Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 619.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 06:55:04 +0100
From: "Domenico Fiormonte" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Query on Bacon and Campanella
I am currently working on a book that will be published in Italy next
September ("Scrittura e filologia nell'era digitale" = Writing and
philology in the digital era). In the first part -- quite boldly I admit
it... -- I ventured a chapter on the relationship between technology and
their supports, i.e. the well-known (sometimes trivial) dicothomies orality
vs. writing, print vs. computer, etc.
I studied the contributions of Francis Bacon's leading expert Paolo Rossi,
and found that Bacon is at the heart of all discussions about the emergence
of the technological determinism (from
Karl Marx up to Mumford and Leroi-Gourhan).
I hope that you will forgive my naivety, but I am not an historian nor a
philosopher of science, only a poor student of 'humanae litterae', so my
link to Sir Bacon was initially the Italian XVII century thinker Tommaso
The dilemma I am facing, and on which I am asking the help of the learned
members of this list, is the following: is there any evidence that Bacon
came across Campanella's works, namely his "De Monarchia Hispanica",
before writing the Novum Organum (published about 20 years later)?
Campanella wrote De Monarchia Hispanica in prison in around 1600, but it
was only later that this book was published.
As far as I know, there are few studies on the intellectual affinities
between Bacon and Campanella (see for ex. Rossi's "I filosofi e le
macchine"), but I could not found any clear reference to a direct
relationship between the two philosophers.
My curiosity (hence my query) was raised from this passage:
"[...] Constat denique, quod, dum hostis & equis bella administrata
fuerunt, Galli, Gothi, & Longobardi; dum vero gladiis, Romani
imperium latius propagarunt. At postquam Astutia plus voluit
Fortitudine, inventaeque Typographiae, & Tormenta bellica, rerum
summa rediit ad Hispanos, homines sane impigros, fortes, & astutos."
This incipit has extraordinary thematic similarities with a most- quoted
paragraph of the Novum Organum (CXXIX):
"[...] Rursus, vim et virtutem et consequentias rerum inventarum
notare iuvat: quae non aliis manifestius occurrunt, quam in illis tribus
quae antiquis incognitae, et quarum primordia, licet recentia, obscura et
ingloria sunt: Artis nimirum Imprimendi, Pulveris Tormentarii, et Acus
Nauticae. Haec enim tria rerum faciem et statum in orbe terrarum
mutaverunt: primum, in re literaria; secundum, in re bellica; tertium, in
navigationibus: unde innumerae rerum mutationes sequutae sunt; ut non
imperium aliquod, non secta, non stella, majorem efficaciam et quasi
influxum super res humanas exercuisse videatur, quam ista mechanica
I am reading others works by Campanella in search of more references to the
machine-progress (cause-and-effect) idea, but so far I did not find what I
was looking for.
Another way of putting the question is: who influenced whom?
Is Campanella the source of Bacon or the way round?
Perhaps that single -- but not isolated -- passage is a coincidence, but
even if we can already state that Sir Bacon was not unaware of Campanella's
thought, it would be interesting to know to which extent... (well, of
course I have an opinion, as Borges would say, no one would search for an
evidence without being certain about it...).
I would be very grateful if you could help me to shed some light upon this
dilemma; and of course any suggestion about readings on the
Bacon-Campanella relationship would be most welcomed.
Thanks in advance
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Domenico Fiormonte Professore a
contratto di Informatica umanistica Universita' di Roma Tor Vergata /
Universita' di Roma La Sapienza
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