The Acentric Labyrinth: Giordano Bruno's Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology
I The infinite universe:
1 The universe is infinite.
2 It is infinite because it has no borders or limits, neither does it have a surface, and hence neither circumference nor figure.
3 The universe has no center.
4 Space is an homogeneous and infinite continuum.
5 The ether is identical with the void or absolute space. Thus, so understood, the void is not impossible. There is interplanetary and interstellar space (or void). The universe is not solid. The heavenly bodies are not in a vacuum, but in this medium called ether; this is their only universal ‘place’. There are no absolute voids or perfect vacuums in the universe, nor outside of it.
6 The universe is one single whole.
7 The infinite universe does not need an external motor to move it. In itself it is immovable, since there is nothing else it can move towards or go away from; however, everything in it is in constant motion.
8 From the infinite universe new abundance of matter is always born.
9 The universe is homogeneous and isotropic; there is no hierarchy in cosmic matter resulting from its relative distance from the human observer on Earth; the universe looks the same from wherever in the universe an observer may look at it. All heavenly bodies are made of the same elements and have similar composition, consistency, and structure. Neither the sun nor the Earth have any cosmological privileges over other heavenly bodies in the infinite universe. There is no essential difference between the sublunar the supralunar world.
10 Motion is universal. All heavenly bodies are endowed with several kinds of movement, and none of them is perfectly regular.
11 The universe had no beginning in time; it will have no end either; it is eternal.
12 There is no absolute time. In the universe, the number of times correspond to the number of celestial bodies.
13 The material universe consists of space, ether, atoms, and light.
14 Light is not made up of atoms.
II The innumerable worlds:
15 There are innumerable, indeed infinite, suns and planets in the universe.
16 These innumerable suns and planets are in themselves finite.
17 Heavenly bodies move freely in space. The celestial vault or firmament – the ultimate sphere of fixed stars equidistant from the Earth – is an illusion. All heavenly bodies have in themselves their own immanent principle of movement (soul); they are automotive and animated; they do not need to be pushed or pulled by other bodies; their source of movement is internal vigor, not external impulse (mechanical push or pull).
18 The Sun is a star and the stars are suns. They are not made up exclusively of fire, but of the same elements that make up the Earth as well as all other celestial bodies.
19 The Sun, like all heavenly bodies, moves; it revolves around its center.
20 Besides the visible planets, there may be other invisible ones rotating around the Sun which we cannot see because of their distance or size.
21 There are probably other planetary orbits around other suns besides our own solar ones.
22 The farther the planets are from the Sun, the longer are their orbits, and the longer their orbits, the slower they move around the Sun.
23 The Earth is a planet not unlike many others in the universe. It moves freely in space, and is not a perfect sphere.
24 There are probably living beings in other worlds.
III The soul of the universe:
25 The universe is one because it has one single immanent principle that holds all its parts together, just as the human soul is the one single principle that holds together and interrelates all parts of the body. It is the soul of the universe.
26 The soul of the universe must be conceived as the principle and substance of the universe, although its true nature is extremely difficult to grasp.
27 The universal soul is found in everything, and there is no corpuscle, however tiny, that is not animated by it.
28 The universal soul is able to produce all from all.
IV The universal intellect:
29 There is order in the universe; this order is not the result of chance, as the atomists would have it, but rather the effect of an efficient cause, the universal intellect. The universal intellect is the only single immanent principle of organized complexity in the universe: Mind, God, Being, the One, Truth, Fate, Reason, Order.
30 The agent that governs, orders, and directs everything in the universe is the intellect of the soul of the universe; the intellect is not only the formal cause and principle of the universe, but its efficient cause as well.
31 The efficient cause of the universe, the universal intellect, must also be conceived as the final cause of the universe, for it may be conceived as having an infinite (not transcendentally pre-established) purpose, namely that all possible forms of matter it contains can be actualized, for it must become everything that it can possibly become. It so strives to achieve perfection through a full ‘explication’ or unfolding.
32 The universe is not complete and perfect; the infinite universe is open and therefore can never reach perfect completion.
V Matter and form:
33 Matter and form, the passive and the active metaphysical principles of all physical reality, are inseparable, infinite, eternal, and indestructible.
34 Matter is divine and animated from within by the equally divine formal principle.
35 All the individual forms existing in the universe are not received by matter from outside, but all proceed from the infinitely fecund bosom of matter animated by one single form, which is the soul of the universe.
36 The One (universal intellect or a cosmic mind) effects an infinity of forms out of uncreated matter throughout eternity. There was never a single act of creation that produced, out of nothing, a complete and perfect universe of immutable forms.
37 All the infinite different forms in the universe are subject to constant transformations. All forms on Earth are incessantly changing into other forms, and all bodies in the universe are equally transmutable and susceptible to incessant changes.
38 In the universe, only space and ether are continua; the rest are either discrete, perfectly solid, indivisible atoms, or the bodies of such atoms. The atoms are the most elementary particles of matter.
39 Matter comprehends a lot more than atoms; it includes ether and light as well.
40 Atoms are automotive and animated, that is, they have in themselves the principles of movement (they have ‘souls’). Their movements produce infinite combinations which settle down to innumerable forms.