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First paragraph: By most accounts Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was by far the most controversial Renaissance philosopher. He published at least sixty texts upon a large variety of topics including mnemonics, hermetic religion, Copernican astronomy, and the renewed possibility of materialism as suggested by this major breakthrough in astronomy. For the most part his notoriety resulted from his defense of heliocentric theory, but also from his pursuit of its theoretical implications toward a modern renewal of ancient secular philosophy. Just as Bacon bridged the gap between Aristotelian philosophy and modern science, Bruno no less effectively served the same purpose between ancient and modern secularism as justified by science. Particularly important in his opinion was Lucretius’ version of materialism based on the earlier assumptions of Aristotle and Epicurus. Bruno’s effort to encourage such a revival was best illustrated by his publications during two relatively brief periods--in 1584-85 while he lived in London and to a lesser extent while in Frankfurt in 1590-91. His reputation at the time was as an overbold iconoclast, but in fact his theoretical innovations derivative of classical secularism eventually set the stage for Spinoza’s pantheism in the mid-seventeenth century, followed by Leibniz’s philosophy as well as the versions of deism suggested by Toland, Meslier, Voltaire, and d’Holbach throughout the eighteenth century, and still later the materialist perspective of scientists and secularists in general that has come to predominate since the mid-nineteenth century.

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