Bruno’s Mathesis

June 21st, 2009

Three diagrams representing the Hermetic trinity, as devised by Giordano Bruno in his 1588 Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatis mathematicos atque philosophos, and as appearing in Frances A. Yates’s 1964 Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.

“These three figures are said to be most ‘fecund’, not only for geometry but for all sciences and for contemplating and operating” (p314).

Figura Mentis, p307. C.f. Cusanus’s paradigmatic diagram and the mouth of Ra.

“There is… a ‘supernal triad’, consisting of the Father, or mind, or plenitude; of the Son, or the primal intellect; of Light which is the spirit of all things, or the anima mundi… ‘Ancient theologians,’ Bruno continues, understand by the Father, mind or mens, who generates intellect, or the Son, between them being fulgor, or light or love. Hence one may contemplate in the Father, the essence of essences; in the Son the beauty and love of generating; in fulgor, or light, the spirit pervading and vivifying all. Thus a triad may be imagined; ‘pater, mens; filium verbum; et per verbum, universa sunt producta’. From mens proceeds intellectus; from intellectus proceeds affectus or love. Mens sits above all; intellectus sees and distributes all; love makes and disposes all. This last is light or fulgor which fills all things and is diffused through all. Whence it is called the anima mundi and spiritus universorum, and is that of which Virgil spoke when he said ‘spiritus intus alit'” (p309-310).

Figura Intellectus, p307.

“A remarkable feature of [Bruno’s] De monade is the use which [he] makes in it of Cecco d’Ascoli‘s necromantic commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco… The longest quotation from Cecco comes when Bruno is discussing ten, the number sacred to the ten Sephiroth. He mentions these, but later describes orders of demons or spirits whose hierarchies can be contemplated in the intersection of circles. ‘These (the orders of demons) are contemplated in the intersection of circles, as Astophon says in libro Mineralium constellatorum. O how great, he says, is the power in the intersection of circles.’ This is a quotation of Cecco’s quotation from the Astophon who is to be heard of nowhere else and was probably invented by Cecco. It throws light on why intersecting circles are such a prominent feature in the diagrams by which Bruno represents his Hermetic trinity…” (p322-323).

Figura Amoris, p307.

“Light, says Bruno, is the vehicle in the inner world through which the divine images and intimations are imprinted, and this light is not that through which normal sense impressions reach the eyes, but an inner light joined to a most profound contemplation, of which Moses speaks, calling it ‘primogenita’, and of which Mercurius also speaks in Pimander. Here the Genesis-Pimander equation, so characteristic of the Hermetic-Cabalist tradition, is applied by Bruno to creation of the inner world” (p336).