La reivindicacion de la filosofia en Giordano Bruno.
Barcelona: Herder Editorial, 2005. 285 pp. index. append. [euro]17.79. ISBN: 84-254-2384-8.
Miguel Angel Granada's scholarship on the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) concentrates on theology, political thought, natural philosophy, and their interactions. His new book elaborates and builds on previous studies (Giordano Bruno. Universo infinito, union con Dios, perfeccion del hombre  and the introduction to the critical edition of G. Bruno, Eroici Furori/Des Fureurs Heroiques, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1999), as it centers on the very concept of "philosophy," its social and intellectual function, and its relations with both the classical and the scholastic tradition. The aim of the book is to shed light on the "radical conflict" between Bruno's militant ideas and those advocated by the sixteenth-century followers of Aristotle and defenders of traditional natural philosophy (the "pedants" in Bruno's terminology). The underlying idea is that Bruno sought to reclaim--the reivindicacion in the title--the fundamental nature of the philosopher against what he interpreted as a fraud perpetrated by Aristotle and Scholasticism.
This main theme is developed in seven chapters, starting with Bruno's self-fashioning as a philosopher and the aims of his mission. Granada outlines Bruno's arguments against the idea that philosophy is subordinate to theology and, ultimately, to religious authorities. Instead, Bruno envisaged a distinction between religion and philosophy. Religion is conceived as moral and political law and its role is to provide balance and social justice, while philosophy is concerned with knowledge, truth, and virtue. In contrast, the confusion between religion and philosophy leads to social and political instability, and on this point Bruno could easily refer to the Lutheran reform, the Catholic reaction, the wars in France, and the religious clashes in the rest of Europe. In this respect, a radical reform of philosophy is shaped by a practical necessity deriving from the current affairs of European society. Granada pays considerable attention to ancient and medieval sources, some of them as unexpected as Socrates and Dante (chap. 3), but also--and possibly more importantly--Jewish and Islamic philosophical traditions. From thinkers such as al-Farabi, Averroes, and Maimonides, Bruno inherited the concept of philosophy as independent from religion and theology, so that his libertas philosophandi is envisaged as a reaction to the "confusion of the Christian society" (23). In philosophy this state is represented by the "pedants," Bruno's literary embodiment of the narrow-minded scholastic academics. To him, this dogmatic defense of the Aristotelian vulgata represents the opposite of "true" philosophy, which is conceived as the highest intellectual activity, the means for human perfection and "platonic" happiness. This is the union with God, man's ultimate goal to be realized within God's creature, the infinite nature as necessary product of his omnipotence--or, as Granada puts it, "Bruno reclaims Philosophy and argues that the infinite universe and its relation to a complete and necessary explication of God paves the way to true moral principles" (215). These issues are further investigated in the following chapters on the basis of terminological and intellectual continuities. Averroes's doctrine of man, for instance, inspired Bruno's final attitude in front of the Inquisition; Lucretius's De rerum natura and its account of Epicurean physics and ethics are echoed by the literary self-portrait in the Italian dialogue La cena delle ceneri and in the Latin poem De immenso, where they are also linked to the "revolt" against scholastic Aristotelian cosmology (96-106); Maimonides's Guide of the Perplexed is used by Bruno to shape new relations between philosophy and religion.
Granada offers a truly substantial and multifaceted portrait of Giordano Bruno's idea of "what is philosophy." His book provides new and valuable information about crucial issues of Renaissance and early modern philosophy, presenting Bruno's arguments on morality, cosmology, and political theology in the light of a broader historical and intellectual context ranging from the Middle Ages to the end of the early modern era. Finally, Granada's attention to detail and scholarly discussion adds greatly to the readability of the text and the reconstruction of Bruno's philosophy.
University College London
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|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2006|
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