Nicholas of Cusa
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NICHOLAS OF CUSA

Overview:

He wrote/published 25 books.
Member of the Catholic Church.

Biography

1401-1464

-Born in Kues, Germany
-Served the Roman Catholic Church.
-Nicholas of Cusa got approval to go to Constantinople to discuss reunification of the Eastern and Western church officials in 1437
-1438 Nicholas tried to regain papacy allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.
-Mission a success in 1448 signing of Concordat of Vienna -He was named cardinal in 1449 by Pope Nicholas V.
-In 1450, he was then named bishop of Brixen, Italy


Nicholas of Cusa was a Greman theologian, scholar, and statesman. He wrote on Philosophy, Theology, Mathematics,
and Astronomy. One of the most famous books written by
Nicholas of Cusa, On Learned Ignorance , written in 144O, he argues that any reason is not an adequate determination of truth.

His interests lied in geometry and logic. Also studied Infinity, the Infinite large and small. Main argument as a philosopher is that the "search for truth is equal tot he task of squaring a circle". He became interested in Astronomy in 1444 saying that the earth moved around the Sun, that the stars were other suns and that space was infinite, and that these suns had other worlds that were inhabited.

He argued that true wisdom lies in the recognition of human ignorance and that knowledge of the deity is possible only through intuition, a higher state of intelligence.

His works can be summarized by this:

"God as he exists in Himself is unknowable and incomprehensible.
Yet God as He exists in His creation is simplicity Itself, and this invisible God can be seen within creation when viewed by an individual whose intellect has become similarly simple.
Christ as Logos is the simple essence which sustains the universe and the medium through which the believer is united to God.
Union with Christ does not annihilate individuality, but rather perfects it in Christ since Christ makes up for all the individual's deficiencies.
The above points are approached again and again from many different angles, using many different paradigms. It's worth noting that in the first book of the anthology, On Learned Ignorance, Cusa uses a geometrical paradigm in his presentation. If you are wondering if this paradigm would be meaningful for you personally, consider the following: a circle of infinite size has a circumference which consists of an infinite, straight line. If you don't like reflecting on this, you probably won't like reading On Learned Ignorance. However if this has a certain appeal to you, you'll find that Cusa uses such examples to illustrate that diversity manifests itself due to creation's finiteness. If you consider a thing not as it is in itself (finite), but as it is in God (infinite), everything converges back into one, just as circles and straight lines do in the above geometrical example. "

According to Hugh Lawrence Bond of the Paulist Press.

Some Quotes I Find Interesting

"God, therefore, is the one most simple essence of the entire universe..."

"God is not something... God is beyond nothing and beyond something... God cannot be called "this" rather than "that"... "

"... God's simplicity precedes both all that can be named and all that cannot..."

"... strive to seek God with the most diligent vision, for God who is everywhere is impossible not to find if God is sought in the right way... God is rightly sought to the end that, in keeping with God's name, praise of God may reach the limits of the power of our earthly nature. "

"Who could understand how all things, though different contingently, are the image of that single, infinite Form... The infinite form is received only in a finite way; consequently, every creature is, as it were, a finite infinity or a created god, so that it exists in the way in which this could best be. It is as if the Creator had spoken: "Let it be made," and because God, who is eternity itself, could not be made, that was made which could be made, which would be as much like God as possible. The inference, therefore, is that every created thing as such is perfect, even if by comparison to others it seems less perfect. For the most merciful God communicates being to all in the manner in which it can be received... Therefore, every created being finds its rest in its own perfection, which it freely holds from the divine being. It desires to be no other created being, as if something else were more perfect, but rather it prefers that which it itself holds, as if a divine gift, from the maximum, and it wishes its own possession to be perfected and preserved incorruptibly. "

"Since God is not knowable in this world, where reason, opinion, and teaching lead us, by means of symbols, from the better known to the unknown, God is grasped only where persuadings leave off and faith enters in. Through faith we are rapt in simplicity so that, while in a body incorporeally, because in spirit, and in the world not in a worldly manner but celestially, we may incomprehensibly contemplate Christ above all reason and intelligence, in the third heaven {2 Cor 12:2} of the simplest intellectuality. Therefore, we also see that because of the immensity of his excellence he cannot be comprehended. And this is that learned ignorance by which the very blessed Paul, as he ascended saw that, when he was being lifted higher up to Christ, he was then ignorant of Christ... "

"The posse {i.e. potential} of the mind to see, therefore, surpasses the posse to comprehend... "

"When according to all its intellectual powers our spirit turns by faith to the purest and eternal truth, to which it subordinates all else, and when it chooses and loves this truth as alone worthy of being loved, then, indeed, there is a turning of our spirit. For to turn by most sure faith to the truth that is Christ is to renounce the world and to tread on it victoriously. "

All of these are found at http://www.digiserve.com/mystic/

Noted Written Books

On Learned Ignorance
Dialogue on the Hidden God
On Seeking God
On the Vision of God
On the Summit of Contemplation