Upsetting an upside-down world: Bruno’s reassessment of Aristotelian infinity
Keywords:Bruno, Aristotle, infinity, morals, substance, mode, relation, privation
Between 1584 and 1585, during his stay in London, Bruno published six dialogues in Italian in which he expounded the bulk of his philosophy in a unitary way. Scholars unanimously agree that these six installments can be divided thematically into two distinct parts: the first three present the new cosmology and its ontological and theological principles, while the last three deal with the moral, political and ethical consequences that follow from the former. Thus, the third dialogue, On the Infinite, is the bridge where the passage from the cosmological to the moral sphere takes place. The dialogue presents itself as an open refutation of the Aristotelian finite cosmos. In it, Bruno argues that Aristotle’s main error lies in his rejection of the infinity of the universe. However, if we pay attention to the causes that Bruno deems to motivate such rejection, we will see that these ultimately coincide with the cognitive biases that lead to the assumption of moral universalism. This paper aims to prove that contrary to the established belief Bruno’s critique of morality is not a consequence of his cosmological view but rather that the latter derives from the former. That will cast new light on Bruno’s criticism of Aristotle’s moralized infinity and provide us with a firm criterion for interpreting some of the more idiosyncratic aspects of his cosmology.
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