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CAMPANELLA AS FORERUNNER OF DESCARTES* Tyrhile Tommaso Campanella1 is widely known as the author of The V» City of the Sun, a political dialogue in the tradition of Plato's Republic and St. Thomas More's Utopia, his vast and more strictly philosophical production has been given little attention until comparatively recent times. It was perhaps with a sort of prophetic, even if presumptuous and badly phrased, intuition that towards the end of his troubled life he wrote from his French exile: "The centuries to come will judge us, for the present century always crucifies its benefactors. * The author wishes to express his sincere gratitude to the Right Reverend Msgr. John K. Ryan, professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America, for his helpful suggestions in the preparation of this article. 1 Tommaso Campanella was born at Stilo, in Calabria, on September 5, 1568. At a very early age he displayed great mental ability. Attracted by the preaching of a Dominican friar and by the reading of the lives of St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas, he entered the Dominican order, and devoted himself particularly to the study of philosophy. Sharing Bernardino Telesio's naturalistic tendencies, he defended him against the attacks of Aristotelian critics. Arrested in 1599 by order of the Spanish government, he had to stand trial on charges of heresy and conspiracy. Although subjected to physical torture by the secular court, he did not confess to crime or heresy. However, iii 1602 he was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. Whether justly or not, Campanella was kept in prison at Naples for 27 years. Released on May 23, 1626, through the help of Pope Urban VIII, he was arrested again and arraigned before the ecclesiastical tribunal in Rome. In 1628 he regained his freedom, but fearing further persecution, he escaped to Paris in 1634, where he was received with marked favor by King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. He died on May 21, 1639, in the quiet of the Dominican monastery in the Rue St. Honoré in Paris, comforted by the sympathy and affection of his confrères. His main works are: Philosophia sensibus demonstrata (Naples, 1591); De sensu rerum et magia (Frankfort, 1620); Epilogo Magno (ed. C. Ottaviano; Rome, 1939) ; Disputationum in quatuor partes suae philosophiae realis libri quatuor (Paris, 1637); Civitas Solis, or The City of the Sun, latest English translation by William G. Gilstrap (New York, 1952); Atheismus triumphatus (Paris, 1636) ; Philosophiae rationalis partes quinqué (Paris, 1638) ; Universalis philosophiae, seu metaphysicarum rerum iuxta propria dogmata partes tres, libri 18 (Paris, 1638) ; De libris propriis et recta ratione studendi syntagma (ed. V. Spampanato; Milan, 1927); Theologicorum libri XXX (Book I ed. by R. Amerio under the title Teología, Lib. I; Milan, 1936); Lettere (ed. V. Spampanato ; Bari, 1927); Poesie (ed. M. Vinciguerra; Bari, 1938). 37 38B. M. BONANSEA But they will rise again on the third day, or the third century."2 With the development of studies in Renaissance thought Campanella has again come into prominence. His philosophical system has been subjected to serious consideration, and certain aspects of his thought have been put forth in a new light.3 Among other things, a kinship has been discovered between his thought and the philosophical systems of certain more illustrious contemporaries, especially René Descartes4. We 2 From Campanella's letter to the Grand Duke Ferdinand II De' Medici, Paris, July 6, 1638. Cf. Lettere, op. cit., p. 389. 3 Not all studies of Campanella have been conducted with the seriousness and impartial attitude that are expected of scholars worthy of the name. As É. Gilson points out in his notes on Campanella, "the prejudices against the philosophical systems of the Renaissance are many and persistent, and the judgments passed upon their authors are not always fair. But we are right in saying that perhaps the most ill-treated of the thinkers of that epoch is Campanella." Cf. Etienne Gilson, "Notes sur Campanella," Annales de Philosophie Chrétienne, XV (1912—1913), 491. Great strides have been made in recent years towards a more objective interpretation of Campanella's thought. We refer particularly to the excellent works of G. Di Napoli, Tommaso Campanella, Filosofo delta restaurazione cattolica...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 37-59
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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