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Giordano Bruno and Renaissance science
Gatti, Hilary.
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Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1999.
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x, 257 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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Q143.B795 G37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno was a notable supporter of the new science that arose during his lifetime; his role in its development has been debated ever since the early-17th century. In this work, Hilary Gatti re-evaluates Bruno's contribution to the scientific revolution, in the process challenging the view that now dominates Bruno criticism among English-language scholars. This argument, associated with the work of Frances Yates, holds that early modern science was impregnated with and shaped by Hermetic and occult traditions, and has led scholars to view Bruno primarily as a magus.

Author Notes

Hilary Gatti is Associate Professor at the Universita di Roma "La Sapienza."

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Ever since Frances Yates's Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964), Bruno has been presented in English-language scholarly books as more a hermetic philosopher or magician than a forerunner of modern science. With this book, Gatti, a professor at the Universita di Roma "La Sapienza," brings Bruno back to the realm of modern science by showing that, like many early scientists, he was in both worlds. Gatti also shows that Bruno was a strong proponent for the emerging new way of examining the world. She does so by closely examining Bruno's mathematical approach to cosmology and comparing it with the approach of other natural philosophers such as Corpernicus and Kepler. She also reviews his contribution to mathematics and the role he felt it had in understanding the world. Concluding with a look at Bruno's writings on how to approach knowledge, Gatti shows how his concepts would later be called science. This insightful academic work helps recast Bruno in a significant role in the history of science. Recommended.¬ĎEric D. Albright, Duke Medical Ctr. Lib., Durham, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In an erudite exegesis of Bruno's works designed to refute Francis Yates's interpretation of Bruno as an occult hermetic philosopher (Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, 1964), Gatti places Bruno in the mainstream of contemporary science, responsive more to Pythagoras and Copernicus than to Hermes Trismegistus. Only a handful of scholars will be able to critically access this abstruse piece of historiography. Indirectly, the work evokes the fascinating world of contemporary natural philosophy, intellectually and socially in flux in the second half of the 16th century. It illuminates William Gilbert and his science in addition to detailing Bruno's complex worldview and philosophy. While claiming Bruno as something other than a Renaissance magus, Gatti does not directly address, contra the "Yates Thesis," the role of Hermeticism in Bruno's work. A more serious flaw is that she links Bruno to epistemological and methodological crises in science today. Although Gatti denies that Bruno anticipated today's quantum mechanics and other 20th-century notions, her repeated references to Einstein, Heisenberg, Roger Penrose, and others, even as analytical crutches, are misguided and misleading. Graduate students; faculty. J. McClellan III Stevens Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Part I Beyond the Renaissance Magus
1. "The Pythagorean School and Our Own": Bruno and the Philosopher from Samosp. 13
2. Discovering Copernicusp. 29
Part II Toward a New Science
3. Reading Copernicus: The Ash Wednesday Supperp. 43
4. Beyond Copernicus: De immenso et innumerabilibusp. 78
5. Bruno and the Gilbert Circlep. 86
6. The Infinite Universep. 99
7. The Infinite Worldsp. 115
8. "The Minimum Is the Substance of All Things"p. 128
9. Epistemology I: Bruno's Mathematicsp. 143
10. Epistemology II: Picture Logicp. 171
11. Alienation and Reconcilationp. 204
12. An Afterword: The Ethics of Scientific Discoveryp. 219
Bibliographyp. 239
Indexp. 251