Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Giordano Bruno on Truth

A Facebook friend posted the following, attributed to Giordano Bruno,

"It was proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."

I don't like the quote very much. I don't like the elitism, and I'm suspicious of the notion that truth is something out there, fixed and certain. I feel that truth is more in the relationship between the enquirer and the subject. Humans don't know any absolute truth, and without a partcipant in the process, perhaps truth doesn't exist.

Anyway, I was looking up the quote and discovered that it wasn't by Bruno at all, it was "
a summation of the arguments of Bruno's speech in a debate at the College of Cambray (25 May 1588) made by Coulson Turnbull in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 — 1600 (1913), p. 41. It is not presented as a direct translation of his statements, but a slight alteration of the first two sentences has sometimes appeared on the internet as a quotation of Bruno: "It is a proof of a base and low mind..."



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