Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/35

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32
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RENAISSANCE

prospect forever promising new experiences and new problems.

c. Bruno elaborated his general philosophical principles, which were naturally closely related to the new world theory, in the dialogue De la causa, principio e uno (1584).

Inasmuch as the new world theory annulled the opposition between heaven and earth, Bruno undertakes the task of annulling all oppositions by means of a profounder speculation. Sharp antitheses originate in the human mind and there is no ground for ascribing them to nature. Plato and Aristotle e.g. had no warrant in objective fact for assuming a distinction between Form and Matter. There is no absolute Matter, just as there is no absolute position and no absolute time. Absolute Matter must necessarily be absolutely passive, in which case it could acquire form and development only through some external agency. But in the natural world Forms are not introduced into Matter from without, after the manner of a human artist; they originate from within by an evolution of nature’s own inherent energy. Matter is no less divine than Form and it persists in constant change even as the ancient Atomists had observed. Nature reveals a constant cycle from inorganic matter through the organic processes and back again to the inorganic. According to Bruno’s own statement, he was so profoundly impressed with this idea for a while that he was inclined to regard Forms and the spiritual factor in the universe as unessential and ephemeral. Later on however he perceived that Form and Spirit, no less than Matter, must have their ground in the infinite Principle. He admitted that everything must contain a spiritual principle, at least potentially (secondo la sostanza), even