Nicholas of Cusa: A Companion to His Life and His Times

Nicholas of Cusa: A Companion to His Life and His Times

Nicholas of Cusa: A Companion to His Life and His Times

Nicholas of Cusa: A Companion to His Life and His Times


Nicholas of Cusa (1401 64), doctor of canon law, church politician and philosopher, was one of the most important thinkers of 15th century Europe. This year marks the sixth centenary of his birth. Scholars from round the globe gathered in Tokyo for the 19th Cusanus Congress last year; this volume makes their contributions more widely available. Major themes examined include tradition and innovation, religion, the relevance of Nicholas of Cusa's thought for today, the relationship between East and West in his thought, and the development of his thought and scholarship as we enter a new millennium. Multilingual text: English, German, French.


The purpose of this book is to provide a helpful guide to Nicholas of Cusa (1401– 1464), not only for advanced scholars in the field of Cusanus studies, but also for beginners. The book attempts to meet this goal first through a series of essays on important events and concepts that affected Cusanus’ ideas and actions— philosophical, religious, intellectual and political.

Second, the book offers the reader detailed studies of Cusanus’ precursors and contemporaries, both friendly and critical. These include philosophers, theologians, politicians, canon lawyers and writers, among others.

Third, in addition to ideas and persons, the book continues with an examination of various sites where Cusanus lived, studied, visited and made decisions. In order to ensure the accuracy of descriptions of and discussions on various sites below, the author has personally visited most of these places.

It is hoped that such a guide as this one will be an important resource and reference tool to all who wish to learn about and reflect on the life, thought and activities of Cusanus. Serious attempts have been made to base these studies on the most reliable, up-to-date sources and analyses.

One of the most important reasons for adopting the tripartite approach to the study of Nicholas of Cusa’s life and actions, outlined above, is that no matter how important the understanding of his literary works or philosophical–theological concepts is, appreciation of these ideas can be reached only through the wider context of his thought, his colleagues and his footsteps. The author believes that the serious researcher and student of Cusanus should seek not just an understanding of Cusanus’ literary, intellectual expressions, such as “the coincidence of opposites” (coincidentia oppositorum) and “possibility itself” (posse ipsum), but the “total view” of his thought and experience.

Many of the articles in Part I “Persons” and Part II “Places” were originally published in the American Cusanus Society Newsletter (ACSN) between July 1984 and December 2007, but they have been revised and brought up to date. All other portions were written specifically for the present book. Unless otherwise noted, all entries in the book were written by the author.

Editor’s note: Because a large portion of the articles featured in this book were written over many years for a newsletter and later adapted, it has not been possible in a few cases to provide complete reference information. For this reason, information such as source text, author and page number have occasionally had to be omitted.

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