Monday, September 08, 2008

Book spotlight: Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic by Ingrid D. Rowland

From the New Scientist review

WE OFTEN lump Galileo and Giordano Bruno together, since the Inquisition persecuted both for heresy. But Bruno was no orthodox scientist. He preached about an infinite universe and flirted with inventing calculus, but also talked of magic, flying around with cherubs, and atoms as universal sperm. In lush writing that delves as deep into the sewers and prisons of Renaissance cities as into Bruno's philosophy, Ingrid Rowland details the bizarre intellect of her vitriolic, uncompromising hero. Little wonder that, while cagey Galileo lived, Bruno burned at the stake.
And from the Discover review

The 16th-century Italian philosopher (and former Catholic priest) Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for a stubborn adherence to his then unorthodox beliefs—including the ideas that the universe is infinite and that other solar systems exist. Art historian Ingrid Rowland vividly recounts Bruno’s journey through a quickly changing Reformation-era Europe, where he managed to stir up controversy at every turn. Having a habit of calling schoolmasters “asses,” Bruno was jailed in Geneva for slandering his professor after publishing a broadsheet listing 20 mistakes the man had made in a single lecture.

Bruno’s adventures in free thought ended when the Roman Inquisition declared him “an impenitent, pertinacious, and obstinate heretic,” to which he characteristically replied, “You may be more afraid to bring that sentence against me than I am to accept it.” In 1600 the inquisitors stripped Bruno naked, bound his tongue, and burned him alive. At least his universe survived.
And for a full review of this "the first full-scale biography of Bruno in English" see this New Yorker article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, Giordano Bruno. I may check this book out -- I have an interest in Bruno because he was a key figure in medieval mnemonics. I love the history of mnemonics...

- Wesley Dodds