Nicholas of Cusa and Medieval Political Thought

Nicholas of Cusa and Medieval Political Thought

Nicholas of Cusa and Medieval Political Thought

Nicholas of Cusa and Medieval Political Thought

Excerpt

The author was first attracted to the study of the political thought of Nicholas of Cusa because the standard histories of political thought singled him out as one of the first theorists to make consent the basis of the legitimacy of law and government. In the course of the critical examination of Cusanus' thought, my first impression of his political theory as a revolutionary break with the past has been substantially modified, but this has not led to any lessening of the intrinsic interest of his thought. Cusanus is an original thinker, not as a radical innovator, but as the creator in both philosophy and politics of a new synthesis and recombination of traditional elements. He is, as one of his German commentators put it, "an unconscious revolutionary . . . the last of the scholastics and at the same time, the herald of a new age."

In the last thirty-five years, there has been lively interest in Cusanus in Germany, France, and Italy, and I am grateful for the opportunity to put before an English-speaking audience the results of the research done by European scholars, insofar as it has aided in an understanding of Cusanus as a political theorist. Those who, through their writings and through personal discussion, have contributed to this study are too numerous to list, but many are mentioned in the footnotes. Special thanks are due to Professor H. S. Offler of the University of Durham, England, for originally suggesting that there was a need for a full- length study of Nicholas of Cusa's political thought, to the late Professor Bruno Decker of the University of Mainz for lending me the first two books of the Heidelberg edition of De Concordantia Catholica, now out of print, and particularly to Professor Josef Koch of the University of . . .

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