Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/37

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34
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RENAISSANCE

as the highest object of knowledge and the universe as an emanation from Deity (De umbris idearum, 1582). But his ideas apparently mean something different from the universal concepts (as in Plato). He seems rather to regard them as laws which describe an actual relationship (e.g. between the different parts of the body).—The last period, as is evident from the De triplici minimo (1591), is noteworthy for its emphasis on the individual elements of being between which this actual relationship obtains. Sensory objects consist of parts notwithstanding the apparent continuity perceived through sense perception. Bruno calls the ultimate, irreducible (or first) parts atoms, minima or monads. There are various classes of monads, and he even calls the universe and God monads, when speaking of them as units.

The distinctions between Bruno’s three points of view—the theory of Ideas, the theory of Substance, and the theory of Monads—however are simply matters of degree.

e. Bruno’s ethics conforms with his general theory of the universe. His Spaccio de la bestia trionfanta (1584) evaluates human virtues according to a new standard. Its dominant characteristic is the prominence given to the desire for truth and to honest toil. Every correct evaluation presupposes truth, and toil is the natural consequence of the task imposed upon man, not merely to follow nature, but to bring forth a new, higher order of nature, that he may become lord of the earth. In the Degli eroici furori (1585) Bruno describes the heroic man as one who is aware that the highest good can only be realized through strife and suffering, but who never despairs, because pain and danger are evils only from the viewpoint of the world of sense, not from the viewpoint of eternity (ne l’occhio del eternitade). The possibilities