Telesio, Bernardino


Telesio, Bernardino
(1509-1588)
   Italian philosopher of na-ture. Born at Cosenza and educated there by an uncle who taught him both Latin and Greek, he studied philosophy at Padua and received his medical doctorate in 1535. Aristotle and Galen dominated teach-ing at Padua, but Telesio rejected the Paduan tradition of interpreting Aristotle according to the ideas of the Muslim philosopher Averroës. His reading of both Aristotle and Galen in the original Greek made him critical of medieval scholasticism in general. Telesio undertook a new synthesis of these ancient authors and in 1565 published at Rome his major work, De rerum natura iuxta propria principia / On the Na-ture of Things According to Their Own Principles. At Cosenza he founded an Accademia Cosentina to encourage study of natural phi-losophy. Other writings on natural philosophy were published posthu-mously as Varii de naturalibus rebus libelli / Brief Treatises on Nat-ural Subjects (1590). Although critical of some aspects of Aristotelian natural science, especially the Physics, Telesio followed the ancient philosopher on some questions. He regarded sensory knowledge as primary and reason as merely a tool to be used when discussing sub-jects that permitted no direct observation. He was not, however, a gen-uine empiricist and made no use of experiment or measurement.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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