Giordano Bruno

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There was in me, whatever I was able to do, that which no future century will deny to be mine, that which a victor could have for his own: Not to have feared to die, not to have yielded to any equal in firmness of nature, and to have preferred a courageous death to a noncombatant life.

Giordano Bruno (1548February 17 1600) was an Italian monist philosopher, astronomer, satirist, occultist, mystic, and martyr, who was burned at the stake as a heretic; born Filippo Bruno, in Nola, Italy, he often called himself Il Nolano (The Nolan).

Quotes[edit]

Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.
The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.
If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom...
Take comfort, the time will come when all men will see as I do.
  • Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato.
    • If it is not true it is very well invented.
    • De gl' heroici furori (1585) [The Heroic Furies; also translated as On Heroic Frenzies], as quoted in A Book of Quotations, Proverbs and Household Words (1907) edited by Sir William Gurney Benham
    • Variant translations:
      If it is not true, it is well conceived.
      If it is not true, it is a good story.
  • Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam.
    • Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.
    • Variant translations:
      Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it.
      It may be you fear more to deliver judgment upon me than I fear judgment.
      You pronounce sentence upon me with greater fear than I receive it.
  • Since I have spread my wings to purpose high,
    The more beneath my feet the clouds I see,
    The more I give the winds my pinions free,
    Spurning the earth and soaring to the sky.
    • As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, in The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429
  • That I shall sink in death, I know must be;
    But with that death of mine what life will die?

    Across the air, I hear my heart's voice cry:
    Where dost thou bear me reckless one? Descend!
    Such rashness seldom ends but bitterly'
    "Fear not the lofty fall" I answer "rend
    With might the clouds, and be content to die,
    If God such a glorious death for us intend."

    • As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, in The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429.
  • Chi vuole che la quaresima gli paia corta, si faccia debito per pagare a Pasqua.
    • Candelaio, Act IV, Scene XVII. — (Lucia.)
    • Translation: He who wants Lent to seem short, should contract a debt to be repaid at Easter.
    • Translation reported in Harbottle’s Dictionary of quotations French and Italian (1904), p. 275.
  • The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.
    • As quoted in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 - 1600 (1913) by Coulson Turnbull
  • There are countless suns and countless earths all rotating round their suns in exactly the same way as the seven planets of our system. We see only the suns because they are the largest bodies and are luminous, but their planets remain invisible to us because they are smaller and non-luminous. The countless worlds in the universe are no worse and no less inhabited than our earth. For it is utterly unreasonable to suppose that those teeming worlds which are as magnificent as our own, perhaps more so, and which enjoy the fructifying rays of a sun just as we do, should be uninhabited and should not bear similar or even more perfect inhabitants than our earth. The unnumbered worlds in the universe are all similar in form and rank and subject to the same forces and the same laws. Impart to us the knowledge of the universality of terrestrial laws throughout all worlds and of the similarity of all substances in the cosmos! Destroy the theories that the earth is the centre of the universe! Crush the supernatural powers said to animate the world, along with the so-called crystalline spheres! Open the door through which we can look out into the limitless, unified firmament composed of similar elements and show us that the other worlds float in an ethereal ocean like our own! Make it plain to us that the motions of all the worlds proceed from inner forces and teach us in the light of such attitudes to go forward with surer tread in the investigation and discovery of nature! Take comfort, the time will come when all men will see as I do.
    • As quoted in The Discovery of Nature (1965), by Albert W. Bettex.
  • Nature is none other than God in things... Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion.
    • As quoted in Elements of Pantheism (2004) by Paul A. Harrison.

The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584)[edit]

Time is the father of truth, its mother is our mind.
La cena de le ceneri (1584)
  • A constellation of the most pedantic, obstinate ignorance and presumption, mixed with a kind of rustic incivility, which would try the patience of Job.
    • Declaration about the scholars of England, particularly those of Oxford.
  • He was a man of grave and cultivated mind, of rapid and mature intelligence; inferior to no preceding astronomer, unless in order of succession and time ; a man, who in natural ability was far superior to Ptolemy, Hipparchus, Eudoxus, and all those others who followed in their footsteps. What he was, he became through having liberated himself from certain false axioms of the common and vulgar philosophy — I will not say blindness. Nevertheless, he did not depart far from them ; because, studying mathematics rather than Nature, he failed to penetrate and dig deep enough altogether to cut away the roots of incongruous and vain principles, and thus, removing perfectly all opposing difficulties, free himself and others from so many empty investigations into things obvious and unchangeable. In spite of all this, who can sufficiently praise the magnanimity of this German, who, having little regard to the foolish multitude, stood firm against the torrent of contrary opinion, and, although well-nigh unarmed with living arguments, resuming those rusty and neglected fragments which antiquity had transmitted to him, polished, repaired, and put them together with reasonings more mathematical than philosophical ; and so rendered that cause formerly contemned and contemptible, honourable, estimable, more probable than its rival, and certainly convenient and expeditious for purposes of theory and calculation? Thus this Teuton, although with means insufficient to vanquish, overthrow, and suppress falsehood, as well as resist it, nevertheless resolutely determined in his own mind, and openly confessed this final and necessary conclusion : that it is more possible that this globe should move with regard to the universe, than that the innumerable multitude of bodies, many of which are known to be greater and more magnificent than our earth, should be compelled, in spite of Nature and reason, which, by means of motions evident to the senses, proclaim the contrary, to acknowledge this globe as the centre and base of their revolutions and influences. Who then will be so churlish and discourteous towards the efforts of this man, as to cover with oblivion all he has done, by being ordained of the Gods as an Aurora — which was to precede the rising of this Sun of the true, ancient philosophy, buried during so many centuries in the tenebrous caverns of blind, malignant, froward, envious ignorance; and, taking note only of what he failed to accomplish, rank him amongst the number of the herded multitude, which discourses, guides itself, precipitates to destruction, according to the oral sense of a brutal and ignoble belief, rather than amongst those who, by the use of right reason, have been able to rise up, and resume the true course under the faithful guidance of the eye of divine intelligence.

Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)[edit]

Blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
Deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
Crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
Will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
Will not place the veil before my eyes,
Will never bring it about that I shall not
Contemplate my beautiful Sun.
De la Causa, Principio e Uno (1584) [Various translations]
Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • Cause, Principle, and One eternal
    From whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
    And which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
    To whatever is in Heaven, on Earth, and Hell
    ;
    With sense, with reason, with mind, I discern,
    That there is no act, measure, nor calculation, which can comprehend
    That force, that vastness and that number,
    Which exceeds whatever is inferior, middle, and highest;
    Blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
    Deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
    Crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
    Will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
    Will not place the veil before my eyes,
    Will never bring it about that I shall not
    Contemplate my beautiful Sun.
    • "Of Love" as translated in The Infinite in Giordano Bruno : With a Translation of His Dialogue, Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One (1978) by Sidney Thomas Greenburg, p. 89
    • Variant translation:
    • Cause, Principle and One, the Sempiterne,
      On whom all being, motion, life, depend.

      From whom, in length, breadth, depth, their paths extend
      As far as heaven, earth, hell their faces turn :
      With sense, with mind, with reason, I discern
      That not, rule, reckoning, may not comprehend
      That power and bulk and multitude which tend
      Beyond all lower, middle, and superne.

      Blind error, ruthless time, ungentle doom,
      Deaf envy, villain madness, zeal unwise,
      Hard heart, unholy craft, bold deeds begun,
      Shall never fill for one the air with gloom,
      Or ever thrust a veil before these eyes,
      Or ever hide from me my glorious sun.

      • As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429.
  • It is manifest... that every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity... The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe... Naught is mixed, yet is there some presence.
    Anything we take in the universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • The universal Intellect is the intimate, most real, peculiar and powerful part of the soul of the world. This is the single whole which filleth the whole, illumineth the universe and directeth nature to the production of natural things, as our intellect with the congruous production of natural kinds.
  • We find that everything that makes up difference and number is pure accident, pure show, pure constitution. Every production, of whatever kind, is an alteration, but the substance remains always the same, because it is only one, one divine immortal being.
  • The Universe is one, infinite, immobile. The absolute potential is one, the act is one, the form or soul is one, the material or body is one, the thing is one, the being in one, one is the maximum and the best... It is not generated, because there is no other being it could desire or hope for, since it comprises all being. It does not grow corrupt. because there is nothing else into which it could change, given that it is itself all things. It cannot diminish or grow, since it is infinite.
    • As translated by Paul Harrison
This whole which is visible in different ways in bodies, as far as formation, constitution, appearance, colors and other properties and common qualities, is none other than the diverse face of the same substance...
Everything that consists in generation, decay, alteration and change is not an entity, but a condition and circumstance of entity and being...
  • This whole which is visible in different ways in bodies, as far as formation, constitution, appearance, colors and other properties and common qualities, is none other than the diverse face of the same substance — a changeable, mobile face, subject to decay, of an immobile, permanent and eternal being.
    • As translated by Paul Harrison
  • Everything that makes diversity of kinds, of species, differences, properties… everything that consists in generation, decay, alteration and change is not an entity, but a condition and circumstance of entity and being, which is one, infinite, immobile, subject, matter, life, death, truth, lies, good and evil.
    • Variant: Everything that makes diversity of kinds, of species. differences, properties, everything that consists in generation, decay, alteration and change, is not an entity, but condition and circumstances of entity and being, which is one, infinite, immobile, subject, matter, life, soul, truth and good.
Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the centre of things.
  • All things are in the Universe, and the universe is in all things: we in it, and it in us; in this way everything concurs in a perfect unity.
  • It is manifest that every soul has a certain continuity with the soul of the Universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity. The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the Universe. It is not mixed, yet is there in some presence.
  • Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • The universe comprises all being in a totality; for nothing that exists is outside or beyond infinite being, as the latter has no outside or beyond.
  • This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the centre of things.

On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)[edit]

De l'infinito universo et mondi (1584) On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1950) by Dorothea Waley Singer
What you receive from others is a testimony to their virtue; but all that you do for others is the sign and clear indication of your own.
That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me.
I pray you, magnificent Sir, do not trouble yourself to return to us, but await our coming to you.
  • When the end comes, you will be esteemed by the world and rewarded by God, not because you have won the love and respect of the princes of the earth, however powerful, but rather for having loved, defended and cherished one such as I … what you receive from others is a testimony to their virtue; but all that you do for others is the sign and clear indication of your own.
    • Dedication.
  • To a body of infinite size there can be ascribed neither centre nor boundary... Thus the Earth no more than any other world is at the centre.
  • It is then unnecessary to investigate whether there be beyond the heaven Space, Void or Time. For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this one on which we live and grow. This space we declare to be infinite, since neither reason, convenience, possibility, sense-perception nor nature assign to it a limit. In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own.
  • When we consider the being and substance of that universe in which we are immutably set, we shall discover that neither we ourselves nor any substance doth suffer death. for nothing is in fact diminished in its substance, but all things, wandering through infinite space, undergo change of aspect.
    • Introductory Epistle
  • After it hath been seen how the obstinate and the ignorant of evil disposition are accustomed to dispute, it will further be shewn how disputes are wont to conclude; although others are so wary that without losing their composure, but with a sneer, a smile, a certain discreet malice, that which they have not succeeded in proving by argument — nor indeed can it be understood by themselves — nevertheless by these tricks of courteous disdain they pretend to have proven, endeavouring not only to conceal their own patently obvious ignorance but to cast it on to the back of their adversary. For they dispute not in order to find or even to seek Truth, but for victory, and to appear the more learned and strenuous upholders of a contrary opinion. Such persons should be avoided by all who have not a good breastplate of patience.
    • "Introductory Epistle : Argument of the Third Dialogue".
  • Make then your forecasts, my lords Astrologers, with your slavish physicians, by means of those astrolabes with which you seek to discern the fantastic nine moving spheres; in these you finally imprison your own minds, so that you appear to me but as parrots in a cage, while I watch you dancing up and down, turning and hopping within those circles. We know that the Supreme Ruler cannot have a seat so narrow, so miserable a throne, so trivial, so scanty a court, so small and feeble a simulacrum that phantasm can bring to birth, a dream shatter, a delusion restore, a calamity diminish, a misdeed abolish and a thought renew it again, so that indeed with a puff of air it were brimful and with a single gulp it were emptied. On the contrary we recognize a noble image, a marvellous conception, a supreme figure, an exalted shadow, an infinite representation of the represented infinity, a spectacle worthy of the excellence and supremacy of Him who transcendeth understanding, comprehension or grasp. Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of his kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds.
  • I cleave the heavens and soar to the infinite.
    And while I rise from my own globe to others
    And penetrate ever further through the eternal field,
    That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me.
    • Variant translation: While I venture out beyond this tiny globe
      Into reaches past the bounds of starry night
      I leave behind what others strain to see afar.
  • I pray you, magnificent Sir, do not trouble yourself to return to us, but await our coming to you.
    • Third Dialogue.

The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (1584)[edit]

Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (1584)
Divinity reveals herself in all things... everything has Divinity latent within itself.
The fortune is varied, only the elements remaining what they are in substance, that same principle persevering which was always the one material principle, which is the true substance of things, eternal, ingenerable and incorruptible.
  • Divinity reveals herself in all things... everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964).
  • Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; this Nature... is none other than God in things... Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion…. To the extent that one communicates with Nature, so one ascends to Divinity through Nature.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964).
  • Those wise men knew God to be in things, and Divinity to be latent in Nature, working and glowing differently in different subjects and succeeding through diverse physical forms, in certain arrangements, in making them participants in her, I say, in her being, in her life and intellect.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964).
  • If he is not Nature herself, he is certainly the nature of Nature, and is the soul of the Soul of the world, if he is not the soul herself.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964).
  • Of the eternal corporeal substance (which is not producible ex nihilo, nor reducible ad nihilum, but rarefiable, condensable, formable, arrangeable, and "fashionable") the composition is dissolved, the complexion is changed, the figure is modified, the being is altered, the fortune is varied, only the elements remaining what they are in substance, that same principle persevering which was always the one material principle, which is the true substance of things, eternal, ingenerable and incorruptible.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)
  • Of the eternal incorporeal substance nothing is changed, is formed or deformed, but there always remains only that thing which cannot be a subject of dissolution, since it is not possible that it be a subject of composition, and therefore, either of itself or by accident, it cannot be said to die.
    • As translated by Arthur Imerti (1964)

Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus (1585)[edit]

The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life.
Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo con l'aggiunta dell' Asino Cillenico, Descritta dal Nolano [Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus with Appendix on the Cillenican Ass, Described by the Nolan] (1585)
Oh holy asininity! holy ignorance! Holy foolishness and pious devotion! You who alone do more to advance and make souls good Than human ingenuity and study...
  • The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life. The greatest asses of the world are those who, lacking all understanding and instruction, and void of all civil life and custom, rot in perpetual pedantry; those who by the grace of heaven would reform obscure and corrupted faith, salve the cruelties of perverted religion and remove abuse of superstitions, mending the rents in their vesture. It is not they who indulge impious curiosity or who are ever seeking the secrets of nature, and reckoning the courses of the stars. Observe whether they have been busy with the secret causes of things, or if they have condoned the destruction of kingdoms, the dispersion of peoples, fires, blood, ruin or extermination; whether they seek the destruction of the whole world that it may belong to them: in order that the poor soul may be saved, that an edifice may be raised in heaven, that treasure may be laid up in that blessed land, caring naught for fame, profit or glory in this frail and uncertain life, but only for that other most certain and eternal life.
  • Pray, O pray to God, dear friends, if you are not already asses — that he will cause you to become asses... There is none who praiseth not the golden age when men were asses: they knew not how to work the land. One knew not how to dominate another, one understood no more than another; caves and caverns were their refuge; they were not so well covered nor so jealous nor were they confections of lust and of greed. Everything was held in common.
  • Oh holy asinity! holy ignorance!
    Holy foolishness and pious devotion!
    You who alone do more to advance and make souls good
    Than human ingenuity and study...

On the Monad, Number, and Figure (1591)[edit]

De monade, numero et figura (1591)
  • Even to have come forth is something, since I see that being able to conquer is placed in the hands of fate. However, there was in me, whatever I was able to do, that which no future century will deny to be mine, that which a victor could have for his own: Not to have feared to die, not to have yielded to any equal in firmness of nature, and to have preferred a courageous death to a noncombatant life.

De immenso (1591)[edit]

De innumerabilibus, immenso et infigurabili, usually referred to as De immenso (1591)
The infinity of All ever bringing forth anew, and even as infinite space is around us, so is infinite potentiality, capacity, reception, malleability, matter.
Eternity maintaineth her substance throughout time, immensity throughout space, universal form throughout motion.
The single spirit doth simultaneously temper the whole together; this is the single soul of all things; all are filled with God.
  • The wise soul feareth not death; rather she sometimes striveth for death, she goeth beyond to meet her. Yet eternity maintaineth her substance throughout time, immensity throughout space, universal form throughout motion.
    • I 1.
  • Our philosophy… reduceth to a single origin and relateth to a single end, and maketh contraries to coincide so that there is one primal foundation both of origin and of end. From this coincidence of contraries, we deduce that ultimately it is divinely true that contraries are within contraries; wherefore it is not difficult to compass the knowledge that each thing is within every other.
    • As translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • The one infinite is perfect, in simplicity, of itself, absolutely, nor can aught be greater or better, This is the one Whole, God, universal Nature, occupying all space, of whom naught but infinity can give the perfect image or semblance.
    • II 12 as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950).
  • The single spirit doth simultaneously temper the whole together; this is the single soul of all things; all are filled with God.
    • IV 9; as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950).
  • Before anything else the One must exist eternally; from his power derives everything that always is or will ever be. He is the Eternal and embraces all times. He knows profoundly all events and He himself is everything. He creates everything beyond any beginning of time and beyond any limit of place and space. He is not subject to any numerical law, or to any law of measure or order. He himself is law, number, measure, limit without limit, end without end, act without form.
    • VIII 2, as quoted in The Acentric Labyrinth (1995) by Ramon Mendoza.
  • For nature is not merely present, but is implanted within things, distant from none... And while the outer face of things changeth so greatly, there flourisheth the origin of being more intimately within all things than they themselves. The fount of all kinds, Mind, God, Being, One, Truth, Destiny, Reason, Order.
    • VIII 10 as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)


Disputed[edit]

  • It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
    • Included as a quotation in The Great Quotations (1977) by George Seldes, p. 35, this appears to be a paraphrase of a summation of arguments of Bruno's speech in a debate at the College of Cambray (25 May 1588) which are not clearly presented as a direct translation of his statements:
In an inspired speech Bruno, through the interpreter, Jean Hennequin, of Paris, declared the discovery of numberless worlds in the One Infinite Universe. Nothing was more deplorable, declared he, than the habit of blind belief, for of all other things it hinders the mind from recognizing such matters as are in themselves clear and open. It was proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people. However, he cautioned that they should not be influenced by the fervor of speech, but by the weight of his argument and the majesty of truth.
  • Coulson Turnbull in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 — 1600 (1913), p. 41.
  • Heroic love is the property of those superior natures who are called insane (insano) not because they do not know (no sanno), but because they over-know (soprasanno).
    • As quoted in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), by Miguel de Unamuno, as translated by J. E. Crawford Flitch; Conclusion : Don Quixote in the Contemporary European Tragi-Comedy
    • The Italian original is from Francesco de Sanctis, Storia della letteratura italiana, 1871/1890, p. 255: "L'amore eroico è proprio delle nature superiori, dette insane, non perché non sanno, ma perché soprasanno..."

Quotes about Bruno[edit]

Bruno is the first thinker who based the soul's duty to itself on its own nature: not on external authority, but on inner light... ~ William Boulting
Bruno lost no opportunity of keeping his readers awake by the oddness of his antics... ~ William Boulting
Bruno stood at the stake in solitary and awful grandeur. There was not a friendly face in the vast crowd around him. It was one man against the world. ~ George William Foote and A. D. McLaren
The First Great Star — Herald of the Dawn — was Bruno... ~ Robert Green Ingersoll
Bruno proceeded to rethink man's relationship to the universe, to himself, and to God by the unimaginable light of countless stars. His conclusions were simply unbelievable for a late medieval mind… the presence of God not atop an empyrean throne past the threshold of the farthest stars, but inhabiting every atom of matter... ~ Bill Kuhns
Bruno and Spinoza … Each stands by himself and alone; and they do not belong either to their age or to their part of the globe, which rewarded the one with death, and the other with persecution and ignominy. …The banks of the Ganges were their spiritual home; there they would have led a peaceful and honoured life among men of like mind. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
Yates thinks Bruno may have had a role in the invention of either Rosicrucianism or Freemasonry or both. ~ Robert Anton Wilson
Bruno's teachings combined the new science of his time with traditional Cabalistic mysticism. ~ Robert Anton Wilson
  • We hereby, in these documents, publish, announce, pronounce, sentence, and declare thee the aforesaid Brother Giordano Bruno to be an impenitent and pertinacious heretic, and therefore to have incurred all the ecclesiastical censures and pains of the Holy Canon, the laws and the constitutions, both general and particular, imposed on such confessed impenitent pertinacious and obstinate heretics... We ordain and command that thou must be delivered to the Secular Court... that thou mayest be punished with the punishment deserved... Furthermore, we condemn, we reprobate, and we prohibit all thine aforesaid and thy other books and writings as heretical and erroneous, containing many heresies and errors, and we ordain that all of them which have come or may in future come into the hands of the Holy Office shall be publicly destroyed and burned in the square of St. Peter before the steps and that they shall be placed upon the Index of Forbidden Books, and as we have commanded, so shall it be done..
  • Bruno is the first thinker who based the soul's duty to itself on its own nature: not on external authority, but on inner light. … Of Bruno, as of Spinoza, it may be said that he was "God-intoxicated." He felt that the Divine Excellence had its abode in the very heart of Nature and within his own body and spirit. Indwelling in every dewdrop as in the innumerable host of heaven, in the humblest flower and in the mind of man, he found the living spirit of God, setting forth the Divine glory, making the Divine perfection and inspiring with the Divine love. The Eroici is full of the pantings of his soul for intellectual enfranchisement and contact with Truth, the divine object.... The heroic soul, says Bruno, shall seek truth and find it. The time had not then come for Pilate's question to be put again. Bruno was happily unvexed by the problem of truth... there is a view implicit in the Eroici and in all but the earliest of his philosophical writings, and this is that our truth is a progressive, ideal approximation towards that whole Truth which is one with the inmost nature of Being.
    • William Boulting, in Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom (1916) online excerpt.
  • There is a real unity underlying each of his works; but all give the impression of disorder... Bruno lost no opportunity of keeping his readers awake by the oddness of his antics; he surprises them by bombardments and unexpected raking fires. He thinks to throw each noble design, each lofty thought into relief by the dodge (not unknown to modern writers) of smart paradox… All is overdone: there is not a thought of repose. Penetrative insight, soaring observation, novel [[wisdom], severe thought have a setting of jest and jeer, clumsy buffoonery and sheer indecency.
  • The men of "sound common sense," i.e., of those snails in intellect who wear their eyes at the tips of their feelers, and cannot even see unless they at the same time touch. When these finger-philosophers affirm that Plato, Bruno, etc., must have been "out of their senses," the just and proper retort is "Gentlemen! it is still worse with you! you have lost your reason."
    By the bye, Addison in the Spectator has grossly misrepresented the design and tendency of Bruno's Bestia Trionfante; the object of which was to show of all the theologies and theogonies which have been conceived for the mere purpose of solving problems in the material universe, that as they originate in the fancy, so they all end in delusion, and act to the hindrance or prevention of sound knowledge and actual discovery. But the principal and more important truth taught in this allegory, is, that in the concerns of morality, all pretended knowledge of the will of heaven, which is not revealed to man through his conscience; that all commands, which do not consist in the unconditional obedience of the will to the pure reason, without tampering with consequences (which are in God's power and not in ours); in short, that all motives of hope and fear from invisible powers, which are not immediately derived from, and absolutely coincident with, the reverence due to the supreme reason of the universe, are all alike dangerous superstitions. The worship founded on them, whether offered by the Catholic to St. Francis or by the poor African to his Fetish, differ in form only, not in substance. Herein Bruno speaks not only as a philosopher but as an enlightened Christian; the evangelists and apostles everywhere representing their moral precepts, not as doctrines then first revealed, but as truths implanted in the hearts of men, which their vices only could have obscured.
  • Like Cusanus and Calvin, Bruno has an unknown and ineffable God. But his God is unknown not in virtue of His infinite actuality and real transcendence of the universe, but in virtue of the immensity of the universe itself and the relative disproportion between it and the human way of knowing and loving.
    • James Daniel Collins, in God in Modern Philosophy (1978), p. 22.
  • The immense laughter of Bruno when he understood that Copernicus had inverted the universe — what was it but joy in the confirmation of his knowledge that Mind, in the center of all, contains within it all that it is the center of?
  • His view with regard to morals and their relation to religion may best be seen from the following words addressed by Momus to Jove: “It will be sufficient if you put an end to that lazy tribe of pedants, who, without doing good, according to the divine and natural law, consider themselves, and wish to be considered, as religious men, agreeable to the gods, and declare that it is not by pursuing good and shunning evil that men become worthy and pleasing to the gods, but by believing and hoping according to their catechism." Elsewhere, he makes Wisdom say: “Wherefore, it is an unworthy, foolish, profane, and reprehensible thing to think that the gods demand reverence, fear, love, worship, and respect for any other good end or utility than those of men themselves, inasmuch as being perfectly glorious in themselves, and therefore unable to add any glory to themselves from without, they have made laws, not so much to obtain glory from men as to communicate glory to them. Hence, laws and judgments fall short of the goodness and truth of law and judgment, just in proportion as they fail to order and approve, above all other things, that which consists in the moral actions of men with respect to each other." I doubt whether the Society for Ethical Culture could frame a better statement of the relation between ethics and religion than this of Bruno's. Reading this, we are at no loss to understand why Bruno, though he spent some time in Geneva, and afterward in Protestant England and Germany, never became a Protestant. He appears, from recently discovered documents, to have got into considerable trouble at Geneva; and no wonder, when he puts into the mouth of Wisdom words like the following, concerning the chief reformers: “While they say that all their care is about invisible things, which neither they nor anybody else ever understood, they maintain that, in order to obtain grace, all that is required is fate, which is immutable, but which is determined by certain affections and fancies on which the gods are especially fond of feeding." Indeed, his contempt for the doctrines of the reformers, who exalted faith as all-potent for salvation and despised works and a moral life, is without bounds. His treatment of the doctrine of predestination is not only contemptuous, but funny.
    I think I need not say anything more to convince you that Bruno was one of the mighty, one of those strange, incomprehensible, pioneer geniuses that lived centuries before their time, destined, apparently, to lay out the tasks for many succeeding ages. He rose not only above the dogmas and superstitions of half-obsolete mediaeval Catholicism, but, with equal ease and firmness, above the new follies of growing Protestantism. He belongs not to the sixteenth century, but to the nineteenth, and even to the elite of it. Great in philosophy, great in science,— physical and moral, — he was greater still in practice, in life and in death. No man ever labored more or suffered more, in order to be free himself and help others to be so. No one ever met death more firmly and heroically. Among the martyrs for truth and freedom, — those first essentials of manhood, — he occupies the highest place.
    • Thomas Davidson in "Giordano Bruno", in The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429.
  • The real story of our times is seldom told in the horse-puckey-filled memoirs of dopey, self-serving presidents or generals, but in the outrageous, demented lives of guys like Lenny Bruce, Giordano Bruno, Scott Fitzgerald — and Paul Krassner. The burrs under society's saddle. The pains in the ass.
    • Harlan Ellison, as attributed in Paul Krassner, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture (1993), fore-matter in the 2012 Soft Skull Press edition.
  • Bruno stood at the stake in solitary and awful grandeur. There was not a friendly face in the vast crowd around him. It was one man against the world. Surely the knight of Liberty, the champion of Freethought, who lived such a life and died such a death, without hope of reward on earth or in heaven, sustained only by his indomitable manhood, is worthy to be accounted the supreme martyr of all time. He towers above the less disinterested martyrs of Faith like a colossus; the proudest of them might walk under him without bending.
  • Bruno — one of the greatest and bravest of men — greatest of all martyrs — perished at the stake, because he insisted on the existence of other worlds and taught the astronomy of Galileo...
  • The First Great Star — Herald of the Dawn — was Bruno... He was a pantheist — that is to say, an atheist. He was a lover of Nature, — a reaction from the asceticism of the church. He was tired of the gloom of the monastery. He loved the fields, the woods, the streams. He said to his brother-priests: Come out of your cells, out of your dungeons: come into the air and light. Throw away your beads and your crosses. Gather flowers; mingle with your fellow-men; have wives and children; scatter the seeds of joy; throw away the thorns and nettles of your creeds; enjoy the perpetual miracle of life.
  • He is one martyr whose name should lead all the rest. He was not a mere religious sectarian who was caught up in the psychology of some mob hysteria. He was a sensitive, imaginative poet, fired with the enthusiasm of a larger vision of a larger universe… and he fell into the error of heretical belief. For this poets vision he was kept in a dark dungeon for eight years and then taken out to a blazing market place and roasted to death by fire.
    • "Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher" by John J. Kessler.
  • Joyce gives the ghost guises like Saint Bruno and The Nolan of the Cabashes and Noland's brown and Nolan Browne and Bruno Nowlan and Nolans Brumans and Mr. Brown and Bruno Nolan and many others. The encyclopedic Joyce was deeply impressed by Bruno's heady coincidence of contraries, and was no doubt sympathetic to Bruno's hectic and finally tragic bouts with the Inquisition. McLuhan the Joycean scholar was certainly conscious of Joyce's debt to Bruno. But I like to think there was more: that when "Bruno Nolan" winked from one of paper sleeves, McLuhan made a recognition as if glimpsing a companion from across the centuries and winked back.
  • "History has not yet registered a stable appraisal for Giordano Bruno" writes Giorgio de Santillana in The Age of Adventure. Perceptions of Bruno were volatile enough in his lifetime; many have remained polarized to this day. Radoslav Tsanoff calls Bruno "the outstanding philosopher of the Renaissance," and Harold Hoffding cites Bruno's work as "the greatest philosophical thought-structure executed by the Renaissance." Yet Bertrand Russell despairs of crediting Bruno with philosophy at all: "There were fruitful intuitions lost in that disorder, but they had not yet reached the point of precision at which philosophy begins." The chasm of opinion dividing Bruno, even to this day, is one of the many improbables of this turbulent and exultant figure.
    • Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996).
  • In 1584, twenty-five years before Galileo lifted a telescope, Bruno took the Copernican hypothesis to the outrageous new conclusion that the sun is merely one of an infinity of stars, which stretch across boundless and inexhaustible space. It was consummate audacity to proclaim an infinite universe in the teeth of the doctrinal dogfights of the 16th century. It was yet bolder to exult in the de immenso with the bounding wonder of a poet. The prospect of our earth reduced to a turning speck in endless space was terrifying to contemplate. An ecstatic Bruno cried, "My thoughts are stitched to the stars!" and contemplated little else. With an impetuous abandon that his contemporaries found reckless and even dangerous, Bruno proceeded to rethink man's relationship to the universe, to himself, and to God by the unimaginable light of countless stars.
    His conclusions were simply unbelievable for a late medieval mind: infinite other worlds, inhabited like our own, spread throughout space; a structure to the universe of suns and clusters of suns circling in grand orbits, but no "center" except in the ground beneath two human feet; the presence of God not atop an empyrean throne past the threshold of the farthest stars, but inhabiting every atom of matter; an eternal span to matter, which can change its form but never be exhausted in any proportion; and finally a logic infinity demanded of him — an innate union of all contraries, by which evil and good, history and the future, localized humanity and an infinite universe inform and express one another...
    • Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996).
  • He was drawn to the centers of learning to announce his startling philosophy; from most he was curtly expelled... He was contradictory, capricious, often insufferable: his moods could flash abruptly from antic lampooning to raw invective, from wild exhilaration to fierce bitterness, from clownishness to a blackdog melancholy. "Gay in sorrow, sorrowful in gaiety," he said of himself, and the contraries of the tempestuous Bruno survive in his writings, where exalted and discerning passages seem to bob and dip in great waves of bombast... Controversial and largely dismissed in his lifetime, Bruno fared no better after his death. If his ideas were disputed, so was his martyrdom. For centuries, rumor and doubt shrouded the terrible fire in the Campo dei Fiore and as late as 1885 there are references to the "legends" of Bruno's burning at the stake... Only in the twentieth century has Bruno begun emerging from his long neglect into prominence.
    • Bill Kuhns in "Giordano Bruno and Marshall McLuhan" (1996).
  • [From Schopenhauer's assessments of other philosophers] Bruno and Spinoza are to be entirely excepted. Each stands by himself and alone; and they do not belong either to their age or to their part of the globe, which rewarded the one with death, and the other with persecution and ignominy. Their miserable existence and death in this Western world are like that of a tropical plant in Europe. The banks of the Ganges were their spiritual home; there they would have led a peaceful and honoured life among men of like mind.
  • The whole of Bruno's philosophy is based on his view of an infinite universe with an infinity of worlds. He conceived the universe as a vast interrelationship throughout space and time, comprehending all phenomena, material and spiritual. Thence he was led to contemplate the parts under the mode of relativity. The conception of the infinity of the universe renders meaningless the ascription to it of motion, but Bruno conceives each of the infinitely numerous worlds to be moving on its course in relation to other worlds, impelled by its own twofold nature as individual and as part of the whole. All estimates of direction, position and weight within the whole must be relative. Moreover, the cosmological system is illumined by the properties of number.
  • Burning the witch Giordano Bruno is one more wound inflicted on Christ’s body.
    • Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun (1999) “Christ” (Sequence: “Is It Possible to Write a Poem”).
  • You I admire as being more, — much more — a man, and more believer too, than half the canting orthodox.
    • Morris West, in his play about Bruno: The Heretic (1968).
  • Most historians merely mention that Bruno was charged with the heresy of teaching Copernican astronomy, but Frances Yates, a historian who specialized in the occult aspects of the scientific revolution, points out that Bruno was charged with 18 heresies and crimes, including the practice of sorcery and organizing secret societies to oppose the Vatican. Yates thinks Bruno may have had a role in the invention of either Rosicrucianism or Freemasonry or both.
    Bruno's teachings combined the new science of his time with traditional Cabalistic mysticism. He believed in a universe of infinite space with infinite planets, and in a kind of dualistic pantheism, in which the divine is incarnate in every part but always in conflicting forms that both oppose and support each other. Whatever his link with occult secret societies, he influenced Hegel, Marx, theosophy, James Joyce, Timothy Leary, Discordianism, and Dr. Wilhelm Reich.
    • Robert Anton Wilson, Everything Is Under Control : Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-Ups (1998), p. 95.

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