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Author Topic: THE RENAISSANCE  (Read 5099 times)
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« Reply #105 on: October 17, 2008, 09:07:28 pm »

Vittorino da Feltre, another Paduan, also accorded mathematics a great deal of importance, so there was at least a tradition of respect for mathematics in Paduan humanism that Regiomontanus could build upon.57

However, Regiomontanus's ideas about the certainty of mathematics cut against the grain of many of his humanist contemporaries. Hanna Gray, in her seminal article "Renaissance Humanism: The Pursuit of Eloquence," argues that humanists contrasted the scholastic pursuit of universal truth to their own emphasis on the virtuous life.58 Gray quotes Petrarch's invective On his own Ignorance and that of Many Others: "the object of the will is to be good; that of the intellect is truth. It is better to will the good than to know the truth."59 A more proximate example can be found in Piccolomini, who notes that "although arts of this sort [i.e., geometry and logic] engage in investigation of truth, it is contrary to duty to be drawn away from attending to our affairs by studying them, since all the glory of virtue, as [Cicero] says, consists in action."60 Regiomontanus, on the other hand, opposes the search for truth through philosophy with the even greater certainty offered by mathematics. Mathematics is superior to scholastic philosophy not because it leads its students towards the good but because it offers real certainty, not continually contested opinions. Astrology, in Regiomontanus's view the greatest of the mathematical arts, is praised even more highly. "You [astrology] are without doubt the most faithful messenger of the immortal God, you who provide the rule for interpreting his secrets, by whose grace the omnipotent decided to regulate the heavens, in [End Page 60] which he everywhere placed starry fires, signs of future events."61 Astrology is preeminent among the arts because of the knowledge it offers: insights into the secrets of God himself. 
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