http://www.cla.umn.edu/jhopkins/ Taken together, twenty-four of these works constitute Nicholas of Cusa’s complete philosophical and theological treatises. They must be supplemented by studying his richly conceptual sermons, along with his ecclesiological and exegetical writings such as De Concordantia Catholica and Coniectura de Ultimis Diebus. His mathematical writings are also of interest, even though they are not of lasting importance, as Gottfried Leibniz rightly recognized.
This paper reviews the fate of the central ideas behind the complementary learning systems (CLS) framework as originally articulated in McClelland, McNaughton, and O’Reilly (1995). This framework explains why the brain requires two differentially specialized learning and memory systems, and it nicely specifies their central properties (i.e., the hippocampus as a sparse, pattern-separated system for rapidly learning episodic memories, and the neocortex as a distributed, overlapping system for gradually integrating across episodes to extract latent semantic structure). We review the application (...) of the CLS framework to a range of important topics, including the following: the basic neural processes of hippocampal memory encoding and recall, conjunctive encoding, human recognition memory, consolidation of initial hippocampal learning in cortex, dynamic modulation of encoding versus recall, and the synergistic interactions between hippocampus and neocortex. Overall, the CLS framework remains a vital theoretical force in the field, with the empirical data over the past 15 years generally confirming its key principles. (shrink)
This paper explores Nicholas of Cusa’s framing of the De pace fidei as a dialogue taking place incaelo rationis. On the one hand, this framing allows Nicholas of Cusa to argue that all religious rites presuppose the truth of a single, unified faith and so temporally manifest divine logos in a way accommodated to the historically unique conventions of different political communities. On the other hand, at the end of the De pace fidei, the interlocutors in the heavenly (...) dialogue are enjoined to return to earth and lead their countrymen in a gradual conversion to the acceptance of rites which would explicitly acknowledge the metaphysically presupposed transcendent unity of all true faiths. In light of these two aspects of the literary framing of the De pace fidei, the question that motivates this paper concerns the extent to which the understanding of history subtending Cusanus’ temporal political aims is consistent with the understanding of history grounded in his metaphysical presupposition that there is una religio in omni diversitate rituum. In addressing this question, I shall argue that the literary strategy of the De pace fidei sacrifices Nicholas of Cusa’s apologetic doctrinal aims insofar as the text creates an allegorical space in which the tension between its literal and figurative dimensions assigns to its readers the task of choosing their own orientations to the significance of history as a foundation for future action. (shrink)
This paper is a reaction to the book “Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom”, whose central concern is the philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell. I distinguish and discuss three concerns in Maxwell’s philosophy. The first is his critique of standard empiricism (SE) in the philosophy of science, the second his defense of aim-oriented rationality (AOR), and the third his philosophy of mind. I point at some problematic aspects of Maxwell’s rebuttal of SE and of his philosophy of mind and argue (...) in favor of AOR. (shrink)
For the last several decades, philosophers have wrestled with the proper place of religion in liberal societies. Usually, the debates among these philosophers have started with the articulation of various conceptions of liberalism and then proceeded to locate religion in the context of these conceptions. In the process, however, too little attention has been paid to the way religion is conceived. Drawing on the work of Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, two scholars who are often read as holding opposing (...) views on these issues, I argue that, for the purposes of their argument about liberalism, both have implicitly accepted a concept of religion that has come under severe attack in recent work on the subject. Namely, they have accepted a concept of religion that identifies religion primarily with belief, ritual practice, and ecclesial institutions. Following recent scholarship, I suggest that religion is better conceived as a kind of culture. To conclude the essay, I gesture toward what the beginnings of a re-visioned debate about religion and liberal society might look like if one started from this revised conception of religion. (shrink)
In response to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Nicholas of Cusa wrote De pace fidei defending a commitment to religious tolerance on the basis of the notion that all diverse rites are but manifestations of one true religion. Drawing on a discussion of why Nicholas of Cusa is unable to square the two objectives of arguing for pluralistic tolerance and explaining the contents of the one true faith, we outline why theological pluralism is compromised by its own (...) meta-exclusivism. (shrink)
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; a version formed by the (...) assimilation of to, labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation. Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation they oppose. (shrink)
Richard Falckenberg (1851-1920) in his book Grundzüge der Philosophie des Nicolaus Cusanus mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Lehre vom Erkennen was among the first historians of philosophy to support the argument that Nicholas of Cusa was a modern philosopher because his innovative theory of knowledge. The Falckenberg's celebrity shall be reduced because he was later obscured by the most famous historians of philosophy as Ernst Cassirer and Joachim Ritter. In our paper we want to come back to the Falckenberg's book (...) and recover his main arguments about the proximity of Cusanus with the philosophies of Leibniz, Fichte and the positivists. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 55, Issue 1-3, pp 152 - 169 Previously, the author tried to show that some arguments in one of the two versions of Nicholas of Autrecourt’s _Quaestio de intensione visionis_ are taken almost verbatim from the anonymous _Tractatus de sex inconvenientibus_. This paper concentrates on the arguments themselves in order to consider two main issues: the ‘translatability’ of limit decision problems, manifest in Autrecourt’s juxtaposition of questions _de maximo et minimo, de primo et ultimo instanti_, and (...) the intension and remission of forms; the importance of Parisian discussions of limit decision problems prior to the adoption of the new analytical languages developed at Oxford. Thus, the paper is divided in two sections, the first concerning some arguments of Autrecourt’s question, the second focusing on the link between one of Autrecourt’s arguments and the medieval tradition of commentaries on Aristotle’s _De caelo_, in which it is possible to find some antecedents of the analytical approach that later Parisian scholars would apply to these problems. (shrink)
La traduction latine des Dialoghi della historia du philosophe néo-platonicien Francesco Patrizi da Cherso est publiée à Bâle en 1570. L’étude de la circulation de ce texte et des choix de traduction permet de mieux comprendre la réception des artes historicae italiennes dans le Nord de l’Europe et les fluctuations ou limites du latin face à la montée en puissance de l’italien vernaculaire comme langue philosophique.
In the introduction to his Philosophical Papers 1&2 Charles Taylor assures us that his work, while encompassing a range of issues, follows a single, tightly knit agenda. He claims that the central questions concern "philosophical anthropology". Taylor's work on these questions has been presented piecemeal, in the form of articles and papers, and the student has had to imagine what a systematic monograph by Taylor on philosophical anthropology would look like. Neither Hegel, Sources of the Self, Ethics of Authenticity, Catholic (...) Modernity nor Varieties of Religion Today, nor Taylor's forthcoming books on secularization and modern social imaginaries are such treatises on the ontology of the human being. Nicholas H. Smith's monograph Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity (Polity, 2002) puts forward a clear and well-argued assessment of Taylor's entire project, with details on his intellectual biography and political engagement. For the purposes of thinking through Taylor's work so far, this book is probably the best one around. It is divided into eight chapters: "Linguistic Philosophy and Phenomenology", "Science, Action and the Mind", "The Romantic Legacy", "The Self and the Good", "Interpretation and the Social Sciences", "Individual and Community", "Politics and Social Criticism", and "Modernity, Art and Religion". The chapters are thematically ordered, but the order of presentation follows roughly the temporal order of Taylor's career. In this review article, I will begin with what Smith identifies as Taylor's organizing idea, and then focus on Smith's presentation of Taylor's transcendental argumentation concerning 'human constants'. As exemplars, I will discuss two of the.. (shrink)
Why would God make us ask for some good He might supply, and why would it be right for God to withhold that good unless and until we asked for it? We explain why present defences of petitionary prayer are insufficient, but argue that a world in which God makes us ask for some goods and then supplies them in response to our petitions adds value to the world that would not be available in worlds in which God simply supplied (...) such goods without our asking for them. This added value, we argue, is what we call ‘partnership with God’. (shrink)
This introduction sets the stage for four papers on Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs , written by Harold Attridge, Oliver O'Donovan, Richard Bernstein, and myself. In his book, Wolterstorff defends an account of human rights. The first section of this introduction distinguishes Wolterstorff's account of rights from the alternative account of rights against which he contends. The alternative account draws much of its power from a historical narrative according to which theory and politics supplanted earlier ways of thinking (...) about justice. The second section sketches that narrative and Wolterstorff's counter-narrative. The third section draws together the main points of Wolterstorff's own account. (shrink)
Philosophy of religion in the Anglo-American tradition experienced a 'rebirth' following the 1955 publication of New Essays in Philosophical Theology (eds. Antony Flew and Alisdair MacIntyre). Fifty years later, this volume of New Essays offers a sampling of the best work in what is now a very active field, written by some of its most prominent members. A substantial introduction sketches the developments of the last half-century, while also describing the 'ethics of belief' debate in epistemology and showing how it (...) connects to explicitly religious concerns and to the topics of the individual contributions. The book is a Festschrift for Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, edited by two of his former students. (shrink)
Ever since Ernst Cassirer in his epochal book Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance1 labeled Nicholas of Cusa “the first modern thinker,” interest in Cusa’s thought has burgeoned. At various times, both before and after Cassirer, Nicholas has been viewed as a forerunner of Leibniz,2 a harbinger of Kant,3 a prefigurer of Hegel,4 indeed, as an anticipator of the whole of..
In the contemporary philosophical debate, there are two opposing contractualist views. On the one side, Hobbesian contractualisms take moral principles as side-constraints to redress the failures of the interaction among self-interested individuals. On the other, Kantian versions of the social contract ground morality on an impartial and moralized viewpoint. In his recent Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality, Nicholas Southwood proposes a third and novel form of contractualism, with the aim to overcome the “implausibly personal and partial characterization of (...) the moral point of view” of Hobbesian positions, as well as the “excessively substantive conception of practical reason” of Kantian theories .On Southwood’s view, perfectly rational individuals—who see themselves as “simultaneously co-legislator and co-subject among individuals with whom one shares an authority as a fellow deliberative agent” —agree upon a “common code” to live by, which is “a relatively compreh .. (shrink)
In any society influenced by a plurality of cultures, there will be widespread, systematic differences about at least some important values, including moral values. Many of these differences look like deep disagreements, difficult to resolve objectively if that is possible at all. One common response to the suspicion that these disagreements are unsettleable has always been moral relativism. In the flurry of sympathetic treatments of this doctrine in the last two decades, attention has understandably focused on the simpler case in (...) which one fairly self-contained and culturally homogeneous society confronts, at least in thought, the values of another; but most have taken relativism to have implications within a single pluralistic society as well. I am not among the sympathizers. That is partly because I am more optimistic than many about how many moral disagreements can be settled, but I shall say little about that here. For, even on the assumption that many disputes are unsettleable, I continue to find relativism a theoretically puzzling reaction to the problem of moral disagreement, and a troubling one in practice, especially when the practice involves regular interaction among those who disagree. This essay attempts to explain why. (shrink)
Procuramos, neste artigo, apresentar a reflexão de Nicolau de Cusa sobre a Trindade, em dois dos seus textos: De coniecturis e De visione dei. Nesses dois livros, a Trindade recebe uma série de outras designações diferentes daquelas que aparecem nas citações bíblicas ou, como ele próprio afirma, diferentes das usadas pelos nossos doutores. Nesse sentido, objetivamos mostrar, também, que as expressões da Trindade podem ser lidas como expressões do amor no pensamento do filósofo alemão. We seek in this paper to (...) present the Nicholas of Cusa's reflexion on the Trinity in two of his works: De coniecturis and De visione dei. In these two books the Trinity receives several different designations from those which appear in biblical citations or, as he affirms, different designations from those used by our doctors. In this regard, our objective is to show also that the expressions of the Trinity can be read as the expressions of the Love in the thought of the German philosopher. (shrink)
The "System of Pragmatic Idealism" is of special importance for Nicholas Rescher's philosophical work, because here he has presented the systematic approach at once. Dedicated to his 70th birthday a group of European and U.S-american philosophers discuss the main topics of Rescher's philosophical system. The contributions which are presented here for the first time and Nicholas Rescher's responses cover the most important topics of philosophy and give a deep anddetailed insight into the strenght of Rescher's pragmatic idealism. This (...) volume is of interest for philosophers studying Rescher's philosophy and for all those who are interested in systematic philosophy and the vividnes of pragmatism and idealism in present philosophy. (shrink)
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
Nicholas Wolterstorff: Practices of belief: selected essays, volume 2 (Terence Cuneo, ed.) Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 255-258 DOI 10.1007/s11153-011-9287-4 Authors Scott A. Davison, Philosophy Program, Morehead State University, 150 University Blvd., 354A Rader Hall, Morehead, KY 40351, USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047 Journal Volume Volume 70 Journal Issue Volume 70, Number 3.
: This contribution offers a detailed presentation of an anonymous book on the soul ascribed to the fourteenth-century Franciscan philosopher and theologian Nicholas Bonet. The work is conserved in two manuscripts of the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague. In both manuscripts the work is almost certainly incomplete. It has a strong focus on the vegetative and sensitive operations of the human soul and on phenomena such as light and colour. Keywords: Fourteenth-century philosophy, Nicholas Bonet, philosophical (...) manuscripts, philosophical psychology, the soul. (shrink)
This paper examines some aspects of the cultural codes implied in the iconography of St Nicholas (Santa Claus). The argument posits the iconography of St Nicholas as a vessel for capturing meanings and accumulating them in the construction of public culture. The discussion begins from the earliest developments of the Christian era and proceeds to contemporary depictions (imagology). The study is conducted on the basis of a representative selection of renditions of Saint Nicholas, including 350 pictures of (...) medieval representations (Western and Eastern Christianity), folk extensions and secular representations and it is theoretically grounded in the Tartu School of semiotics. (shrink)
Manuscripts and early printed copies of Nicholas of Lyra's influential biblical commentary, the Postilla litteralis et moralis in totam bibliam, were made to include a series of around forty illustrations, mostly in the biblical books of Exodus and Ezekiel, to accompany the sections on the Tabernacle of Moses, Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel's re-visioning of the Temple. Although they are not present in all copies of the work, it is known that they were planned by Nicholas himself, (...) since he refers to them in the text. This chapter considers possible sources for Nicholas's drawings and diagrams, including Richard of St Victor, and the Jewish commentators, Rashi and Maimonides. It argues that, far from being mere decoration, the illustrations are meant as an integral part of Nicholas's literal exegesis of the scriptural text. (shrink)
Most readers will be acquainted with the principal interest of the evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey via his modestly titled essay 'How to solve the mind-body problem', reprinted in this collection. The article was originally published in JCS , with peer commentary . But, in addition to his popular science books, Humphrey has also written scholarly essays on the more technical aspects of evolutionary theory along with journalistic articles on religion, politics, history, folk psychology and the supernatural. The book under (...) review attempts the difficult task of bringing these differing topics and styles together in one volume. It would be folly to attempt to cover such a broad collection comprehensively, so I will attempt to focus on those aspects most relevant to the aims and scope of this journal. Nicholas Humphrey, The Mind Made Flesh: Essays from the Frontiers of Psychology and Evolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, ?11.99, ISBN 0-19-280227-5. (shrink)
I argue that Nicholas of Cusa agrees with Thomas Aquinas on the metaphysics of analogy in God, but differs on epistemology, taking a Platonic position against Aquinas’ Aristotelianism. As a result Cusa has to rethink Thomas’ solution to the problem of discourse about God. In De docta ignorantia he uses the mathematics of the infinite as a clue to the relations between a thing and its Measure and this allows him, he thinks, to adapt Aquinas’ approach to the problem (...) of his own epistemology. The resulting approach, I maintain, is coherent and reasonable if the metaphysical views behind it are. (shrink)
Why should I be just? What have I to gain if I am decent, honest, moral, upright, fair and truthful? Other people benefit if I am just, but do I? And doesn't it seem clear that sometimes the benefit that other people receive from my being just is a benefit received at my expense? Perhaps then I have no adequate reason to be just. Perhaps if I have any sense I will not bother.
According to Henri de Lubac's history of medieval exegesis, the fourteenth century marked the tipping point for the disintegration of history and allegory. The Postilla super totam bibliam of the Franciscan Nicholas of Lyra plays a prominent role in this declension narrative by ceding the “spirit” of interpretation to the separate discipline of theology, and opening the space for critical biblical studies to attain autonomy. But what if Nicholas of Lyra was on the other side of this history? (...) Arguing from the layout of early Postilla manuscripts and the institutional and manuscript culture of the fourteenth century, this article proposes that Nicholas's Postilla represents a vigorous and largely successful attempt to reintegrate Biblical text, historical scholarship, and theological exegesis. Nicholas's approach to the exegetical crises of his own day helps us to reassess the challenges and possibilities of theological exegesis today. (shrink)
When Ecce Homo was finally published in 1908, a New York Times reviewer declared that its “the most interesting portions... are those in which Nietzsche..., without delving into the depths of philosophy, shows himself primarily as a master of charming satirical prose”. The review largely consists of quotations in which Nietzsche satirizes, which is to say, mocks, Germans. The author apparently missed Nietzsche’s sarcastic report of another reviewer who characterized Thus Spoke Zarathustra “as an advanced exercise in style, and expressed (...) the wish that later on I might provide some content as well”. Over a century later, Nicholas D. More argues that Ecce... (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to perceptual qualities of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. The internal phenomenological structure of colours is considered here in some detail, and a comparison is (...) drawn with sounds and their synthesis. This paper examines the type of explanation that is needed, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is argued to be of only marginal relevance. (shrink)
Causality and Mind presents seventeen of Nicholas Jolley's essays on early modern philosophy, which focus on two main themes. One theme is the continuing debate over the nature of causality in the period from Descartes to Hume. Jolley shows that, despite his revolutionary stance, Descartes did no serious re-thinking about causality; it was left to his unorthodox disciple Malebranche to argue that there is no place for natural causality in the new mechanistic picture of the physical world. Several essays (...) explore critical reactions to Malebranche's occasionalism in the writings of Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hume, and show how in their different ways Leibniz and Hume respond to Malebranche by re-instating the traditional view that science is the search for causes. A second theme of the volume is the set of issues posed by Descartes' innovations in the philosophy of mind. It is argued that Malebranche is once again a pivotal figure. In opposition to Descartes Malebranche insists that ideas, the objects of thought, are not psychological but abstract entities; he thus opposes Descartes' 'dustbin theory of the mind'. Malebranche also challenges Descartes' assumption that intentionality is a mark of the mental and his commitment to the superiority of self-knowledge over knowledge of body. Other essays discuss the debate over innate ideas, Locke's polemics against Descartes' theory of mind, and the issue of Leibniz's phenomenalism. A major aim of the volume is to show that philosophers in the period are systematic critics of their contemporaries and predecessors. (shrink)
Nicholas Maxwell’s project, among others the character of its philosophical foundations, the notion of wisdom, and its radical post-Enlightenment scientism are discussed, and some doubts regard to it are presented. Above all, it is argued that Maxwell’s proposal of the establishing of world confederations of scientists standing above governments might lead to a totalitarian system.
Three problems are raised for Nicholas Georgalis’s recent work: a problem with regard to the supposed noninferential knowledge of minimal content, a problem with the “necessary condition” Georgalis stipulates for the legitimate application of a first-person methodology to a science of the mind, and a problem with regard to denying phenomenal content to intentional acts.
Nicholas Maxwell takes on the ambitious project of explaining, both epistemologically and metaphysically, the physical universe and human existence within it. His vision is appealing; he unites the physical and the personal by means of the concepts of aim and value, which he sees as the keys to explaining traditional physical puzzles. Given the current popularity of theories of goal-oriented dynamical systems in biology and cognitive science, this approach is timely. But a large vision requires firm and nuanced arguments (...) to support it. Here Maxwell's work is weakest; his arguments for contingent mind-body identity and for free will, on which his larger theory depends, are inadequate. The book is valuable both for its comprehensive view of the human condition and its mysteries, and for its demonstration of the difficulties in making such a view coherent. (shrink)
The purpose of the text is to engage in a well thought critique of the Enlightenment project carried out by Nicholas Maxwell and to reflect upon the proposal of its reconstruction. Maxwell’s intellectual position is not at all obvious: he is neither a radical rationalist, nor a defender of scientific rationality, nor a postmodern and social constructivist. Postmodernists and social constructivists opposed the very idea of reason and rational inquiry, and have been thoroughly critical of what knowledge-inquiry represents. Indeed, (...) such criticisms could not be further from Maxwell’s position. According to Maxwell, what is wrong with knowledge-inquiry is not its embodiment of reason but, to the contrary, its gross and damaging irrationality. From Maxwell’s point of view we suffer not that much from the excess of rationality, but its deficit. Maxwell does not share open criticism of anti-Enlightenment thinkers from Nietzsche to Foucault, but more so he escapes the beliefs of a scientifically focused group of philosophers who see the main force of emancipation of humanity in a narrowly understood science followed by physics, the methodology of verification, and naturalism as a basic ideology. The author of the text thus poses the question: what can save our culture if it is neither sciencenor the rejection of science? Does the replacement of the category of knowledgeinquiry with wisdom-inquiry—which Maxwell converts us to—bring us any closer to a solution in our consideration of knowledge and life, science and politics, facts and values, nature and society? In Western culture wisdom has always been an object of desire, and it was so, inter alia, because unlike knowledge it has never been precisely defined and further specified. Philosophers developed a warm feeling towards wisdom and sought for wisdom, but had they lived by wisdom? Finally, the author challenges the most difficult question: can we rationally excuse our hopes for wisdom and hope that it may one day be embodied in the work of institutions and the actions of individuals? (shrink)
Aunque Nicolás de Cusa, no es un anti-aristotélico estricto, el propósito de este artículo es mostrar en qué sentido la reflexión acerca del principio capital de la filosofía de Nicolás de Cusa el principio de la coincidencia de los opuestos, supone una lectura crítica de Aristóteles. En diálogo con la literatura secundaria propongo que el contacto con el llamado Aristoteles latinus ofrece al Cusano la oportunidad para plantear una superación de las condiciones de la contradicción y encontrar un marco especulativo (...) adecuado para una nueva concepción del Primer Principio. While Nicholas of Cusa is not a strict anti-aristotelian, the purpose of this article is to show the sense in which in the first principle of cusanian philosophy, the principle of the coincidence of opposites, contains a critical reading of Aristotle. Discussing some contemporary positions, it is proposed here that the contact with the so-called Aristoteles latinus gives Nicholas of Cusa the opportunity to attempt a critical examination of the conditions of contradiction and to open a speculative framework for a new conception of the First Principle. (shrink)
This paper argues that Nicholas of Cusa’s investigation of infinity and incommensurability in De docta ignorantia was shaped by the mathematical innovations and thought experiments of fourteenth-century natural philosophy. Cusanus scholarship has overlooked this influence, in part because Raymond Klibansky’s influential edition of De docta ignorantia situated Cusa within the medieval Platonic tradition. However, Cusa departs from this tradition in a number of ways. His willingness to engage incommensurability and to compare different magnitudes of infinity distinguishes him from his (...) Platonic predecessors, who had appropriated the Pythagorean model of universal harmonies. Cusa’s penchant for representing quantity geometrically suggests not only that he has adopted the fourteenth-century method of latitude measurement, but that he accepts incommensurability as normative. Finally, Cusa’s persistent attention to mathematical inaccuracy and to his own learned ignorance suggests his kinship with the meta-critical, conjectural quality of fourteenth-century thought. (shrink)