Lyrical dialectic as historiographical discourse in the Italian dialogues of Giordano Bruno

Gilmar E Visoni-Alonzo, Fordham University


Bruno's work has been called eclectic and inconsistent, and many scholars have claimed that his ideas do not represent an actual philosophical system. The present work examines Bruno's Italian dialogues and claims that these works represent the operational nucleus of a true philosophical system. Through the Italian dialogues one can trace the development of Bruno's singular ideas and forms of philosophical discourse. The Brunonian philosophical edifice is built upon three pillars; the Atomists' idea of an infinite universe; Nicolas of Cusa's elucidation on the lack of proportion between finite and infinite; and Copernicus' postulation of a new mechanical cosmology. Bruno uses Copernican astronomy in order to make operational his notion of an infinite universe. Since Nicolas of Cusa has established that the gap between the finite and the infinite is qualitative and unbridgeable, Bruno sets out to develop a new epistemology of the infinite. In the process he will also develop a new form of philosophical discourse. Bruno's approach is twofold. Bruno wants to develop a new philosophical system, but in order to accomplish his goal, he needs to destroy the prevailing mode of philosophical discourse which, according to him, is tainted with Aristotelianism. In his quest to destroy Aristotelianism Bruno will adopt and adapt the satirical discourse of Lucian. Once the language of philosophy has been purged of its Peripatetic connotations, Bruno will build his own system by contextualizing into a new Brunonian matrix the discourse and imagery of Neo-Platonism and Italian love poetry (from the stil nuovo to Neo-Petrarchism). In his recontextualization of the philosophy of love and philosophical love poetry Bruno finds a discursive system that enables him to apprehend and explore the infinite cosmos. What Bruno develops is a lyrical dialectic that traces the unfolding of vital experiences, their enfolding into memories and their subsequent unfolding as historical consciousness. The resolution of the Brunonian dialectical process is the historical synthesis of human experience, and it is this synthesis that provides a sense of meaning, form and direction in an infinite universe that would otherwise be meaningless, shapeless and acentric.

Subject Area

European history|Philosophy|Science history

Recommended Citation

Visoni-Alonzo, Gilmar E, "Lyrical dialectic as historiographical discourse in the Italian dialogues of Giordano Bruno" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9964577.