Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Bruno, Giordano: Renaissance Philosophy

Born: 1548, Nola, near Naples/Italy
Died: February 17, 1600, Rome/Italy
  • Fabrizio MeroiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_343-1


Giordano Bruno is one of the most important philosophers of the Renaissance. His thinking is characterized, on one hand, by a very close relationship with tradition, from which it veers markedly in several essential aspects, but to which it also owes a great debt; on the other hand, it presents some highly original features that, taken together, constitute the mainstay of a new concept of man and a new world view. Bruno’s criticism of tradition has three main objectives: Aristotelian philosophy (of which he rejected both the idea of matter as pure power without act, and that of a finite world structured in rigid hierarchies), the Christian religion (in particular several fundamental dogmas, and more generally the passive and defeatist attitude of the faithful who entrust themselves totally to divine will), and humanistic culture itself (of which he primarily rejects the celebration of man, based on an ontological peculiarity that distinguishes man from all other beings). Bruno’s thought – also linked in many ways to tradition, especially pre-Socratic philosophy and Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy – is based instead on the idea of matter itself as generator of forms, the primary source of life and of all that exists; on a cosmological vision that conceives of an infinite universe in constant motion; on a concept of man that while not acknowledging any specificity of a substantial nature, exalts his practical skills to the highest degree, the ethical aspects and the civil vocation (also through the development of disciplines such as mnemonics and natural magic); finally, on a concept of religion, able to maintain the unbridgeable distance between the human and the divine, but at the same time, encouraging the formation and preservation of forms of solid and fair society.


Sixteenth Century Christian Religion Humanistic Tradition Aristotelian Tradition Philosophical Dialogue 
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Primary Literature

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Literature and PhilosophyUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly