Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/31

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28
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RENAISSANCE

dary of the universe, as motionless. He believed the planets to be enclosed in a series of concentric permanent spheres. But notwithstanding this he prepared the way for a radical change in the theory of the universe. Facts which apparently rested on the direct evidence of sense perception and were supported by the most famous authorities must now be regarded as discredited! We must awaken to the fact that the system of things which constitutes the universe admits of a different interpretation from the apparent demands of sense perception.

4. Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) is at once the most profound and the most courageous thinker of the renaissance period. Strongly influenced by the philosophy of antiquity and accepting the theories discovered by Cusanus and Telesius, he found a real foundation for his theory of the universe in the new astronomy, as elaborated by Copernicus and later by Tycho Brahe.

Born at Nola in southern Italy, Bruno entered the Dominican order in his early youth. He was soon charged with heresy. His active mind and restive spirit could not endure the rigid monastic discipline. He fled the cloister, discarded the monastic garb and began a wandering career of study and travel, which took him to Switzerland, France, England and Germany. He appears in the capacity of teacher in Toulouse, Paris, Oxford and Wittenburg; but nowhere did he find a permanent position. This was due in part to the opposition of the traditional schools, and in part to his restless disposition. But despite his wanderings he found time to write his ingenious works, among which the Italian dialogues, published in London 1584, deserve special mention. He never regarded reconciliation with the Catholic church