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Giordano Bruno After 400 Years

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the lost-treasures dept.

News 342

David Brin, famous for works such as The Transparent Society, as well as his work in science fiction, sent us a recent essay. Entitled "Giordano Bruno After 400 Years: A Pain in the Neck Who Would be Treasured Today", the piece is about Giordano Bruno (No - really?) a forgotten hero of the Renaissance era. Click below to read more.

We live in a publicity-craving era of frenetic fame-seekers. So it can be ironic to realize how some of the most celebrated people of the past somehow slipped into obscurity, even after a lifetime spent earning acclaim. Take Aldous Huxley, for example. The author of Brave new World and many other bold novels -- who also helped usher in the psychedelic era -- managed to time his death so the obituary vanished in a back corner of any newspaper that bothered to mention it at all. He did this by passing away on Nov. 22, 1963, the same day that President John F. Kennedy was shot.

Care to top that? Try this. Even as we slowly work off our hangovers and headaches from those Y2K non-events and anticlimactic "millennium celebrations" -- and while we watch the Internet undergo partial self-destruction at the hands of some of its brightest sons -- I notice on my calendar that we nearly let pass without notice the 400th anniversary of the death (on an execution pyre) of Giordano Bruno.

Giordano who?

Giordano Bruno... only one of the greatest geniuses of the later Renaissance and one spectacularly interesting fellow.

All right, few people know of him today. Tourists blink in puzzlement at his statue, now standing in the Roman square -- the Campo de Fiori -- where the Inquisition incinerated him. But his name wasn't always obscure. With a colorful personality and a flood of unconventional opinions, Bruno was a sensational figure as the 17th century drew to a close -- a prominent Renaissance thinker who, true to that complex era, mixed philosophy, religion, logic and mysticism while preaching a daring worldview that helped set the stage for what we now know as science.

Born near Naples in 1548, Bruno joined the Dominican order of monks at age 18. But soon his restless spirit and critical mind led him to question church teachings, including the notion that the heavens revolved around the Earth, forcing him to flee to Geneva, then France, England and Germany. Bruno's habit of questioning established doctrines brought him into conflict with powerful leaders of both the Catholic and Reformed churches, few of whom were known to tolerate free-thinkers.

Still, with luck and uncanny survival instincts -- and by appealing to the intellectual excitement of the time -- Bruno kept teaching unconventional views in Oxford, Marburg, Wittenberg, Prague, and Frankfurt. Eventually lured back to Italy on a pretext, Bruno was imprisoned in 1592 by the Inquisition, tried as a heretic and burned alive on Feb. 17, 1600.

It can be easy to get carried away over some of Bruno's most prescient views - for instance championing the heliocentric astronomy of Copernicus before Galileo did, then going much further to suggest that the twinkling stars in our night sky are actually suns shining on distant planets, possibly harboring other forms of life. He also held that humans might someday acquire almost godlike powers by understanding lightning and other heavenly mysteries. In that event, we might still need religion for moral guidance -- he opined -- but no longer to shape our models of the physical or biological world.

In an era transfixed by the primacy of the human image -- when great minds of the establishment insisted that the Creator must have a navel and a beard -- Bruno completely rejected the anthropocentric universe, believing instead that the Earth and individual humans are ultimately accidental products of a single living world-substance. In this, he presaged many notions of Darwinian biology.

To a modern mind, his call for tolerance and open enquiry seems especially poignant and prophetic.

Still, one does Bruno a disservice by emphasizing only the things he got right. Many of his other writings now seem silly, deliberately provocative, or just perplexingly obscure, such as his doctrine of panpsychism (belief that reality is constituted by the mind), which anticipated the teachings of Gottfried Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza... and may be echoed in today's extropian movement. He used to get into terrific rows with contemporaries over minutiae that would put most of today's philosophy professors into snoring catalepsy. (People cared deeply about such things, once upon a time.) His fascination with magic and the occult would hardly impress scientists in the year 2000, though it might lend him a New Age cult appeal.

So? The essential point -- and the reason I find this long-dead fellow's life worth noting -- is how Bruno looked around a superstitious age with eyes that were essentially modern. Even his flaming egotism and penchant for pushing other peoples' buttons would fit in well, today.

The clergy of his time weren't dummies; they had their own "grand unified theory" of how things worked and how people should behave. If we have made progress since that era, we owe it less to our improved orthodoxies than to the way we've learned to _tap_ the creative energies of those who defy the intellectual status quo, instead of killing them. Slowly, often grudgingly, society discovered that there is something to value in the rancorous, difficult, blasphemous few who gleefully challenge authority. Those who rip away the set pieces of any conservative worldview to reveal disturbing truths that lie beneath and beyond. Such people, though irksome, are also responsible for much progress in the world.

Imagine if Bruno somehow got teleported into our time -- perhaps with other standout intellects like Benjamin Franklin. One could picture him adjusting with relish to an era so enamored of flamboyant eccentrics. In a month, he would be on all the talk shows. In a year, he might have his own.

In fact, why not spin a story about that? Imagine that some future, time-traveling age will share our own fascination with exceptional men and women of the past. Suppose they reach back to grab Bruno out of his pyre at the last moment, if only to repair and then enjoy a colorfully vivid person who surged so far ahead of his time, caroming about the realm of ideas like a joyous crank, shouting at his stupefied contemporaries to _wake up!_

Not all geniuses are saintly or perfect. Some can be simultaneously offensive, delightful, in your face and profound in both their prescient visions and their spectacular errors. They are also terrifically alive.

So very alive that I feel they somehow testify for the rest of us. They help justify us, showing that humanity _must_ have a reason -- beyond mere creation or natural selection -- for being.

david brin,copyright 2/00 1000 words

==

David Brin is a scientist and bestselling novelist. His 1989 thriller Earth foresaw both global warming and the World Wide Web. A movie with Kevin Costner was loosely based on The Postman and Startide Rising is in pre-production at Paramount Pictures. Brin's non-fiction book -- The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? -- deals with threats to openness and liberty in the new wired-age. His latest novel, Foundation's Triumph, brings to a grand finale Isaac Asimov's famed Foundation Universe.

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That's Bruno, not Brunco... (2)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264199)

...actually.

Brunco? (1)

Szoup (61508) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264200)

Don't know of no Giordano Brunco.

Bruno, on the other hand...
----------------------------------------- --

Title Mispelled (1)

Giordy (35523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264201)

FYI the name on the title of the article is mispelled...please fix.

Thanks,

Giordy

Bruno, Brunco, whatever (1)

Powers (118325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264202)

What I found interesting is that a guy who was burned in 1600 "was a sensational figure as the 17th century drew to a close..."

=)

Just a little math problem, no big deal. =)

Anyway, he sounds like a good guy, but I'm not sure if he'd make it today or not. In this age of television and photographs and instant transmission of text, you have to be pretty charismatic to succeed (with few exceptions). It takes a particular personality. Maybe Bruno had it, maybe not, but clearly thought-out, potentially radical ideas are no guarantee of anything.

Ben Franklin was a good example too. He had a lot of cool ideas, but his character has been called into question in the past. You just now that in today's world, any indiscretions would be immediately pounced upon, and no one would pay attention to poor Ben's virtues.

Ah well, such is life.

panpsychism (1)

tim_three (140474) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264203)

So, maybe this guy is a figment of the collective imagination, or a time traveller from the present.

On forgotten individuals in our society.. (4)

smoondog (85133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264204)

Forgotten famous individuals are very common. Sometimes they really aren't that famous or that important on a global sense. There aren't very many REALLY special or known people, but there are an incredible amount of people who are sort of famous. Is anyone going to remember scientists such as Murray Gell Mann (coined the term "quark"), Stan Pruisner (nobel for discovering the prion) or David Ho (Time's Man of the Year a few years ago -- Aids research)? Although sad, I really don't think so.

I think that like media, the digital age is going to enhance our understanding of present day figures in the future. Just like we will watch a TV show from today that has been digitalized 20 years from now identically, we will have better access to documents and academic insights on important people of our era.

-- Moondog

Okay, I'll bite. (3)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264205)

Momentarily, we will have a large number of posts pointing out that Bruno was burned at the stake by the Roman inquisition. They will claim that this was wrong, that no one should be burned at the stake for honestly seeking truth. They will claim that this was an unconscionable sin which Jesus would have been ashamed of.

And they'd be right.

But they would also claim that this invalidates belief in Jesus. There, they would be wrong. The actions of misguided people abusing Jesus' name 400 years ago have nothing to do with my faith now -- although they do serve to point out some of the hazards awaiting those who forget the church's purpose.

Just thought I'd mention that. :) -1 here I come!

--

Bruno and his influences. (3)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264206)

I wrote a long essay on Bruno in college. One thing that is fascinating about him and remarkable for his era was his openess to ideas from non-Christian traditions - he incorporated a lot of ideas from Sephardic Judaism (especially Qabalaism) and from Islamic philosophers. This fact was one of the reasons why he was targetted by the Vatican. He got right in the crosshairs of the counter-reformation.

Sounds nice and all, but... (0)

GMontag (42283) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264207)

"His 1989 thriller Earth foresaw both global warming and the World Wide Web."

Excuse me, but HUH? That global warming psuedo science propoganda was around long before 1989. Dr. Carl Segan made an entire career out of that tripe, along with other hysteric predictions based upon baseless models and wasted supercomputer cycles.

Now, the business about forseeing the WWW, that might be something.

First Real Comment (Ha Ha) (2)

chandler (98984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264208)

I've often wondered what it would be like if we could "teleport" visionaries of previous ages to the modern era - I'm glad to see it's not just me. Would our time be unrecoganizeable (sp?) to them, or do we think too much of our technological advancements, and maybe our life _is_ basically the same. That's something only they could answer - everybody alive today has become accustomed to technology in our lives. What do you think?

It's also nice to look back on some of the visionaries that we've forgotten. It seems that before a view becomes widely accepted (heliocentrisim, in this case) it has to be touted by others first, and sadly it doesn't stick the first time around. It'll be interesting to see if the Internet can change that with freer access to other's ideas.

I apologise for the hoorrible speeling.



"The romance of Silicon Valley was about money - excuse me, about changing the world, one million dollars at a time."

Be Different, Conform (4)

JJ (29711) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264209)

While I agree that those who fundamentally tear at rules or even whole mindsets do produce the biggest advances, I disagree that we have gotten any better at tolerating non-conformity. In philosophy of science studies, the role of non-conformists has been analysed by TS Kuhn. His major publication is "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". Unfortunately, non-conformists are just as frequently burnt at the stake today as they ever were by the Inquisition. The role of the liberal arts professor nowdays, at least at the University of Chicago, is perceived as stamping out any original thought in their students, indoctrinating them with the correct viewpoints, quotables and pet phrases and even pre-arming them with dirt on the major players of opposition academic camps. It is mostly the toadies and parrots who survive and prosper amid such an education. Heretics are still burnt at the stake, but with modern methods.

Imagine if... (1)

stx23 (14942) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264210)

Imagine if Bruno somehow got teleported into our time -- perhaps with other standout intellects like Benjamin Franklin. One could picture him adjusting with relish to an era so enamored of flamboyant eccentrics. In a month, he would be on all the talk shows.
Of course he would, he somehow got teleported into our time. That man should be on *every* talk show.

Re:Okay, I'll bite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264211)

Way to preempt what everybody was about to say!

Reminds me of the "Wow, imagine a Beowulf of these!" people and the slackers who say, guaranteed, "I think it would be arrogant to think we're the only intelligent life in the universe." EVERYTIME anything about extra-terrestrial intelligence is posted.

Many of you people sure sound like a bunch of parrots.

How the hell can this be flame bait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264212)

He is RIGHT and he actually quoted from the post!

Dumbass moderators.

things haven't changed that much!!!! (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264213)

Brin, as is so often the case, you've got it precisely bass-ackwards.

Bruno wouldn't be cherished today for the crazy, creative ideas he brings out - he would be reviled if he tried to spout new and creative ideas. Anyone who tries to alter the rules of discourse from the outside (as Kuhn warned) is laughed out of the house, and so would Bruno be today. Only the people who work from WITHIN the system, as Bruno stubbornly refused to do, can actually help us make any progress. Look at great visionaries in our own time whose work is scorned, or simply sidelined by mainstream academia. (Noam Chomsky leaps to mind.)

Re:On forgotten individuals in our society.. (1)

BloodyStupidJohnson (150956) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264214)

I think Stan Pruisner definately derserves a medal for discovering pr0n. What a wonderful discovery that has touched the lives of so many.

BloodyStupidJohnson

need to be careful... (5)

MillMan (85400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264215)

The clergy of his time weren't dummies; they had their own "grand unified theory" of how things worked and how people should behave. If we have made progress since that era, we owe it less to our improved orthodoxies than to the way we've learned to _tap_ the creative energies of those who defy the intellectual status quo, instead of killing them. Slowly, often grudgingly, society discovered that there is something to value in the rancorous, difficult, blasphemous few who gleefully challenge authority. Those who rip away the set pieces of any conservative worldview to reveal disturbing truths that lie beneath and beyond. Such people, though irksome, are also responsible for much progress in the world.

We really need to be careful about patting ourselves on the back here. We might not be killing dissidents today, but they can be marginalized enough to prevent their voices from being heard by more than a handful of people.

Power structures will do anything to maintain their power, they never simply close up shop becuase they realize they aren't working anymore. Many years ago religious structures set the rules including their "absolute truths" and taboos (still true in some countries today). The institutions running things today might not be specifically religious, but they aren't necessarily acting any different.

We need to be especially careful today because of what technology allows us to do, from manipulating public opinion with mass media to the ability to track what people do without them knowing it.

Even the scientific community is guilty. They have their own absolute truths, and anyone who tries to cross them gets cut down until the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore.

Don't get me wrong, the human race has made a lot of progress, I just don't think we've made as much as everyone else seems to think we have.

Bruno and Galileo (5)

Bryan K. Feir (11060) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264216)

Bruno was actually written up in Scientific American several years ago now; that's where I first heard of him. (No, I don't know which month off-hand, but it was almost certainly pre-1986.) He was a trouble-maker in many ways as well.

When you get right down to it, Galileo was put under house arrest because Bruno had been using Galileo's discoveries as part of his arguments against the Church. Galileo himself wasn't all that active politically, and the political side of the Church probably would have ignored him completely if Bruno hadn't used Galileo's observations of the moons of Jupiter as proof that not everything revolved around the Earth, and then went on to challenge the other teachings of the Church. (The Church didn't really care if people believed in the Copernican model; hell, the Church financed Copernicus. But they really took exception when anyone challenged the idea of the Earth being the spiritual centre of the universe. Which Bruno did.) Bruno's agitation helped fuel the anti-science leanings of the Church at the time, and made life a whole lot harsher for many other scientists at the time.

Bruno himself was an interesting thinker; unfortunately, when he got the Church's attention, he ended up taking a number of others down with him.

-- Bryan Feir

JF Kennedy, A Huxley, and... (3)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264217)

C.S. Lewis also passed away on Nov. 22, 1963. I read a good book once, Between Heaven and Hell, that describes a possible conversation the three might have had on their way into the afterlife. Completely fictional of course, but interesting.

Also... (2)

Vorro (124142) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264218)

Don't forget that he's the one that invented grated parmesan cheese, which really angered italian cheese-makers... That's the real reason he was burned at the stake, just like all sorts of other intellectuals who would nowadays be heralded for their damn good ideas. :)

Vorro
---------------------------
A wise man speaks because he has something to say.
A foolish man speaks because he has to say something.

Re:things haven't changed that much!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264219)

Of course things have changed a lot since then. Today, there is a scientific community that embraces change and progress, and happily sheds old ideas for new ones. Bruno (all mysticism aside - everyone can be forgiven weaknesses like that) would be embraced as a hero.

Great, except... (1)

haggar (72771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264220)

He lived in the 16th and not in the 17th century, and his family name is Bruno, as many have already pointed out. Strange you could misspell Bruno, since it's such a common word. In italian, it means "brown heared". For example "ragazza bruna" would mean brunette.

state of the culture (3)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264221)

...an era so enamored of flamboyant eccentrics...
I have to ask the same question I always ask when Brin comments on contemporary society: are he and I living in the same country?

Maybe it's just the memory of being beat up as a kid, many times, for being what one tormentor called a "walking dictionary"; or knowing people who have been subject to, or threatened with, violence (by the state or by private citizens) because of their personal lifestyle choices; or knowing that both Presidental front-runners describe themselves not just as Christians but as "born-again" Christians; but I just don't see a love of diversity and eccentricity in the mainstream of our culture. I think we covered that point here pretty well in the post-Columbine "Hellmouth" threads.

Yes, there's a certain amount of "geek chic", but there's a simple reason for that. The mainstream is somewhat enamored of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs because they're filthy rich, plain and simple.

A small correction. (4)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264222)

Eventually lured back to Italy on a pretext, Bruno was imprisoned in 1592 by the Inquisition, tried as a heretic and burned alive on Feb. 17, 1600.

A small point, to be sure, but the part about the "pretext" isn't really true. In the 1580's Bruno had developed an elaborate theory of memory training (published in, most famously, his Clavis Magna or Great Key). In 1591 he was invited to Venice by a gentleman named Mocenigo, who was keenly interested in his methods of memory training. Angry after failing to obtain from Bruno the secret of his "natural magic", Mocenigo denounced him to the Inquisition. The Ventian authorites reluctantly extradited him.

Re:things haven't changed that much!!!! (3)

Bryan K. Feir (11060) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264223)

Today, there is a scientific community that embraces change and progress, and happily sheds old ideas for new ones.

And if you believe that, I've got a some swampland just off the coast of Florida to sell you.

Do you have any idea how many years it took for ideas like Continental Drift to be accepted by mainstream science? How many decades 'standard' ideas like Clovis First (the idea that all the American Indians crossed the Bering Strait 11 000 years ago) lasted despite evidence that they were wrong simply because too many people were emotionally attached to the idea to give it up? (Parts of South America were inhabited more than a thousand years before Clovis First says they could have been.) How much damage was done to effective research in Quantum Mechanics because Einstein himself couldn't abide by the random factors in the theory he helped lay the foundations for?

It's often said that any real progress in science takes at least a generation; long enough for all the old scientists who are attached to the old ideas to get replaced. Trust me, we've seen lots of evidence for that in this century alone.

-- Bryan Feir

What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (2)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264224)

> misguided people abusing Jesus' name 400 years ago have nothing to do with my faith now

"They" haven't said anything about your faith. In fact, one of the really annoying things about "Christians" is how often they seem to have to tell the world about it. Most of us are not regularly shopping for a new religion or advertising our own. If your faith is strong, who cares what people say?

As Mel Brooks wrote:

The Inquisition - here we go
The Inquisition - what a show
We know you're wishin' - that we go away!
The Inquisition's here - and it's here to stay!

Well written (2)

348 (124012) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264225)

This was delightfully good. Quite refreshing actually and IMO very eloquently written, thank you David. A side benefit is that we got some good quotes out of it as well.

the heavens revolved around the Earth, forcing him to flee to Geneva, then France, England and Germany
we've learned to _tap_ the creative energies of those who defy the intellectual status quo, instead of killing them.
be simultaneously offensive, delightful, in your face and profound

Re:need to be careful... (3)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264226)

It's not really true to assert that "power structures" will do anything to maintain their position of power. Sometimes they reach a level of maturity where their "power" is not their highest value. A case in point would be the great monarchies of Continental Europe in the first part of this century. Most reliquished their power voluntarily when they felt it was in the best interests of their countries.

He's not that unknown... (3)

uebernewby (149493) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264227)

In fact Giordano Bruno has since long been thought of as a precursor to modernism. Samuel Beckett, for example, wrote a well-known essay describing the connection between him and James Joyce (called Dante..Bruno..Vico..Joyce, I can't remember the exact number of dots, though). His ideas about "panpsychism (belief that reality is constituted by the mind)" were instrumental in defining Joyce's vision (Ulysses, if you'll remember, consists of a description of the reality of Dublin seen through the eyes -stream-of-consciousness- of a number of its inhabitants. The modernists, therefore, were already quite aware of him, so I think it's fair to say his ideas were an important predecessors to our modern mindset. After all, like it or not, Joyce's ideas, as well as Becket's, have slowly slipped into our collective unconscious during the past century.

Re:How the hell can this be flame bait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264228)

Oh yeah? Well you're shoes smell and your ideas are dumb and you're obviously a l00s3r!

Damnit... i was baited!

Heresies and other worlds (3)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264229)

Heretics are by no means tolerated in the modern world. Whilst no longer burned alive on a pyre, they are often treated poorly, rejected, abused and punished for the crime of thinking.

"Awwww! That went away with the Dark Ages! Anyway, America has never had that. It was =FOUNDED= on freedom!"

Tell ex-President Carter. Castigated and shredded for the crime of being an honest politician and an acknowledged falliable human being. Truth didn't mean a whole lot to Americans, on voting day.

Then, there's the mysterious case of a well-known TV chat-show host, who dared to suggest the American meat industry might have a non-zero level of BSE. A $60 million dollar lawsuit followed, for "damaging" the reputation of the industry.

Technological heretics - anyone hear from Sir Clive Sinclair, lately? Or the guy who invented the clockwork radio? The Osborne was the first laptop - they don't seem to have an up-to-date product list, though. Seems to me that there's a fairly long list of latter-day heretics being burned at the financial stake.

Then, there are those who disagree with the "orthodox" religion of politics. Marx is not only hated by the US, but anyone associated with his views of power equality was, for many years, banned from the shores of the allegedly free US. Those Americans who had the least sympathy for the idea that the underclass are probably just as intelligent as the ruling class were mauled by Macarthy and his thugs, and held with deep suspicion even to this day.

Is America the only country with such *cough* liberal views? By no means! In England, members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament were "Potential Subversives" and monitored by British Intelligence. At least one executive of CND is believed to have been assassinated by the British Government, for their moral and political views.

Exceptional circumstances, surely! Nope. The Greenham Common protesters were threatened with summary execution by the American military. Several =were= killed, in hit-and-run "accidents" in which the American and British Governments decided that the soldiers had diplomatic immunity, thus avoiding any kind of trial.

Then, of course, there's always the RUC's "Shoot To Kill" policy, in Northern Ireland, in which innocents were fair game for machine-gun fire, without warning, if a policeman decided he wanted live target shooting. The person designated to investigate the massacres, John Stalker, was pulled off the case after asking the wrong questions.

France, of course, has no problem with tolerence. It'll blow up ships in other people's ports (eg: Greenpeace Warrior) and award the agents medals of honor, after terrorising the innocent nation involved (New Zealand) into submission by threats of a complete blockade.

I'm sure the Algerians in France are happy with the tolerence there, too. No persecution! Just some unfortunate, mysterious deaths, injuries, beatings and abuse by the police and other French natives.

Freedom of the Press, though, is universal! I mean, look at what happened when Salman Rushdie published his "Satanic Verses"! Iran was extremely moderate, in it's response, don't you think?

Pacifists are routinely (and illegally) imprisoned during wars, in almost every nation on Earth. Many nations practice Conscription, with heavy fines or other penalties for conciencious objectors, pacifists and those who are politically, religiously or morally bound to refuse to condone violence or organisations dedicated to violence.

Whilst outright, open murder is much rarer than it was, in the middle ages, the same intolerence and hatred of those who are different is still there, and still destroying others. Minds who would probably be of enormous benefit to the world at large are crushed, or their owners quietly disposed of. Personally, I don't know which is the worse - the open slaughter of the differently-thinking innocents, or their quiet, legalised murder.

Re:Sounds nice and all, but... (2)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264230)

Dude, get with the program - global warming is for real. And overall, I think Sagan's career was much more about communicating science to the public than about global warming.

Btw, if it makes you feel better I had a girlfriend who was his assistant at Princeton, and she assured me he was a total asshole. :-)

Re:Also... (2)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264231)

Did he really? Did you know Newton invented the Cat Flap and the the little grooves around coins?

Re:Bruno, Brunco, whatever (4)

gorilla (36491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264232)

The 15th to 17th centuaries were quite remarkable times, there were people out discovering things and inventing things at a rate which we've never seen since (The overall rate is higher, but they're discovered/invented by many more people, meaning that each person discoveres or invents much less). There are several people who had skills in many different areas, and are still remembered today, Newton, Leonardo, Napier, Pascal, Wern, Tycho Brahe, Kelper and many others have resumes which would seem to be unbelivably broad if they existed today.

Nowadays, everyone is a specialist. An artist could never be a respectable mathetician. These gentlemen were metheticians, astromoners, chemists, artists, architechs, physicists, writers and other professions too. Not just one profession each, but usually 2 or 3 or more all at the same time.

OT:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

veldrane (70385) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264233)

Perhaps it should come with an "Add to Shopping Cart" button?

:D

-Vel

Re:things haven't changed that much!!!! (1)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264234)

Chomsky's work in linguistics, a field in which he is fairly knowledgable, has become mainstream.

Chomsky's idiotic rantings on economics, politics, and foreign policy are not sufficiently ignored, though. He's a looney. I like people with different ideas, but they have to have some occasional connection with reality, a phenomenon unknown in his ravings. Name one idea of his that is "visionary", rather than "refried Marxist horseshit".

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264235)

...Bruno was a sensational figure as the 17th century drew to a close...

Born near Naples in 1548...

...ried as a heretic and burned alive on Feb. 17, 1600.

How could he be a prominent figure towards the end of the 17th Century, when he died at the beginning of it?

So... (1)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264236)

I like Brin, I was just mentioning that Earth was probably my favorite future prediction novel, but... what is he saying here?

That if this guy got teleported into the present, he'd adjust with alacrity, go online, try to gain his noteriety through flamboyance and strange opinions, and become... the most famous Slashdot troll of all? Bruno, thy name is MEEPT!!!
---
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11] .

Re:Bruno and his influences. (2)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264237)

Indeed, Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skilful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc. What puzzles me (and some good historians, too) is that he had recanted in Venice before being extradited to Rome.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

MillMan (85400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264238)

It's a pre-emptive rebuttal because it's happened 1000 times before. Especially on slashdot.

Christians fall on a broad spetrum of beliefs and how they live their lives, they are not all abortion clinic bombers or in-your-face preachers, even if this is what the 6 o clock news tells you.

Your sig... (1)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264239)

Sounds like a Gauntlet quote to me...

"Someone shot the food!"

Also, he'd have to be special to be on a talk-show. Flamboyant intellectual of 4 centuries ago just doesn't cut it. He had to be abducted by aliens and forced into weight-loss programs to get on Town Talk! :)
---
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11] .

Re:need to be careful... (1)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264240)

Thats kind of a bad example. Those uh... great monarchies of continental europe had already lost almost all of their power buy that time and formally "gifting" power to the (more or less) democratic institutions that had already taken all/most of the power away from the monarchy was mostly a prosaic show to maintain the good faith of "the masses."

The specific centralization of power in a monarchy was a battle thats been raging since man instituted social structures. The centralization of power at all is a fight that will continue to rage as long as man has social structure.

-Tilde

Evidence: Time Travel (2)

torpor (458) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264241)

In fact, why not spin a story about that? Imagine that some future, time-traveling age will share our own fascination with exceptional men and women of the past. Suppose they reach back to grab Bruno out of his pyre at the last moment, if only to repair and then enjoy a colorfully vivid person who surged so far ahead of his time, caroming about the realm of ideas like a joyous crank, shouting at his stupefied contemporaries to _wake up!_

Maybe this already has/had/happened is will happeningly happen. (Damn English tenses and their unwillingness to bend to time travel...)

Maybe this is why he was able to accurately hint that lightning might be harnessed, that distant stars contained distant worlds, with life. Maybe this explains Bruno's arrogance, his egocentrics... maybe he's been here, watched MTV, and, given a taste of the future, took some of it back with him.

Only time will tell ...

;)

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264242)

It may bother you to know this, but most religions are inherently evangelical. If you are against prosletyzation, you should live amongst Buddhists.

WWJD: The Fate of Bruno in America (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264243)

Just because we don't burn people at the stake after torturing them, it doesn't mean that he wouldn't be found guilty of hacking and locked up for 20 years in a federal penitentiary. Or, even worse, executed for some crime he didn't commit in Texas.

Re:JF Kennedy, A Huxley, and... (1)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264244)

Dude, no one has forgotten about C.S. Lewis, okay? He wrote some very popular children's books, and even though at the end of the seventh book, his rabid Christian agenda leaks through into the Fantasy world, they're still very good books, and I'd still recommend them to any open-minded person interested in fantasy.

You could sooner say that we've forgotten about Jon Katz or Charles Babbage or Nicola Tesla than C.S. Lewis - he has a much larger following, IMO.
---
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11] .

Keep in mind though (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264245)

that the real heresy to the Church was not what particular people believed but who they told. Gallileo was not persecuted until he began writing in vernacular Italian and so made his views known to the great unwashed, unversed in Latin. Until he did that he was left alone and considered an obscure crank.

I can't pass this up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264246)

Ok so global warming is real
how about the ozone hole?

grab a dictionary, look up ozone

after that ask yourself

when would be the best time of year and location on earth to take pictures of an ozone hole?

after you answer, go back to sleep

Re:Heresies and other worlds (2)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264247)

Wow, its amazing someone can be sooooo wrong on so many levels...

<I>Tell ex-President Carter. Castigated and shredded for the crime of being an honest politician and an acknowledged falliable human being. Truth didn't mean a whole lot to Americans, on voting day.</i>

Hmm.. that couldn't have had anything to do with the hostage situation or the horrible economy, could it? Everyone I knew was saying "Let vote out ol' lust in his heart!"

<I>Then, there's the mysterious case of a well-known TV chat-show host, who dared to suggest the American meat industry might have a non-zero level of BSE. A $60 million dollar lawsuit followed, for "damaging" the reputation of the industry.</I>

Which the industry lost. I suppose people like you would prefer to take away the people's right to sue.

<I>Technological heretics - anyone hear from Sir Clive Sinclair, lately? Or the guy who invented the clockwork radio? The Osborne was the first laptop - they don't seem to have an up-to-date product list, though. Seems to me that there's a fairly long list of latter-day heretics being burned at the financial stake</I>

Clive and Osborne failed to keep up with the times. Granted both did good work in the beginning, but that doesn't entitle them to continued and indefinite success does it? (I guess you think it does)

Anyway, you are so off your rocker, I'm bored with shooting down your silly arguments....


Maybe because.... (1)

WhiskeyJack (126722) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264248)

Maybe because his ideas only caught on after he died? ;)

(Okay, so it was more likely just a typo on Brin's part......)

-- WhiskeyJack

Re:Bruno, Brunco, whatever (1)

Powers (118325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264249)

I agree with you 100%. You're not arguing against any perceived point in my post, are you? Just wondering why you made it a reply to my post rather than posting it at the top level.

A much better Bruno essay (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264250)

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/feb2000/brun-f16 _prn.shtml

A man of insight and courage

Giordano Bruno, philosopher and scientist, burnt at the stake 400 years ago

By Frank Gaglioti
16 February 2000

Four centuries ago today, on February 16, 1600, the Roman Catholic Church executed Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher and scientist, for the crime of heresy. He was taken from his cell in the early hours of the morning to the Piazza dei Fiori in Rome and burnt alive at the stake. To the last, the Church authorities were fearful of the ideas of a man who was known throughout Europe as a bold and brilliant thinker. In a peculiar twist to the gruesome affair, the executioners were ordered to tie his tongue so that he would be unable to address those gathered.

Throughout his life Bruno championed the Copernican system of astronomy which placed the sun, not the Earth, at the centre of the solar system. He opposed the stultifying authority of the Church and refused to recant his philosophical beliefs throughout his eight years of imprisonment by the Venetian and Roman Inquisitions. His life stands as a testimony to the drive for knowledge and truth that marked the astonishing period of history known as the Renaissance--from which so much in modern art, thought and science derives.

In 1992, after 12 years of deliberations, the Roman Catholic Church grudgingly admitted that Galileo Galilei had been right in supporting the theories of Copernicus. The Holy Inquisition had forced an aged Galileo to recant his ideas under threat of torture in 1633. But no such admission has been made in the case of Bruno. His writings are still on the Vatican's list of forbidden texts.

The Church is currently considering a new batch of apologies. A theological commission headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern successor of the Inquisition, has completed an inquiry entitled "The Church and the Faults of the Past: Memory in the Service of Reconciliation", which proposes making an apology for "past errors". The results have been handed to Pope John Paul II, who is due to make a statement on March 12. The execution of Bruno is one of the church's crimes being considered but it is unlikely that major concessions will be made in his case. A number of hard-line Catholic figures have opposed the investigation from the outset, saying that excessive penitence and self-questioning could undermine faith in the Church and its institutions.

The current attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to Bruno is defined by a two-page entry in the latest edition of the Catholic Encyclopaedia. It describes Bruno's "intolerance" and berates him, declaring "his attitude of mind towards religious truth was that of a rationalist". [1] The article describes in detail Bruno's theological errors and his lengthy detention at the hands of the Inquisition, but fails to mention the best-known fact--that the church authorities burnt him alive at the stake.

Bruno has long been revered as a martyr to scientific truth. In 1889 a monument to him was erected at the location of his execution. Such was the feeling for Bruno that scientists and poets paid tribute to him and a book was written detailing his life's work. In a dedication for a meeting held at the Contemporary Club in Philadelphia in 1890, American poet Walt Whitman wrote: "As America's mental courage (the thought comes to me today) is so indebted, above all current lands and peoples, to the noble army of old-world martyrs past, how incumbent on us that we clear those martyrs' lives and names, and hold them up for reverent admiration as well as beacons. And typical of this, and standing for it and all perhaps, Giordano Bruno may well be put, today and to come, in our New World's thankfulest heart and memory."[2]

Karl Marx's co-thinker Fredrick Engels summed up the period that produced figures, such as Bruno, who challenged the church and laid the basis for modern science. In an introduction written in the 1870s to his unfinished work the Dialectics of Nature, Engels wrote: "It was the greatest progressive revolution that mankind had so far experienced, a time which called for giants and produced giants--giants in power of thought, passion and character, in universality and earning. The men who founded the modern rule of the bourgeoisie had anything but bourgeois limitations. On the contrary, the adventurous character of the time inspired them to a greater or lesser degree. There was hardly any man of importance then living who had not travelled extensively, who did not speak four or five languages, who did not shine in a number of fields....

"At that time natural science also developed in the midst of the general revolution and was itself thoroughly revolutionary; it had indeed to win in struggle its right of existence. Side by side with the great Italians from whom modern philosophy dates, it provided its martyrs for the stake and the dungeons of the Inquisition. And it is characteristic that Protestants outdid
Catholics in persecuting the free investigation of nature. Calvin had Servetus burnt at the stake when the latter was on the point of discovering the circulation of the blood, and indeed he kept him roasting alive during two hours; for the Inquisition at least it sufficed to have Giordano Bruno simply burnt alive."[3]

What is most characteristic of Bruno is his vigorous appeal to reason and logic, rather than religious dogma, as the basis for determining truth. In a manner that anticipates the Enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century, he wrote in one of his final works, De triplici minimo (1591): "He who desires to philosophise must first of all doubt all things. He must not assume a position in a debate before he has listened to the various opinions, and considered and compared the reasons for and against. He must never judge or take up a position on the evidence of what he has heard, on the opinion of the majority, the age, merits, or prestige of the speaker concerned, but he must proceed according to the persuasion of an organic doctrine
which adheres to real things, and to a truth that can be understood by the light of reason."[4]

A complex intellectual figure

An examination of Bruno's philosophical legacy reveals a complex figure who was influenced by the various intellectual trends of the time, in a period when modern science was just beginning to emerge. His enthusiastic polemics earned the
admiration of the most advanced thinkers of the period and the loathing of the Church, whose authority was being shaken to the core by learned assaults such as these.

Bruno was born in the town of Nola, near Naples, in 1548, at the dawn of the revolution in astronomy which was heralded by the publication of Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI in 1543. Copernicus asserted that the sun, not the Earth, was the centre of a finite universe, with the planets on circular orbits around it and the stars on a fixed sphere a
considerable distance beyond.

The Copernican system not only challenged the Church's cosmological views, but also the rigid social hierarchy of feudalism. The previous neatly ordered view of the universe, with the Earth at the centre, reinforced the rigid feudal order
with serfs at the bottom and the Pope at the pinnacle. The dangerous implication of the Copernican theory was that if the Church's credo of infallibility could be challenged in the cosmological arena then its social position was also cast into doubt.

The Church was already under siege from all sides. In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Germany, denouncing the practices of the Roman Catholic Church, the first blow in the Protestant Reformation that swept across Europe. The Vatican responded with a counterattack--the Counter Reformation--on anyone who appeared to challenge Catholic doctrine. In 1542 it established the Roman Inquisition to enforce its edicts with torture and execution.

Thus Bruno entered a world in ferment. In 1563 Bruno entered the monastery of St. Dominic, where he came to the notice of Church authorities for his unorthodox religious views. He used his time as a novitiate to acquaint himself not only with the philosophical works of the ancient Greeks, but also his more contemporary European thinkers. It was at this time that he first encountered the work of Copernicus, which was to have such a profound impact on his life.

Bruno took holy orders in 1572 but then left the order in 1576 after travelling to Rome. He had been caught reading philosophical texts annotated by the Dutch humanist philosopher Erasmus and escaped before being denounced to
ecclesiastical authorities. He spent the rest of his life until his capture wandering Europe discussing and promoting his philosophical ideas.

After three years in Italy he went to Geneva, which was then dominated by the Protestant sect led by Calvin. He soon came into conflict with academic authorities when he published a pamphlet stating that a local professor of philosophy had made 20 errors in one lecture. He was imprisoned by the Calvinist authorities and only released after withdrawing the offending publication. Twenty-six years earlier the Calvinists had burnt Servetus, a Spanish doctor, geographer and man of letters, at the stake for his scientific views.

Bruno then travelled to Toulouse in France, where he lectured on Aristotle's De anima and wrote a book on mnemonics--systems of memory training. He arrived in Paris by 1581, where he came to the attention of King Henry III who was attracted by his reputation of having a prodigious memory. The King found a position for him at the College de France after he had been forbidden entry to the Sorbonne by the ecclesiastical authority.

During his stay in Paris he wrote three books, two on mnemonics and a play entitled The Torch-Bearer by Bruno the Nolan, Graduate of No Academy, Called the Nuisance. In this play Bruno described his time in the Dominican convent in Naples and
presented a withering indictment of the Church. Giovanni Gentile's commentary on the play describes Bruno's characterisation of the Church as follows: "You will see, in mixed confusion, snatches of cutpurses, wiles of cheats,
enterprises of rogues; also delicious repulsiveness, bitter sweets, foolish decisions, mistaken faith and crippled hopes, niggard charities, judges noble and serious for other men's affairs with little truth in their own; virile women, effeminate men and voices of craft and not of mercy so that he who believes most is most fooled--and everywhere the love of gold."[5]

Bruno was forced to leave France in 1583 and travelled to England where his three-year stay proved to be one of the most fruitful periods of his life. He was introduced into a society that craved all forms of Italian learning and already had a considerable Italian and foreign exile community. Many had fled to avoid persecution for unorthodox philosophical and religious ideas. Bruno held discussions with Queen Elizabeth I, who was attracted by the prospect of discussing
philosophical matters directly in Italian. He quickly attracted a number of intellectuals who eagerly discussed the philosophical ideas of the time.

In England, Bruno published six books, all in Italian, fully elaborating his philosophical ideas for the first time. He was one of the first philosophers to discuss scientific issues in the vernacular. The very act of publishing in Italian was an open challenge to the Church, which sought to maintain Latin as the language of intellectual discourse and so limit the wider dissemination of ideas. Copernicus's groundbreaking work had been published only in Latin. So afraid were Bruno's printers that not one of them identified himself in the printed texts.

Bruno's view of the universe

Bruno's cosmology is outlined in The Ash Wednesday Supper, Cause, Principle and Unity and On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, which represent a brilliant anticipation of subsequent scientific and philosophical developments. In some respects
the conclusions Bruno arrived at by bold intuition surpassed the work of his successors such as Galileo and Kepler. The works are in the form of dialogues, where Bruno's characters argue various philosophical positions from different points of
view, one representing Bruno himself.

In The Ash Wednesday Supper Bruno was one of the first to argue for the existence of an infinite universe, which contained an infinite number of worlds similar to the Earth. In doing so, he rejected the limits of the Copernican system, which posited a finite universe limited by a fixed sphere of stars just beyond the solar system. He argued that the sun was not the centre of the
universe, saying that if the sun were observed from any of the other stars it would appear no different from them. Bruno even speculated that the other worlds would be inhabited.

German philosopher Ernst Cassirer explained the significance of Bruno's conception of an infinite universe as follows: "This doctrine ... was the first and decisive step toward man's self-liberation. Man no longer lives in the world of a prisoner enclosed within the narrow walls of a finite physical universe. He can traverse the air and break through all the imaginary
boundaries of the celestial spheres which have been erected by a false metaphysics and cosmology. The infinite universe sets no limits to human reason; on the contrary, it is the great incentive of human reason. The human intellect becomes aware
of its own infinity through measuring its powers by the infinite universe."[6]

Bruno's other three works published in England-- The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus and On Heroic Frenzies --contain a biting critique of the Counter Reformation. Italian historian Hilary Gatti in her book
Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science observed: "The sense of these final Italian works, in my opinion, is ... to be found in a transition from an intellectual sphere dominated by a vision of the world in essentially theological terms to an
intellectual sphere dominated by a vision of the world in essentially philosophical terms. In this passage from theology to philosophy all forms of revealed religion receive harsh treatment, but above all the Christian religion that dominated the life and culture of the Europe of the sixteenth century, often through violence and oppression."[7]

It was in England that Bruno had his most profound impact. His views were discussed in intellectual circles and the arguments presented in his various books give a flavour of the contemporary discussion. Two leading scientists, William
Gilbert and Thomas Harriot, became leading proponents of Bruno's cosmological views. Gilbert, whose De Magnete (1600) stood as a basic text on magnetism until the nineteenth century, was prominent in a grouping that discussed scientific issues. He was particularly interested in developing his magnetic theories in relation to Bruno's cosmological views.

Harriot was a noted mathematician and astronomer, who was thought to have discovered sunspots before Galileo. Harriot exchanged letters with Kepler in 1608 discussing Bruno's conception of an infinite universe, which Kepler was to reject. Harriot was one of the scientists cultivated by the Ninth Earl of Northumberland--a devoted follower of Bruno.
Northumberland had an extensive library of Bruno's works, which he made available to the scientists in his circle.

Bruno was forced to return to France because of the decline in the fortunes of his patron, the Marquis de Mauvissiere, with whom he had travelled to England. He produced three works on his return to Paris but was forced to leave after his
challenge to debate all comers on the topic One Hundred and Twenty Articles on Nature and the World resulted in him being set upon by supporters of the Church. He then travelled to Germany, where he resided in Wittenberg and Marburg until 1588.
He was forced to leave Marburg after coming into conflict with the Lutheran authorities, then wandered Europe--Prague, Helmstedt, Frankfurt and Zurich.

In 1591 Bruno returned to Italy after being invited by the Venetian nobleman Zuane Mocenigo to educate the aristocrat in mnemonics. Mocenigo subsequently denounced him to the Inquisition. Bruno was arrested on May 23, 1592, cross-examined
on his philosophical works and on January 27, 1593 handed over to the Inquisition in Rome on the direct request of the Papal Nuncio, Taverna, acting on behalf of Pope Clement VIII.

During his detention in Rome he was interrogated on all aspects of his life and his philosophical and theological views over a period of seven years. On February 15, 1599 the Inquisition charged Bruno with eight specific acts of heresy, which the church has not revealed to this day. According to the limited documents available, Bruno was indicted for his "atheistic" views and for the publication of The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. He refused to recant.

The Inquisition delivered its verdict on January 20, 1600, stating: "We hereby, in these documents ... pronounce sentence and declare the aforesaid Brother Giordano Bruno to be an impenitent and pertinacious heretic, and therefore to have incurred all the ecclesiastical censures and pains of the Holy Canon.... We ordain and command that thou must be delivered to the Secular Court ... that thou mayest be punished with the punishment deserved, though we earnestly pray that he (the Roman Governor) will mitigate the rigour of the laws concerning the pains of thy person, that thou mayest not be in danger of death or of mutilation of thy members.

"Furthermore, we condemn, we reprobate and we prohibit all thine aforesaid and thy other books and writings as heretical and erroneous, containing many heresies and errors, and we ordain that all of them which have come or may come in future into the hands of the Holy Office shall be publicly destroyed and burned in the square of St. Peter before the steps and that they shall be placed upon the Index of Forbidden Books."[8]

Despite the false note of concern about Bruno's physical well-being, the Inquisition's verdict was a death sentence. Bruno was defiant to the end. Gaspar Schopp of Brelau, a recent convert to Catholicism and a witness to the sentencing, reported that Bruno exclaimed on hearing the sentence: "Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it."[9]

The Holy Inquisition and its tormentors are remembered only as symbols of arch-reaction. But Bruno has stood the test of time. An examination of his life reveals a true Renaissance man with a passionate interest in all aspects of human learning, who participated with great energy and determination in the intellectual turbulence of his times. His insights made an important contribution to the ideas that laid the basis for modern science. His stubborn refusal to bow to the authority, power and repressive apparatus of the Roman Catholic Church, the most powerful institution of his day, will no doubt be an
inspiration for centuries to come.

The German philosopher Georg Hegel summed up the generation of thinkers to which Bruno belonged in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy: "These men felt themselves dominated, as they really were, by the impulse to create existence and to
derive truth from their very selves. They were men of vehement nature, of wild and restless character, of enthusiastic temperament, who could not attain to the calm of knowledge. Though it cannot be denied that there was in them a wonderful insight into what was true and great, there is no doubt on the other hand that they revelled in all manner of corruption in
thought and heart as well as in their outer life. There is thus to be found in them great originality and subjective energy of
spirit; at the same time the content is heterogeneous and unequal, and their confusion of mind is great. Their fate, their lives,
their writings--which often fill many volumes--manifest only this restlessness of their being, this tearing asunder, the revolt
of their inner being against present existence and the longing to get out of it and reach certainty. These remarkable individuals really resemble the upheavals, tremblings and eruptions of a volcano which has become worked up in its depths
and has brought forward new developments, which as yet are wild and uncontrolled."[10]

Notes.

1. The Catholic Encyclopaedia (http://www.knight.org/advent/cathen/03016a.htm)
2. Quoted in The Infinite Worlds of Giordano Bruno by Antoinette Mann Paterson, 1970, page ix
3. Dialectics of Nature by Frederick Engels, page 21-22
4. De triplici minimo by Giordano Bruno as quoted in Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science by Hilary Gatti, 1998, page 4
5. Quoted in Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought by Dorothea Waley Singer, 1950, page 22
6. Quoted in The Infinite Worlds of Giordano Bruno by Antoinette Mann Paterson, 1970, pages 33-34
7. Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science by Hilary Gatti, 1998, page 229
8. Quoted in Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought by Dorothea Waley Singer, 1950, page 176-177
9. Quoted in Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought by Dorothea Waley Singer, 1950, page 179
10. Lectures on the History of Philosophy by G.W.F.Hegel, Volume 3, pages 115-116

Copyright 1998-2000
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

Re:Okay, I'll bite. (5)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264251)

How would anyone claim that burning someone at the stake invalidates belief in Jesus?
For starters, a non-believer can hardly pontificate about what believers should and should not do.

>The actions of misguided people abusing Jesus' name 400 years ago have nothing to do with my faith now

But the actions of people 2000 years ago have everything to do with your faith.
How do you justify crediting certain events and discrediting others?
And why did you mention 400 years as seemingly the remote past, if you centre your beliefs on events five times as old?
This looks like a case of selectively interpreting events, according to what fits your preconceived belief.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

Iron_Slinger (126682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264252)

We tell the world about our faith because we were commanded to by our savior. "Therefor go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." We also tell people because we are genuinely concerned about people's salvation. I personally would feel horrible if someone I knew died and I did nothing to tell them about Christ and the joy and peace that he provides. Not preaching, just replying.

*sigh* (1)

webster (22696) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264253)

While you do have a valid point, everything is not about you or your faith. Your message might have seemed a little less egotistical if you had waited until someone actually did attack you or the things you believe.


Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation

Re:need to be careful... (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264254)

More likely they valued their safety and wealth more than their power. They probably remembered what happened to the "not so great" monarchies of Europe in the previous two centuries.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

Icculus (33027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264255)

It may bother you to know this, but most religions are inherently evangelical.

This does not in any way change the fact that it is annoying.

C.S, Lewis (4)

Lexic0n (107205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264256)

On a side note, C.S. Lewis, another great thinker and writer, also died the same day as J.F. Kennedy, relegating his passing into obscurity as well.

Bruno was... ...misunderstood. (3)

derinax (93566) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264257)

Most geniuses and iconoclasts are. Very nice article, it warmed my heart to see my favorite Hermetic Magician in a Slashdot headline.

It's worth noting that to many of his contemporaries, Bruno was seen as a chief proponent of the hermetic tradition (alchemical natural magic philosophy), not necessarily of Copernican scientific truth. Perhaps this was to his chagrin, but he played the part. While Bruno did indeed believe that Copernicus stumbled upon the truth, he also firmly held that it was his duty, as an Hermetic Messiah, to popularize and recontextualize the discoveries into hermetic symbolism. Unfortunately for Bruno, in his lectures he would do this in the precise words of one Marsilio Ficino, a contemporary natural philosopher, and his unacknowledged alchemical theories and terms were laughed at by the "grammatical pedants" at Oxford.

Bruno, who frequently referred to himself in the third-person as "The Nolan", took Copernican science and dragged it back into the murky prescientific, hermetic paradigm. A quote from Bruno's Cena de la ceneri:

"being more a student of mathematics than of nature [Copernicus] was not able to penetrate deeply enough to remove the roots of false and misleading principles."
Perhaps he did this to enlighten the masses, but his reward for this was obscurity and a nice statue.

It is, perhaps, by happy accident that these notions were driven almost entirely by Bruno's Hermetic thought, and not by his acceptance of either the empirical or the mathematical veracity of the Copernican system.

Nonetheless, the man was a stud: regardless of his intentions, the result was laudable.

For further information, I would say the definitive work on Bruno is Francis A. Yates' Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1964).

Re:need to be careful... (1)

Romen (10819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264258)


An excellent example of this would be the Emperor of Prussia, who was kind enough to hand over power to the people, after they politely requested it.

Actually, Wilhelm II fled during the revolution of 1918, when his government became no longer tenable due to the massive popular revolt. He spent the rest of his life in exile in Belgium. His reasons for abidication certainly had nothing to do with the best interests of Germany at the time.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (2)

HunterD (13063) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264259)

How about living among the Agnostics & Atheists?

I for one don't think they are evangelical - just defensive, because people routinly group them in with what are seen as 'offensive' groups

Re:Heresies and other worlds (3)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264260)

Tell ex-President Carter. Castigated and shredded for the crime of being an honest politician and an acknowledged falliable human being. Truth didn't mean a whole lot to Americans, on voting day.

There are two problems with this. One is that it is far more likely that the lost election was due to the poor economy and Iran hostage crisis than Jimmy Carter's honesty. Secondly, far from being burned at the stake, he has become one of America's most honored former politicians.

Don't equate lost elections due to politics to people being burned at the stake for their views. it dishonors the latter.

Then, there's the mysterious case of a well-known TV chat-show host, who dared to suggest the American meat industry might have a non-zero level of BSE. A $60 million dollar lawsuit followed, for "damaging" the reputation of the industry.

Yes, and they lost that lawsuit completely and utterly. The well-known chat-show host remains one of the richest entertainers in America. (Hard to equate being utterly rich and spending a couple weeks in court to being burnt at the stake.)

Then, there are those who disagree with the "orthodox" religion of politics. Marx is not only hated by the US, but anyone associated with his views of power equality was, for many years, banned from the shores of the allegedly free US.

And yet the American Communist Party remains in existence, unbanned. Angela Davis is still unimprisoned.

But anyway, I sure as hell hope someone persecutes me until I'm as bad off as Oprah.

Extropians (2)

Kaufmann (16976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264261)

I liked this piece very much, all in all. It's good to see other kinds of content on Slashdot these days.

But...

... where exactly did Brin get the idea that Extropians are modern-day subjectivists? That's just weird. Especially considering that many of them are hard-core scientists.

- Rafael Kaufmann, heading for the Omega Point

Re:Examples of brutal modern persecution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264262)

Good one! You almost had me.

Re:Heresies and other worlds (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264263)

>Technological heretics - anyone hear from Sir Clive Sinclair, lately?

Since when was Sinclair a heretic? He did pioneering work in the electronics field, forming the basis for modern computers, and we all love him. He also wisely sold out when his products were becoming obsolete. We probably haven't heard from him because he's off sunning himself on a tropical beach.

Re:Bruno and Galileo (2)

fusion94 (19221) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264264)

Actually here are a few more facts,

Bruno, was burned to death in the Square of the Flowers, in down-town Rome, on February 16, 1600. In 1889, when freethinkers and rational religionists erected a statue of him, in the same flowered square where he was murdered by the Catholic Church, they were condemned by Pope Leo XIII.

He was executed primarily for his belief that the world was not flat, that it was indeed round and that the Earth revolved around the Sun. He also claimed that that the Sun was just a star and that millions of stars have planets about them.

For these claims, AND for the crime of advancing the notion that priests had no right to use violence in attempting to convert disbelievers, the church brought charge against him.

Re:Heresies and other worlds (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264265)

Marx is not only hated by the US, but anyone associated with his views of power equality...

Err... Marx was not interested in power equality. He was interested in inverting the power balance which existed during his times: he wanted proletariat to be powerful and bourgeoisie powerless.

[Marx's] idea that the underclass are probably just as intelligent as the ruling class

And what does this have to do with Marx??? The idea that common people can be as intelligent as the nobles is actually a capitalist idea and was considered radical when capitalism was replacing feudalism -- fairly long time before Marx. Anyway, Marx was concerned with economic and political power, not intelligence.


Kaa

Re:need to be careful... (2)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264266)

The cynicism of your comment is unwarranted, and, I think, not supported by historical evidence. It sounds more like regurgitated Marxism, which is not a substitute for original thought, or insightful analysis. And "gifting" is not a verb unless you've been a graduate student for too long.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264267)

> If you are against prosletyzation, you should live amongst Buddhists.

I see, I'm not welcome in *your* America, eh?

Funny, as a matter-of-fact both myself and my cube-mate ARE Buddhists. I don't ask people about their religion, but I'm guessing a good deal of the Asians and Indians working here ARE NOT Christians either, so I guess I'm already there.

It may bother YOU to know this, but at least 2/3 of the world is NOT Christian. Unless of course China, Korea, Japan, India, Malaysia et al don't count to you.

Re:Okay, I'll bite. (1)

Serf (11805) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264268)

How would anyone claim that burning someone at the stake invalidates belief in Jesus?

Some do. "This is why Xtianity sucks, it does stuff like this, etc...." On the other hand, nobody's said it yet in this thread.

For starters, a non-believer can hardly pontificate about what believers should and should not do.

This doesn't stop some of them.

> The actions of misguided people abusing Jesus' name 400 years ago have nothing to do with my faith now

But the actions of people 2000 years ago have everything to do with your faith.


It's called the Protestant Reformation (or just a personal faith). And even the Catholic church has changed. He can pick and choose which group of Christians he wants to follow.

And why did you mention 400 years as seemingly the remote past, if you centre your beliefs on events five times as old?

Um, could we please try and attack imaginary points in the argument now? This is really nitpicking. And anyway, both are in the remote past, and his belief, which he's talking about, is now.

This looks like a case of selectively interpreting events, according to what fits your preconceived belief.

This is both exactly right and entirely wrong. First, of course this whole thing is about belief!

But second, the crucial part that you seem to be missing is that everybody, both the original poster and the misguided bunch of people 400 years ago (the Catholic church of the time), is basing everything (one way or another), around the actions of the same people 2000 years ago. He's just dissociating himself from the ones who didn't get it quite right. (Or were only using it as a pretext to do other things.)

Re:Great, except... (1)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264269)

Strange you could misspell Bruno, since it's such a common word. In italian, it means "brown heared".

Heh.

Strange you could misspell "haired," since it's such a common word.

:-)

Re:things haven't changed that much!!!! (1)

Sjev (146833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264270)

...or ask N. Tesla, who's work is often ignored and credit given to Edison.

...or ask L. Erikson if he celebrates Columbus Day.

Re:Be Different, Conform (1)

Romen (10819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264271)

As a student a the U of C, I could not in good conscince allow this post to go unrefuted. Your comments about Chicago amount to nothing more than unsubstantied slander of a great number of people, most of whom you have probably never met. In contrast to you, I have had very positive experiences with the professors here. I am sorry that you have not had the best professors, but that is no excuse for denigrating an entire university, one of the best anywhere.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264272)

Atheists are more evangelical than most Christians. Anybody who reads Slashdot knows that.

Sorry, too hot here... (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264273)

I'd love to help you out but I got so much exercise running around in January in the NorthEast in my freakin' T-shirt and shorts that I'm still tired.

Duh.

17th Century?? (1)

muxmaster (143763) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264274)

Call this a nit-pick on an otherwise nice article from someone who is enjoying the final year of the 20th century, but this caught my attention:

Bruno was a sensational figure as the 17th century drew to a close

and

Eventually lured back to Italy on a pretext, Bruno was imprisoned in 1592 by the Inquisition, tried as a heretic and burned alive on Feb. 17, 1600.

Huh? Looks to me that Bruno died at the end of the 16th century, or the beginning of the 17th for the calendar impaired.

very dull essay (1)

vt (5803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264275)

the tragedy of bruno`s flaming death have caused maybe even more horrible one - posthumous tragedy of misunderstanding. today only a few know that the astronomical bemusings of bruno aro but most insignificant bits of his heritage. he was not a scientist, even not a naturphilosopher. he was philosopher, and of pure platonist breed.

he was burned not for his sparse utterances about the nature of physical world. historically speaking, he happened to lead the last, third act of the patheism drama of the mediaeval europe which was bound to end with the end of the middle ages themselves. the first drama was only intellectual, during the ottonic renaissance: fight between traditional theology and platonism. the latter (Berengarius of Tours, later - Anselm) won that fight because of the very good dialectic background, they made to think not only their immediate opponents, like Lafrabc or Adelman of Liege, bet even Gregorius VII (papa) - their way. but in words, of course, not. Later, Roscelinus emerged as the more serious opponent, but the field of fight morphed into the duel between nominalism and realism.

second act was a bit more dramatic. Some 100 years later, those Le Becian and Chartreusian traditions were inherited by Parisian dialecticians. Amauri de Benes and his pupil David of Dinant coined a slogan: creatorem et creaturam idem esse. and David said that the era of christ has ended altogether, and a new era of st. spirit is dawning - with all the horrible consequences for the clergymen and their political influence. i do not know about David, but Amauri did not lived up to oppositiion to their work. After the condemnation by Parisian synode, the corpse of Amauri has been excavated and excommunicated, ant their followers were persecuted and burned throughout all the imperium.

In the brunos case, it is the same old opposition between Platon and Aristotle, between realism and nominalism, between dialectics and metaphysics. simply pantheism is more compatible with the first series, and so the platonists. in the realm of natural sciences he had the opponent - Telesio, which has been empiricist. Bruno did not overly negat the matter, it has found its place in his system of dialectical categories of coomon and unique, whole and part, all and the one. matter has some potentiality too, like the mind (neoplatonic noys), and this potentiality resolves in the energy (action in greek). mind acts too, and differs from the matter only in its essence (eidos), but not in factuality of the real occurring world.

therefore world as the incorporation of its movement may be singled out this way, and this movement int the other turn may be unified with the anima mundi. In its turn, anima mundi is mivement only in its acting part, in its target-making, tleological aspect it is the part od the universal noys - intellect. but this hierarchy of categories (one=coincidentia oppositorum, noys of the world, anima of the worls, and factual occurrence of the world) are in relaity the one, the platonic triad and its factual incorporation. so the pantheism is only one possible dialectiacal inference of Platonism.

But his pantheistic neoplatonism is in relaity platonism with some twist, it denies any prosopon, any principle of individuality in the one. Theologicaly speaking, god has no individuality, therefore no one should worship it. and itis the nightmare for all the clergy. there are much more aspects, various, etc.

another *sigh* (2)

Non-Newtonian Fluid (16797) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264276)

I think it's understandable that Christians on Slashdot be defensive, even in this "pre-emptive" manner: For example, I attended an extremely liberal college, and was (and is) extremely liberal myself, yet while there I was subject to vast blanket statements concerning Christians, that in most cases were only applicable to a small minority of ultra-fundementalists, if at all. Needless to say, I became very defensive while there, and probably jumped the gun more than once. While I think much of Slashdot is probablly neutral on these issues, we do feel like we have a lot of s**t attributed to us here, and unfairly at that.

Caution, please (1)

LabWeasel (13540) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264277)

Caution must be taken to distinguish critically between genius and the celebrity of iconoclasm. While the later often accompanies the former, the converse is less often true. Our own time, which some have the hubris to regard as little short of a second Age of Reason, overflows with celebrity in vacuo, celebrity for its own sake, much less any genius.
So I disagree, in part, with Brin in one essential respect: I rather think that, rather than striving as a creative heretic against monolithic dogma, a modern-day Bruno would react to the cacophony of the 21st-centuty daytime television commonwealth by seeking to illuminate inconsistent assumptions with reason. This is hardly a formula for celebrity, but it is certainly heresy to the comfortably numb.
Genius produces heresy, which may take forms of order or chaos as required and so finds fame without seeking fame. Bruno would react accordingly today, and probably die of old age.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

MarkCC (40181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264278)

>It may bother you to know this, but most
>religions are inherently evangelical. If you are >against prosletyzation, you should live amongst
>Buddhists.

Or Jews. Or a fair number of others. In my
experience in the US, only Christians have that constant annoying habit of needing to preach to everyone with different beliefs. It's far
from a universal trait of religious people.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (5)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264279)

How about living among the Agnostics & Atheists?
After having been recently been accosted in a Big Boy parking lot by an obnoxious person who I presumed to be a Southern Baptist but who I did not care to get to know well enough to ask, I could definitely deal with that. It would lead to a lot less strife in the world, too. Could you possibly imagine two armies going into battle, the atheists waving their swords yelling "THERE IS NO GOD!" and the agnostics with their slings and pikes screaming back "THERE MIGHT BE!"? The idea is enough to make a good belly-laugh.
--
"There's a word for people who live close to nature -

Re:Sorry, too hot here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264280)

my muddy things with facts?

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264281)

That was not the point. Be annoyed if you like, but since most religions are inheretnly evangelical, it hardly does any good to hope they stay quiet and mind their own business. Learn to deal with it. Ban them from your dinner parties. Whatever.

Re:things haven't changed that much!!!! (2)

Romen (10819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264282)

While you are correct to say that Chomsky's work in linguistics is now mainstream, it would be more correct to say that it significantly changed the direction of that mainstream.
With regard to you other comments, they are the ones with no connection to reality. Merely because Chomsky subscribes to a different set of political beliefs than you do does not make his claims "horseshit" While I frequently disagree with Chomsky's views on international relations, and would not classify him as a visionary, he is certainly an astute observer of American intenational politics.
Take for instance his commentary on the recent bombing of Serbia. While I disagreed with his conclusions, he is certainly correct to point out that although such countries as Indonesia and Turkey have committed grevious human rights violations with weapons sold to them below cost by the American government, no only did we not bomb them, we continuted to trade with them. He is also correct in pointing out that this decision had nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with American economic concerns, mostly the concerns of large industries with significant political influence. Merely because this suggests conclusions that are antithetical to your beliefs about politics does not make it incorret, and certainly not worthy of the derision you show.

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264283)

Bobalu, I think you misunderstand my post. The entire point was that the only major religion that is not inherently evangelical is Buddhism. There's nothing at all wrong with that.

And, in spite of your unwarranted sarcasm, I am aware that most of the world, perhaps 3/5, is not Christian. But getting to the point of the post, most of those non-Christians belong to religions that evangelize.

You would be the cause of the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264284)

I think this is exactly the attitude that everyone's talking about.

I prefer L Ron Hubbard's death (2)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264285)

Huxley may have timed his well, but I find L Ron Hubbard's death more poignant. If I recall correctly, Hubbard died on the same day the Challenger blew up, thereby pushing his name back into a little-read section of the newspaper. Whereas Huxley may have wanted the obscurity of his death, we can rest assured that Hubbard did not. There is a certain delightful poignancy in seeing someone with an ego as large as that get a deserved dose of obscurity.

I can only hope that, in the year 2386, there won't be a similar article about Hubbard.

It's flame bait because it's abusive AND wrong. (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264286)

Besides, global warming is proven by multiple independent measurements. The most recent heat-flow measurements show a global temperature increase of 1 degree C in the last 500 years, 50% of that in the 20th century and another 30% in the 19th. (See a BBC article [bbc.co.uk] .) Anyone who uses the words "psuedo science propaganda" to describe the majority position of climate specialists who've backed up their opinions with literally mountains of data is a troll. (And anyone who can't spell "pseudo" correctly is marginally literate.)
--
"There's a word for people who live close to nature -

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (3)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264287)

I for one don't think they are evangelical - just defensive, because people routinly group them in with what are seen as 'offensive' groups

Eh, perhaps. While I think that most non-religious people aren't very "evengelical" about their views, I've met agnostics and athiests who were extremely disparaging of anyone with religious beliefs - these are the "abortion clinic bombers" of the non-religious world, the fanatics who give their views a bad name because they use it as an excuse to persecute, belittle and denigrate others. These people are the equivilent of Christian-right homophobes who believe their viewpoint is right, all others are wrong, and that this gives them moral superiority and the right to treat people who disagree with them as less than human. They practice conversion by denigration, instead of by evangelism.

Re:Okay, I'll bite. (2)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264288)

Dude, Jesus was nailed to some 2x4's for trying to teach truth, according to you guys. I'd think that this sort of behavior would confirm a belief in Jesus, or at least a desire to imitate the Romans, and show that "God" approves of executing free-thinkers to eventually save humanity from themselves. Or something, it doesn't make much sense to me. Maybe that's why I'm not a Christian. ;)
---
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11] .

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (2)

HunterD (13063) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264289)

Fine - but instead of one christian telling me about how I should live my life, and leaving me alone after I say 'I'm not interested', it is instead legions of people who all feel it is their personal duty to inform me that I am living my life 'wrong' and I should follow their madel, because it is 'right'.

It is a broad range of them too - everyone from the noramlly meek, polite, nice x-tian to the ragingly anti-abortion zelot to the white supremacist x-tian who thinks that the arian race is made up of God's children.

Christianity is a broad group, and I don't seek to pigon hole all christians based on the deplorable actions of certain segments, however one thing I have noticed is that just about all Christians disapprove of people NOT beliving like they do. Intolerance of different viewpoints is inherant in the religion - after all, the bible is the only truth (at least of you take any normal interpretaion)

Christians always seem to wonder why everyone else has tolerance issues towards Christianity & Christians - well, maybe it's because it appears the general christian view of us 'heathens' is hatred for being different, pity for not seeing the light, or a view of us as stupid for not seeing the 'proper' way of things

Re:What is this, a pre-emptive rebuttal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264290)

Your experience is obviously very limited. Muslims are fairly pushy with their religion, to the extent that non-ismlamic churches in many countries, like Saudia Arabia, are strictly forbidden. How do you think Islam grew (and grows) so fast without evangelization? Observant Hindus, too, are quite evangelical. Read the Indian press.

Brutal modern persecution -- the Drug War (5)

jms (11418) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264291)


Repression never stops. The Spanish Inquisition comes back every few years. Right now it's the atheists and OSS zealots. In a few years it'll be the Blacks again.

Actually, right now it's drug users. As of a few days ago, the U.S. passed the two-million prisoner mark. According to the Department of Justice's own figures, one quarter of those, or one half million U.S. citizens are imprisoned for non-violent drug offences alone.

Mandatory minimum prison sentences were applied in 64 percent of drug cases in 1998. The average length of imprisonment for drug offenses was 76 months; for firearms violations it was 63 months; and for manslaughter, it was 45 months.
-- The Washington Post [mapinc.org]

Even if you find yourself with incurable cancer, like Steve Kubby [kubby.com] , and all that is keeping you alive is regular use of medical marijuana, you are subject to imprisonment and likely death in prison from deprivation of your medicine if you are caught using an illegal medicine, i.e. one that is not patented by a campaign-contributing pharmaceutical company. Many medical marijuana patients, once discovered, find themselves under a court order not to use the only medicine that will keep them alive, and are subject to drug tests, and risk imprisonment and death in prison if they dare to continue using their medicine.

Drug users in general are subject to abuse and murder by the police. Their property is subject to seizure without trial, thus bankrupting them and preventing them from defending themselves. [fear.org] They are sent to special "drug courts" where they find that their constitutional rights don't apply. They are subject to "mandatory minimum" [famm.org] sentencing rules that forbid the judge from using any discretion in sentencing, hence the 76 month average drug sentence.

Back to the original point, if you go back far enough, the origins of most religions are based on the teachings of individuals who have had mystical -- i.e. hallucinatory, drug-like experiences. During the inquisition, someone who accidently ate the wrong mushroom, had a "mystical" experience, and claimed to have seen God would be put to death. In the year 2000, someone attempting to replicate the experience would face years in prison if caught.

Atheists and blacks, by contrast, are protected by a host of federal and state laws.

Qabalaism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264292)

... is one of the more unusual spellings of it, but it's also worth noting that *all* the early scientists of this period studied the Kaballah (as it was more often written). This mystical tradition got heavy play with the Alchemists, who may have been wrong in many ways, but who performed the early inquiries that led the way towards true science, much as Freudians opened up the field of psychology.

Great to see topics like this on /. (2)

Udpint (151788) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264293)

Bruno truly is one of the great figures of history. Robert G. Ingersoll put it very eloquently in his The Great Infidels [infidels.org] :

On the sixteenth day of February, in the year of grace 1600, by "the triumphant beast," the Church of Rome, this philosopher, this great and splendid man, was burned. He was offered his liberty if he would recant. There was no God to be offended by his recantation, and yet, as an apostle of what he believed to be the truth, he refused this offer. To those who passed the sentence upon him he said: "It is with greater fear that ye pass this sentence upon me than I receive it." This man, greater than any naturalist of his day; grander than the martyr of any religion, died willingly in defence of what he believed to be the sacred truth.
...

He was the first of all the world who died for truth without expectation of reward. He did not anticipate a crown of glory. His imagination had not peopled the heavens with angels waiting for his soul. He had not been promised an eternity of joy if he stood firm, nor had he been threatened with the fires of hell if he wavered and recanted. He expected as his reward an eternal nothing! Death was to him an everlasting end -- nothing beyond but a sleep without a dream, a night without a star, without a dawn -- nothing but extinction, blank, utter, and eternal. No crown, no palm, no "well done, good and faithful servant," no shout of welcome, no song of praise, no smile of God, no kiss of Christ, no mansion in the fair skies -- not even a grave within the earth -- nothing but ashes, wind-blown and priest-scattered, mixed with earth and trampled beneath the feet of men and beasts.

The murder of this man will never be completely and perfectly avenged until from Rome shall be swept every vestige of priest and pope, until over the shapeless ruin of St. Peter's, the crumbled Vatican and the fallen cross, shall rise a monument to Bruno, -- the thinker, philosopher, philanthropist, atheist, martyr.

Re:A small correction. (1)

notfancy (113542) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264294)

In the 1580's Bruno had developed an elaborate theory of memory training (published in, most famously, his Clavis Magna or Great Key).

It wouldn't surprise me to know that Bruno was, in fact, a Gnostic, or at least, well-versed in the Gnostic teachings. Gnosticism in all its manifestations was condemned as a (judaizant) heresy by mid-fourth century by Origenes and Irineus. There's a massive work by one Spanish scholar (Ignacio Gomez de Liaño, El círculo de la Sabiduría I. Ediciones Siruela) which details with painstaking accuracy the genesis and development of Gnosticism as an offshoot of Metrodorian Neopytagoric mnemotechnics, and its influence on the Esenes, the Kabbalah, and in early Apostolic Christianism.

In this respect, Bruno is an heir to more than two thousand years (I'm counting from Plato's time onward to Bruno's own) of tradition that encompassed numerical mysticism, menmotechnics, topico-geometric metaphysics, Platonism, Judaism and early Christianity.

Although at more than 750 pages, and denser than neutronic matter (and the fact that it is in Spanish), I cannot recommend this book enough.

Re:It's flame bait because it's abusive AND wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264295)

I first noticed a change in December 1977

Re:Bruno was... ...misunderstood. (1)

Guido X (149966) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264296)

An excellent gloss on the interesting original article. Yates (a great book) is pretty persuasive about the fundamental dissimilarity of Bruno and Galileo. Her conclusion: "Galileo's views were based on genuine mathematics and mechanics; he lived in a different mental world from Giordano Bruno...[and] reached his conclusions on genuinely scientific grounds." (355).

Though you've got to love the solar magic ...

you are full of shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1264297)

you call a brit government owned and operated "news" outlet as a source?

how about posting some real science? like the satellite data that is INCONCLUSIVE leaning towards COOLING

Re:Extropians (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 14 years ago | (#1264298)

where exactly did Brin get the idea that Extropians are modern-day subjectivists?

Where did you get the idea that Brin said Extropians are modern-day subjectivists? It doesn't say that anywhere in his article.

--

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