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Observations placeholder

Bruno, Giordano – Cause, principle and unity - 01 The Second Dialogue



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Giordano Bruno – from Cause, principle and unity

The universal intellect is the innermost, most real and most proper faculty or potential part of the world soul. It is that one and the same thing that fills everything, illuminates the universe and directs nature to produce her various species suitably. It is to the production of natural things what our intellect is to the production of the representations of things. The Pythagoreans call it the 'mover' and 'agitator of the universe'.

As the poet [Virgil] has expressed:

totamque infusa per artus,
mens agitot molem, et toto se corpore miscet.

[pervading its members, mind stirs the whole mass and
mingles with the whole body]

The Platonists call it 'world artificer'. They believe that it proceeds from the higher world, which is indeed one, to this sensible world, which is divided into many, and where, because of the separations of its parts, both harmony and discord reign. This intellect, infusing and instilling something of its own into matter, while itself remaining immobile and undisturbed, produces all things.

The hermeticists say that it is 'most fecund in seeds' or yet that it is the 'seed sower', because it impregnates matter with all forms, which, according to their nature and manner of being succeed in shaping, forming and weaving matter in ways that are so remarkable and numerous that they cannot be ascribed to chance, nor to any other principle incapable of differentiation and arrangement. Orpheus calls it 'the eye of the world', because it sees both the inside and outside of all natural things, in order that they may succeed in producing and maintaining themselves in their proper proportions, intrinsically as well as extrinsically.

Empedocles calls it 'the differentiator', since it never tires of distinguishing the forms confused within nature's bosom, and of summoning the generation of one from the corruption of another. Plotinus says it is 'the father and progenitor', because it distributes seeds in nature's field and is the proximate dispenser of forms.

As for us, we call it the 'internal artificer', because it shapes matter, forming it from inside like a seed or root shooting forth and unfolding the trunk, from within the trunk thrusting out the boughs, from inside the boughs the derived branches, and unfurling buds from within these. From therein it forms, fashions and weaves, as with nerves, the leaves, flowers and fruits, and it is from the inside that, at certain times, it calls back its sap from the leaves and the fruits to the twigs, from the twigs to the branches, from the branch to the trunk, from the trunk to the root.

Similarly, in animals, it begins by deploying its work from the seed and from the centre of the heart, towards the outer members, and from these it finally gathers back towards the heart the faculties it had extended, as if it were twining up thread it had first unwound.

Now, if we believe that intellect and reason are required to produce those works – dead works, so to speak - that we know how to fashion according to certain order and by imitation on the surface of matter as when stripping and whittling a piece of wood we-cause the shape of a horse to appear, how much superior must we hold that artistic intellect that, from the interior of the seminal matter, solders together the bones, extends the cartilage, hollows the arteries, airs the pores, interweaves the fibres, branches out the nerves and arranges the whole with such praiseworthy mystery.

How much greater an artificer, I say, is he who is not limited to one part of matter, but works, continually present in the whole, on the whole!

The source of the experience

Bruno, Giordano

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Science Items

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