Talk:Giordano Bruno

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I just noticed that some joking spirit has changed all references to Bruno into references to Brüno, possibly in homage to Sasha Baron Cohen. I guess it would be a good idea to revert to the original. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:24, 17 February 2010 (UTC)


Re "the first man to have conceptualized the universe as a continuum where the stars we see at night are of identical nature as the sun," Rowland, in Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic 2008, p.109, cites a very similar thesis in the writings of Nicolas of Cusa. I haven't had a chance to chase this any further. Freeman (talk) 20:03, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

I remember him claiming that the universe is infinite, filled with an infinite number of stars just like our sun. Did he actually claim that infinitely worlds with intelligences existed?

Yes. Remember, though, that he considered matter itself to be intelligent. -- Jmabel 21:57, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Also, in the last paragraph: It is claimed that he was burned for his Copernicanism and stated at his trial "Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it", but this is uncertain, since his theological beliefs were sufficiently unorthodox.

What is uncertain? That he said this to his judges, or that he was burned for his Copernicanism, or both? What he was burned for should be readily accessible from the trial documents, which survived. --AxelBoldt

Well, there's also the allegation by a very prominent historian of the English Renaissance (John Bossy, Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair) that Bruno was deeply involved in the Tudor efforts to suppress the Catholic Church in England - he was working in the French embassy in London as tutor to the ambassador's son. Bossy claims that Bruno's handwriting is recognizeable in letters to the secret service of the day informing on British priests. Bossy's book was not overwhelmingly positively received. His theology was certainly unorthodox - notice that he was condemned from multiple directions - so it may not have been "science", but "theology" that got him in the end. --MichaelTinkler, who had resolved to stay out of the post-medieval period.

I think he doesn't even have much science to show for and he certainly wasn't a scientist; I'm sure many of his philosophical/theological theses were considered heretical. --AxelBoldt

Bruno was a scientific man for his age but what he was martyred for was heretical free-thinking. He really did not believe in Christianity, but preferred to revert to his understanding of Hermetical religion. There isn't much about that in this article, which is a problem, since it seems pretty clear that although the Papal authorities listed individual points of belief where Bruno was considered "heretical," what they were getting at were details of his unacceptable overall notion that Christianity itself was a problem, since Jesus was a magician, not God, and since the real method of connecting with the Divine involved rituals and beliefs to be found in Hermetic documents like the "Asclepius." He was deeply against idolatry and really something of an old-fashioned animist. The misplaced notion of Bruno as a martyred scientist has rather enfevered those who are outraged at his murder and suffering. But what he died for was a very different sort of free-thinking which needs greater recognition. Also, Bruno is described as an "astronomer" in this article; but was he really? That seems fanciful. There is no question that Tycho Brahe and Galileo were astronomers. Bruno was a mathematician and he was certainly a very well-versed astrologer, and enormously influenced by the writings of Henry Cornelius Agrippa, as well as Ficino. What does that tell you? (And by the way, there is no mention of Agrippa in the article.) I think Bruno should be described, rather, as an "astrologer," since not only was he one, but astrology deeply informed almost every one of his beliefs. NaySay (talk) 17:50, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure you can describe Bruno as an astrologer. Astrological imagery, the planetary gods as instantiations of divine power, certainly were part of his thought. But an astrologer ought to be someone who attempts to learn about the world or the fate of persons by working with the conjunctions of the planets and the constellations. I know of no evidence that Bruno ever did that kind of work. Bruno was certainly not a scientist (not by any definition that arises when the word does, in the 19th century, nor any definition we now have). He was a philosopher, and a believer and perhaps a worker in natural magic (by which was meant the accomplishing of things through knowledge of and manipulation of natural forces, without the aid of spiritual entities or God. Of course Bruno's idea of what constitutes a natural force is not ours. The greatest exponent of Bruno's philosophy as underlying a complex and serious erotic magic is Ioan Culianu, "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance". And see Hilary Gatti, "Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science" for a thorough and surprising analysis of Bruno's metaphysics/physics, which contain hints of a world view that only arises with modern atomic theory and quantum mechanics -- though of course entirely speculative and not scientific at all. -- John Crowley —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:32, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

The final impulse to Bruno's trial was made by Roberto Bellarmino, the same one that is found later in relation with Galileo. He made the final accusation with 12 points, one of them, I think, was related to his copernicanism. I think the documents where it says exactly why was it burned do not survive,though.-AN

The very first sentence in the article calls Giordano Bruno an astrologer. This is not accurate. He was not known for being an astrologer at all. We should be careful about people with an idealogical agenda changing the text of the article to purposefully misinform others. I would remove the word "astrologer." I don't mind not saying that he was an astronomer, since he is not known for making astronomical measurements. But I think the word "astrologer" should be removed.

Later assessments[edit]

This sounds weak:

However, later assessments have challenged the description of his beliefs as scientific, and suggest that his ideas about the universe played a substantially smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs about God.[1][2]

It sounds like an apology to me. The citations given are weak and blathering', like someone trying to defend themselves caught for pilfering, citation [2] is not supporting the statement, its just blabbing around, and citation [1] contains Catholic Encyclopedia, who cannot be considered neutral. The sentence needs rewriting, like:

still after 409 years, when the execution of Giordano Bruno is mentioned, the believers of X are starting to babble redfacedly.[1][2]

... said: Rursus (mbor) 16:28, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for sharing your emotions. Thanks also for sharing your opinion about what seems like an apology to you. The citations are sufficient to support the statements made: on one hand they establish the historical fact that he was considered a 'martyr' for science (and add a few representative popular examples of this association, e.g. astronomers naming things after him); on the other, they establish the academic acceptance of his pantheist beliefs, and show that books have been written (the example provided is Yates, but there are others, e.g. Karen Silvia De Leon-Jones) that suggest he was far more of a magician, mystic or esoteric memory practitioner than a Martyr for Science. John Bossy even argues that he was a spy (though some problems with that line of argument seem to have emerged). If you want to find more recent discussions that assert that Bruno was a scientist then you might try Mendoza's Acentric Labyrinth. I haven't read it yet, but it seems to take an upbeat view of the relationship between Bruno's thought and modern science. You might find some material there that would form the basis of a worthwhile contribution to ensuring the neutrality of any statements. However, as it stands, you seem to be most concerned with coming out of the gates bitching about "blathering". It's worthwhile to bear in mind that making emotional remarks on an article talk page accusing Christians of red-faced babbling really doesn't meet talk page guidelines per WP:TALK ("Article talk pages should not be used by editors as platforms for their personal views."). Such guidelines contextualize your remarks here as a kind of 'blathering', if I'm allowed the term. Finally, leaving the citations aside, let's come to your belief that the statement in question sounds like an apology. One is forced to wonder how a statement indicating some uncertainty in the literature as to whether he was burned for his religious or his scientific ideas could be an apology for Christians!!?? If they burned him for mystical or for scientific ideas it would presumably have no bearing on the fact that he was burned for having unorthodox beliefs. How then could it be an apology? Please make an effort to understand the literal sense of statements (as well as their broader context in the text) before blathering on the talk page. Thanks! --Picatrix (talk) 18:12, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

My remark was inappropriate, since it created exactly that reaction. My apology to the rest of the readers, but Picatrix, that was not the reason for my emotionalism: my reason is that the Vatican and the Inquisition have hidden and braked the spread of information, and is still doing so by making apologies of "but at that time it preserved freedom". They should release all information, translate and publish it all on the web, otherwise no reason of "preserved freedom" hold! Whether he was a christian/non-christian, mystic/magician/science guy in any combination is irrelevant, I simply don't assume that the denominations in question are mutually exclusive. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:38, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Cosmology before Bruno[edit]

The section Cosmology before Bruno claims that Aristotle claimed that universe was finite, which he did not. He claimed that a finite universe requires a Void outside the universe, and since nature abhors Voids, then universe must be infinite. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:30, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Also from § Cosmology: According to Aristotle and Plato, the universe was a finite sphere[dubious – discuss]
It's all amazingly complicated… Aristotle did preclude any gap between the ethereal spheres but his universe wasn't really infinite or finite in space. Beyond the sphere of fixed stars there's no space, nothing what-so-ever, except the 47 or 55 movers (active intellects) and, more abstractly, the prime mover (first cause). Although temporally eternal, (to which the unchanging, eternal motion of the spheres aspire), the movers and the circumference are non-spacial, non-material and non-changing.
Owens, Joseph
The doctrine of being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics: A Study in the Greek Background of Mediaeval Thought.
3rd edition, revised. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. 1978.
p. 462

“It is clear then that there is neither place, nor void, nor time, outside the heaven. Hence whatever is there, is of such a nature as not to occupy any place, nor does time age it; nor is there any change in any of the things which lie beyond the outermost motion; they continue through their entire duration unalterable and unmodified, living the best and most self sufficient of lives. As a matter of fact, this word 'duration' possessed a divine significance for the ancients, for the fulfilment which includes the period of life of any creature outside of which no natural development can fall, has been call its duration. On the same principle the fulfilment of the whole heaven, the fulfilment which includes all time and infinity, is 'duration'—a name based upon the fact that it is always duration immortal and divine. From it derive the being and life which other things, some more or less articulately but other feebly, enjoy.”

Aristotle, On the Heavens
Cael., I 9,279a17-30, Oxford trans.

Machine Elf 1735 (talk) 00:37, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
A significant factor in our understanding how revolutionary Bruno's idea of an infinite universe was is that we easily forget that most people thought -- when they thought about it to any degree -- the universe was finite. Beyond the planets -- the "wandering stars" -- were the "fixed" stars, which were thought to be attached to the solid surface of the heavens. And when a bright student asked, "What is on the other side of this?" his teacher would reply, "Nothing. Now let's move on to other topics." This understanding is a hard thing for us moderns to conceive, but then it was little more than a century before us that scientists could not conceive of space being absolutely empty ("But if it contains nothing, how does light reach us? Wouldn't the atmosphere drift away?") so they were convinced it contained something they called aether -- until the famous Michelson-Morley experiment. -- llywrch (talk) 16:49, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Hi, I propose that the following sentence be deleted from the article: "he is the first European to have conceptualized the universe as a continuum where the stars we see at night are identical in nature to the Sun." The reason is that we already find this idea in Nicholas of Cusa's thought in the 15th century, as can be verified on wikipedia. Also, Augustine mentions the idea that the stars may be astronomical bodies of equal size or greater than the sun in his de genesi ad litteram, book II, 16.33. What does everybody think? Thanks, Guardaiinalto (talk) 10:46, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

I went ahead and removed that bit, yes. Sebastian Garth (talk) 20:43, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Late Vatican position: translation error[edit]

Sodano's letter[1] is traslated as saying that the Inquisitors "had the desire to preserve freedom"..
In the original we read "desiderio di servire la verità"[2] which means "the desire to serve the truth"..
Please correct the error.-- (talk) 12:15, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Fixed. Sebastian Garth (talk) 12:31, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I think that the error is from the quoted article in note; so if possible the original and official letter from the Vatican site [3] could be added. tnx
-- (talk) 12:56, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I've run the original letter through a few different translators, so the current revision basically reflects the "lowest common denominator" of the lot. Look okay? Sebastian Garth (talk) 15:31, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Vatican apology[edit]

Hi, the Catholic Curch (Pope J.Paul II) made public apology for the death of Giordano Bruno. The Pope officially stated the Curch was wrong and acted wrongly against Giordano Bruno and declared him "innocent" of what he was charged for. Why you did not mention it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:27, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Maybe because it's wrong? You need to give a reliable source for it to be added; I'm not aware of any apology towards Bruno. You may be confusing him with Galilei, the only scientist to whom Pope John Paul II did apologize according to our list. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 14:32, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

GB and a lunar impact.[edit]

Is this the same dude who observed what MAY have been an asteroid impact on the moon? Googling his name and some promising other words can't seen to get past the crater named after him, which may have occurred in 1178, so that's obviously not him. Old_Wombat (talk) 09:38, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Bruno's appearance[edit]

I have just rewritten the section previously called "Notes on Bruno portraits. The images themselves are non-notable, particularly as one is 19th century and purely derivative. It doesn't require any discussion whatsoever, in the context of the article.

The other image is interesting in that is almost certainly based on an early likeness. Although an early engraving has been suggested, if none such exists as a frontispiece to any of Bruno's works as originally published, then it might even come from an original portrait taken directly from life, in the form of a drawing or painting, and since lost.

The reasons that I suggest this other than that it came from an earlier print are simply that prints usually: a. serve a purpose i.e. as a frontispiece in a book, b. are created for mass production, giving a them better chance of survival than a drawing.

The image in the engraving coincides very well with the archbishop's description of Bruno as being like a little water bird, strutting around with bright eyes, dabbling its long beak into everything.

Amandajm (talk) 23:44, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Neapolitan, Italian...[edit]

Neminis has replaced Bruno's description as an "Italian" philosopher in the first sentence with the description "Neapolitan." While I appreciate the historical point being made, this change may confuse readers unacquainted with Bruno and his work, and I think his origin is made perfectly clear in the first paragraph of the article's main body of text. Wikipedia describes Thomas Aquinas as "Italian" in the first sentence of the lede and later notes that he was born in the Kingdom of Sicily. Similarly, Francis of Assisi is described as "Italian" in the lede, and so is Galileo, though the latter was born in the Duchy of Florence. If there are no objections I'll change this back shortly. -Darouet (talk) 13:34, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

In fiction[edit]

If I am correct, there is usally an 'In fiction' section at the end of articles. I am currently reading 'Heresy' by S J Parris, in which Bruno is the central character. (talk) 09:32, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Personally, I find it refreshing to find an article that lacks such a section. (talk) 04:16, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

Astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Hermeticism[edit]

The article currently states that Bruno was influenced by astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism. This is confusing for a number of reasons:

  • "Facts of the universe" is a strange formulation, especially when we write that these are "inherited" from astrology, Neoplatonism or Hermeticism. A fact is a true statement about the universe and isn't inherited from others. For instance it would be confusing to write that Bruno was influenced by facts of the universe inherited from Copernicus. Rather, it would be true to say that Bruno was influenced by Copernican thought, or that Copernicus' astronomical observations influenced Bruno's thinking.
  • Arab astrology is mentioned in the lede and never mentioned again. The lede is supposed to be a summary of the article, so Arab astrology shouldn't be mentioned here unless it's brought up elsewhere.
  • I'm not an expert on Astrology in medieval Islam, but as far as Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism are concerned, it is misleading to write that Bruno was influenced by "facts of the universe" inherited from these beliefs systems. That specific wording implies that these systems of thought revealed certain facts: that's an editorial statement declaring some portion of Neoplatonism or Renaissance Hermeticism to be "true." While anyone's entitled to believe as much, I doubt it would be the consensus view of an encyclopedia in the 21st century.

We should just fix that sentence. -Darouet (talk) 03:38, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Possible Homosexuality[edit]

The source currently used for the brief mention of Bruno's homosexuality is not a scholarly one. That doesn't mean it should automatically be removed, and if you read the source it does appear to reference other, perhaps more scholarly works that speak of Bruno's possible homosexuality. If anyone finds scholarly material on the subject please feel free to post that here, or discuss the issue more generally. My feeling is that we shouldn't have a section in the article dedicated to the topic, but should reference the speculation in some other biographical portion. -Darouet (talk) 14:11, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

I understand what you say, but sources don't necessarily have to be "scholarly" to be reliable and acceptable for citation on WP, do they? In any case, as you point out, which I was also aware of when I created this section, the cited source is based on and lists a number of other references that are "scholarly." Trouble is, most of them are printed works so they aren't available to me. I did spend a couple hours going through Google Books, etc., looking for something with which to extend the section but came up empty-handed. However, I am sure that Symonds and Pater, both classically trained scholars who wrote about many historical gay figures, didn't make up the legend out of whole cloth; there must be sources that would support the assertion. Also see this reply to my query on the WP:LGBT talk page.
All of which is to say, my feeling is that the section is both noteworthy and acceptable per WP standards, and should remain in place so that one day, soon I hope, someone with more time and access to more sources can expand it. If it's buried as part of some other section, nobody may notice for a long, long time; this way, it's more likely to attract notice and get expanded. I don't see how having this separate section detracts or distracts from anything else in the article, and thus there's no need to rush to scrub it out, is there? (God knows there's plenty of other stuff on WP that needs a good scrubbing and rewriting.) So can you live with that? Textorus (talk) 23:46, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Seems reasonable to me. Sebastian Garth (talk) 01:52, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I am sympathetic to all this, but there is the issue of what Symonds and Pater actually wrote on Bruno's sexuality, and of where we should place this in the article.
Part II, chapter 9 of Symonds' "Renaissance in Italy" states that Bruno's sexuality may indeed have been quite free, but probably not homosexual:
"He was never delicate in his choice of phrase, and made no secret of the admiration which the beauty of women excited in his nature. The accusations brought against him at Venice contained one article of indictment implying that he professed distinctly profligate opinions; and though there is nothing to prove that his private life was vicious, the tenor of his philosophy favors more liberty of manners than the Church allowed in theory to her ministers."
Pater's 1889 Essay on Bruno does obliquely suggest, I think, homosexual desires (and please excuse the long quote):
"From those first fair days of early Greek speculation, love had occupied a large place in the conception of philosophy; and in after days Bruno was fond of developing, like Plato, like the Christian platonist, combining something of the peculiar temper of each, the analogy between intellectual enthusiasm and the flights of physical love, with an animation which shows clearly enough the reality of his experience in the latter. The Eroici Furori, his book of books, dedicated to Philip Sidney, who would be no stranger to such thoughts, presents a singular blending of verse and prose, after the manner of Dante's Vita Nuova. The supervening philosophic comment re-considers those earlier physical impulses which had prompted the sonnet in voluble Italian, entirely to the advantage of their abstract, incorporeal equivalents. Yet if it is after all but a prose comment, it betrays no lack of the natural stuff out of which such mystic transferences must be made. That there is no single name of preference, no Beatrice or Laura, by no means proves the young man's earlier desires merely "Platonic;" and if the colours of love inevitably lose a little of their force and propriety by such deflection, the intellectual purpose as certainly finds its opportunity thereby, in the matter of borrowed fire and wings."
We really should find a scholarly source that speaks clearly about this, rather than use the website now provided. Can we agree to keep what's there now until better sources are found, but also agree that what's present is inadequate? Most of the citations provided neither support nor undermine the article's central thesis.
As to having a section dedicated to this issue, I don't think that's appropriate because even the Pater and Symonds sources only refer to Bruno's sexuality in passing, while their central concern is his philosophy. Having a section uniquely dedicated to this issue, when there could be many other sections dedicated to the vast expanse of Bruno's ideas and many episodes of his life, gives the issue of his sexuality (about which it seems little is written) undue weight. We should consider ultimately merging this section into another dedicated perhaps to his personal life, his temperament, or to some specific events, etc.
In the mean time, in order to improve the article, perhaps you could try to find some published sources that discuss this? There's no rush to "scrub this out," but because this is an encyclopedia we should try hard to get it right. -Darouet (talk) 21:55, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
I very much agree we should try hard to get it right, as we should with any article; and I appreciate that you have apparently gone to the trouble of reading Symonds's and Pater's references to Bruno, although it appears that you and the source I cited disagree on the interpretation thereof. I have just blockquoted the two most relevant paragraphs from Staebler's article, so he can speak for himself. I think it would be dandy and in keeping with WP principles if you found opposing viewpoints to cite there as well, as long it's not WP:OR.
Though I am generally interested in gay history, Bruno and his time are not a particular area of expertise for me, and although I would like to take up your invitation to hunt for further sources - either yea or nay - as I mentioned in my first comment above, I did spend a couple of hours combing through Google Books already, and I simply don't have the time to devote to tracking down paper-and-ink sources, nor do I have access to online subscription services like JSTOR and such. So I leave it up to someone else with more time and better resources; I just thought I was doing a good deed by making mention of it with an appropriate citation.
As I'm sure you know, homosexuality was literally unmentionable - peccatum illud horribile non nominandum inter Christianos - for the better part of the last two thousand years, and were erased from the historical record. It is only just in the last few decades that scholars and reference works have begun to restore the facts to history. And it may be that, as in the case of William Shakespeare and others we could name, there will never be any definitive answer about Bruno's sexuality; still, if numbers of competent scholars discuss evidence and the possibility that he was gay, then to me that's notable and worthy of inclusion, whatever the prevailing view may be, one way or the other.
I agree with you also that much more could be said here about Bruno and his life and his writings. I have changed the section title to the perhaps more neutral "Sexuality"; and as you suggest, I would be happy to see this made a subsection of a "Personal life" section instead of standing alone as a first-level division of the article. Do you want to reshape the article that way? Textorus (talk) 00:20, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
Would you mind if we first quoted Pater and Symonds directly, and then merely referenced Staebler and his interpretation, instead of quoting him? -Darouet (talk) 22:28, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
If you like, as long as the clear mention of possible homosexuality and the citation remain for others to find. Textorus (talk) 10:51, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

I have at last been able to find Symonds' commentary on Bruno as quoted by the Staebler piece. Symonds is actually writing about Whitman, but he does refer to Bruno a number of times. I'll post those references below, partly so that you can judge for yourself if Symonds is making a commentary on Bruno's sexuality, but more importantly because his words are lovely.


In Whitman's thought, as in that of Bruno, Spinoza, Goethe, there is no separation of God from the Universe. Therefore what is said about the latter, holds good of the former. In spite of the reality of both to our soul, both are unknown and unknowable in their essence. The same is true of Life and Death.


Whitman's actual words must be repeated. Their mysticism is far too subtle for abridgement or description. He is engaged in trying once again to express what Bruno thought, what throbs in the heart of those of us who feel that Science marries with Religion - namely, that there is a point beyond Law, Love and Hatred, where the harmony we dimly guess, on which our faith is founded, merges into eternal, concrete, spiritual energ. His unrestricted faith, his imperturbable optimism, transcends the sphere of law, charity, revolt. Jehovah, Jesus, Satan, find the resolution of their discord, the atonement of their contradiction, in that unity of the universe which can only be dimly apprehended by our mortal minds, but upon which our confidence as creatures of the total scheme is fixed and grounded.


Whether this cosmic enthusiasm, which has been expressed by Whitman with a passion of self-dedication, a particularity of knowledge, and a sublimity of imagination, unapproached by any poet-prophet since the death of Bruno, is destined to reinforce the soul of man with faith, and to inaugurate a new religion, I dare not even pause to question. We are told that it is not calculated to inspire the ignorant with rapture, to console the indigent and suffering by suggestions of some mitigation of their lot.


It cannot be denied that much in Whitman puzzled and repelled me. But it was the aesthetic, not the moral, sensibility that suffered; for I felt at once that his method of treating sexual things (the common stumbling-block to beginners) was the right one, and wished that I had come across "Children of Adam" several years earlier. My academical prejudices, the literary instincts trained by two decades of Greek and Latin studies, the refinements of culture, and the exclusiveness of aristocratic breeding, revolted against the uncouthness, roughness, irregularity, coarseness, of the poet and his style. But, in the course of a short time, Whitman delivered my soul of these debilities. As I have elsewhere said in print, he taught me to comprehend the harmony between the democratic spirit, science, and that larger religion to which the modern world is being led by the conception of human brotherhood, and by the spirituality inherent in any really scientific view of the universe. He gave body, concrete vitality, to the religious creed which I had been already forming for myself upon the study of Goethe, Greek and Roman Stoics, Giordano Bruno, and the founders of evolutionary doctrine. He inspired me with faith, and made me feel that optimism was not unreasonable. This gave me great cheer in those evil years of enforced idleness and intellectual torpor which my health imposed upon me. Moreover, he helped free me from man conceits and pettiness to which my academic culture is liable. He opened my eyes to beauty, goodness and greatness which may be found in all worthy human beings, the humblest and the highest. He made me respect personality more than attainments or position in the world. Through him, I stripped my soul of social prejudices. Through him, I have been able to fraternise in comradeship with men of all classes and several races, irrespective of their caste, creed, occupation, and special training. To him I owe some of the best friends I now can claim - sonds of the soil; hard-workers, "natural and nonchalant," "powerful uneducated" persons.

Symonds, John Addington, "Walt Whitman, a Study." John C. Nimmo, 1893, London. [4]

I hope this is helpful a little. Staebler does seem to be taking these quotes in a very different direction, which is why I wrote above that I didn't feel his references actually supported the thesis of his article. This doesn't mean we shouldn't mention his piece: as you note, Textorus, this will allow readers to investigate themselves. But that we shouldn't give it undue weight in the article. -Darouet (talk) 16:13, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

I appreciate your conscientious research in digging up the Symonds piece; which, indeed, is beautifully written, and to my mind very aptly represents that stately barque of Victorian optimism which sailed along so smoothly until it foundered in the next century on the sharp rocks of war, revolution, and "isms" of every kind, including the glittering but barbarous materialism of the present time. And I congratulate you on such a fine reworking of the article; I think you have improved it greatly, and now it seems to flow much better from begininng to end for a casual reader such as myself. Good job, Darouet! The one very small criticism I have is that the "Personal life" section, which you very skillfully rewrote, would still be better titled "Sexuality," in my view: it discusses nothing else. But do as you please with it, I'm willing to let the matter rest there. And I thank you for the most agreeable disagreement I've ever had on Wikipedia. Textorus (talk) 22:48, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

In all honesty, I have to say that the subject of Bruno's homosexuality is a non-issue. The reason I say this is because any thoughts on the issue are "Pure" speculation and conjecture, nothing else. If Assumptions could substitute as Facts, this world would be a completely different place. I have read at least 2 biographies on Bruno and there is no mention of his sexuality and for good reason. There is no purpose in bringing the subject of sexuality into his biography if there is no actual proof to support it. Just imagine if you were a lone monk, practicing abstinence for over half your life and died with the same integrity. Is it fair to Bruno's memory, his personal sacrifices and his lasting image to unfairly associate his image with a potentially false claim? If you read deeper into Bruno's work, you will see that Bruno worshiped the "Mind" and all of it's infinite capabilities and potentialities. Furthermore, his devotion and sacrifice would include resisting the urges of the flesh. To say that Bruno was secretly a homosexual is to undermine and insult this great man's sense of discipline, sacrifice and ultimately his personal religious mission. Giordano Bruno was a bold personality, he was direct and was unafraid to tell people exactly how he felt and for this he is appropriately viewed as a rebel. If you ask me, the reason Giordano Bruno is thought of as possibly being a homosexual is due to his deeply rebellious spirit, nothing else. The same thing could be said of Christopher Marlowe, who for some reason many biographers and scholars have always accepted as homosexual when there is no real proof. Marlowe's accuser, Richard Baines was only trying to deflect attention off of himself and put as much blame on Marlowe, he was an informant with everything to lose and his accusations cannot be trusted. Additionally, there is no evidence to support the claim that Bruno associated with Marlowe. Bruno left England to go back to France in 1585 and although he did associate himself with the School of Night in London and its circle of members who would later be associated with Marlowe, Marlowe himself did not officially arrive in London until 1587. If we can accept that Giordano Bruno was a monk for approximately the first 30 years of his life, how much imagination would be required to believe that Bruno may simply have retained the personal discipline of a traveling Monk / Scholar? This is a highly likely scenario if you ask me. Consider this, if Bruno was truly a homosexual who had engaged in some alleged immoral conduct, don't you think the Inquisition would have jumped at this piece of evidence (even the slightest accusation) to condemn and punish Bruno with even more vigor? It was more prized by the Church to destroy Bruno's reputation more than actually take his life, since this would injure his potential influence in the future. This is also possibly why Bruno was imprisoned for such a long period of time. If the Church was trying to gather as much dirt on Bruno as possible, they had 8 years to do it! Also, Bruno's play, "Candlebearer" may be a heavily satirical work but the primary subject for satire are the Pedants, the Monks, Scholars or Priests who had power and authority during this time but were complete hypocrites in Bruno's eyes. If Bruno is using the term candle bearer to refer to holding one's genitals, it is only to point out incompetence in general. Bruno is saying that he is the true "Torch Bearer", the possessor of the Light, the Truth while the hypocrites are only capable of holding their genitals. Bruno was too profound to make an entire work about hypocrisy without providing a solution and forging a new path. This is why the petty perspectives do not make sense on their own, they need to be viewed within a complete context of Bruno's ultimate and sacred vision. Imagine if Bruno was simply an abstinent monk. Is this section regarding his homosexuality fair to him? An encyclopedia should retain only facts, not gossip or speculations or half truths. Bruno died for truth,not assumptions and speculations. He sacrificed much in his lifetime. If we are to give the world information on this great man, we should have the dignity to treat him with respect and tell the truth based only on verifiable facts, because the truth is what he died for. I suggest removing the speculative section altogether, since it attempts to give shape and form where there is nothing but ambiguity. Bruno's ideas are too important to be cluttered by petty conjectures concerning unknown personal preferences. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Con v66 (talkcontribs) 19:36, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure if the reference to sexuality should be in there. Basically, the only comment on the subject is from Walter Pater, an English essayist, who in 1889 may have obliquely suggested Bruno's homosexuality. Mark Staebler has a web site in which he argues that Bruno was homosexual and cites Pater. Staebler also cites Symonds, but appears to be taking Symonds' words out of context, because Symonds suggests that Bruno was heterosexual (all this is reviewed above). In any event, this is speculation from a website. At the moment the comment doesn't take up much space, but I'm not arguing it belongs. -Darouet (talk) 12:53, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I agree with you that the section about sexuality doesn't belong. It should be removed. If Bruno's sexuality could be absolutely verified based on some primary source documentation, (which is highly unlikely) then no one could say anything and the fact could stand on its own. There is nothing wrong with Bruno possibly being a homosexual in my eyes, (it's assumed by many scholars that the same sex monastic life in general allows for the growth of this behavior, Another example - Prisons) but assumptions are just assumptions until proven otherwise. On your comment regarding the fact that the statements doesn't take up much space; space has absolutely nothing to do with facts. Just because a statement is short doesn't make it true or give it a free pass. Spreading misinformation is dangerous and I feel it is unfair to Bruno to have this section up. It only exists because of speculation on another website, which is a pro LGBT website that misleads the reader more than anything. It is not the website that is dangerous, but the misinformation others freely accept as being true when it is not.
Would someone (a scholar) really need to prove Bruno's sexuality in order to mention it? I think, rather, that if his sexuality had received significant attention from reliable sources, that attention could be reviewed here in this article. As it is, I haven't seen such attention: Bruno's personal sexuality just doesn't come up in biographies or studies of his philosophy. Sexuality more generally speaking, and not related to Bruno's own preferences, is something which might be mentioned. Bruno was very critical of religious (Christian) misogynists, a result of various aspects of his materialism and arguably his generally democratic spirit; the issue is reviewed in biographies. -Darouet (talk) 20:48, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I've searched for material on the subject and just not found it. Can we agree to remove the section in a few days if we can't find a direct reference to the issue in some book or article on Bruno? Perhaps Pater's views on Bruno could be incorporated into the article in some other way; will think about how this might be done. -Darouet (talk) 20:52, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
You're right, the issue of his sexuality or sexual orientation doesn't have to be proven or verified in order to be mentioned. Which naturally brings up the next question, "Why (should) it be mentioned?". Bruno's life is most appropriately defined by his ideas not his personal preferences. Why don't we put in a section about his favorite food and color while we're at it? How about a secret rendezvous he had with an English monk named Adam when he was in London? Just kidding. :) Don't you see how valueless and how digressive speculation can really be? Here are my personal opinions: I truly feel "the issue" detracts from some of the more important facts and purposes of his life's biography. It is as if an an entire biographical article of absolute conviction and bold and immense biographical details is slowed down or even reduced into petty slander and misdirected, valueless speculation. I always look at historical figures with a balanced perspective. Consider this - I have read time and time again that if you want to know the truth about someone, you seek out their peers and contemporaries. The people who surrounded a man or woman while they actually "lived" are the greatest and most valued sources for gaining the most accurate knowledge of someone or something. The same is often said concerning Translations of works from different languages. Literary Critics and even many Authors have observed that while modern translations of great works are generally more accurate in a linguistic sense, they often include language, diction and vocabulary that did not exist during the authorship of the original work. Too many liberties are often taken by modern translators. Additionally, the older translations and especially the ones written contemporaneously while the original author was still alive, capture the feel and the essence of the era and time period like no other translation ever can. Walter Pater was no peer or contemporary, in fact "Many of Pater's works focus on male beauty, friendship and love, either in a Platonic way or, obliquely, in a more physical way" These subjects apparently interested Pater, so it is not surprising his works revive these same interests in the guise of speculations. Not a responsible critic if you ask me, but how many critics are? Have you ever wondered why critics have such bad reputations? On the other hand, "None" of Bruno's "contemporaries" ever wrote about, or spoke about anything involving his sexuality. Remember, this was no quite man! He openly cursed, condemned, slandered and verbally attacked everyone, wherever he went. I find it difficult that there is no record of anyone, anywhere mentioning a close relationship or some type specialized tutoring of young adolescents etc. I will give you more examples. Look up Benvenuto Cellini. This man was equally as bold of a figure as Bruno, he was italian, an artist and this man was a known homosexual who had numerous affairs with young boys and young men. Now, lets move on to minor figures of the Renaissance. Look up Benedetto Varchi, he was an Italian poet, who although not as famed as Bruno, was immediately known and understood by his contemporaries as a homosexual. So, the truth is, when some famed author or figure traveled from University to University during the Renaissance, surrounded by young boys, young men, middle aged men, old men, there is not one account or accusation from his contemporaries? Not even some minor association with an apprentice or student? WOW! Now, let's think! If someone was a homosexual, people found out. If someone such as Bruno, who was hated by everyone wherever he went, and ran into conflict wherever he went, if this type of man wasn't accused by his contemporaries and peers, then who would? If this type of man messed around with some young boys or young men whose fathers or local leaders would have sold him out to the authorities or the church in a heart beat. The entire personal life section should be taken off. Allow Bruno's ideas to stand at the forefront of his biography! It's his ideas that he died for! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Con v66 (talkcontribs) 00:46, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
I would like to add that I hope I am not forcing you or anyone to remove or to completely disqualify a thought or possibility from a biography. I think it can be fairly said that I have never A) removed any text from the actual article and B) that I have done nothing more than form an argument for Fact and against Speculation. I am actually pleased there are others who have taken an interest in Bruno, I only hope this interest does not further displace Facts with Speculation. With all due respect, Darouet, may I ask how your interest in Bruno developed? Also, do you truly feel it is important to include any commentary on his sexuality? If so, why? The quote from Pater's article that appears above shows the author reaching for an answer without finding one. I personally feel sometimes we as humans mistake the act of looking or searching for something that doesn't exist to be enough to validate that something into existence. This is wrong. On the other hand, I am not so ignorant to completely remove the possibility of Bruno's sexuality out of my head altogether. Anything is possible and in line with all the many examples I have given above in regard to the homo social world in which most men lived during this period, I do not think it is wrong to speculate on the matter. Just as long as the speculation does not substitute as truth and become a false representation of someone's character. Pater himself recognizes and utilizes platonic love and intellectual love as the jumping off point toward his extremely vague thought regarding Bruno's possible homosexuality. Why is he so vague? Is it because Pater feared discussion of Bruno's homosexuality? I doubt that. Bruno was dead and what is more, dozens upon dozens of historical figures before and since Bruno have been documented as homosexuals without fear of censorship. I have already mentioned 2 of of Bruno's contemporaries above. Let's not forget about Henry James, Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde, contemporaries of Pater. I think the reason Pater is vague is because he has no real basis to form his thought and so consequently it remains extremely vague and shapeless. My friend, if this is the most evidence that can be found on Bruno's possible "homosexuality"...I am shocked! Staebler should not even be mentioned at all, it should be clear to see that such descriptions coming from a pro LGBT site necessarily reveal themselves to be biased and agenda driven. Facts do not discriminate and are not biased. I just think it is wrong to label anyone falsely and for Bruno, who abstained as a monk for many years of his life and perhaps even to death, this same man who deeply admired the famously celibate Thomas Aquinas, unless we have facts it is not fair to do this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Con v66 (talkcontribs) 21:04, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
If there is no objection, either minor or major, I will remove the personal life section within a week. I think it is safe to say that it is all One Big Guess and nothing more. If anyone, anywhere, has some additional insight on the matter or feels there is something I should know or simply wants to voice their opinion, please do so. I am open to consideration or reconsideration of any kind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Con v66 (talkcontribs) 00:19, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
One of the problems caused by the speculation of whether such and such a person was homosexual is that it invariably swamps the rest of the article, with masses of quotes trying to prove the point.
I think that mention of it as a possibility is enough: "Author (name) suggests that Bruno was homosexual, based on interpretation of his writing "Name of work" (ref)
It's not a point that needs labouring, particularly in todays climate. Sexual orientation is just one aspect of ones humanity, and may be highly significant, or not very significant at all, in terms of what one is famous for. In Michelangelo's case, it was significant, and was revealed in his writings, so it can simply be stated as fact. In Leonardo's case it is singularly insignificant and no-one really has a clue, except for that unpleasant little matter in 1479. However, (previously) the Leonardo da Vinci page was swamped by so much speculation on his sexuality that there was no description of his artworks. So, in Bruno's case, how significant is it, in terms of his achievements? Amandajm (talk) 01:00, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Pictures of Bruno[edit]

I have just deleted a misleading picture of Bruno. The reason is that the picture is clearly based upon the one that is included in the article, further down the page as the earliest known portrait of Bruno which is though to be based on one done from life.

The deleted picture is a nice neat tidy clean picture of a very much later date- 19th or 20th century, and obviously derivative. The date of the book is given as late 16th century, but it is impossible that this picture appeared in that form in that book. There was no method of printing at the time that could have created that image. So it doesn't date from the 1500s. It is merely a picture that has been used to illustrate a much later edition.

The picture should not be used in preference to a much older wood-cut, thought to have been based on an original drawing.

Hope this is clear enough. Amandajm (talk) 13:19, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Infobox deletions[edit]

Nikkimaria has just removed the "influences/influenced" parameters from the infobox for the second time today, without giving an adequate reason. While this may be because there aren't enough supporting references in the text, having read Yeates (albeit more than 30 years ago) it does seem to me like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps someone with more expertise can provide the necessary references. Cheers, Bahudhara (talk) 05:26, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

These parameters are not supported by infobox person, which was the template in use at the time of the first removal and which is the base for infobox theologian, the current template. Thus, the article was included in the cleanup category Category:Infobox person using influence. Furthermore, even where the parameter is supported, it requires the information to be supported and cited in the article text; the majority is not. Per WP:BURDEN, the restoration of unsourced material is inappropriate. Nikkimaria (talk) 05:56, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
The template currently in use (and in use before it was changed in December 2012 to infobox person), is actually infobox philosopher, not infobox theologian. Thus the parameters are supported, they just need more supportive references. Cheers, Bahudhara (talk) 08:23, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Ah, you're correct, my mistake. In that case they need to be both explained and sourced in the article text in order to be included. Nikkimaria (talk) 15:32, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Nikkimaria, the "Influenced" parameter basically serves the purpose of listing a philosopher's influence on scholars. A quick look at the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy usually suffices to verify such content (I have personally checked hundreds of Wikipedia articles that feature this template and already removed information that was unverifiable and provided citations for content that seemed dubious at first glance). Also note that this parameter has never been put to doubt so far by any member of Wikipedia:WikiProject Philosophy. Until it does, please do not remove such parameters. --Omnipaedista (talk) 09:17, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
Re your edit summary, I gave you a good reason: you are required to explain and source every entry in this parameter in the article text, and for most of them this has not been done. Until you've done so, please do not restore such parameters. Nikkimaria (talk) 15:32, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

(outdent) It is misleading for you to suggest that this has to do with WP:BURDEN. I have reservations about the criteria you used to trim down the list in this article. It seems that you removed every name that does not appear in the body of the article. So you removed Schopenhauer; well, anyone who has read his On Genius knows that Schopenhauer made direct reference to Bruno; and secondary scholarly literature has commented on their relation (see Robert J. Wicks (2008:190). In another article you doubted that Sergey Nechayev was influenced by Mikhail Bakunin. My objection is that there was actually already a citation for it in the body of the article: (cf. also But even if there weren't one, this would still be a factually accurate and verifiable piece of information that could be easily sourced. Removing it is a bit like removing "Stuttgart" from Hegel's infobox because no source is given that this is his birthplace. Information is usually removed when it is dubious (i.e., likely to be challenged) and hard to verify; so, it is an overkill to remove en masse easily verifiable information and using WP:BURDEN as your only rationale. In some cases you even deleted already verified information; examples include: Emma Goldmann (, Edward Said ( and David Hume (,_3rd_Earl_of_Shaftesbury#cite_note-8) to name a few. So please do not camouflage this as a trivial WP:BURDEN issue.

Since there is no deadline, sourcing issues can be solved through normal editorial processes. If you think that certain entries in the infobox of an article should not be there, please leave a message on the relevant talk page identifying where the problems are. "Driveby" mass removals are not helpful in this case; effectively your edits consist in "enforcing" a very subjective interpretation of policy to reverse what other editors have done with care.

Currently there are 1,568 articles that employ Infobox philosopher. I have worked on improving most of them (removing deprecated infobox parameters and filling in the place of birth and death, school/tradition, and influences/influenced parameters). My main source has always been the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (the most reputable reference work available in the literature); occasionally, I also used peer-reviewed research papers. While, I did include citations to the research papers, unfortunately, I did not do the legwork to provide any citations to the Encyclopedia. But I did intend to provide citations for every single entry and am still working on it.

You might propose in the appropriate venue (here or here) the following: "'Influences' / 'influenced' has to be via physical contact, not via study of works or books", or you might propose that "Every entry should be explained and sourced", or you might propose that "'Influences' / 'influenced' should be deprecated". Until the time that consensus is reached in favor of your edits, your actions remain unilateral (i.e, not the result of a consensus that involved some work to reach). (For the record, those parameters were present since the very first version of Infobox philosopher and their utility has never been challenged before by any active member of WikiProject Philosophy.)

Regarding your "simplify" rationale, I will quote User:271828182 who wrote here that "the 'Influenced' infobox basically serves the purpose of listing [a philosopher's] positive influence on scholars." I grant that having this piece of information in prose is better than having it in a list; but not having it at all because the parameter that used to include the list has been or might one day be deprecated is the sloppiest solution possible and a disservice to our readers. --Omnipaedista (talk) 12:26, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

It is a requirement that any entry in the influences/influenced parameter be explained and sourced in the article text. If that requirement is not met, entries may be removed. Nikkimaria (talk) 18:14, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
There are abundant sources available describing those who influenced Bruno's philosophy, and those whom he influenced. I think we can all agree on an easy solution to this argument: let's just find some of those sources and place them here. Rowland's recent biography is, I'm sure, a good start. This is a wonderful book by Hilary Gatti on the subject. She has also written this new book on Bruno I've never seen, and this book about his place in Renaissance/Baroque science. -Darouet (talk) 04:03, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Probably he was burned, as Schioppius reports, though we have no legal proof of the fact.[edit]

That is a quote from the source that this article claims explicitly supports the statement found in the current article.

"[...]guilty of heresy, and he was burned at the stake."

Should perhaps be changed to something like "[...]guilty of heresy, and he was probably burned at the stake." - at least if this source is to be used. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:09, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

That's alright: we don't need a hostile article written in 1876 to verify that Bruno was burned at the stake. -Darouet (talk) 17:47, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

The name of Bruno's works[edit]

De la Causa, Principio et Uno (1584)is one of Bruno's works. In this article, it is translated as On Cause, Principle and Unity, But in the 7th volume of the Story of Civilization (the Age of Reason Begins) it is translated as Of Cause, Beginning, and the One. Which one is better here? Pirehelokan (talk) 01:19, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Dear Pirehelokan, thanks for your note. I think the second translation you offer would be fair, but prefer the first, which is that used by Cambridge's important translation and commentary. I also believe it is more commonly used, and my recollection of the work is that it is more concerned with the principles governing matter than their specific beginnings. What do you think? -Darouet (talk) 12:06, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
Dear Darouet, Thank you. I am not an expert in this field, but your reasoning seems reasonable. Pirehelokan (talk) 13:40, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Executed for His Conception of God[edit]

This source[5] was used to demonstrate that "some scholars argue..." that Bruno was killed for his specific scientific speculations, but the source does not demonstrate that. Every scholar I have looked at has said Bruno was killed for his pantheistic religious views; infinite God view. His scientific views obviously influenced his overall views, but the suggestion that there are actual scholars that believe that it was specifically or only his scientific speculations that had him killed is incorrect. NaturaNaturans (talk) 06:09, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

The source actually says the opposite:
It says that Bruno "was expelled from country after country for heretical views that ranged from dabbling in magic to denying the divinity of Christ. What endears him to modern scientists, though, is that Bruno embraced Copernicus's heliocentric model of the solar system and even went one step further: He declared that Earth was just one of an infinite number of worlds, each perhaps inhabited by creatures entirely foreign to us--and to the church. After a long imprisonment, Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600. It is unclear whether Bruno's cosmology played a role in his condemnation, but he has since become a symbol of a church crusade against the progress of science." --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 18:38, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
The insinuation is that he was burned for a little bit of everything. DeistCosmos (talk) 22:31, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
This is a controversial issue for numerous reasons. First, scientific historiographical traditions emphasize Bruno's scientific contributions, whereas Catholic or mystical traditions emphasize his heresy or pantheism. These perspectives have obvious political implications. In anglophone scholarship, an earlier focus on Bruno's scientific contributions gave way, after Frances Yates' seminal study, to a focus on neoplatonism. In recent decades in France and Italy there's been a return to a more scientific outlook. That has partially entered anglophone scholarship via, say, Hillary Gatti, who worked with the famous Giovanni Acquilecchia.
Second, record of Bruno's actual trial was lost. The story goes that Napoleon seized the papers among many others during his conquest of Rome, and those were later lost. Which makes resolution of the conflict difficult. Anyway, most American graduate students whom I speak with, who study the subject, are deeply committed to Yates' story, whereas in Europe they moved past that some time ago (with some exceptions). -Darouet (talk) 00:54, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
How Bruno is talked about is aside my original topic. It's more about what historians state was the reason for his execution. I have not seen a single example of a historian saying he was executed due to his scientific speculations. They state he was executed because of his theology. NaturaNaturans (talk) 02:37, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
Hilary Gatti and Giovanni Acquilecchia are famous historians; sorry for the misunderstanding. -Darouet (talk) 04:01, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
@Darouet: Looking at this summary of Gatti's book [6], it seems that the argument is to emphasize Bruno's contribution to the development of scientific thought. It may very well be that he can and should be considered important in that way, but that is not the issue here. The question is whether he was executed because the church feared or wished to suppress heliocentrism and/or the idea that exoplanets exist. To my knowledge there is no evidence (or WP:RS support) for an affirmative answer to that question. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 19:36, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Featured prominently on "Cosmos", episode 1[edit]

I probably don't have to tell you this, but will, just in case. Giordano Bruno had a prominently featured, long, and beautiful segment in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, episode 1: "Standing Up in the Milky Way". It occurs approximately at the half-way point. Full episode 1: (expires in 55 days); Giordano Bruno clip: (no expiration date given). Watch and enjoy! Wordreader (talk) 02:52, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Thanks! -Darouet (talk) 04:02, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
I just watched The Colbert Report. Neil deGrasse Tyson was the guest. Stephen Colbert asked specifically about the way Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey dealt with the execution of Bruno. NdT said that they specifically made it clear that Roman authorities burned Bruno, not the Church, but at the behest of the Inquisition, which is an institution that the Church no longer has. He seemed quite diplomatic to me. Look at the CR's website tomorrow for a video of the episode. Wordreader (talk) 04:17, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
"Beautiful" may be an appropriate description of its artistic quality, but I find it very unfortunate that the producers chose to strongly indicate that Bruno was persecuted because of his vision of exoplanets, or that he was executed because the church feared or wished to suppress heliocentrism and/or the idea that exoplanets exist. Cosmos did a disservice to its viewers by perpetuating such gross misinformation. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 19:39, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
BlueMoonlet, we shouldn't write too bombastically on the "gross misinformation" campaign perpetrated against the Catholic church which did, only a few years later, formally declare heliocentrism to be heretical, and banned heliocentric books. In that latter case as in Bruno's, Bellarmine played an important role in the outcome. I agree with your concern however that this article stick to reliable published sources so help on that front will be appreciated (and in that vein, references to the Galileo affair will be helpful to readers for context). -Darouet (talk) 04:40, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
I stand by my statement. The substantially erroneous representations in the segment are more than I can count on one hand. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 18:42, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, indeed, it's graphically a very beautiful segment. The animation was a good choice over human actors. I'm glad you appreciated it. However, I'm finding it difficult to understand your objections to the way the researchers and authors of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey depict Bruno. It's stated above that he was murdered for his "theology" and not his intuitive view of the nature of the universe. How do you tease these concepts apart? Does one not follow the other in the minds of his Inquisition judges and of any reasonable contemporary reader? Thank you, Wordreader (talk) 19:54, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
I concur absolutely. Bruno's cosmology/theology was holistically inseparable. DeistCosmos (talk) 20:37, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
The segment opens with Bruno hiding his copy of De rerum natura under his floorboards and then getting in trouble when the book is discovered; in reality, the Church never banned the book and many scholars critically engaged with it. The segment repeatedly portrays those who rejected Copernicanism in Bruno's day as stupid and evil, when in fact Copernicus had mathematical elegance but not observational evidence on his side at the time (the latter came only with Kepler and Galileo).
But mostly the segment is to blame for its inordinate emphasis on Bruno's belief in many worlds. If the segment had been true to Bruno's history, it would have spent most of its time describing his belief in sorcery, ancient Egyptian religion, and his denial of many core Catholic doctrines. Those were the things that got him in trouble, with his belief in many worlds rather an afterthought both for Bruno and for his persecutors. Instead of portraying his history accurately (which, of course, would have made Bruno a much poorer choice of topic for Cosmos in the first place), the segment repeatedly showed his persecution stemming directly from his belief in many worlds.
The difference is an important one, because Cosmos' agenda is to portray the Church as hostile to scientific innovation, a view that may be popular with Andrew Dickson White and his modern partisan successors (e.g. Richard Dawkins) but which is discredited among actual scholars of history. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 11:40, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
BlueMoonlet, you've added links to books that were written between 1900-1964, and a few links to catholic sites, in addition to writing a bunch of stuff about Anthroposophy, to source your statements in the lead. We'll need to remove the religious, non-scholarly sources, and we can't use the old books as an explanation of contemporary consensus. Do you have any modern, scholarly sources you can improve the article with? -Darouet (talk) 19:23, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
@Darouet:, you must be thinking of someone else. I have made none of the edits you just described. I'll also note that nothing you say here is really responsive to the criticisms I just made of the Cosmos segment, so I'm not sure why you put it in this thread.
As a general comment on sources, since you bring them up (again, I have played no role in the sourcing of this article), of course more recent scholarly works would be welcome, but older sources should be sufficient in their absence. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 20:59, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── OK, sorry I thought you'd added those links. I'll remove them. -Darouet (talk) 21:48, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Scientist or not?[edit]

A recent edit - Bruno is "not a scientist by our modern definition" sounds unhelpful to me. He is not a modern anything, he lived in the 1500's. Also, the lead sentence calls him a scientist and then now later suggests not a modern scientist. From what I understand so far, he is not a scientist at all, despite the fact that he is often called a scientist or a "martyr of science". NaturaNaturans (talk) 18:53, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

Scientists didn't exist at this time in history. He wrote a lot about the natural world, and was notable among other things for being one of the first people to have published and argued in favor of a Copernican, atomist, and infinite universe. -Darouet (talk) 19:42, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
The modern scientist is of the hypothesize-then-develop-repeatable-experiments type. Naturally nobody so classes Bruno. DeistCosmos (talk) 20:52, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
Although the modern term scientist does not emerge until the nineteenth century, the notion of the investigation of nature to obtain scientific knowledge extends back to ancient Greece. One of the common questions opening medieval academic disputations was "Whether the discipline under study was a science?", Utrum N sit scientia?
Bruno was not a scientist in the sense used by his contemporaries. There had been students of astronomy and cosmology from before the time of Ptolemy and Aristotle. The astronomers had developed predictive models of the planetary motions and the cosmologists had produced physical models that provided explanations of the causes of those motions. Bruno, on the other hand, imagined a cosmos in which atoms (or monads as he called them) and the celestial bodies moved freely by the action of their wills and in which his contemporaries' attempts to compute the motions of these freely-acting bodies was futile. I'd say that by modern criteria, and by the criteria of his contemporaries, Bruno was not a scientist. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 14:34, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Scholarship on Bruno: burned for free thought, science, pantheism?[edit]

There's been some dispute recently in the lead regarding why Bruno is considered by scholars to have been burned, and also why he remains notable.

Specifically, in these edits, User:NaturaNaturans and User:BlueMoonlet changed the text of the lead to state that "Scholars note that" Bruno's pantheism/heterodox theology played the "largest" role in his persecution. In this edit, NaturaNaturans explains their view that "academics are united that Bruno's conception of God was the reason for his death."

User:Elvey has correctly pointed out that aspects of the altered text are not substantiated by the sources provided. Previously in these edits I had written that "Some scholars argue" what NaturaNaturans and BlueMoonlet wrote above, and written that Bruno's perceived martyrdom for science and free thought remained an important interpretation among Bruno scholars. I added this quote from Hilary Gatti:

For Bruno was claiming for the philosopher a principle of free thought and inquiry which implied an entirely new concept of authority: that of the individual intellect in its serious and continuing pursuit of an autonomous inquiry… It is impossible to understand the issue involved and to evaluate justly the stand made by Bruno with his life without appreciating the question of free thought and liberty of expression. His insistence on placing this issue at the center of both his work and of his defense is why Bruno remains so much a figure of the modern world. If there is, as many have argued, an intrinsic link between science and liberty of inquiry, then Bruno was among those who guaranteed the future of the newly emerging sciences, as well as claiming in wider terms a general principle of free thought and expression.

User:Wordreader in his comments above essentially echoes Gatti's point: that Bruno's ideas about the cosmos, and his ideas about what we now would call "science," are inseparable from his ideas about free thought. Based on the quote above, and other quotes later in the article, is it true to write that "scholars note" what some have argued, but others disagree with? I don't see the point of endorsing one particular view - essentially that of Frances Yates - and giving the impression that scholars are agreed on Bruno's persecution largely for heterodox theology, when other scholars emphasize free thought, authority, science and his worldview. -Darouet (talk) 23:17, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Darouet, I think you meant to include a "not" in "are substantiated", above. I agree with you. Some people seem to be here to argue, and talk past their opponents, and are not building an encyclopedia. --Elvey (talk) 04:28, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
@Elvey: Your accusation that certain users (apparently including myself) are "here to argue, and talk past their opponents, and are not building an encyclopedia" is an inappropriate personal attack. We may disagree with you as to how best to do it, but we are just as committed as you are to ensuring that this encyclopedia relates the best possible summary of the facts to our readers. Please use strikethrough (like this) to show that you retract the comment. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 15:44, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
You say you feel accused and attacked. It was not my intent to write words that would leave you or anyone feeling that.  :( I think that if my comment was a personal attack, then so are some 24,000 references to WP:BATTLEGROUND, which says, relevantly, "If necessary, point out gently that you think the comments might be considered uncivil, and make it clear that you want to move on and focus on the content issue." I meant to merely comment on what I saw as the reasons for the slow progress toward consensus, and my comment was not directed anyone, but rather at behavior and toward solutions. You admit you don't know if it was directed at you. Let's move on and focus on the content issue and recognizing and avoiding talking past each other. --Elvey (talk) 22:03, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
The edits you are making (the latest of which I have reverted) are creating an imaginary dichotomy between Bruno's death due to heresy/pantheism 'versus' death due to his free-thinking. The quote and citations you're offering are not contradicting any scholars' assessment of Bruno's killing due to his pantheistic heresy. They are merely added speculative reflections and considerations about how his execution for pantheistic heresy was really a part of a broader war against free thought and what would later become scientific inquiry. I happen to agree with those reflections and considerations that speculate about the psychology behind the events that took place. But that doesn't mean I get to demote or devalue the actual facts and circumstances of what happened to highlight my opinion about those events. I think expanding on the reasons for his execution would be welcome, but not if creating a false dichotomy. NaturaNaturans (talk) 02:44, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Your idea that the church accused and convicted Bruno of heresy, and that his trial was therefore about heresy and not philosophy, free thought or science, it just absurd. In 1616 Galileo was brought before the inquisition, which declared heliocentrism to be "formally heretical and absurd in philosophy." The inquisition also banned heliocentric books and ordered Galileo to refrain from teaching or holding heliocentric ideas. Later, in 1633, the inquisition found Galileo "vehemently suspect of heresy." Was Galileo's trial about heresy, or about science and philosophy? With the view you've adopted regarding Bruno, you'd have to write that Galileo's trial was about heresy, because those are the terms on which the Church persecuted him. -Darouet (talk) 14:25, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Invoking the Galileo affair is not particularly helpful, as it is widely held that Galileo inadvisedly waded into a fraught political situation with a distinct lack of tact, and that his troubles could have been avoided had he been more politically adept. The fact is that there were many successful Catholic scientists in the early modern period and that there is little evidence of a chilling effect due to the cases of Bruno and Galileo.[7]
To answer your question, Bruno's trial was about theological heresy in a way that Galileo's clearly was not. Only one of the eight articles accusing Bruno had anything to do with astronomy, while all of the accusations against Galileo were astronomical in nature. Both events were anomalous in the larger context of the early modern period, but for different reasons: the charges against Galileo were indeed about astronomy, but the subtext that led to his conviction was political intrigue that had little to do with astronomy; the charges against Bruno were primarily theological and had little to do with astronomy, thus they stand as one of many sad examples of the lack of religious freedom in the early modern period. However, neither case demonstrates a general sense of the Church that innovative scientific ideas could not be reconciled with the Church's doctrine.[8] To me, that is the important point. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 16:27, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
You haven't really answered my point: the Church and Inquisition framed Galileo's "errors" in terms of heresy, and I gave you two direct quotes from their judgments to that effect, even though you and I both recognize that his conflict concerned astronomy (and in your view, "tact," though this wasn't mentioned in his reprimand or condemnation). Gatti frames Bruno's trial on Bruno's own terms, and explicitly states that the Church's focus on theological heresy is beside the point. -Darouet (talk) 18:04, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Gatti says that the Church's focus on theological heresy is beside the point of Bruno's significance for posterity, not that it is not the primary reason for his conviction. You keep trying to use the quote to prove the latter point, when it is clear that Gatti is talking about the former point. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 19:11, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
P.S. Regarding "tact," I gave references to modern historiography. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 19:11, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
My recent edits, using "nevertheless" have attempted to solve this. The idea of him being killed for his pantheistic heresy can be expanded into reflections about free-thinking and scientific heresy, rather than being posed as some kind of contradiction. Hope this works for you. NaturaNaturans (talk) 03:19, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Your edits don't address the fv tag I added. Darouets' did, but you've removed 'em. Putting 'em back. You claim that he was executed for pantheistic heresy, full stop. Erm, [dubious ]? --Elvey (talk) 04:28, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
The suggestion that "some scholars claim" suggests that there is an alternative view that contradicts the view that his theological position played a principal role in his execution when, in fact, the other views are only expanding on this, not at all contradicting it. Also, the newly edited paragraph structure conflates "pantheist theology" with his interest in astrology and mnemonic techniques, which have little to do with his theology. NaturaNaturans (talk) 05:26, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
According to Yates, astrology and theology are intimately linked for Bruno. As far as what "some scholars claim," below you can see two highly competent scholars who rather explain how Bruno's philosophical and scientific ideas were paramount in his trial. -Darouet (talk) 14:21, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Aha! I just noticed that this issue had been discussed/debated ad nauseum before I got here. I am reminded of the title of Newton's seminal work. Bruno had a great many positions, theological, philosophical, what have you. To say that his theological position played a principal role in his execution is nonsense. He didn't have one. He had several non-pantheistic ones alone. --Elvey (talk) 06:10, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
How about you provide an example, since, clearly, you know so much about this subject. NaturaNaturans (talk) 06:17, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm not going to dignify that with a response. I'm taking a break, following Darouet's example, noted below. --Elvey (talk) 22:03, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As Gatti points out, Bruno's "theology" is inseparable from his cosmology, which includes Copernicanism and atomism, and his ideas regarding free thought. Maybe you don't agree with them NaturaNaturans, but some scholars, and Yates is one, really believe that Copernicanism, atomism, and free inquiry had nothing to do with Bruno's trial. Instead they write that his trial was wholly or largely determined by theological heresy as defined by the church at the time of his inquisition, and that his crimes included various unusual theological beliefs, maybe neoplatonism, etc.

What your edits do is present this position as the consensus among all scholars, in contrast to the idea that Bruno's trial, death, and overall persecution was really about free thought and scientific inquiry. But there are important scholars who do maintain that Bruno was tried and executed because of his defense of free thought and scientific inquiry. A more full quote from Gatti may help you see the link between Bruno's ideas generally, the views of the church generally, and Bruno's trial specifically:

For Bruno was claiming for the philosopher a principle of free thought and inquiry which implied an entirely new concept of authority: that of the individual intellect in its serious and continuing pursuit of an autonomous inquiry… Frances Yates failed to understand the sense of Bruno's trial. The few pages dedicated to it in her book are among the least satisfactory and the most confused. It is to her credit that she realized this failing and attempted to justify her confusion about such an important issue. The trial remains fundamentally senseless, she claims, because the documents relating to Cardinal Bellarmine's crucial interrogation of Bruno on the eight heretical propositions to which his philosophy was ultimately reduced are missing. Furthermore, as was pointed out by Angelo Mercati, the theologian who introduced the official publication of the remaining parts of the Roman trial documents of 1942, philosophical and scientific propositions play little part in the interrogations we know about; the main body of the trial was occupied with theological queries and definitions of heresies. Mercati's analysis seems to have inspired scholars such as Antonio Corsano and Luigi Firpo to propose the possibility that Bruno was involved in a religious mission during the last years of his life, a thesis Yates embraces eagerly, even if known documents fail to corroborate it. This discussion confounds the real issue at stake - which may be considered as the definition of legitimate intellectual inquiry… [The trial] was about free thought and the right of the philosopher to pursue an inquiry touching on the same subjects as those considered by the theologian. The church's position was that its subjects were its own territory over which it maintained absolute power and authority. Bruno's position was that the philosopher and the theologian could and should indulge in civil conversation while autonomously pursuing their differing intellectual inquiries, which, for the philosopher, could lead only where his individual reason directed. It is impossible to understand the issue involved and to evaluate justly the stand made by Bruno with his life without appreciating the question of free thought and liberty of expression. His insistence on placing this issue at the center of both his work and of his defense is why Bruno remains so much a figure of the modern world. If there is, as many have argued, an intrinsic link between science and liberty of inquiry, then Bruno was among those who guaranteed the future of the newly emerging sciences, as well as claiming in wider terms a general principle of free thought and expression.

There are others who write in this same vein as well. There's a wonderful book - written in Italian and widely available in Italy - called "Giordano Bruno: The Deposition before the Tribunal of the Inquisition." Professor Aniello Montano comments:

In May 1592 Bruno was arrested and brought to trial. His argumentative ability allowed him to make a subtle distinction between his philosophical conceptions and his faith. But just as the trial seemed to turn in his favor, thanks to the more open-minded Venetian inquisitors, the court asked for Bruno's extradition to Rome. The delicate political situation demanded that Venice comply. In Rome, Bruno was imprisoned for seven years and subjected to a difficult trial that analyzed, minutely, all his philosophical ideas. Bruno, who in Venice had been willing to recant some theses, become increasingly resolute and declared on 21 December, 1599 that he 'did not wish to repent of having too little to repent, and in fact did not know what to repent.' Declared an unrepentant heretic and excommunicated, he was burned alive in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome on 17 February, 1600. On the stake, along with Bruno, burned the hopes of many, including philosophers and scientists of good faith like Galileo, who thought they could reconcile religious faith and scientific research, while belonging to an ecclesiastical organization declaring itself to be the custodian of absolute truth and maintaining a cultural militancy requiring continual commitment and suspicion.

Both of these professors are writing about Bruno's trial within the context of Bruno's philosophy, his cosmology, his basically scientific conceptions. They do not accept, alone, the intellectual framework of heresy adopted by the church when considering the trial of Giordano Bruno. -Darouet (talk) 14:14, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

@Darouet: Your extended quotes of Gatti do not contradict my position. As I stated in this edit summary, Gatti says Bruno was a martyr for free thought, and that his relevance to science is only inasmuch as free thought is important to science. I'm totally on board with that. I'm happy to sign on to the Intro's current language that "Bruno's case is considered a landmark in the history of free thought and the future of the emerging sciences."
The sticking point for me is the idea that Bruno was "a martyr for modern scientific ideas." A perfect example of this is the recent Cosmos episode that gave a hackneyed and inaccurate portrayal of Bruno's persecutors as being primarily motivated by his belief in many worlds. I think it is important to state that scholars generally reject this idea, which is not so much about Bruno as it is about his persecutors.
Even if it is true (per Gatti) that "[The trial] was about free thought and the right of the philosopher to pursue an inquiry touching on the same subjects as those considered by the theologian," it is important to ask about the content of the thought that got him into trouble. It is evident from scholarship (as from the charges themselves) that this was primarily about a denial of certain basic Catholic doctrines and about Bruno's advocacy of pantheism and sorcery, with his views on astronomy an afterthought at best.
It's actually unclear to me the extent to which you disagree with the accuracy of my last paragraph, or to which you simply disagree as to whether that is the important point to be decided. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 16:27, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
First of all, free thought and science are not just incidentally related, and Bruno's a great example of this: he took the liberty to interpret Copernicus' data and model in the widest sense, and developed a cosmology out of it. Both his method (the liberty of interpreting broadly and despite scripture) and his conclusions (christ is just a man, the earth rotates around the sun, there are infinite worlds, etc) led him to conflict with the church. According to Gatti, and according to Montano, science and philosophy, not just theology, were critical issues in Bruno's trial. -Darouet (talk) 18:10, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Bruno's theological heresies are a consequence of his Copernicanism? Care to support that statement? Bruno was a heretic who happened to be a Copernican. Gatti and Montano say that Bruno's trial had critical implications for the development of science, not the other way around. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 19:19, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

P.S. Scholars are not universally agreed on Bruno's "Pantheism." If you look at the Italian wikipedia page you'll see that some scholars have described Bruno's philosophy as "monist," or "atheist," or various things in between. Many compare Bruno to Spinoza, as you may know that a number of major scholars of Spinoza do not view him as a pantheist. Anyway this shouldn't be surprising. In Bruno's "Cause, Principle, Unity," he invests one single God in every object and force of the universe. -Darouet (talk) 14:40, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Pantheists are monists. Investing "one single God in every object and force of the universe" is a textbook definition of pantheism. And a few references to Bruno as an "atheist" are not terribly surprising, as it is not really a great leap between "everything is God" and "nothing is God".
Bottom line: Nothing here convinces me that "pantheist" is not the best way to describe Bruno's concept of God. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 15:47, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
There are however many forms of Pantheism that have nothing to do with Monism, and not all people specify that Bruno is a "Monist pantheist," and I'm not sure all scholars would agree with that either. There's no reason for us to declare it's true just because we feel it was likely the case (and I agree on this point of classifying his religious beliefs.).-Darouet (talk) 17:34, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
You've reversed what I meant to say. If you read the article to which I linked (and obviously I'm assuming that the article is decently written, as WP itself is not an RS), pantheism is a form of monism. Monism is more generally the belief that certain things are all really the same; pantheism is more specifically the belief that God and the Universe are all really the same. What exactly would a "non-monist pantheist" look like? --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 18:15, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Next to Spinoza, Bruno is the most often mentioned "pantheist" in academic literature about the subject. Also, all notable pantheists are monists. Several philosophers state that pantheism implies monism. There seems to be a mistaken assumption here that pantheism is somehow opposed to free thought and scientific inquiry when, in fact, pantheism - especially at that time - was a derivative of free thinking and scientific inquiry. NaturaNaturans (talk) 19:06, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Can't we just agree that Bruno was burned for a little bit of this, a little bit of that? His views were holistic and intertwined, perhaps a bit prophetic even, and none of that is acceptable to the Church. DeistCosmos (talk) 19:15, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
I think the sources above, and many others, agree with you DeistCosmos and that Bruno was not simply burned for one thing or another, but for his whole philosophy, and his many publications. Because I and Elvey seem to think these sources are saying something very different than how BlueMoonlet and NaturaNaturans interpret them, I'll take a break for a day or two to think about them. Everyone seems relatively reasonable here; I'm sure we can come to an agreement eventually. -Darouet (talk) 14:18, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
@DeistCosmos: I think I would cautiously agree with you. Because we don't have the actual trial transcript, we simply have to take the list of charges at face value unless we have a strong reason (which would have to be driven by strong RSs) to do otherwise. That list includes his astronomical views as only one item among eight, and indeed far down the list. That indicates that, had Bruno never said anything about astronomy, he very likely would have met the same fate. The logical conclusion of this is that there is no justification for the claim that he was executed for his astronomical views in particular or that he was "a martyr for modern scientific ideas" (to quote the current language in the Intro, which I don't mind retaining because it is present in the marketplace of ideas, but which I want to keep in tension with scholarly consensus). --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 14:33, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
In extension of my previous thoughts allow me to add that what Bruno presented was an holistic vision; there is no part of his philosophy separable from any other part. It was exactly because he was given the vision of a revolutionarily expansive view of God that he was compelled to a like vision of infinite suns ringed by infinite worlds, with life like our own. And when this vision is borne out by scientific discovery, perhaps Bruno will be accorded the title not simply of visionary, but of true prophet. Blessings!! DeistCosmos (talk) 21:59, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
The number of plausible scholarly, scientific, and religious perspectives on Bruno is fascinating, and a testament to the breadth of his work, thinking and age. -Darouet (talk) 15:29, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
Echo that, brother!! But they are all elements of one philosophical grounding.... DeistCosmos (talk) 20:38, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Gatti and Mercati[edit]

The Intro currently states, "After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th- and early 20th-century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for modern scientific ideas." @Darouet: and @Elvey: persist in adding a following sentence that states, "Theologian Angelo Mercati later maintained instead that Bruno was persecuted as a heretic due to a pantheist theology of an infinite God, an idea supported by some, but not all scholars." In support of this, they cite this quote from Gatti:

Furthermore, as was pointed out by Angelo Mercati, the theologian who introduced the official publication of the remaining parts of the Roman trial documents of 1942, philosophical and scientific propositions play little part in the interrogations we know about; the main body of the trial was occupied with theological queries and definitions of heresies. Mercati's analysis seems to have inspired scholars such as Antonio Corsano and Luigi Firpo to propose the possibility that Bruno was involved in a religious mission during the last years of his life, a thesis Yates embraces eagerly, even if known documents fail to corroborate it. This discussion confounds the real issue at stake - which may be considered as the definition of legitimate intellectual inquiry… [The trial] was about free thought and the right of the philosopher to pursue an inquiry touching on the same subjects as those considered by the theologian.

I'm going to concede, because I don't have any reason to do otherwise, that Gatti's view here is correct. However, I strongly object that this quote seems to offer little support for the statement to which it is being appended. Gatti states that Mercati "pointed out" the prominence of "theological queries and definitions of heresies" as the "main body" of Bruno's trial, with no indication that Gatti disagrees with that evaluation. Gatti does then criticize Corsano, Firpo, and Yates for building upon Mercati by suggesting "that Bruno was involved in a religious mission," but that is of very little relevance to the article at all. Gatti then gets on her hobby horse and pontificates that Bruno's trial was really about free thought and the like, but really, how does this contradict the thesis that "theological queries and definitions of heresies" were its "main body"? It was precisely his "theological queries" and "heresies" about which Bruno wanted to be "free to think" as he pleased!

I submit that nothing in this quote contradicts the fact that scholarship fails to support the idea that Bruno was "a martyr for modern scientific ideas." --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 04:01, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

This has already been stated several times now and is not even worthy of a debate. I see this here and there on Wikipedia. Some editors are militant atheists in the Church of Dawkins and such and it doesn't matter what common sense reading comprehension points you make, they will just not have it that a 16th Century hero have anything to do with "God". They want to rewrite history and ignore the fact that a pantheist theology at that time is not just free thinking but radical free thinking. NaturaNaturans (talk) 16:30, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
If it wasn't worthy of debate, then we would not have editors in good faith taking opposing positions. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 18:26, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
The point of sources is not to show that they don't contradict what you want to argue in the lead, but rather to accurately reflect what they say. From what you write above, it seems as though your primary interest is to prove that Gatti or Aniello don't contradict you. Nobody is disputing what "heresies" the church ultimately declared Bruno to be guilty of: the question is why was he imprisoned, interrogated over 20 times over a period of seven years, probably tortured, and eventually burned at the stake.
BlueMoonlet, Gatti's text doesn't agree with the statement you insist on inserting, "though scholars emphasize that Bruno was persecuted as a heretic due to his heterodox theology, particularly its pantheist elements." Specifically, she states that his trial and persecution were "about free thought and the right of the philosopher to pursue an inquiry touching on the same subjects as those considered by the theologian." Aniello writes that "Bruno was imprisoned for seven years and subjected to a difficult trial that analyzed, minutely, all his philosophical ideas." These statements directly contradict what you write and could not be summarized by the text you continue to insert.
What these authors, and editors DeistCosmos, Elvey, Wordreader and I have been pointing out is that Bruno wasn't persecuted simply for his theology as opposed to other elements of his philosophy, which were a part of his theology, whatever that was exactly. It is amazing to me that you not only insist on inserting your own view into the lead, but also refuse to allow the lead text to reflect that some important scholars disagree with that view.
NaturaNaturans, there is no conspiracy launched by "militant atheists in the Church of Dawkins" here, and editing along that WP:BATTLEGROUND line of reasoning will get you nowhere with anyone. BlueMoonlet, thank you for avoiding that mentality. -Darouet (talk) 18:36, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Here to reinforce "The point of sources is not to show that they don't contradict what you want to argue in the lead, but rather to accurately reflect what they say." Our articles should reflect what our sources say, not what they don't say or deny. Besides the fact that the lead should be a summary of the article. Dougweller (talk) 19:27, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
@Darouet: I have a feeling that we are misunderstanding each other to some extent. I am going to try to be as plain as possible to try to cut through that effect.
Can you be specific about which parts of "the statement [I] insist on inserting" you find objectionable? To me, the most important part is the word "though," which provides a contrast with the preceding sentence's claim that Bruno was persecuted primarily for believing in Copernicanism or in many worlds (and perhaps that preceding sentence could be edited to clarify that that is its main point). I wonder whether that it was you have been thinking I meant? I gather from your emphasis on Bruno's philosophy as a whole that you also would disagree with the ideas I am seeking to contradict, which is why I have found our conflict to be puzzling. I wonder whether we can craft some language that would satisfy everyone's main concerns?
When Gatti says that Bruno's trial was "about free thought and the right of the philosopher to pursue an inquiry touching on the same subjects as those considered by the theologian," doesn't that just mean that it was about whether trials for heresy should exist in the first place? Doesn't it just mean that Bruno was seeking the right to not have his thoughts policed? I don't mind seeing the trial in that way, but it seems kind of a truism. Anyone accused of breaking a rule might seek to argue that the rule itself is unjust (or, perhaps more relevant to the present case, posterity may make that argument on his behalf), but that doesn't negate the fact that the key question of the trial is whether his specific conduct broke the rule. Religious freedom had not been invented yet, its lack was hardly unique to Bruno or to 16th-century Italy, and in that context it seems worthwhile to give greater consideration to the actual content of Bruno's thought, and why he got into trouble when countless thinkers from Aquinas to Cusa did not.
You say Bruno "wasn't persecuted simply for his theology as opposed to other elements of his philosophy." Okay, so then he was persecuted for his philosophy as a whole? But weren't parts of his philosophy completely unproblematic? Even Hitler was right about some things (interstate highways, for example). So then mustn't here be some parts of his philosophy that led to his condemnation more than others? Can we enumerate what those were? Even leaving aside the possibility of hyperbole, the fact that "all his philosophical ideas" were "analyzed minutely" as part of his trial does not mean that all of them equally led to his condemnation.
I think my second paragraph might be the most helpful, as I try to better explain myself and perhaps clear up ways in which you might have been misunderstanding me. The third and fourth paragraphs are more of an attempt on my part to understand what you are saying and why. Best, --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 19:29, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Some, but not all scholars argue that Bruno was persecuted for his philosophy as a whole. Some, but not all scholars argue that Bruno was persecuted primarily for his theological beliefs, which were defined as heretical by the inquisition. Therefore, it would be accurate to write, "though some scholars have written that Bruno was persecuted as a heretic primarily due to his heterodox theology, particularly its pantheist elements."
I'll write that in the text, and you can let me know if you have objections. -Darouet (talk) 23:09, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Or something very close. I've made those changes. -Darouet (talk) 23:17, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
And the crusade to rewrite history continues... NaturaNaturans (talk) 07:46, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Writing about the "crusades" and "militant atheists in the Church of Dawkins" devolves into ad hominem and won't make you any friends. It's also against policy that prohibits personal attacks.
NaturaNaturans, I was looking through your edits, and I agree with a lot of them. My only objection is that you insist on text, in the lead, that misleadingly suggests that scholars are united in writing that pantheism was the primary reason for Bruno's trial and execution. That's a plausible view, and you'd be surprised how much I agree with it. However, as sources above show, many scholars do not write this and their interpretation of Bruno's trial contradicts the idea that scholars are all agreed on this point. The suggestion by Dougweller, that we take sources seriously and reflect them accurately, requires that we note that some, but not all scholars see Bruno's principle crime, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, as his pantheism. -Darouet (talk) 16:40, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────True - we need to reflect the differing views. See WP:NPOV. Dougweller (talk) 19:49, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

Darouet,there are exactly zero scholars who contradict the OBVIOUS fact that pantheism - the name most often used to describe Bruno's theology and conception of God (an infinite everything God) - was the Church focus in Bruno's trial and execution. There are a TON of books about this. Bruno is considered a "God-intoxicated" man who goes around talking about how much he loves God - an infinite God that is not what the Church could accept. If any academic contradicts these views, they are a FRINGE view and should be treated as such. This edit you keep insisting on gives equal weight to such fringe views, which are not even supported by the one citation you make as BlueMoonlet has exhaustively demonstrated. Your citation is just an ADDITIONAL abstract speculation (not in contradiction to anything) to the generally accepted idea that Bruno's personal philosophy which he went around evangelizing about (his pantheistic view), was what the Church could not accept. All your source is speculating about is, in effect, 'look at the bigger picture'. The Church wouldn't allow free thought. But your edit creates a contrast between Bruno's heretic pantheistic theology and the free thought idea, even though his heretic pantheistic theology IS the character of free thought that your source is referring to. Creating that contrast - some academics say this, some say that - is a fringe view that is completely unsupported. I don't know if you don't get it, or you just refuse to get it because this shouldn't have to be repeated so many times. NaturaNaturans (talk) 23:58, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Nonsense. You claim that it's an obvious fact that he was executed for pantheistic heresy, full stop. Prove it. Or, stop trying to push what I see as 'OBVIOUS' nonsense into the article. Dougweller makes some good points about this; if only they were heard. --Elvey (talk) 20:39, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Prove what? That he was punished as a heretic for blasphemy against "God"? That he had a loud pantheistic conviction of an infinite God? These are well supported. You need more sources for these? I believe they are already in the article. By the way, Bruno's main DEFENSE was that he was a philosopher, not a theologian. It is OBVIOUS that his THEOLOGY was what the Catholic Church went after. This is also well supported. Other speculations are IN ADDITION to that, not in conflict with those facts. NaturaNaturans (talk) 22:49, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
NaturaNaturans, you really need to come here with sources and text. Nothing else is helpful or acceptable in the context of a dispute. All capital letters, and repeated invocations of what you find "obvious," don't do anything to convince us. At least providing a few sources and text could demonstrate that anybody at all shares your position. Much more would be required to demonstrate that everyone agrees with you. Right now, you've given us nothing in the way of sources. -Darouet (talk) 22:48, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

@Darouet: I am rather disappointed that you did not really engage with the questions I asked of you.

Would you agree to language that expressed the consensus of scholars that Bruno was not persecuted primarily for believing in Copernicanism or in many worlds? If not, why?

What exactly is the difference between being persecuted "primarily for his theological beliefs" and being persecuted "for his philosophy as a whole"? Can you enumerate the set of beliefs that are in each of those two pots?

Please note that the word "primarily" acknowledges that non-theological beliefs were not entirely absent, but asserts that they were not prominent drivers of Bruno's fate. What do you say to my claim that Gatti (as quoted by you so far) is speaking primarily about Bruno's significance to posterity, rather than about the 16th-century question of why Bruno was convicted rather than acquitted? --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 03:34, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

I just rephrased the sentence at issue, in the hopes that clearer language might elide our disagreements and better put the focus on statements that we can all get behind. I still feel that I only dimly understand some of your positions, and indeed what we're arguing about and why, and I hope that your responses to this edit might clarify matters. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 00:56, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

I feel like our position and that of the sources so far have been clear; so are your questions however. I'll respond soon when I've time. -Darouet (talk) 17:23, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Hi BlueMoonlet: reading over your earlier comments, I think I can respond to your questions. Essentially, you would like the text to state that Bruno was tried for a number of specific heresies, and condemned and executed for these. You'd also like the text to state that "scholars emphasize that Bruno's scientific ideas played little role" in his trial/execution.
Regarding the first point, can you provide a good reference stating that Bruno was put on trial for a specific set of heresies? It's my understanding that Bruno was brought before the Venetian and Roman Inquisitions on suspicion of heresy, and that Cardinal Bellarmine eventually drafted a set of 7-8 heresies that he requested Bruno to recant. Bruno, refusing to recant these fully, was burned at the stake.
Also regarding your first point, and the second: according to Montano, Bruno's inquisitorial trial involved questioning on all aspects of his philosophy. Do you mean to suggest that Montano believes that the inquisition's interrogation of Bruno on all aspects of his philosophy was done for a lark, and had nothing to do with their condemnation of him? In Aquilecchia's book "Giordano Bruno" written in honor of the publication of his Italian works in French, the scholar describes many sessions of Bruno's interrogation (there are around 25 major sessions) in which his cosmological ideas were questioned in the context of potential religious heresies. Bruno was often willing to concede on questions of theology, but not on cosmology. Would you maintain that these interrogations are unrelated to Bruno's final condemnation and death? Lastly, don't you think that Gatti's point about Bruno maintaining, throughout his trial, that he had a right to believe what he wished is in some way related to the extraordinary beliefs he held? That freedom of inquiry is related to scientific ideas, as Gatti herself, and James Birx, and other scholars also note?
Regarding your last point: not all scholars maintain that Bruno's scientific ideas played little role in his trial. You've found two scholars who do this: Adam Frank and Frances Yates (and I doubt you've read Yates, though I happily apologize if I'm wrong). Even Adam Frank doesn't really say this: he just writes that the trial wasn't purely about a war between science and religion, and that Bruno made bad choices for himself. -Darouet (talk) 21:19, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
  • [Y]ou would like the text to state that Bruno was tried for a number of specific heresies, and condemned and executed for these. Well, yes. I am surprised that that is a point of contention. Would you please clarify your opinion of why Bruno was tried, condemned, and executed?
  • You'd also like the text to state that "scholars emphasize that Bruno's scientific ideas played little role" in his trial/execution. Essentially, yes. I would say "a minor role at best" rather than "little role," but that's a shading of tone.
  • [C]an you provide a good reference stating that Bruno was put on trial for a specific set of heresies? The list is already in the article, and with a source! See Giordano Bruno#Imprisonment, trial and execution, 1593–1600. You yourself go on to mention Bellarmine's set of 7-8 heresies that he requested Bruno to recant; are these not the heresies for which he was tried, condemned, and executed?
  • Do you mean to suggest that... the inquisition's interrogation of Bruno on all aspects of his philosophy was done for a lark, and had nothing to do with their condemnation of him?... Would you maintain that these interrogations are unrelated to Bruno's final condemnation and death? As they say on Law & Order, it seems most likely to have been a "fishing expedition," as prisoners enjoyed no protection against such things in Bruno's time. The authorities simply engage him in conversation as long as they like, hoping that sometime or other Bruno would say something that would aid their case against him.
  • [D]on't you think that Gatti's point about Bruno maintaining, throughout his trial, that he had a right to believe what he wished is in some way related to the extraordinary beliefs he held? Of course it is! His extraordinary beliefs about the Trinity, transubstantiation, the virgin birth, pantheism, witchcraft, and more! Yes, the plurality of worlds may have been in the mix, but not prominently.
Regarding scholars, I just came across a book entitled The Extraterrestrial Life Debate 1750–1900 by Michael J. Crowe (Cambridge University Press, 1986). In the first chapter, which deals with the debate before 1750, Crowe mentions "the myth that Giordano Bruno was martyred for his pluralistic convictions" (p.8, and note that "pluralistic" in the context of this book refers to the plurality of worlds). Two pages later, Crowe says this: "[The cautious Copernicus] contrasts sharply with Giordano Bruno (1548–1600), whose passion for the new and daring was scarcely more limited than the infinite universe he championed in such books as La cena de le ceneri and De l'infinito universo et mondi, both published in 1584, and De immenso, of 1591. Bruno was passionately pluralist, populating not only planets but also stars, and even attributing souls to the planets, stars, meteors, and the universe as a whole. His sources, including Lucretious, Cusanus, Palingenius, Paracelsus, Copernicus, and the Hermetic writings, seem to have been more numerous than his followers, at least until the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century revival of interest in Bruno as a supposed "martyr for science." It is true that he was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600, but the church authorities guilty of this action were almost certainly more distressed at his denial of Christ's divinity and alleged diabolism than at his cosmological doctrines."
I think that's a pretty strong source to back up what I've been saying. In a footnote, Crowe cites not only Yates but also The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno by Paul-Henri Michel (1973), which may be another lead to follow up. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 20:59, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Are you happy with the text of the lead at present? With the exception of NaturaNaturans' insertions about Pantheism, which may be true but need better sourcing (and perhaps belong lower in the lead), I'm satisfied that the current lead gives a fair picture of the man. We should incorporate the Crowe source, and the Michel source too. As we have time, we need to really develop this beyond the lead, and in the body of the article. I look forward to your contributions. -Darouet (talk) 22:52, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for asking. I just made this edit, after which I am happy.  :) The list of items is presented in the body text (which the WP:LEAD should reflect) as the charges, not the items on which he was convicted (I believe the latter are lost to historians). I put the pantheism more in context (NaturaNaturans may or may not approve), and I continue insist that you have given no counter-example to the claim that responsible scholars reject the idea that Bruno's astronomical views were particularly responsible for his death. --BlueMoonlet (t/c) 01:49, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

"Divine creation"[edit]

The article is contradictory with respect to Bruno's theological concept: First it says "There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian notions of divine creation" and then "According to Bruno, an infinite God necessarily created an infinite universe". The second claim claims divine creation of the world, the first disputes it. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 18:12, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

I would say that the first statement looks patently WP:SYNTH and should be removed. The latter statement does seem pretty consistent with Bruno's expressed views, though, so we should probably keep that one. Sebastian Garth (talk) 20:09, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
I am in agreement with that assessment. Bruno may not have had room for Christian creation (which would have conflicted with his view of stars-as-other-Suns) but there's nothing to suggest that he believed in a perpetual uncreated Universe. Indeed his views on the nature of our Universe hinge upon his views of its Creator's creative characteristics. DeistCosmos (talk) 05:42, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Actual Date of Execution[edit]

In 1582 and 1583 Italy and most other Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian Calendar. The UK waited until 1752 and Turkey the last country to convert from the Julian Calendar waited until 1927. So if the date given, 17th February 1600 is Old Style (ie UK and many other Protestant countries) then the actual date in Rome would have been 27th February. Conversely if the date given is that in Rome at the time (New Style) then in the UK it would have been 7th February 1600. This may seem pedantic but there are now millions of wiki readers from hundreds of countries all of which adopted the Gregorian Calendar at different times so all dates between 1582 and 1927 should be annotated OS or NS. NicholasCraig (talk) 06:53, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

I understand your point, but I think it's flawed. If there's ever any conversion done, it's always from an OS date to an NS date, never the other way around. Italy was using the NS calendar by 1600, and it would require an extraordinarily long bow to conclude that the date 17 February 1600 as shown in all references for Bruno's death somehow managed to be an OS date. If you can find any source that says it is indeed OS, and needs to be converted to 27 Feb NS, then we can revisit it. Even then, it would be one source against hundreds, and it would need to be peculiarly compelling to upset the consensus. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 07:29, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Discussion of capitalization of universe[edit]

There is request for comment about capitalization of the word universe at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Capitalization of universe - request for comment. Please participate. SchreiberBike talk 00:36, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Notification of request for comment[edit]

An RfC has been commenced at MOSCAPS Request for comment - Capitalise universe.

Cinderella157 (talk) 03:23, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

This is Not a Very Good Article[edit]

This is a pretty bad article on Bruno and is full of rather glaring and obvious mistakes. I suggest that you do more work on it and get it right. The following web page is far superior and gives a better account of Bruno than you guys did.

There is also a very good paper on Bruno which you failed to reference. You should also read and reference other papers which your poor scholarship failed to notice. In particular I recommend the paper Giordano Bruno by Thomas Whitaker, Mind Vol 9 No 34, page 236-264

Overall I give you a grade of C- for this article. Not a very good grade. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:35, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps you could provide a more precise specification of the shortcomings you see? Or edit the page to cure some yourself? Pandeist (talk) 06:10, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Pandeist, All you have to do is copy the link I gave above into the article and read the paper I cited. Both give more information than what is available here. This article doesn't tell me much about Bruno as a person, just what historians want you to believe.Bruno was an obscure religious revolutionary in an age of religious turmoil. That does not come out in this article. He was combative and arrogant. He may also have been mentally ill. So this article is pretty bad as a source of information about Bruno and is more propaganda than anything else. The article describes the Bruno that the propagandists of our current age want him to be not actually who he was. Try working on fixing that. In any event, the article here is pretty worthless as far as providing any real facts about Bruno, his life, and his ideas. (talk) 12:11, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Bruno and mathematics[edit]

@Linket: I'd like to encourage you to edit this article, and am making a talk page post here so that you can discuss any controversial changes, to the extent that would help. I reverted both your first and second edits because the first was unsourced, and the second relied upon two, self-published sources.

Any material that is added to the lead should review material that is well sourced and included in the article's main text. Ideally, when we are describing Bruno's mathematics we should use peer-reviewed publications. -Darouet (talk) 01:24, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Bruno's date of birth.[edit]

Most references have no date just 1548 or even 1548? What is the source for January 1? I suspect that some computer defaulted to the first day of the year.2001:5B0:2379:CB10:5CEB:C63:2386:78C (talk) 19:36, 17 April 2017 (UTC)Mark Shulgasser

I removed it. It was WP:UNSOURCED and not needed. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 07:51, 18 April 2017 (UTC)