... It is not generated, because there is no other being it could desire or hope for, since it comprises all being. It does not grow corrupt. because there is nothing else into which it could change, given that it is itself all things. It cannot diminish or grow, since it is infinite.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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