Evans’ Experientalism, Athenaeum Reading Room

Giordano Bruno, a collective hallucination?

Claudio D'Antonio

Since many years the works of this dominican monk are being studied by prominent academicians all over the world, but the results must be very poor if an illustrious professor of the Ohio State University has arrived at the conclusion that probably he was simply mentally sick and therefore entitles his article “The folly of Giordano Bruno”. There is no evidence that he had any first hand knowledge of the Copernicanism, so his alleged influence in the formation of the modern thought is not seriously grounded and his opinions about religion are just a mystical pantheism, so the fire that burnt him did not cause a great loss to mankind. However brutal such a point of view may look to sensitive souls, if Bruno has been only what is normally accepted, i. e. a pretended philosopher with a limited originality, it really seems that his only merit has been the acceptance of the martyrdom, in order to become an important topic in juvenile anticlericalism.

But maybe that the number of his fans have a good reason for maintaining the greatness of Giordano Bruno, that they perceive even in they can’t grasp onto it. In fact from the apparent folly a powerful method comes out, the Art of Arts, he defined it, that is the Art of Thinking, or the Artificial Intelligence Method. Continuing the tradition of the Art of Memory, inherited from the classical antiquity, and the studies on Logic and Dialectic that had greatly progressed owing to Pietro Ispano and Raimondo Lullo, he achieved a synthesis that consists of a language for thinking, made of images, in substitution of the natural language used for communicating made of sounds. In the books that he wrote in latin – the language of science until a couple of centuries ago, just like Englisk nowadays – he treats the rules of the grammar and syntax of this language that Leibniz called “lingua characteristica” that is made of images, from the Greek word character – image:
The use of images instead of sounds gives evidence and clearness to the mental processes, stimulates the memory and vehiculates a quantity of informations that sound cannot take with itself.
Being scientific books they are hard to be read because they contain many neologisms and the aimed target seems not indicated clearly enough for the modern reader. Yet Bruno puts right in the title of his writings the mention of the “arts”, we would rather call them techniques, that he is going to expose. And their names are well known to the people who happened to open a book of rhetoric at least once in their life. Ordo and Dispositio, that is the order in which the topics are to be treated, Iudicium, that is the conclusion of the discourse, Memoria, that is the art of remembering the entire speech and reading it not from a piece of paper, but from the proper Locus Memoriae, place of memory. Nevertheless this is an imaginal language, so articles, prepositions, adverbs, logic ties between the different parts of the discourse can be represented only by images and by their reciprocal position in space. As this is a language for thinking, its function is mainly to guide the thought to a specific result, the truth, that emerges in all evidence at he end of the process. For this reason the Inventio is not only the search of whatsoever arguments in favour of a specific theses, but is linked to the test of their logical validity as well.

The above mentioned techniques are exposed in Giordano Bruno’s work that he collectively names Clavis magna, the Great Key, because this teaching is the key that opens the coffer which contains the treasures of the Intellect, the Nous, as Plato and Aristoteles named the upper faculty of the human mind. But for us this work discloses the meaning of Bruno’s latin works up to now out of reach for our understanding.
Many academicians believe that the Clavis Magna has never been written, or if it was, it has been lost. On the contrary it has always been under their eyes under the title of De Imaginum Compositione[1], Sigillus Sigillorum[2], Lampas triginta Statuarum[3] and some other books that need not to be quoted here. The reason why the author did not care about giving full evidence to his invention lies in the fact that he wanted to raise the curiosity of his readers and then personally choose the students who deserved to be taught the Art of Thinking. For this reason he declared that he had made an invention to be considered greater than the discovery of America, because it is the source of numberless further inventions that can be made by the people who know his Artificial Intelligence.

[1] Translated into Italian by Claudio D'Antonio and published with the title of “The First Book of the Clavis Magna” i. e.”Il Primo Libro della Clavis Magna”, Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 1997
[2] Translated into Italian by Claudio D'Antonio and published with the title of “The Second Book of the Clavis Magna”, i. e. “Il Secondo Libro della Clavis Magna
[3] Translated into Italian by Claudio D'Antonio and published with the title of “Il Quarto Libro della Clavis Magna” Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 2002