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Bernardino Telesio

Telesio, Bernardino (bĕrnärdēˈnō tālāˈzyō) [key], 1509–88, Italian philosopher, one of the leaders in the attack on that part of Aristotelian philosophy that had furnished the foundation for scholasticism. With Bruno and Campanella, he opened the way to a new naturalism, deemphasizing theories of metaphysics and urging the importance of scientific knowledge based upon experience and experiment. He was born into a noble family and studied first with a scholarly uncle in Milan. Further study followed at Rome and in Padua. At Naples he lectured and afterward established his Academia Cosentina in the interest of more scientific methods of thought. While he produced many works on science and philosophy, the outstanding achievement is his De natura rerum juxta propria principia [on the nature of things according to their own principles] (1565–86, new ed. 1910–23). In this he regarded matter as a positive reality that has no need to look outside itself for its sufficient explanation. Out of two opposing fundamental forces (the dry-warm and the moist-cold) in conflict, he sought to produce the reason for all forms of life, great and small. These principles, unscientific by modern standards, were derived from early Greek naturalistic philosophy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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