[6.8.1] Tommaso Campanella the Sense of Things (Sensus)

Tommaso Campanella (Stilo, 1568–Paris, 1639) in Del senso delle cose e della magia naturale (On the Sense of Things and On Natural Magic) wrote about the sense of things:

  • The “natural world as a living organism, whose individual components partook of life, vitality and sensibility
  • The World is component of space.
  • Space is a component of matter.
  • Matter is component of the body.
  • Sensus characterizes Body
  • Celestial body, light, mineral, animal are subkinds of body.
  • Metal is subkind of mineral, human is subkind of animal, characterized by freedom.
  • Brain is a component of animal, spiritus is component of brain.
  • Mens is subkind of spiritus.

The following OntoUML diagram on sensus.

Campanella on sensus
ClassDescriptionRelations
“In this treatise Campanella set out his vision of the natural world as a living organism, whose individual components partook of life, vitality and sensibility.”
World“In this treatise Campanella set out his vision of the natural world as a living organism, whose individual components partook of life, vitality and sensibility.”characterizes Life, Vitality, Sensibility
SpaceSpace is defined as “a primary substance or seat or immobile and incorporeal capacity, able to receive any body.”componentOf World
MatterWithin space God places mattercomponentOf Body
Sensus“The central notion in the treatise is that of sensus (sense), which is directly connected to the principle of self-preservation. Every being [body] displays a tendency toward the conservation of its own life and for this purpose is endowed, in varying proportions, with sense. This consists of the capacity to distinguish that which is positive and conducive to its life, and is consequently to be pursued and sought after, from that which is perceived as negative and destructive, and consequently to be shunned and avoided.”characterizes Body
CelestialBody;
Light;
Animal
“Some entities such as celestial bodies and light possess a sense that is much sharper and purer than that of animals”subkind of Body
Mineral;
Metal
“Others such as minerals and metals have a sense that is more obtuse and obscure, due to the heaviness of matter.”subkind of Body; subkind of Mineral
Animal“When dealing with animals and human beings, Campanella underlies affinities as well as differences. He takes delight in producing evidence of the extraordinary capacities of animals. Furnished with sense organs that in some cases are superior to those of humans, animals are able to achieve wondrous and ingenious things; they adopt forms of collective organization; they know how to make use of medical and military arts; moreover, they are endowed with a form of reasoning, of language, of natural prophecy and even of religion. These analogies should not, however, obscure or cast doubt on the excellence of the human condition. Humans are furnished with a spiritus that is far more refined and pure than that of animals; it is able to move with agility within more spacious brain cells, enabling humans to develop more complex chains of argument”subkind of Body
Human“Proud of his medical knowledge (among his works is one entitled Medicina, made up of eight books and published in Lyons in 1635), here and in other treatises Campanella delighted in highlighting the wondrous structure of the human body and its parts, revealing how the functions and purposes specific and particular to individual organs harmonize in the marvelous order of the totality and confirm the presence of divine craftsmanship in every fiber of natural reality
[…]
Humans do not exhaust all their capacities within the frame of the natural world. They can project themselves by means of thought and desire toward the infinite. They are able to go beyond the limits of natural self-preservation and turn themselves toward higher goods and ends. They are able to go beyond the limits of natural self-preservation and turn themselves toward higher goods and ends.”
subkind of Animal
Brain“Humans are furnished with a spiritus that is far more refined and pure than that of animals; it is able to move with agility within more spacious brain cells, enabling humans to develop more complex chains of argument”componentOf Body
Spiritus“In animal organisms vital and cognitive functions depend on the spiritus. Hot, mobile and passive, it is identified with the organic soul. Rejecting the distinctions made by Galen between various abstract faculties, Campanella states that the spiritus is singular and has its seat in the brain, from where, flowing through very subtle nerve channels, it accomplishes its multiple functions, both vital and cognitive. By means of the sense organs, it comes into contact with external reality; all passions and cognition derive from the modifications that it undergoes. Every sensation is a form of “contact” on the part of the spiritus, that enters into a relation, via various sense organs, with the exhalations, motions and light coming from external objects.”characterizes Body
Mens“Humans are furnished with a spiritus that is far more refined and pure than that of animals; it is able to move with agility within more spacious brain cells, enabling humans to develop more complex chains of argument. The authentic and radical difference between animals and humans, however, consists in the fact that the latter are endowed, not only with a spiritus, but also with an immaterial mens (mind) of divine origin, that constitutes and is the basis of their specific makeup. subkind of Spiritus
FreedomFreedom: “Above all, humans are free. In contrast to what happens to animals, who are unable to disengage themselves from the demands of the senses, humans can repel the compulsion of the passions in order to make choices that go beyond simple practical advantage and the immediate satisfaction of needs. Humans can resist the siren song, as did Ulysses who tied himself to the stake of reason”.characterizes Human

Sources

  • Ernst, Germana and Jean-Paul De Lucca, “Tommaso Campanella“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

First published: 1/1/2023

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