Bruno, Giordano

Bruno, Giordano a philosopher of great boldness and genius, was born at Nola about 1550. Having entered the Dominican order, he soon began to doubt the Romish theology, and had to quit his convent. He fled to Geneva in 1580, where he lived two years. The rigor of Calvin did not, however, suit his sceptical temper, and he departed for Paris. Here he gave lectures on philosophy, in which he openly attacked the Aristotelians. Having made himself many enemies among the professors, as well as among the clergy, he went to England in 1583, where he gained the protection of Sir Philip Sidney, to whom he dedicated his Spaccio della bestia trionfante, an allegorical work against the court of Rome, with the Cena delle Ceneri, or "Evening Conversations on Ash-Wednesday," a dialogue between four interlocutors. He also wrote Della causa, principio ed uno, and Dell' infinito universo e mondi, in which he developed his ideas both on natural philosophy and metaphysics. His system is a form of pantheism: he asserted that the universe is infinite, and that each of the worlds contained in it is animated by the universal soul, etc. Spinoza borrowed some of his theories from Bruno. Buhle (History of Modern Philosophy) gives an exposition of Bruno's system; see also Jacobi's Preface to the Letters on the Doctrine of Spinoza. In his next work, Cabala del caval Pegaseo con l'aggiunta dell' asino Cillenico, he contends that ignorance is the mother of happiness, and that "he who promotes science increases the sources of grief." Bruno's language is symbolic and obscure; he talks much about the constellations, and his style is harsh and inelegant. After remaining about two years in England, during which he visited Oxford, and held disputations with the doctors, he passed over to Paris, and thence to Wittemberg, and lectured there and in Frankfort till 1592, when he returned to Padua, and thence to Venice. The Inquisition arrested him, and retained him in prison for six years, vainly attempting to reduce him to recantation. On the 9th of February, 1600, he was excommunicated, and delivered to the secular magistrate. He was burnt Feb. 16, 1600. Bruno wrote very largely. His Italian writings were collected and published at Leipzig in 2 vols. 8vo, in 1830; the Latin writings at Stuttgart, under the title Jordani Bruni Scripta quae Lat. red. omnia (1834, 8vo). The best works on the life and the writings of Bruno are by Bartholmess (Par. 1846, 2 vols.), and by Clemens (Bonn. 1847). — Tennemann, Man. Hist. Phil. § 300; Eclectic Magazine, 17, 307; Saisset, in Revue des Deux Mondes, June, 1847; Cousin, in the same, Dec. 1843; Hallam, Literature of Europe, vol. 2, ch. 3; Fleson, G. Bruno (Hamburg, 1846, 8vo).

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