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One of the first German proponents of Renaissance humanismhe made spiritual and political contributions in European ignorsncia. A notable example of this is his mystical or spiritual writings on “learned ignorance,” as well as his participation in power struggles between Rome and the German states of the Holy Roman Empire.

Papal legate to Germany fromhe was appointed cardinal for his merits by Pope Nicholas V in and Prince—Bishop of Brixen two years later.

In he became vicar general in the Papal States. Nicholas of Cusa has remained an influential figure. Inthe sixth centennial of his birth was celebrated on four continents cuwa commemorated by publications on his life and work.

Nicholas was born in Kues Latinized as “Cusa” in southwestern Germany. His father was “a prosperous boat owner and ferryman. He seemed to have left Heidelberg soon afterwards, as he received his doctorate in canon law from the University of Padua in Afterwards, he entered the University of Cologne in as “a doctor of canon law,” ivnorancia he appears to have both igjorancia and practiced there.

In Cologne, he made friends with the scholastic theologian Heymeric de Campo. Following a brief period in Cologne, Nicholas returned to his hometown and became secretary to Otto of Ziegenhain, the Prince—Archbishop of Trier.

Otto appointed him canon and dean at the stift of Saint Florinus in Koblenz affiliated with numerous prebends. In he was sent to Rome as an episcopal delegate. The next year he travelled to Paris to study the writings of Ramon Llull. At the same time he rejected a calling by the newly established University of Leuven.

In he identified the Donation of Constantine as a fake, confirmed by Lorenzo Valla a few years later, and revealed the forgery of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals. He made friends with the Austrian astronomer Georg von Peuerbach and advocated a reform of the Julian calendar and the Easter computuswhich, however, was not realized until the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in Nevertheless, the Ignorncia was contested by opposing parties, and in Nicholas attended the Council of Basel representing the Cologne dean Ulrich von Manderscheid, one of the claimants, [4] who hoped to prevail against the new Pope Eugene IV.

Nicholas stressed the determining influence of the cathedral chapter and its given right to participate in the succession policy, which even places the pope under an obligation to seek a ignoraancia. His efforts were to no avail in regard to Dde ambitions; however, Nicholas’ pleadings earned him a great reputation as an intermediary and diplomat. While present at the council, he wrote his first work, De concordantia catholica The Catholic Concordancea synthesis of ideas on church and empire balancing hierarchy with consent.

This work remained useful to critics of the papacy long after Nicholas left Basel. Initially as conciliaristNicholas approached his university friend Cardinal Julian Cesarini, who had tried to reconcile pope and council, combining reform and hierarchic order.

Nicholas supported transfer of the council to Italy to meet with the Greeks, who needed aid against the Ottoman Turks. He arbitrated in the conflict with the Hussites. Between the summer of and early he was a member of the delegation sent to Constantinople with the pope’s approval to bring back the Byzantine emperor and his representatives to the papally summoned Council of Florence ofwhich was attempting to bring the Eastern Orthodox Church into union with the Western Catholic Church.


The reunion achieved at this conference turned out to be very brief. Nicholas would later claim in the postfaced dedicatory letter of On Learned Ignorancewhich Nicholas finished writing on 12 February that he had chosen to write on this metaphysical topic because of a shipboard experience of divine illumination while on the ship returning from this mission to Constantinople.

After a successful career as a papal envoy, he was made a cardinal by Pope Nicholas V in or In he was both named Bishop of Brixenin Tyroland commissioned lw a papal legate to the German lands to spread the message of reform.

This latter role, his ‘Great Legation’ ofinvolved travel of almost miles, preaching, teaching and reforming. He became known as the Hercules of the Eugenian cause. Pope Nicholas canceled some of Nicholas’ decrees, and the effort to discourage pilgrimages to venerate the bleeding hosts of Wilsnack the so-called Holy Blood of Wilsnack was unsuccessful. His work as bishop between and — trying to impose reforms and reclaim lost diocesan revenues — was opposed by Duke Sigismund of Austria. The duke imprisoned Nicholas infor which Pope Pius II excommunicated Sigismund and laid an interdict on his lands.

Nicolas de Cusa – La docta ignorancia. | Rumata Barbieri –

Nicholas of Cusa returned ignoranccia Rome, but was never able to return to his bishopric. He died at Todi in Umbria on 11 August Sigmund’s capitulation dodta a few days after Nicholas’s death. Upon his death, Cusanus’s body was interred in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, probably near the relic of Peter’s chains; but it was later lost. His monument, with a sculpted image of the cardinal, remains.

Two other tombstones, one medieval and one modern, also are found in the church. In accordance with his wishes, his heart rests within the chapel altar at the Cusanusstift in Kues. To this charitable institution that he had founded he bequeathed his entire inheritance: The Cusanusstift houses also many of his manuscripts.

Nicholas of Cusa was noted for his deeply mystical writings about Christianityparticularly on the possibility of knowing God with the divine human mind — not possible cuda mere human means — via “learned ignorance”. Cusanus wrote of the enfolding of creation in God and their unfolding in creation. He was suspected by some of holding pantheistic beliefs, but his writings were never accused of being heretical. The individual might rise above mere reason to the vision of the intellect, but the same person might fall back from such vision.

Theologically, Nicholas anticipated the profound implications of Reformed teaching on the harrowing of Hell Sermon on Psalm He also wrote on squaring the circle in his mathematical treatises.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia edition:. The astronomical views of the cardinal are ignorancix through his philosophical treatises. They evince complete independence of traditional doctrines, though they are based on symbolism of numbers, on combinations of letters, and on abstract speculations rather than cuss. The earth is a star like other stars, is not the centre of the universe, is not at rest, nor are its poles fixed.

The celestial bodies are not strictly spherical, nor are their orbits circular. The difference between theory and appearance is explained by relative motion. Had Copernicus been aware of these assertions he would probably have been encouraged by them to publish his own monumental work. Like Nicole OresmeNicholas of Cusa also wrote about the possibility of the plurality of worlds.

Norman MooreM. In medicine he introduced an improvement which in an altered form has continued in use to this day. This improvement was the counting of the pulse which up to his time had been felt and discussed in many ways but never counted.

Nicholas of Cusa proposed to compare the doxta of pulses by weighing the quantity of water run out of a water clock while the pulse beat one hundred times. The manufacture of watches with second-hands has since given us a simpler method of counting, but the merit of introducing this useful kind of observation into clinical medicine belongs to Nicholas of Cusa.


Although it was not adopted by the Church, his method was essentially the same one known today as the Borda countwhich is used in many academic institutions, competitions, and even some political jurisdictions, in original form and a number of variations.

His proposal preceded Borda ‘s work by over three centuries. Nicholas’ opinions on the Empire, which he hoped to reform and strengthen, were cited against papal claims of temporal power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Protestant writers were happy to cite ignrancia cardinal against Rome’s pretensions. Protestants, however, found his writings against the Hussites wrong. Nicholas seemed to Protestants to give the church too much power to interpret Scripture, instead of treating it as self interpreting and self-sufficient for salvationthe principle of sola scriptura.

Nicholas’ own thought on the church changed with his departure from Basel. He tried arguing that the Basel assembly lacked the consent of the church throughout the world, especially the princes. Then he tried arguing that the church was unfolded from Peter explicatio Petri.

Thus he was able to propose to Pius II reform ignoancia the church, beginning with the pope himself. Then it was to spread through the Roman curia and outward throughout Christendom. Nicolas of Cusa noted that government was founded on the consent of the governed:.

This visionary work imagined a summit meeting in Heaven of representatives of all nations and religions. Islam and the Hussite movement in Bohemia are represented. The conference agrees that there can be una religio in varietate rituuma single faith manifested in different rites, as manifested in the eastern and western rites of the Catholic Church.

The dialog presupposes the greater accuracy of Christianity but gives respect to other religions. While the doccta for the superiority of Christianity are still shown in this book, it also credits Judaism and Islam with sharing in the truth at least partially.

Learned Ignorance or Docta Ignorantia (Illustrated)

Cusanus’ attitude toward the Jews was not always mild; on 21 September he ordered that Jews of Arnhem were to wear badges identifying them as such. The De pace fidei mentions the possibility that the Jews might not embrace the larger union of una religio in varietate rituumbut it dismisses them as politically insignificant.

This matches the decrees from Cusanus’ legation restricting Jewish activities, restrictions later canceled by Pope Nicholas V. Nicholas was widely read, and his works were dlcta in the sixteenth century in both Paris and Basel.

In The Cuas of GodA. Tozer refers to Nicholas as someone who had a vibrant Christian spirituality, stating in Chapter 7, “I should ignoranciq to say more about this old man of God.

He is not much known today anywhere among Christian believers, and among current Fundamentalists he is known not at all.

Learned Ignorance or Docta Ignorantia by Nicolas Cusa

I feel that we could gain much from a little acquaintance with men ignornacia his spiritual flavor and the school of Christian thought which they represent…”. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the lunar crater, see Cusanus crater. For other uses, see CUSA disambiguation. Nicholas of Cusa, by Master of the Life of the Virgin. TodiUmbriaPapal States. The Legacy of Learned Ignorance”.

Nicholas of Cusa: Docta Ignorantia, a Philosophy of Infinity

Duclow, “Life and Works”, in Christopher M. Izbicki, Gerald Christianson Eds. Harvard University Press, Cambridge University Press June 29,