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Bruno the Philosopher

Updated on January 28, 2016

Death is only the beginning

Giordano Bruno was once a philosopher who was persecuted for his beliefs by the church. They had decided that he was becoming more and more heretic and must be stopped. He died February 1600. He believed in things such as the earth moved around the sun not vice versa. He in fact quoted Galileo on several occasions, but never actually knew the man despite some interesting rumors. He was shaped by a time where heretics were condemned, mostly people like Bruno who had different view in philosophy. He was shaped by the way people held onto philosophers like Aristotle, and were only interested in his view for amusement and is “magic”. What is certainly interesting is that this man wasn’t either astronomer or theologist, but wrote many works that led to a new ethic and a new philosophy.

When Bruno was thirteen he found himself at a monastery and he soon became a priest. But he soon was into trouble because of his being outspoken and his inability to give the teacher the answers they wanted. I believe he became so influenced at this time to travel due to the fact he didn’t have a home and he was fascinated. He wanted to teach, to learn and maybe show off a little. But he became a little interested in “magic” he caught the eye of King Henry the third. “Bruno had made a reputation for himself as a magician who could inspire greater memory retention.” (The forgotten philosopher, Kessler, John J.) He traveled much because philosophers were becoming almost irrelevant or not as common as scientists were at the time. Which allowed him to teach to certain groups and fascinate them with his particular topics, which were a little different they anything else. When he moved on to England for a fresh audience he found it difficult to reach Oxford who paid reference to Aristotle. There was evidence of science becoming the new way, the fresh outlook on things that fascinated people. Bruno was finding the “crude” englishmen unsettling, and he had no place in either religious communities because of his philosophies.

He rejected the idea of the Golden Age and said that the decline of philosophy started with Plato. I think another reason for his behavior in his teaching was the universities. He held such a contempt for them. But most particularly because they probably wouldn’t accept him. His teachings were unlike Plato, and Aristotle. And then of course his changed in language in his writings. “It had been argued that Bruno had chosen to his philosophical dialogues in Italian because, “a new subject required a new language.” (Canone, Eugenio, Spruit, Leen. Rhetoric and Philosophical discourse in Giordano Bruno’s Italian Dialogues.) Of course there’s his magic. which was clearly influenced by astrology and the science of cosmology which was the fad at the time. “Bruno's magic can be considered under two basic categories, that of memory and phantasmic images and that of bonding or enchaining.” (Warnock, Chris. The Astrology and magic of Giordano Bruno). Which of course we find that he’s using images of astronomical account. “We can see the importance of this to the creation and consecration of our astrological images…” (Warnock)

“Bruno answered the sentence of death by fire with the threatening: ‘Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it.’” (Kessler)


Now at this time in the world he was living in, to discuss or even think the things he began to write about and say. In a place where people believed in the bible and prayed to virgin mary he talked about the bible just being a book. But mostly I think during his time when love and beauty and science were all the rage, he also didn’t find anyone who caught his eye. He wrote of love which he believed rather bluntly didn’t exist but physically. “But what am I doing? What am I thinking? Do I perhaps despise the sun? Do I regret perhaps my own and others having come into this world?” (Bruno, The heroic frenzies)

This man has been called many things by many people. And he was soon forgotten as no evidence was ever found of him imprisoned. It is unfair to think even to this day in some regarded journals and articles they still reproach Bruno in such disdain, almost calling him a fraud. The idea is though, those who are philosophers are those who teach and create a new way of thinking, such as scientists did in Bruno’s time. The reaction of the pope, who was condemning many a heretic was made such a commotion over this man who had become what seems enraged by the fact the church would be so “ugly”. And this man was burnt at the stake for refusing to renounce his works, and declaring the church the one true faith. And ironically he had been turned in by a man who had taken him in and given him a place to stay. The difference in places he visited at the time showed how much he would learn and it would shape him into who he was. Already the eager mind he was who loved the idea of nature and it’s vastness, especially space. And to be turned in by a venetian, when they had all been into philosophy at some point, is the most ironic part of his life and death.

Bruno, Giordano. Argument of the Nolan upon the Herioc Frenzies. 1585

Canone, Eugenio, and Leen Spruit. "Rhetoric And Philosophical Discourse In Giordano Bruno's Italian Dialogues."Poetics Today 28.3 (2007): 363-391. Humanities Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 23 June 2014.


Kessler, John J. Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher. The secular web

Warnock, Christopher. Astrology and Magic of Giordano Bruno. 2002


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