[6.8.2] Tommaso Campanella on Natural Magic

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 magic:

  • Magic is knowledge.
  • Magic can be divine, natural, and deceitful&diabolical.
  • Spiritus historically depends on knowledge.
  • Magician historically depends on knowledge.
  • Magician is role of human.

The following OntoUML diagram on magic.

Campanella on magic:
ClassDescriptionRelations
Spritus“Campanella, however, took it on himself to reinterpret this tradition in light of his doctrine of the sense of things and of the spiritus.
[…]
Natural magic, by means of its body of knowledge, is able to produce specific alterations in the mobile and tenuous spiritus, which is capable of submitting to and receiving any impression.
[…]
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.”
Knowledge“Natural magic, by means of its body of knowledge, is able to produce specific alterations in the mobile and tenuous spiritus, which is capable of submitting to and receiving any impression”historicalDependence with Magician;
Magic“Magic is a wisdom that is at the same time speculative and practical, that applies its own body.
[…]
As Pliny the Elder hadnoted (Natural History, XXX.i-ii), magic, an ancient form of wisdom of Persian origin, is constructed from the convergence of threedoctrines: religion, that purifies the soul and imprints faith, honorand reverence on the souls of those toward whom the magical operationis directed; medicine, that makes it possible to understand the powersof herbs, stones and metals; and, finally, astrology, a knowledge ofwhich is indispensable for producing well-timed actions by selectingthe most favorable disposition of the stars. Magic is a wisdom that is at the same time speculative and practical, that applies its own body of knowledge to works that are useful to humankind.
Beyond these deceits, that are believed to be genuine solely by the masses and that turn out to be “useless fictions”, the nucleus of the book is natural magic. On the one hand, it is connected to the arts and sciences: all wondrous inventions appear at first to be the result of magical operations, until their true causes are discovered. On the other hand, its particular sphere is the knowledge of unusual and arcane events.”
DivineMagic“Magic is a wisdom that is at the same time speculative and practical, that applies its own body of knowledge to works that are useful to humankind. It can be divided into three types: divine [magic], natural, deceitful and diabolical.
[…]
Essential both for divine and natural magic is a genuine faith, which requires purity of heart and an intrinsic adherence on the part of the soul to the divinity. Such faith, which renders human beings divine, confers on them the capacity to perform operations on things and transform them according to their own desires (Del senso delle cose, pp. 221–22, 226–29). “
subkind of Magic
NaturalMagic“Magic is a wisdom that is at the same time speculative and practical, that applies its own body of knowledge to works that are useful to humankind. It can be divided into three types: divine, natural [magic], deceitful and diabolical.
[…]
Essential both for divine and natural magic is a genuine faith, which requires purity of heart and an intrinsic adherence on the part of the soul to the divinity. Such faith, which renders human beings divine, confers on them the capacity to perform operations on things and transform them according to their own desires (Del senso delle cose, pp. 221–22, 226–29). “
subkind of Magic
Deceitful&Diabolical MagicDeceitful & diabolical magic: “At the opposite pole to divine magic is the type that is playful and deceitful, thanks to which charlatans skillfully produce effects that stupefy ignorant people. These swindlers cause a leg to burst into flames, though in truth the leg is artificial; they place a nail in their eye and another in their mouth, pretending that it has passed from one to the other; they seem to be pierced by fake daggers and swords; and, using the laws of optics, they make it possible to see distant images.”subkind of Magic
Magician “The basic passions are pain and joy, love and hate, hope and fear. The magician is someone who has the ability to act on these passions by employing herbs, phrases, actions and anything else that might be suitable. This person will know how to increase bodily powers, suggesting foods, drinks, climates, sounds, herbal and animal remedies that aid and strengthen vital energies and counseling against anything that has to do with putrefaction and death.”role of Human
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.”

Sources

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

First published: 6/1/2023

[6.6.1] Pierro Pomonazzi on Miracles

Pietro Pomponazzi (1462–1525) in the work On Incantations, “undermines the use of demonic and supernatural explanations for sublunary phenomena”.

  • Particulars can be: natural and preternatural particulars
  • Demons are subkind of preternatural particular
  • Manifest cause; occult power; and indirect cause are behind the causes of wondrous effects
  • Demon’s knowledge is a component demon
  • Human knowledge is subkind of demon’s knowledge and the component of a particular human
  • Sublunary particulars are earthly objects.
  • Natural particulars are celestial and sublunary bodies.

The following OntoUML diagram shows the main structure of Pomponazzi’s model:

Pomonazzi on miracles
ClassDescriptionRelations
ParticularA particular
PreternaturalParticularThe work is presented as a response to the question: How would Aristotelians explain what “seems to be beyond the order of nature” (praeter nature ordinem) or, in other words, what seems preternatural? The category of preternatual, which included diseases and strange, seemingly irregular phenomena, formed the subject matter of numerous early modern philosophical inquiries (see Daston 2000)subkind of Particular
Demon“Yet, Pomponazzi contended that Aristotelians should not use demons to explain these wondrous events. In Pomponazzi’s view even if demons exist, a premise that Aristotle did not admit according to Pomponazzi’s interpretation of Metaphysics Lambda, they would not be able to affect the sublunary world because they would not have adequate knowledge of its particulars.”subkind of Preternatural Particular
HumanKnowledgeHuman knowledge
Demon’sKnowledgeDemons’ knowledge of sublunary particulars must derive either through essences or from sensation and phantasmata (i.e., mental images). Knowledge through essences, however, does not provide knowledge of singulars but only universals and species. Moreover, knowledge from sensation and phantasmata entails generation, corruption, and corporeality, properties which cannot belong to demons (1.1). […]
Demons’ lack of knowledge of natural particulars is merely one reason they cannot be the cause of wondrous sublunary events. Citing Augustine, Pomponazzi contended that all theologians hold that while demons can directly move bodies from one place to another they cannot alter them directly but must do so through natural bodies. Yet, Pomponazzi rejected the likelihood that demons affect change by applying active powers to passives, just like humans imperfectly do when they apply medicines. For Pomponazzi, this understanding of demonic action is untenable because it requires that demons use sensible material substances, which would be detectable. Presumably demons must carry these substances in pillboxes and bags, all of which is contrary to experience (1.2). Finally, he concluded that it is superfluous to suppose demonic influence “because we can save these kinds of experiences through natural causes” (1.3). Accordingly, the first half of On Incantations posits hypothetical natural causes of preternatural experiences in an attempt to show the inadequacy and superfluity of demonic explanation. Pomponazzi presented his conclusions as part of a process that leads closer to the truth, arguing that “sciences develop through steps” (scientiae enim fiunt per additamenta) (9.1). He likened this process to changes in legal codes, whereby better laws replace older inferior ones, admitting that his solutions should be accepted only while there are no preferable alternatives (Peroratio.1).”
subkind of HumanKnowedge
CauseOfWondrousEffectsThree causes of wondrous effects: “Employing doctrines key to natural magic, Pomponazzi put forth three potential ways that natural causes could explain wondrous effects”characterizes Preternatural Particular
ManifestCause; OccultPower;
IndirectCause
Employing doctrines key to natural magic, Pomponazzi put forth three potential ways that natural causes could explain wondrous effects:
directly through manifest causes, such as heat and cold; through occult qualities or powers; or indirectly [indirect causes] through vapors and spirits that had been altered by such powers (3.1–3; Copenhaver 2015: 272–84). In support of these explanations, citing Albertus Magnus, Marsilio Ficino, Pliny, and unnamed botanists, he maintained that herbs, stones, minerals, and animal extracts possess nearly countless occult powers and that if we knew them it would be possible to reduce those effects that the unlearned attribute to demons and angels to the actions of these occult powers. In support of the existence of these occult powers Pomponazzi described experiences with herbal medicines, magnets, electric rays (torpedines), and remoras—fish that allegedly could halt ships with the power of their mouths—experiences, all verified as true by respected authorities (3.2–3). […]
Applying these causes, Pomponazzi explained that many of those accused
of necromancy, like the medieval physicians and astrologers Pietro d’Abano and Cecco d’Ascoli, were merely very knowledgeable and capable of applying actives to passives (4.1). Moreover, it is possible that some humans possess extraordinary occult powers that allow them to affect cures through touch, like the kings of France, or to perform other marvelous feats such as charming snakes and opening doors without touching them (4.2). 
Pomponazzi argued that the powers of imagination can produce real effects. For example, he cited the widespread belief that women’s thoughts at the time of conception will produce a fetus that is similar to those thoughts.
Therefore, the power of fascination and imaginative powers transmitted
through vapors might explain unexpected cures and diseases just as
they are supposedly responsible for the spread of leprosy and plague”
subkind of CauseOfWondrousEffects
NaturalParticularNatural particulars are celestial and sublunary bodies.subkind of Particular
SublunaryParticularA particular sublunary body is an earthly object.subkind of NaturalParticular
ParticularHumanA particular humansubkind of SublunaryParticular

Sources

  • Martin, Craig, “Pietro Pomponazzi“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

First published: 05/11/2022