Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/36

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33
BRUNO

if not always actually (secondo l’atto). The ultimate source of all things consists of a Being which transcends the antitheses of Matter and Form, potentiality and reality, body and mind. In so far as this ultimate source is conceived as something distinct from the universe it is called “Cause,” in so far as it is conceived as actively present in natural phenomena it is called “Principle.” The Deity is not a far distant being; it reveals its presence in the impulse towards self-preservation and it is more intimately related to us than we are to ourselves. It is the soul of our soul, just as it is the soul of nature in general, which accounts for the all-pervasive interaction throughout universal space.

The culmination of thought likewise marks its limit, because we are incapable of thinking without antitheses. Every conceptual definition imposes certain limitations; the infinite Principle is therefore incapable of definition. Theology must forever remain a negative science, i.e. a science which eliminates the limitations and antitheses from the concept of Deity. The only significance which positive theology can have, i.e. a theology which undertakes to express the infinite Principle by definite predicates, is practical, didactic and pedagogic. It must address itself to those who are incapable of rising to a theoretical contemplation of the universe. God is indeed more highly honored by silence than by speech.

d. The ideas described above are characteristic of the most important period of Bruno’s philosophical development. It is possible however (with Felice Tocco, in his valuable treatise Opera latine de G. Bruno, 1889) to distinguish an earlier and a later period in his development. During the first period Bruno’s philosophy had somewhat of a Platonic character, in that he regarded general ideas