Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

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

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

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

Article excerpt

BRIEFLY NOTED Nicholas of Cusa: A Companion to His Life and His Times BY MORIMICHI WATANABE EDITED BY GERALD CHRISTIANSON AND THOMAS M. IZBICKI ASHGATE, 42.6 PAGES, $134.95

Early twentieth-century Kantian Ernst Cassirer once dubbed Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) "the first modern philosopher," and Hans Urs von Balthasar was convinced that Cusa's vision of the unity of faith contained wisdom uniquely suited for the Church and the world today. He tackled, among other things, the notion of experimental science, a theory of dialogue with Islam, the debate about intellect and affect in mystical theology, and the question of papal primacy at the height of the popularity of medieval conciliarism. For these and other reasons, he seemed to surpass his contemporaries with his powers of intellectual synthesis, freedom of expression, high regard for Catholic harmony, and zeal for the truth.

The fruit of a life's work, this handbook allows both experts and firsttimers to accompany Cusa the scholar and ecclesiastical politician, listen to the legal and philosophical debates of his time, and even retrace with remarkable detail how, from within the Roman curia, he defended the medieval ideal of a Catholic Reformation. His role in multiple (often failed) efforts at reform emerges with great clarity. …

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