PAUL OSKAR KRISTELLER, Vol 4, 1987 ed., pg. 634

BRUNO, GIORDANO [bru'no] (c. 1548-1600), Italian philosopher, was born in Nola. He attended school in Naples, where he entered the Dominican order at the age of fifteen. Charged with heresy in 1576, he fled and began a wandering life that took him to Geneva; to Toulouse, where he taught for two years: to Paris (1582); to London (1583), where he lived for two years in the household of the French ambassador; again to Paris; hence to Marburg, Wittenberg, Prague, Helmstedt, and Frankfurt. In 1591 he was denounced by the Venetian nobleman, Giovanni Mocenigo, and delivered to the Inquisition (1592). Bruno was imprisoned and tried, first in Venice, and subsequently in Rome. The numerous charges against him included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Upon his refusal to recant, he was sentenced to death and burned at the stake on the Campo del Fiori in Rome, Feb. 17, 1600.

Bruno's early writings include an Italian comedy (II Candrlaio, 1582), and several treaties on the theories of Ramon Lull and on artificial memory. Most important for his philosophy are the Italian dialogues written in England, and the Latin poems written in Germany. In the dialogue Deglieroici furori, Bruno follows the traditions of Renaissance Platonism in praising the "heroic" love of the infinite. His metaphysical doctrine is found in his dialogue Della causo, in which he maintains that God (the Infinite) includes or combines all attributes, whereas particular phenomena are nothing but particular manifestations of the one infinite principle. A single universal matter and a single universal form, or soul, are said to be the immediate principles of all particulars; but it is not completely clear whether or not form and matter are ultimately identical with each other or with the Infinite. Bruno's cosmology is contained in his dialogue Del infiniro. In this work he refutes the traditional Aristotelian cosmology and states that the physical universe is infinite and includes an indefinite number of worlds each consisting of a sun and several planets. The earth becomes thus a small star among the others in an infinite universe.

In his metaphysics, Bruno provided a connecting link between Cusanus and Spinoza and also exercised a direct influence on classical German idealism. In his cosmology, Bruno followed Lucretius and Copernicus, but he developed the implications of the Copernican system much further than Copernicus himself had done. More than the other Italian philosophers who were his contemporaries, Bruno deserves to be called a forerunner, if not a founder, of modern science and philosophy. In his thinking as well as in his writing he is bold and imaginative rather than precise or careful. yet his agreement with later scientific and philosophical theories that were unknown in his own time is often surprising. His tragic end has made him a martyr of philosophical liberty.