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 The Heretic

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Aaron
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PostSubject: The Heretic   Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:26 am

Interesting article...

Quote :
The Heretic

Giordano Bruno has been called a martyr to science and an occultist, but a new book argues that the brilliant philosopher's unconventional behavior did him in.

The bronze figure of Giordano Bruno that stands at the center of Rome's Campo de' Fiori may be the most successful commemorative monument in the world. The average statue in a park or square usually rates no more than a glance: Either you already know who the guy is, or you don't care. But the hooded and manacled effigy of Bruno, with its haunted stare, immediately catches the eye, and the gruesome story attached to it -- Bruno was burned at the stake in that very spot, for the crime of heresy -- cements him in memory. Practically every tourist who comes to Rome tromps through the Campo and hears that story, even if they've never heard of Bruno before. The students who commissioned the statue in the 1880s, as an emblem for freedom of thought and the division of church from state, really got their money's worth.



But who was Giordano Bruno, and why was he executed in the Campo de' Fiori in 1600? A common misperception mixes him up with Galileo, who ran into trouble with the church 16 years later for embracing the Copernican model of the solar system instead of endorsing the Aristotelian belief that the sun revolves around the Earth. (In fact, the two men shared an Inquisitor, the implacable Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, canonized by the Catholic Church in 1930.) Bruno, too, thought that the Earth circled the sun, and subscribed to many other than heterodox ideas as well: that the universe is infinite and that everything in it is made up of tiny particles (i.e., atoms), and that it is immeasurably old. But as Ingrid Rowland demonstrates in her new biography of the renegade thinker, "Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic," Bruno was no martyr for science. What got him killed was a murky mixture of spiritual transgression and personal foibles, combined with a large dose of bad luck.

Born in Nola, a small city near Naples, the precocious Bruno soon made his way to the regional capital where he became a Dominican friar, despite the fact that one of the more ecumenical Augustinian orders would probably have been a better fit. The Dominicans ran the best university, but their dry, hidebound scholasticism might have been custom-made to rub the imaginative Bruno the wrong way. Why he made this choice and did many other seemingly self-destructive or simply wrongheaded things remains something of a mystery, mostly due to a lack of documentary evidence. Even the records of his trial before the Inquisition in Rome got lost when bales of Vatican papers were carted off to France and back again during the Napoleonic Wars. Some of his surviving works feature autobiographical elements, but since these are poems or plays written in service of various philosophical and personal agendas, it's hard to know exactly which parts of them represent actual events.

One thing can't be doubted: Bruno thought most of his fellow friars were "asses"; in fact, the stupidity and incompetence of other philosophers and religious thinkers may be -- along with his own brilliance -- one of the most enduring themes in his work and life. From the beginning of his career, when he stripped images of the Virgin and saints from his cell at the convent of San Domenico Maggiore (implying that such things were idolatrous), he struck his colleagues as odd and (worse yet) "suspiciously like a Protestant." Trained in the rigorous syllogism-based reasoning of the scholastics, he soaked up the ecstatic Neoplatonic ideas of Augustinian mentors on the side. When a professor ridiculed the Arian heresy (which denies that God is divided into three persons, the doctrine of the Trinity) as "ignorant," Bruno defended the learning of its proponents (if not the heresy itself), and won himself a scolding that he considered unjust and brooded over for years.

Read on here...
http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/08/25/bruno/

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PostSubject: Re: The Heretic   Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:25 pm

Great article, thanks!
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