Lost in the labyrinth: Giordano Bruno and the quest for infinity
Paolo Rossini is a historian and philosopher of science. From 2020 to 2022, he was Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where he ran the EU-funded project Cartesian Networks. Prior to that, he was Frances Yates Short-Term Fellow at the Warburg Institute (London). He holds a PhD in Renaissance Studies from the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), where he defended his dissertation “Atomism and mathematics in the thought of Giordano Bruno” (2019). He is the guest editor of the special issue of Perspectives on Science on “The untold stories of Renaissance mathematics” (2022) and the author of several articles on Giordano Bruno, Renaissance mathematics, and the “networked origins” of Cartesian philosophy and science.
Giordano Bruno’s speculations about infinity covered both extremes of this concept: the infinitely small (the atom) and the infinitely large (the universe). However, in using the tools of mathematics to understand infinity, Bruno encountered a number of obstacles, which doomed his efforts to failure. This book project analyses the reasons of such failure and how they relate to Bruno’s biography. It claims that Bruno’s mathematics is best understood in the context of his project of religious reform. Thus, it was to challenge the prevailing order that Bruno set off to conquer infinity, although he fell short of his mathematical ambitions and ended up losing himself in the labyrinth of the continuum.