It is indeed an astonishing story, the life of Giordane Bruno. He did dare to defy the Roman Inquisition, and paid the price for this. To read about this life today still amazes. His commitment and beliefs remain an inspiration, and still make one pause and reconsider the world, for they remain relevant as a critique . Here are a few extracts to ponder:
Michael White The Pope and The Heretic The True Story of Giordane Bruno, the Man Who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition Perennial An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers London 2003 (first pub. 2002)
He who desires to philosophize must first of all doubt all things. He must not assume a position in a debate before he has listened to the various opinions, and considered and compared the reasons for and against. He must never judge or take up a position on the evidence of what he has heard, on the opinion of the majority, the age, merits, or prestige of the speaker concerned, but he must proceed according to the persuasion of an organic doctrine which adheres to real things, and to a truth that can be understood by the light of reason. Giordano Bruno
For too long the egos of men had been soothed by what they had wanted to believe
Leonardo da Vinci was originally a supporter of Aristotle, until he began to conduct his own experiments and to learn, as Bacon had done before him, that what the Greek philosopher said about the world was in obvious conflict with experience.
Ours is a time during which we assume automatically the future will be more progressive, more enlightened, than the past, that we will know more and understand more tomorrow and still more the day after tomorrow. In our age, the past receives only lip service. But the Renaissance, as glorious and important as it undoubtedly proved to be, was a period during which thinkers viewed the past and the future in a way diametrically opposed to that of modern intellectuals. People of the Renaissance looked back upon past ages and saw a more sophisticated culture; theirs was a conviction that the ancients had access to a pool of knowledge and a unity of knowledge far superior to their own.
The Renaissance embodied the concept of fusing seemingly disparate disciplines, and the intelligentsia of the sixteenth century thought the same way about the occult. Many philosophers delighted in amalgamating ideas from the Hermetic tradition with natural philosophy, art, poetry, the study of language, rhetoric, medicine, music, even architecture and engineering in an attempt to produce a dynamic that could lead to great revelation.
There is no absolute up or down as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of the 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. Giordane Bruno 1584
For Bruno, Copernicus, Horus of Egypt, Shiva, and the sun could coalesce, conjoin, and offer up miracles. And for him, none of this diminished humankind; on the contrary, such an idea energized and invigorated, expanded and enlarged our importance in the universal scheme.
. . . he added . . . the "art of memory."
During the entire sweep of human history up to the invention of the printing press, a prodigious memory was highly prized.
. . .
The art of memory (mnemonics) . . .,
Even so, Bruno believed he could make the authorities understand him, force them to
accept his ideas. In this respect he was either absurdly naive or possessed by his own
ego, blind to the realities of human nature and the forces he was facing.
. . . he still thought that intellect could overwhelm fear and prejudice . .
I conceive of three attributes: power, wisdom, and goodness; or, mind, comprehension, and Love. Things are through mind, they are ordered and are distinct through the intellect; they are in harmonious proportion through universal love, in all and above all.
. . . Distinctions in the divinity are made by the method of Discursive Thought and are not reality. Bruno in evidence to the Venetian Inquistion 2 June 1592
Bruno again: All things, souls and bodies, are immortal as to their substance, nor is there any other death than dispersion and reintegration.
. . . the Word was neither Creator nor created, but intermediate between the Creator and the creature, just as the spoken word is the intermediary between the speaker and the meaning he (Arius) sets forth.
As Bruno would have it, the universe is infinite, and as one. We are all one another. Everything is everything else.
For more Bruno quotes, see: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/giordano_bruno.html