[6.9.4] Bruno on Philosophy and Religion  

Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) wrote about philosophy and religion:

  • The Universe aggregates human beings, among others.
  • Philosophy characterizes human being.
  • Religion characterizes human being

The following OntoUML diagram shows Bruno’s model of philosophy and religion:

Giordano Bruno wrote about philosophy and religion
Universe“The universe was perfect. It could not be otherwise. It was, essentially, a bodily manifestation of God. Nothing in the universe, however “mean”, was “unconducive to the integrity and perfection of what is excellent”.member of
HumanBeing“Soul and body are components of a human being
PhilosophyPhilosophy and religion were, so to speak, two parallel paths, suited to different audiences”characterizes
Religion“Philosophy and religion were, so to speak, two parallel paths, suited to different audiences.
Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (in one phase of his career) and other Renaissance authors had held similarly “Pelagian” views that philosophy led to self-perfection and “deification”. Yet they had stopped well short of denying the integrity of Christianity. Philosophy and religion were, so to speak, two parallel paths, suited to different audiences. Bruno
had no such scruples. Philosophy—Bruno’s philosophy of God as immanent in an infinite universe as announced in The Ash Wednesday Supper—was the true bread of life. It
“illuminated the blind”, “loosed the tongue of the dumb”, “cured the lame”, so that the human spirit could once again “progress” (BOI I, 454). Its powers, that is, were miraculous, Christ-like, salvific. By contrast, Christianity was fraudulent. Under a thin veil of irony, all the while denying the irony, Bruno praised the various guises under which Christianity taught that ignorance of the natural world led the soul to God. Among its many deceits were: scriptural injunctions to acknowledge our ignorance, notably, the Pauline theme of folly; the ascetic mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and mystics generally; claims that the light of faith and revelation were superior to human knowledge; Augustine’s emphasis on the fallen nature of mankind, particularly the corruption of knowledge innate to it; injunctions to be childlike and meek; and the humility and obedience that the Christian clergy sought to instill among its flock (BOI II, 381–384, 415, 418, 422–430, 443–448; BOL I.2, 316). The philosopher should ignore these “foolish dreams” (BOL I.3, 200)—in practical as well as in intellectual endeavor. To be virtuous was to strive against adversity, to embody a coincidence of opposites. “Where opposites meet, there is order, there resides virtue” (BOI II, 549). Who deserved praise the more: someone who healed a worthless cripple, or a man who liberated his homeland or who reformed, not a mere body, but a mind (BOI II, 264–267)? In other words, who was the true savior: Christ or Bruno?”


  • Knox, Dilwyn, “Giordano Bruno“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

First published: 2023/03/11

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