Italian humanist and philosopher born of a noble family at Cosenza, near Naples, 1508; died there, 1588. He studied successively at Milan, Rome, and Padua. In Southern Italy the revolt against Aristoteleanism had already begun. At Padua Telesio first came to be recognized as a leader of the anti-Aristoteleans. After residing several years in Rome, where he enjoyed the patronage of Paul IV, Telesio returned to Naples, and later founded an academy at Cosenza. His principal work is entitled "De rerum natura juxta propria principia", the first part of which was published in Rome, 1565, and the second in Naples, 1587. He was a radical opponent both of the method and of the content of Aristotelean philosophy. He considered that the scholastic followers of Aristotle relied too much on reason and too little on the senses. The "reasoners", he believed, were over-confident of their power to reach the secrets of nature by syllogistic methods. With conscious humility, therefore, he determined to trust to his senses alone, and, beginning "in the dust", he strove to reach the highest pinnacle of natural truth. This exclusion of reason from the task and the consequent exaltation of sense above every other faculty of the mind resulted naturally in the sensistic doctrine that all knowledge is feeling ( sensus ) or sensation, and in the materialistic doctrine that the soul itself is material. In the content of his philosophy he opposed the Aristotelean doctrine of matter and form, substituting for it the doctrine that everything is composed of matter and force, the two principal forces being heat and cold. Heat is centralized in the sun, and cold in the earth. As the Platonist Patrizzi pointed out, there is an inherent contradiction in Telesio's system. For, if we are to rely on the senses and not on reason, since the senses do not reveal the existence of matter except as modified by forces, the central doctrinal principle is in contradiction with the most important methodological tenet. This point was brought out in the discussions between the advocates of Aristotle and the followers of Telesio in the sixteenth century. Among the most ardent disciples of Telesio were Campanella and Giordano Bruno.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online