Natural Philosophy and Theology

  • Markus Fierz


CARDANO ATTEMPTS to conceive of the world as a unified whole. In accordance with the idea of unity of the terrestrial and the celestial, of the physical and the spiritual world he believes in a single vital principle: the “World-soul.” At the same time he is greatly impressed by the profusion of phenomena that he perceives in the world and that he wishes to include in his extensive knowledge. It seems to him that a single principle cannot account for the wealth of diverse forms of which he is continually aware. Instead, many principles must exist. Clearly, the old dialectic of “the one and the many” is very much part of his thinking. Anyone studying Cardano’s philosophy of nature ought to read De Natura first, as Cardano himself advises in the list of his works, De libris propriis. Closely related to De Natura is De Uno. Both works were probably written around 1560, but De Natura was not printed until the publication of Spon’s edition of the Opera.


Symbolic Mathematic Immaterial World Infinite Speed Mathematical Writing High World 
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  1. 1.
    Opera I, pp. 277-282; first printed in Basel in 1562 in a volume containing mainly Somniorum Synesiorum libri IV.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Opera II, pp. 283-289.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See J. C. Margolin, “Cardan, interprète d’Aristote,” in Platon et Aristote à la Renaissance (Paris, 1976).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Festugière, La Révélation d’Hermes Trismégiste (Paris, 1949), volume 2, p. 370 ff.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Markus Fierz, “Über den Zufall,” in Spectrum Psychologiae, Festschrift für C. A. Meier (Zurich and Stuttgart, 1965).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    This apparently means: because the leap from the finite to the infinite is too great.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ernest Renan, Averroès et l’Averroisme (Paris, 1861), especially chapter 3. J. C. Margolin, Platon et Aristote à la Renaissance (Paris, 1976).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Printed in 1562 in the volume containing Somniorum Synesiorum libri, De Libris propriis, etc.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    It was published in a volume entitled Opus Novum de Proportionibus Numerorum... in V libros digestum praeterea Artis Magnae liberimus etc.... (Basel: Henri Petri, 1570). The title was apparently supplied by the publisher, since the Liber de Proportionibus only consists of one book, which Cardano designated as the fifth volume of his mathematical corpus.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    T. R. Witmer, The Great Art, Preface, p. XVII.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    If a n is the age-reserve after n years, thenGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    This viewpoint was shared by David Hilbert who said: “To deny the mathematician his ‘tertium non datur’ would be like denying a boxer the use of his fists.”Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See page 110.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    I think that this sentence ought to be deleted; therefore, I put it in parenthesis.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See page 61.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nicolai de Cusa, Trialogus de possest; Dreiergespräch über das “Können-Ist”. ed. Renata Steiger (Hamburg, 1973), p. 55.Google Scholar
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    Cited after F. A. Scharf, Nicolaus v. Cusa wichtigste Schriften. (Freigburg i. Br., 1862), p. 123.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ibid, p. 123.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    One is reminded of Faust II, act I:... Um sie kein Ort, noch weniger eine Zeit.... Gestaltung, Umgestaltung Des ewigen Sinnes ewige Unterhaltung. [... No place, still less a time around them.... Formation, transformation Eternal mind’s eternal entertainment.] Since Goethe devoted a separate and very sympathetic chapter to Cardano in the Materialien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre, it seems certain that he perused his works. It is well known that in such perusals, even in a mere leafing through of something, Goethe absorbed many things he found congenial.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Fierz
    • 1
  1. 1.KüsnachtSwitzerland

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