Saturday, March 15, 2014

Science lesson for the day from the good people at Cosmos - 

"Magic is good and licit."

On Giordano Bruno - From the definitive text on Bruno:

These seem to be mainly philosophical points , but, as Mercati has pointed out, the interrogations very rarely raise philosophical or scientific points and are concerned mainly with theological queries, matters of discipline, his contacts with heretics and heretic countries, and the like. 3

Since Bruno in his final refusal to recant anything included all that he had ever said or written, the final sentence may have included the many and various points in all the interrogations over the years of imprisonment, as well as the eight points, whatever these were exactly. Caspar Scioppius who witnessed the death of Bruno and may have heard the sentence read out at the time, gives a very mixed list of points for which he was condemned; that there are innumerable worlds; that magic is a good and licit thing; that the Holy Spirit is the anima mundi; that Moses did his miracles by magic in which he was more proficient than the Egyptians; that Christ was a Magus. 4 There are others, equally incoherent. The fact is that we do not have enough evidence (the processo being lost) from which to reconstruct Bruno's trial and condemnation. 1

If the movement of the earth was one of the points for which Bruno was condemned, his case in this respect is not at all the same as that of Galileo who was made to retract his statement that the earth moves. Galileo's views were based on genuine mathematics and mechanics; he lived in a different mental world from Giordano Bruno, a world in which “Pythagorean intentions” and “Hermetic seals” played no part, and the scientist reached his conclusions on genuinely scientific grounds. Bruno's philosophy cannot be separated from his religion. It was his religion, the “religion of the world”, which he saw in this expanded form of the infinite universe and the innumerable worlds as an expanded gnosis, a new revelation of the divinity from the “vestiges”. Copernicanism was a symbol of the new revelation, which was to mean a return to the natural religion of the Egyptians, and its magic, within a framework which he so strangely supposed could be a Catholic framework. 2

Thus, the legend that Bruno was prosecuted as a philosophical thinker, was burned for his daring views on innumerable worlds or on the movement of the earth, can no longer stand. That legend has already been undermined by the publication of the Sommario, which shows how little attention was paid to philosophical or scientific questions in the interrogations, and by the writings of Corsano and Firpo, laying stress on Bruno's religious mission. The present study has, I hope, brought out even more clearly the fact of the mission and its nature, and has also emphasised that the philosophy , including the supposedly Copernican heliocentricity, belonged to the mission. Completely involved as he was in Hermetism, Bruno could not conceive of a philosophy of nature, of number, of geometry, of a diagram, without infusing into these divine meanings. He is thus really the last person in the world to take as representative of a philosophy divorced from divinity.

YATES, FRANCES A. (2014-01-14). Giordano Bruno & Hermetic Trad (Selections) (Kindle Locations 8864-8882). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

So, why did Cosmos spend such time on a person who taught that "magic is a good and licit thing"?

By the way, Bruno may have "set up" Galileo. Yates observes:

Galileo accepted the movement of the earth on entirely different grounds from Bruno, yet it is rather curious to notice that the Dialogo dei due massimi sistemi del mondo (1632) is, in its literary form , not unlike the Cena de le ceneri. The hide -bound Aristotelian in Galileo's dialogue is represented by Simplicius, called after one of Aristotle's commentators, the name also being chosen for its suggestion of “simpleton”, and the argument takes place in the presence of two noblemen, Francesco Sagrado and Filippo Salviati, in Sagrado's palace in Venice. If for Francesco Sagrado is substituted Fulke Greville, at whose house in London the Copernican debate described by Bruno is supposed to have taken place, and for Filippo Salviati is substituted Philip Sidney, the Venetian gathering corresponds quite closely to the London gathering, with its knights, its pedants, and its philosopher— the latter now not Bruno but Galileo. Galileo is transposing the great debate on the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems of the universe to a rational and scientific level, but the setting in which he places it is strangely reminiscent of that earlier debate on a Pythagorean and Hermetic level. 2 Had Galileo read the Cena de le ceneri?

Galileo was in Padua from 1592 onwards (very soon after the time that Bruno was there) and he was on intimate terms with Pinelli and used his collections. 1

One wonders whether the use which Bruno had made of Copernicanism might have raised in the inquisitorial mind the idea that there might be something else behind Galileo's support of the movement of the earth.

YATES, FRANCES A. (2014-01-14). Giordano Bruno & Hermetic Trad (Selections) (Kindle Locations 8929-8943). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

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