Stanley Jaki, OSB, on Giordano Bruno

Enseignement de la géométrie, 1300-1349. Bibliothèque nationale de France. ark:/12148/btv1b10575603j

Father Stanley L. Jaki, OSB (1924-2009) was an Hungarian Benedictine priest and one of the most decorated and well-respected scientists of his generation. For more information on his life and works, please see:

Below is an excerpt from Fr. Jaki on Giordano Bruno.

The Road of Science and the Ways to God

Stanley L. Jaki, OSB. The road of science and the ways to God. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 2005.

[Giordano] Bruno was burnt at the stake on the morning following Ash Wednesday, 1600, not because of his cosmology but because of a pantheism which systematically preempted of meaning every tenet of the Christian faith. He certainly was not a martyr of behalf of Copernicus, to whose science he paid only lip service. Of its spirit Bruno possessed little if any. The briefest proof of this is in The Ash Wednesday Supper, where Bruno decries reliance on what he so tellingly called the “file of geometry.” His hostility to geometry and his self-defeating dabbling in it, as displayed in the diagrams of the same work, bespeak his instinctive realization that the clarity and precision of geometry were irreconcilable with the obscurantist vagueness of his pantheistic cosmology. […]

One can only assign to a fear of metaphysics the failure of so many historians of science to see, first, that Bruno offered not science but a most virulent antiscience and, second, that the mainspring of his antiscience was his resolve to eliminate all specific distinctness from the universe. Like all pantheists, Bruno knew that cosmic singularities attested most effectively the point that instead of being divine the world bespoke its divine Maker. Curiously, even a pantheist like Goethe could perceive about Bruno what many historians of science after him failed to point out, namely, that the few phrases of Bruno that could qualify as scientific gems were hidden in a heap of dung, his prolific discourses steeped in Hermetic mysticism. No wonder that the century of genius, free of an agnosticism which blinds one to the difference between gems and dung, cared not a whit for Bruno’s science, a point still to be aired in full.

Sharon Kabel
Sharon Kabel
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