Magic and Memory in Giordano Bruno

The Art of a Heroic Spirit


In Magic and Memory in Giordano Bruno Manuel Mertens unravels the enigmatic knot between the mnemonic treatises and the magical writings of the sixteenth-century Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno. Since long the magical orientation of the Brunian art of memory has been a preoccupation for Bruno scholars (like Paolo Rossi, Frances Yates and Rita Sturlese). This serious study of the philosophical underpinnings of both Bruno’s mnemonic treatises and his writings on magic shows that Bruno believed his mnemonic method could prevent demons from corrupting the cognitive process. Mertens’s focus on Bruno’s idea of deification through memory and the philosopher’s view on fiery heroic spirits points to a surprisingly literal reading of the heretic’s last words.

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Manuel Mertens, Ph.D. (2011), Ghent University, has published several articles on magic, mnemonics, philosophy, geometry, and printing culture in the Renaissance. He teaches Latin in Antwerp, where he continues his research activities in affiliation with Ghent University.

1 Magic and Memory in Giordano Bruno: Towards a More Encompassing Perspective
 1.1 Changing Perspectives on Magic and Memory
 1.2 Towards a Broader Perspective

2 Special Features of Magical and Mnemonic Writings in the Sixteenth Century
 2.1 Masked on the Literary Stage?  2.2 The Contradictions in the Mnemonic Works in View of Bruno’s Conception of Magic
 2.3 Writing on Memory: Cryptic Publications and Oral Teaching
 2.4 Conclusion

3 The Concept of Similitudo
 3.1 Similitudo from Foucault to Sturlese
 3.2 In Search of a Definition of Similitudo
 3.3 The Function of Similitudo
 3.4 The Aim Expressed by Similitudo

4 A Spirit-Regulating Art
 4.1 Spirits in the Ventricles
 4.2 An Internal Art and Its Inner Tool
 4.3 The Map of the Mind
 4.4 Belief and Deceit
 4.5 Deceiving Demons in the Early Mnemonic Treatises


Bibliographical Note
 Major Editions
 Bruno’s Works Used in this Book
 Historical Documents
 English Translations Used in this Book
All interested in the intellectual currents of the Renaissance, the history of philosophy, the history of magic, demonology, the power of imagination, epistemology, the art of memory and Giordano Bruno.