Turning Traditions Upside Down

Turning Traditions Upside Down: Rethinking Giordano Bruno's Enlightenment

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    Turning Traditions Upside Down
    Book Description:

    Some of the world’s most eminent researchers on Bruno offer an exhaustive overview of the state-of-theart research on his work, discussing Bruno’s methodological procedures, his epistemic and literary practices, his natural philosophy, or his role as theologian and metaphysic at the cutting-edge of their disciplines. Short texts by Bruno illustrate the reasoning of the contributions. The book also reflects aspects of Bruno’s reception in the past and today, inside and outside academia.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-64-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jürgen Renn and Yehuda Elkana
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Henning Hufnagel and Anne Eusterschulte

    Turning traditions upside down—this metaphor seems to be a good starting point for rethinking Giordano Bruno’s philosophy and his provocative aspirations in the world of letters. It certainly would have been to Bruno’s liking; someone who, in his writings, often presented himself as a Mercurian, larger-than-life figure who has come to put things straight: the Nolan, enlightening his contemporaries about the misleading paths of traditional doctrines and opening minds for the discovery of true philosophy.

    Born in 1548 near the town of Nola in the Kingdom of Naples, Giordano Bruno is known today as an exceptional, yet ambivalent figure...

  5. PART 1 Epistemic Practices of a Revolutionary:: Bruno’s Methods and Thinking

    • Giordano Bruno’s Changing of Default Positions
      (pp. 13-18)

      Ut Peripateticorum similiumque philosophantum sensus a principiis perinde se habeat atque puerorum: quos eodem instituendos ordine suscipimus, quo nos optima mater erudiit natura.

      Sic […] mons peramoene Cicadae,

      […] blandiri tua lumina sancta recordor.

      Ut fueras hedera, et ramis redimitus olivae

      Et corni, et lauri, et myrthi, rorisque marini,

      Castanea circumcinctus, quercu, populo, ulmo,

      Coniugio uviferae vitis felicibus, utque

      Ruvida porrexit tenerae manui manus uvam,

      Indice distencto dixti mihi: respice ad austrum,

      Respice germanum mihi ab illa parte Vesevum.

      Germanus meus, ille tibi quoque vult bene: credis?

      Si te illuc mittam, nunc dic: vis ire? manebis

      Cumque illo posthac. Vitreis...

    • The Measurement of the Immeasurable. Divine Mind and Mathematical Structures in Giordano Bruno’s De triplici minimo et mensura
      (pp. 19-34)

      “A threefold gift produced out of the coffer of my poverty is offered here to you, thrice noble prince.”² With these deferential words, Giordano Bruno dedicated his late Latin work, the so-calledFrankfurt Trilogypublished in 1591, to the Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig and Lueneburg. At first glance, this may look like a rhetorically pleasing dedication to present a book consisting of three parts to a patron ‘trebly praised.’ However, when the reader follows up the explanation, it becomes clear that Bruno’s offer (his “poor threefold gift”), in its way, is unusually generous; for theFrankfurt Trilogytries to...

    • “…per speculum et in aenigmate…”
      (pp. 35-62)

      Thinking through images: this is, in every respect, the central theme in Giordano Bruno’snova filosofia, running throughout his Latin as well as his Italian works. InEroici furori, the last and in many ways the most fascinating of the Italian dialogues, theitinerarium mentis ad deumof the “furioso” is depicted by a magnificent gallery of images which are described in words rather than printed as xylographic images (according to the typical Renaissance taste). However, his Latin works are characterized by the presence of, and systematic recourse to, images in their proper sense that directly shed light on the...

    • Platonic Caverns and Epicurean Worlds
      (pp. 63-88)

      “Like criminals accustomed to the darkness, who, when freed from some dark tower, go out into the light, many of those trained in the common philosophy, and others too, will become frightened and awestricken, and being unable to endure the new sunlight of your clear conceptions, will become disturbed.”² Bruno’s dialogueDe la causa, prinicipio e unobegins with these words, spoken by Elitropio, which literally means ‘the one who turns towards the sun.’ With the purpose of attacking³ the short-sightedness—indeed, the blindness—of his contemporaries, Bruno often employs Plato’s allegory of the soul that lives in a cave...

  6. PART 2 Experience and Vision of a New Cosmic Order:: Giordano Bruno’s Natural Philosophy

    • De immenso et innumerabilibus, I, 3 and the Concept of Planetary Systems in the Infinite Universe. A Commentary
      (pp. 91-106)

      Dispositio synodorum ex mundis in universo. Distinctio inter astra lucentia per se et per aliud. Cur planetae, qui sunt circa alios soles, non videntur.

      Ut solem hunc circa Tellus, Luna, aliger Hermes,

      Saturnus, Venus, et Mavors, et Juppiter errant,

      et numerus fasso major, nam caetera turba

      partim pro vicibus, partim non cernitur unquam,

      sic circum fit quemque alium: nam lege necesse est

      naturae, flammas fomentum sumere ab undis.

      Maximu’ quando hic vult circum undique multa minora

      mutuum, ut vires immittant, atque remittant

      proficuas; ubi conveniens distantia pacem

      conciliat; nam de adversis vita atque nutrimen

      devenit, harmonicis quia seposita intervallis


    • Atom, Matter, and Monade
      (pp. 107-120)

      Giordano Bruno’s view of matter has been studied by several scholars,² and two significant views can be identified. One of these theses is stated, for instance, by Tocco,³ the other by Védrine.⁴ Tocco identifies a turn in Bruno’s view between his early works (De la causa, 1583) and his late work in Frankfurt (1591)—a turn from the conception of substance in the Italian work, leading gradually to the conception of the atom in the late Latin work.⁵ Védrine, on the other hand, states that Bruno retains his conception of matter as the substrate of substance—in contrast with the...

    • Giordano Bruno and the Relativity of Time
      (pp. 121-130)

      For me, reading Bruno’s thoughts about time was one of the most astonishing experiences. This is the reason I have chosen to present these excerpts here. Miguel Ángel Granada has written a wonderful paper on the concept of time in Giordano Bruno’s work.² Milič Čapek has already translated into English some excerpts of Bruno’sCamoeracensis Acrotismusin one of his books.³ However, whereas Čapek locates Bruno’s thinking on time somewhere between absolutist and relational theories, Granada seems to consider it a theory of absolute time, which is related to the Newtonian one.

      My astonishment relates to the fact that, three...

    • Giordano Bruno and the New Order of Nature between Copernicus and Galilei
      (pp. 131-148)

      Smitho: Di grazia fatemi intendere che opinione avete del Copernico. Teofilo: Lui avea un grave, elaborato, sollecito, e maturo ingegno: uomo che non è inferiore a nessuno astronomo che sii stato avanti lui, se non per luogo di successione e tempo; uomo che quanto al giudizio naturale è stato molto superiore a Tolomeo, Ipparco, Eudoxo, e tutti gli altri, ch’han caminato appo i vestigii di questi: al che è dovenuto per essersi liberato da alcuni presuppositi falsi de la comone et volgar filosofia, non voglio dir cecità. Ma però non se n’è molto allontanato: per che lui più studioso de...

  7. PART 3 Forms of Non-Conformity:: Bruno’s Works as Literary Texts

    • The Comic and Philosophy: Plato’s Philebus and Bruno’s Candle-bearer
      (pp. 151-158)

      In Paris, Bruno launched the Italian phase of his literary career with a comedy. He wanted an explicitly comic register to govern the world’s first taste of his philosophy. It is an overture in every sense, which anticipates several key aspects of his thought and at the same time outlines the general principles of his poetics. The hermeneutics of Silenus, which characterize the entire corpus of dialogues, already formulated inCandle-bearer. In order to see how the mechanism controls the functioning of the model, we must start with the comic.

      First of all, it is necessary to deal with the...

    • The (In)discreet Presence of Machiavelli in Giordano Bruno’s Candelaio
      (pp. 159-178)

      Sanguino: Or lasciamo queste parole da vento: vengamo al fatto nostro—Era un tempo che il leone e l’asino erano compagni; et andando insieme in peregrinaggio convennero che al passar de fiumi si tranassero a vicenna: com’è dire, che una volta l’asino portasse sopra il leone, et un’altra volta il leone portasse l’asino. Avendono dumque ad andar a Roma, e non essendo a lor serviggio né scafa né ponte, gionti al fiume Garigliano, l’asino si tolse il leone sopra: il quale natando verso l’altra riva, il leon, per tema di cascare, sempre più e più gli piantava l’unghie ne la...

    • Bruno’s Cabala: Satire of Knowledge and the Uses of the Dialogue Form
      (pp. 179-196)

      Giordano Bruno’s fifth and shortest dialogue—Cabala del cavallo pegaseo con l’aggiunta del asino cillenico—may be best understood if we begin with its end, putting the cart before the horse (or rather before the ass): The dialogue ends with theAsino cillenico, a short dialogue within the dialogue. In this text, an ass demands to be admitted to the Pythagorean academy. When asked why he has this strange desire—strange even for a talking ass—, he replies that he wants the excellence of his philosophy recognized “a fin che non siano attesi gli miei concetti, e ponderate le...

  8. PART 4 Reflections of an Intellectual Burning:: Bruno’s Reception and Literary Afterlife

    • The Dialectic of the Absolute Beginning. On a Copper Engraving in Heinrich Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae
      (pp. 199-220)

      Bruno’sDe la Causais, in general terms, an explication ofLiber de Causis, influenced by Proclus, in which the question about the first cause is answered by maintaining that the first cause is principally unknowable, since a cause is only conceivable as a cause in contrast to its effects. Since our thinking itself is dependent upon the first cause, we ourselves can only conceive of ourselves in this secondary position and are accordingly unable to grasp the first cause in itself. As Bruno expresses this fact, we can gain “no other knowledge from the first principal and from the...

    • A Catholic Reader of Giordano Bruno in Counter-Reformation Rome: Athanasius Kircher, SJ and Panspermia Rerum
      (pp. 221-236)

      In 1601, the Roman Inquisition added “all the writings” of Giordano Bruno,omnia scripta, to itsIndex of Prohibited Books. Although the phraseomnia scriptasounded decisive, it also reflected an uncomfortable fact: the philosopher’s inquisitors were still uncertain about what, and how much, he had actually written in his troubled, well-traveled life. The search for his published work had dragged his trial for heresy in Rome into a seven-year ordeal, and even so, Giordano Bruno’s condemnation to death for “obstinate and pertinacious heresy” in 1600 drew mostly from verbal testimony given during the course of his trial rather than...

    • From Paris to Rome, Hamburg and London. Aspects of the Afterlife of Giordano Bruno in the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 237-248)

      The excerpt selected for this volume comes from the second edition of the musical dramaGiordano Bruno ou le Chevalier errant de la philosophie. The text and two of its copies are loquacious witnesses to the movements and migration of ideas surrounding the afterlife of Giordano Bruno. The changes from the first to the second edition result from the encounter of the author with the early twentieth-century political and religious realities of the figure of the philosopher. Furthermore, the two copies used for this paper migrated from France to Italy, Germany, and England, together with a Brunian library of circa...

  9. PART 5 Visibility of the Invisible:: About the Sculpture Giordano Bruno by Alexander Polzin [2008]

    • Flame and Wood. A Speech on the Occasion of the Unveiling of a Giordano Bruno Monument in Berlin
      (pp. 251-256)

      Mysterious are the ways of artists. What might make a young Berlin-based sculptor anno Domini 2008 honor the philosopher Giordano Bruno with a sculptural monument? You quickly realize, when talking to Alexander Polzin that this cannot just have been about commissioned art. The lonely Dominican monk must have pulled him in with a great force of attraction. It is quite possible that Bruno reminded Polzin of the cosmic loneliness of mankind in the endlessness of space; a certain nerve of his will have been tweaked. Otherwise, he would not have journeyed to Nola, a small town within seeing distance of...

    • Color plates of the statue
      (pp. None)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 257-260)
  11. Index Nominum
    (pp. 261-266)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-267)