Heliocentrism, Plurality of Worlds and Ethics: Anton Francesco Doni and Giordano Bruno

  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


The publication of Nicholas Copernicus’s (1473–1543) De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which presented a mathematical planetary theory based on heliocentric hypotheses, has often been regarded as a watershed in the history of science and civilization.3 The new planetary conception had a tremendous impact on European culture and undermined the medieval theology-loaded understanding of nature, with man at its center as the spectator of God’s Creation. Thomas Kuhn even argued in The Copernican Revolution that the heliocentric theory and the motion of the Earth eventually exploded the entire cultural system of beliefs and values received from the Middle Ages. In particular, many ideas descending from literal exegesis of the Bible were irremediably cast into doubt.4


Natural Knowledge Copernican Revolution Natural Religion Infinite Universe Copernican Theory 
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  1. 1.
    Anton Francesco Doni, I Marmi, ed. Ezio Chiaroboli (Vinegia: Per Francesco Marcolini, 1552; Bari: Laterza, 1928). “From the moment when we the people [plebei] can read in our maternal language, you, the learned people [dotti], should not be surprised, and say: ‘he has not been to university’; in fact, while you know things in Greek and Latin, we know them in the vernacular [vulgare]” (11).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Giordano Bruno, Spaccio de la bestia trionfante, in Dialoghi filosofici italiani, ed. Michele Ciliberto (1584; Milano: Mondadori, 2000), 509.Google Scholar
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    The real existence of the Accademia Pellegrina in Venice has been debated at length. If it did exist, Doni was its president between 1553 and 1563. Cf. G. Romei, “Doni, Anton Francesco,” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 41 (1992), 158–167, 162.Google Scholar
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    See, for instance, Carlo Curcio, Dal Rinascimento alla Controriforma: Contributo alla storia del pensiero politico italiano do Guicciardini a Botero (Roma: Colombo, 1934); and Luigi Firpo, “Il pensiero politico del Rinascimento e della Controriforma,” in Questioni di storia moderna, ed. Ettore Rota (Milano: Marzorati, 1951), 345–403.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Gilberto Sacerdoti, Sacrificio e sovranità. Teologia e politica nell’Europa di Shakespeare e Bruno (Torino: Einaudi, 2002).Google Scholar

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