Bernardino Telesio

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Telesio, Bernardino


Born 1509 in Cosenza; died there Oct. 2,1588. Italian natural philosopher of the Renaissance.

Telesio graduated from the University of Padua in 1535. His chief work was On the Nature of Things According to Their Own Principles (1565; nine books in 1586). An opponent of scholastic Aristotelianism, Telesio founded the Academia Telesiana, or Cosentina, in Naples—an academy for the experimental study of nature on the basis of natural laws. Telesio’s natural philosophy is derived from the hylozoism of classical antiquity. According to Telesio, the opposite elements of heat and cold are the chief moving forces, or first principles, acting on all inert matter. The matter of the earth is identical to that of the heavens, but earthly matter is ruled by cold, and heavenly matter by heat. Heat is the source of all organic life as well as of the life spirit—a pure matter existing in animals and in man. In addition, man has an immortal soul, given him by god.

In his theory of knowledge, Telesio elaborated a philosophy based on the principles of sensationalism. He regarded the universal striving for self-preservation as the basis of ethics. With his emphasis on experiential knowledge, Telesio exerted great influence on T. Campanella, G. Bruno, R. Descartes, and F. Bacon.


De rerum natura juxta propria principia, vols. 1–3. Cosenza, 1965–77.
Varii de naturalibus rebus libelli, parts 1–8. Venice, 1590.


Gorfunkel’, A. Kh. “Materializm i bogoslovie v filosofii B. Telezio.” In the collection Ital’ianskoe Vozrozhdenie. [Leningrad] 1966.
Florentino, F. B. Telesio, vols. 1–2. Florence, 1872–74.
Gentile, G. B. Telesio. Bari, 1911.
Troilo, E. B. Telesio. Modena, 1924.
Soleri, G. Telesio. Brescia, 1944.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Bernardino Telesio and the Natural Sciences in the Renaissance
1.1.2's topic is Bernardino Telesio "materialism." 1.1.3 has to do with the occult causality in the Medicinalia of Tommaso Campaneila.
The first chapter begins with Campanella's early philosophical works, his enthusiastic discovery of Bernardino Telesio, and his entrance in 1589 into the scholarly community of the Della Porta brothers in Naples.
In fact, he accepted many of the teachings of Bernardino Telesio in his own early writings.
The first one of his trials occurred in 1592 in Naples, on charges that he accepted the anti-Aristotelian doctrines of his compatriot Bernardino Telesio (1509-88) and that his (Campanella's) prodigious knowledge, learning, and memory derived from the devil.
Throughout his life (1568-1639), this Dominican was influenced by Aristotelianism, anti-Aristotelianism, Platonism, Stoicism, and, above all, the naturalistic philosophy of Bernardino Telesio. These congeries of influences help explain the complicated nature of Campanella's thought as well as the reasons for his frequent imprisonments, his ideas on politics, and his prophetic goals.
Lerner situates the intent of the Apologia broadly and convincingly in Campanella's anti-Aristotelianism, already evident in his De gentilismo of 1609-10 but even earlier in his first work, the Philosophia sensibus demonstrata in defense of Bernardino Telesio. He separates the issue of ratio philosophandi and its freedom from any specific commitment on Campanella's part to the physical theses of either Telesio or Galileo.
"Ramo, Patrizi e Telesio nella prospettiva di Giordano Bruno." In Atti del Convegno Insernazionale di studi su Bernardino Telesio, Cosenza, 12-13 May 1989, 27-40, Cosenza.
One of these principles, warmth, became the most important one for Bernardino Telesio (1509-88), who was educated during this formative period.
It thus places its author in the company of such thinkers as Bernardino Telesio, Girolamo Cardano, Francesco Patrizi of Cherso and Bruno who attempted to provide new categories and explanative schemes for the study of the natural world.