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GIORDANO BRUNO - The Forgotten Philosopher

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Author Topic: GIORDANO BRUNO - The Forgotten Philosopher  (Read 250 times)
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2008, 06:45:27 pm »

Giordano Bruno, the Theosophist, naturally posited the identity of all souls with the
                                                Universal Over-soul.
Although he was willing to concede that there were an endless number of individuals,

"in the end all are in their nature one, and the knowledge of this unity is the goal of all philosophy."

He then proceeded to explain how this knowledge could be acquired. "Within every man," he said, "there is a soul-flame, kindled at the sun of thought, which lends us wings whereby we
may approach the sun of knowledge." The soul of man, he affirmed, is the only God there is.
"This principle in man moves and governs the body, is superior to the body, and cannot be
constrained by it." It is Spirit, the Real Self, "in which, from which and through which are
formed the different bodies, which have to pass through different kinds of existences, names
and destinies."

Giordano Bruno taught that the Law of Reincarnation is indissolubly connected with its twin
doctrine of Karma, or "High Justice."

Every act performed brings its appropriate reward or punishment in another life. In proportion
as the soul has conducted itself in a body, it determines for itself its transition into another body.
And then, to show that the doctrine was not original with him, he carefully explained that it had
been taught by Pythagoras, Plato and the Neoplatonists, and that he was merely passing on what
he had learned from his predecessors.
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2008, 06:50:30 pm »

In his 'Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante', which was published in 1584, Bruno described the con-
dition of a soul who had misused its opportunities on earth, saying that such a soul would be
"relegated back to another body, and should not expect to be entrusted with the government
and administration of a better dwelling if it had conducted itself badly in the conduct of a previous one." But, he said, there are certain individuals whose "soul-flame" has burned more brightly with
each succeeding incarnation, leading them by gradual stages to perfection. "These speak and
act not as mere instruments of the divine, but rather as self-creative artists and heroes. The
former have the divine spirit; the latter are divine spirits."

When the French Ambassador who had befriended him in London was recalled to Paris, Bruno accompanied him.

Instead of resuming his former relations with the University of Paris, Bruno presented 120
theses to the Rector in which he showed how his own philosophy differed from that of Aristotle.
He warned the French against the dangers of blind belief and begged them to bend their heads
only before the majesty of truth.

Having delivered this message Bruno departed for Germany, where he hoped to visit some of the
more important university towns. He met with hostility in Marburg, but Wittenberg welcomed him
with open arms, only the Calvinistic party in the University remaining unfriendly. When the Calvi-
nists came into power Bruno was again obliged to seek another home. He went to Helmstadt,
but here a Lutheran pastor put an end to his hopes by denouncing him publicly before an assem-
bled congregation. He then sought refuge in Frankfort-am-Main, where he was described by a
Carmelite prior as

"a man of universal intelligence and well versed in all sciences, but without a trace of religion."
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2008, 06:53:08 pm »

One day Bruno visited the Frankfort fair, where he made the acquaintance of two Italian book-
sellers. They became interested in Bruno's writings and took some of his books back to Venice.
These came under the attention of a young Venetian nobleman, Giovanni Mocenigo, who at
once inquired where the talented Bruno could be found.

Mocenigo, a tool of the Jesuits, was serving as one of the agents of the Inquisition. Recognizing
an easy victim, Mocenigo wrote to Bruno, inviting him to come to Venice and promising him assis-
tance in his work.

Bruno accepted the invitation, little realizing the snare which was being so cunningly laid. As soon
as he was installed in Mocenigo's house the young nobleman demanded that Bruno instruct him in the "magic arts." When Bruno insisted that he was a philosopher and scientist and knew nothing of the "magic arts," Mocenigo threatened him with the Inquisition. Bruno replied that he had done no-
thing unlawful, and offered to leave the house at once. That night Mocenigo, accompanied by
several of his servants, burst into Bruno's room, forced him out of bed, and locked him in an upper room. The following day Mocenigo sent a written accusation against Bruno to the Inquisition, and during the night Bruno was removed from Mocenigo's house and taken to the prison of the Inquisition. This happened on May 22, 1592.

Seven days later Bruno's trial began. Mocenigo accused him, "by constraint of his conscience,
and by order of his confessor," of teaching the existence of a boundless universe filled with a
countless number of solar systems. He pointed out that Bruno had said that the earth was not
the center of the universe, but a mere planet revolving around the sun. He accused Bruno of
teaching the doctrine of reincarnation; of denying the actual transubstantiation of bread into
the flesh of Christ; of refusing to accept the three persons of the Trinity, and of rejecting the
virgin birth of Christ.
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2008, 06:56:25 pm »

After these accusations had been read to the Court of the Inquisition, Bruno arose and unfolded
his philosophical and scientific doctrines in detail, neither concealing nor omitting any essential
feature, but speaking as simply as if he were sitting in his professor's chair talking to his pupils.
He admitted his belief in an infinite universe which is the direct effect of infinite, divine power.
He defined this power as Spirit, by virtue of which everything lives, moves and has its being.

"Thus I understand Being in all and over all, as there is nothing without participation in Being,
and there is no being without Essence. Thus nothing can be free of the Divine Presence.
This Divine Presence," he continued, "is Spirit, the All-Life, and from It life and soul flow into
every thing and every being. Hence Spirit is imperishable, just as matter is indestructible.
As for death, it is merely a division and re-vivification, a statement of which is found in
Ecclesiastes where it is said that "There is nothing new under the sun; that which is, is that
which was."

Bruno then frankly admitted his inability to comprehend the doctrines of three persons in the
Godhead, saying that he considered the Holy Ghost from the Pythagorean standpoint, as the
Soul of the Universe. He also acknowledged his disbelief in the virgin birth of Jesus, but express-
ed his belief in the "miracles" of that great Teacher, since they all came under natural law.

At the end of the sitting, the Inquisitor turned to Bruno and again charged him point by point
with the whole accusation, warning him of the serious consequences which awaited him if he
did not retract his statements.

Bruno looked the Inquisitor full in the face and remained silent.
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2008, 06:59:04 pm »

On the following day the trial was continued.

This time Bruno was accused of friendship with the heretical Queen Elizabeth.

He was then returned to the dungeon in the prison of the Inquisition, and for the next eight
weeks was daily subjected to the rack and other instruments of torture. The records of his
trial were sent to Rome, and he was summoned to the Holy City, where he arrived on February
27, 1593. There he was incarcerated in another dark and gloomy dungeon in the Roman prison
of the Inquisition, where he was kept for seven years. On December 21, 1599, he was again
called before the Inquisition, and asked to retract his statements. In spite of his seven years
of imprisonment and torture, Bruno again replied that "he neither dared, nor would retract his statements. That he had nothing to retract, and knew not what he should retract."

With these words he sealed his doom.

On January 20, 1600, the Pope ordered Bruno to be delivered over to the Inquisition.

He was called into the audience chamber, forced to kneel as he listened to his sentence, and
then given over to his executioners with the usual request that he be punished without the
shedding of blood, which meant that he was to be burned at the stake.

After listening unmoved to his sentence, Bruno rose to his full height, looked his executioners
 in the eye, and spoke his last sentence on earth.

                 "It is with far greater fear that you pronounce, than I receive, this sentence."
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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2008, 07:02:14 pm »

In the early morning hours of Friday, February 17, 1600, one of those processions which were
all too familiar to Rome was seen wending its way to the Campo dei Fiori, the place where the
Holy Mother Church burned her heretical sons.

Giordano Bruno was led to the pile, clad as a "heretic," his tongue bound lest he should utter
one last word against the Holy Mother Church who claimed to be the living representative of
that great Teacher who had said 1600 years before,

                "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you."

He was bound to the stake and the hungry flames began to lick at his flesh. But not one sigh
of agony escaped from that noble breast. When, at the last moment of his torment, a crucifix
was held before him, he turned his eyes away.

In the Campo dei Fiori, on the spot where Giordano Bruno met his fate, there now stands a
monument to his memory. But more imperishable than any visible tribute is the invisible monu-
ment to Truth erected by Bruno himself -- that brave, loyal and devoted friend of the

                                                   "great orphan Humanity,"

that willing martyr to the Cause of Those whose agent and representative he was.

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« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2008, 02:17:48 pm »

 Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic By M.M. Bennetts

Sat Aug 23, 2008
Yahoo News
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Europe underwent an information revolution unprecedented in the history of mankind.
The invention of the compass, the printing press, and the telescope, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, and the discoveries of the New World, gunpowder, and that the Earth was not the center of the universe – all instigated radical shifts in the thinking that had dominated the mental landscape for centuries.

Occasionally the shifts were seen as good things. More frequently, they were fiercely resisted by church and state authorities. Moreover, the great thinkers, writers, pioneers, and scientists of the age – Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus, Galileo, Luther, and Tycho Brahe to name a few – were often persisting in their work in the face of unparalleled persecution.

Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic is Ingrid Rowland's portrait of a lesser known, though no less daring, Italian, whose religious, philosophical, and scientific quests helped to usher in the modern age of science and mathematics.

Shaped by the priesthood Filippo Bruno was born in Nola, in southern Italy, in 1548. He was the precocious only child of a mercenary soldier. At 17 he was sent to the convent of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples to train for the priesthood. There, in the rigorous academic atmosphere that was Renaissance Naples, he studied and learned to emulate or argue with the writings of Aristotle and Plato, as well as those of Thomas Aquinas, Marsilio Ficino, and Giles of Viterbo.

He took his vows as a friar of the order in 1566, and assumed the name Giordano. Although he would spend the next 10 years of his life pursuing his studies, including developing his own method of memorization, eventually the reactionary crackdowns of the Inquisition would force him into the life of a peripatetic scholar and teacher.

His travels took him from Switzerland to Paris to England to Germany to Prague and back to Italy. But wherever he went, an irascible nature and fiery intellectual pride drove him into conflict with local academics, whom he bitterly reviled and caricatured.

Profuse thinker, writer

Yet throughout his life, he wrote and published copiously: poetry, plays, books on the art of memory, philosophical tracts, and essays expounding his evolving theories of infinity. His attempts to find an adequate means to measure and calculate both the infinite and the infinitesimal led directly to his formulation of atomic theory.

Unsurprisingly, his theories were far too expansive and threatening to the dogmatic religious authorities of his day. Thus, after nearly a decade in prison, first in Venice and then in Rome, he was condemned as a heretic by the Inquisition in 1600 and suffered a heretic's fate: burned at the stake.

Still, Ms. Rowland's “Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic” is less a biography of the man than a largely uncritical examination of his vast literary and philosophical output, with the few facts of his life offered as source material or a mere framework for the discussion of his writings.

The early chapters are a testament to the risks of speaking out or thinking originally in a society ruled by a repressive regime.

Because of the lack of factual information, the author frequently substitutes conjecture and inference such as “[he] must have read” or “must have known” or “must have met” for factual evidence.

Further, Rowland assumes a specialist's knowledge of Renaissance politics, religion, and philosophy which may leave one wanting for the nonexistent Cliff Notes on philosophers and significant figures of the Counter-Reformation in Rome and Naples.

And as Bruno wrote copiously, so does Rowland quote copiously – page upon 8-point-type page of it, much of it imponderably obscure. Only rarely does she attempt to convey the color, vigor, and clamor of life in a Renaissance city.

Frequently tangled in the web of her own scholarship and Bruno's sophistry, she seems unable to distinguish between Bruno's flights of insightful genius, which, as in the works of many Renaissance authors, lie cheek by jowl with ideas we now find arcane or hopelessly naive.

For the sake of knowledge But “Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic” is not without merit. It is a rare excursion into the cosmos of sumptuous prose and philosophical delight as exemplified by Giles of Viterbo, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and Giordano Bruno.

It is a venture into a lost world where man's pursuit of spiritual understanding and wisdom made for bestseller reading – and where such journeys into the uncharted territory of infinity led these philosophers to examine ideas which although rejected at the time, proved to be modern beyond their and our wildest dreams.

M.M. Bennetts is a freelance writer living in Hampshire, England.
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« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2008, 04:27:02 pm »


                                                  Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic

                                                            by Ingrid D. Rowland


Giordano Bruno is one of the great figures of early modern Europe, and one of the least understood. Ingrid D. Rowland’s pathbreaking life of Bruno establishes him once and for all as a peer of Erasmus, Shakespeare, and Galileo, a thinker whose vision of the world prefigures ours.

By the time Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1600 on Rome’s Campo dei Fiori, he had taught in Naples, Rome, Venice, Geneva, France, England, Germany, and the “magic Prague” of Emperor Rudolph II. His powers of memory and his provocative ideas about the infinity of the universe had attracted the attention of the pope, Queen Elizabeth—and the Inquisition, which condemned him to death in Rome as part of a yearlong jubilee.

Writing with great verve and sympathy for her protagonist, Rowland traces Bruno’s wanderings through a sixteenth-century Europe where every certainty of religion and philosophy had been called into question and shows him valiantly defending his ideas (and his right to maintain them) to the very end. An incisive, independent thinker just when natural philosophy was transformed into modern science, he was also a writer of sublime talent. His eloquence and his courage inspired thinkers across Europe, finding expression in the work of Shakespeare and Galileo.

Giordano Bruno allows us to encounter a legendary European figure as if for the first time.
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« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2008, 04:36:44 pm »

                                                           Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

You sometimes hear the name Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) invoked as a prequel to the life of Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). These two natural philosophers, countrymen of the Italian peninsula, stood ready
to shove the Earth from its ancient resting place and set it in orbit around the Sun. Though a rotating, revolving Earth challenged common sense and flew in the face of received wisdom, still they both embraced the idea—at their peril.

The difference is that Bruno died for his beliefs (tied to a stake and set on fire in a public square in Rome), while Galileo recanted before the Inquisition and lived to advanced old age under house arrest. Legend connects their destinies, reducing Bruno's awful immolation to a cautionary tale that warns Galileo against too vigorous a defense of the dangerous new astronomy.

But, as Ingrid Rowland makes clear in her probing, thoughtful biography, Bruno's support for the Sun-centered cosmos paled next to the rest of his crimes. He was a true heretic by the Catholic Church's definition, for he doubted the divinity of Jesus, the virginity of Mary and the transubstantiation of the Communion wafer into the body of Christ.

Protestants—among whom Bruno lived for a time in Switzerland, France, Germany and England—also branded him a heretic, since he was, after all, a professed priest of the Dominican order.

Bruno managed, in the span of his 52 years, to be excommunicated twice—from the Calvinist Church as well as the Catholic.

Rowland identifies Bruno in her subtitle as philosopher and heretic. Her full text rounds out the list of his many other deserved epithets, including poet, playwright, private tutor, professor of sacred theology, linguist, master of the art of memory, even copy editor.

As a philosopher, Bruno went far beyond the Sun-centered cosmology of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). Apparently the first man to envision infinity, Bruno posited an endlessly renewed and recreated universe. Its limitless expanses of space knew no particular center, but contained innumerable suns, circled by a plurality of earths—and every one of them inhabited. Rowland's own translations of Bruno's many works, including On the Immense and the Numberless, add immeasurably to her portrait of him.

In 1581 he described himself as having the look of a lost soul... for the most part you'll see him irritated, recalcitrant and strange, content with nothing, stubborn as an old man of eighty, skittish as a dog that has been whipped a thousand times, a weepy onion eater.

He came into the world to light a fire, Rowland acknowledges of her subject.

That he did, and in the end it consumed him.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
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