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Stephen Clucas

Fellow in Research Area 1: "Competing Communities"

November 2022

The Visible and The Knowable in the Mnemotechnics of Giordano Bruno

Stephen Clucas’s project focuses on Giordano Bruno’s Lampas Triginta Statuarum, a manuscript treatise on the art of memory which he probably composed during his time at Wittenberg and Helmstedt in the years 1587 to 1590. The art is based on 30 mental images (figmenta) in the form of statues which are used in order to proceed ‘from sensible and imaginable things which are better known, towards universal intelligible and contemplatable things which are the causes and ruling principles of all particular things.’ This method – which Bruno sees as comparable to the ‘form and usage of the ancient philosophers and prisci theologi, who were accustomed to veil the mysteries of nature in this way’ – has consequences both for the status of the visible image and for the understanding of the processes of intellection. The project considers the way in which Bruno collapses the world of the visible (sensible things) and the world of the knowable, or intelligible things, and the ways in which this ‘collapsing’ is predicated on a certain kind of metaphysical understanding of the universe.

Stephen Clucas is Reader in Early Modern Intellectual History at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2007 he became founding co-editor (with Stephen Gaukroger) of the journal Intellectual History Review. He is currently co-editing Thomas Hobbes’ De corpore with Timothy J. Raylor for the Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes.