Philosophy of Tommaso Campanella

02.05.2015 |

Episode #4 of the course “Brief history of Renaissance and Modern philosophy”

16th-century Italian monk and scholar Tommaso Campanella was born Giovanni Domenico Campanella and took the name Tommaso in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas. Campanella was an esteemed theologian, philosopher, and poet, and he wrote the majority of his most important works while in prison. Campanella wrote extensively about the philosophy of nature (science), political reform, and the ability to attain truth through the senses. Campanella was betrayed by co-conspirators in a plot against the Spanish throne and was imprisoned for nearly 27 years. After his release, he was accused of being involved in a second plot and fled to France for the remainder of his life.

Tommaso Campanella was a gifted astronomer who used his own knowledge to make astrological predictions, often in accord with biblical teachings. Because of what he determined would happen, he wanted to establish a society on biblical principles. The work that Tommaso Campanella is most commonly remembered for is his utopian philosophical text The City of the Sun. The city described is highly communal, with no citizen being more valuable or expendable than another. In addition, all goods, people, and work are shared, and each member of the society is aware of the society’s history and laws because of the painted walls that surround the city and display the information to everyone.

Campanella also wrote hundreds of poems, though only a handful have survived. Considered some of the most creative and original poetry of his time period, Campanella’s verses include hymns, sonnets, love poems, and madrigals. Written mainly while he was imprisoned, Campanella’s poetry is often seen as more deeply philosophical than other poets’ work.


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