Nikolaus von Kues

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Nikolaus von Kues. Contemporary donor image of the high altar of the chapel of the St. Nicholas Hospital, Bernkastel-Kues

Nikolaus von Kues [kuːs], Latinized Nicolaus Cusanus or Nicolaus de Cusa (* 1401 in Kues on the Moselle , today Bernkastel-Kues ; † August 11, 1464 in Todi , Umbria ), was a well-known, universally educated German philosopher during his lifetime , Theologian, cardinal and mathematician. He was one of the first German humanists in the epoch of transition between the late Middle Ages and the early modern period .

Nicholas played an important role in church politics, especially in the controversy over church reform. At the Council of Basle he initially sided with the majority of those who took part in the Council, who called for the Pope's powers to be restricted. He later moved to the papal camp, which ultimately gained the upper hand. He sat actively promoting the papal interests one showed diplomatic skill and made a brilliant career as a Cardinal (from 1448), papal legate , Prince Bishop of Brixen and Vicar General in the Papal States . In Brixen, however, he encountered massive resistance from the nobility and the sovereign, against which he was unable to assert himself.

As a philosopher, Nikolaus stood in the tradition of Neo-Platonism , whose ideas he took from both ancient and medieval literature. His thinking revolved around the concept of the collapse of opposites into a unity in which the contradictions between the apparently incompatible are resolved. Metaphysically and theologically he saw in God the place of this unity. In state theory and politics, too, he committed himself to a unified ideal. The goal of achieving the greatest possible harmony was of the highest value to him, in contrast to which he considered factual differences of opinion to be of secondary importance. In line with this way of thinking, he developed a notion of religious tolerance that was unusual for his time. He accorded Islam , with which he dealt intensively, a certain truth content and a right to exist.


Youth and Studies

Coat of arms of Nikolaus Cryfftz (Cancer) of Kues

Nikolaus von Kues was born as Nikolaus Cryfftz in Kues on the Moselle. His father Johann ("hen") Cryfftz was a wealthy merchant as a skipper. With the family name Cryfftz (cancer, Latin Cancer ) Nikolaus called himself for the last time in 1430; this name was later mainly used by his political opponents, while Nikolaus himself carried the scholarly name Nicolaus Treverensis ("Nikolaus von Trier") or Nicolaus de Cusa in the manner of the humanists . In Heidelberg he enrolled in 1416 in the artist faculty of the local university, in which nominalism was the predominant philosophical direction at that time . The following year he left Heidelberg. Probably already then, at the latest in 1420, he went to Padua to study canon law, which he completed in the spring or early summer of 1423 with a doctorate in doctor decretorum ("Doctor of Decrees"). In Padua he made contacts with personalities who subsequently became prominent churchmen, the later cardinals Giuliano Cesarini and Domenico Capranica . There he made a lifelong friendship with the eminent mathematician and astronomer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli . In line with his general interest in education, he acquired a wealth of knowledge in areas unrelated to his field of study.

Benefices and offices

Nikolaus was back in Kues by the beginning of February 1425 at the latest. He entered the service of the responsible archbishop of Trier, Otto von Ziegenhain , on whose behalf he made his first trip to Rome in 1427. Otto made him his secretary and provided him with numerous benefices (church offices connected with regular income), including in particular the deanery at the St. Florin Abbey in Koblenz with a canonical . Like other humanists, the acquisition of benefices was always a matter of great importance to him, because the income associated with it provided him with a living and the material basis for his extensive activities. In total, Nikolaus either owned or tried to acquire 30 benefices in the course of his life. He took care of his benefices and the associated economic management, whereby his economic talent benefited him. According to the custom of the time, Nikolaus held spiritual offices without having the corresponding ordinations; he was ordained a priest between 1436 and 1440.

Stone pulpit in the Wendalinus basilica in St. Wendel, donated by Nikolaus von Kues in 1462

The long list of his spiritual offices shows that he was one of the successful "benefice hunters", including: Parish Church of St. Andreas in Altrich (1425–1429); Canonical to St. Simeon in Trier (1426–1428); Parish Church of St. Gangolf in Trier (from 1427); Deanship to Liebfrauen in Oberwesel (1427–1431, 1431 exchanged for an annual pension); Dean's office at St. Florin in Koblenz (1427–1445); Canonical to St. Castor in Karden (1430 to after 1452); Canonical to St. Florin in Koblenz (from 1430); Vicarie at St. Paulin in Trier (1430 to after 1438); Canon of St. Martin in Oberwesel (attested in 1433); Provost office in Münstermaifeld (1435–1445); Bernkastel parish church (attested 1436–1441); Provost office in Magdeburg (1437–1439 attested; Nicholas was unable to assert himself there); Canon of Liège (1438–1461); Provost office of St. Aposteln in Cologne (1441; acquired but not realized); Johannes altar in Münstermaifeld (from 1442); a papal subdiaconate (from 1443); Parish church in Schindel (1443–1464); Canon and canon praise in Utrecht (1443–1446); Archdeaconate of Brabant (1445-1455 / 59); Provost office in Oldenzaal (1446 to 1452/53); Parish Church of St. Wendelin in St. Wendel (first attested in 1446); Titular church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome (1449–1464); papal power of attorney to transfer 10 canonicals as well as to reserve 10 prebends and 20 other benefits (1450); Diocese of Brixen (1450–1464); Provost office in Münstermaifeld (received again through exchange, 1455 / 59–1464); Abbey of SS. Severo e Martirio near Orvieto (1463–64); Provost office of St. Mauritius in Hildesheim (preserved in 1463, but not realized).

Humanistic and scientific activities

In the spring of 1425, Nikolaus enrolled at the University of Cologne as a doctor of canon law. He then probably taught there, but there is no evidence of this. He made friends with Professor Heymericus de Campo , who was six years his senior , who initially worked at the Artes Faculty in Cologne and taught theology from 1428. Heymericus, who belonged to the line of tradition of the scholastic philosopher and theologian Albertus Magnus , strongly influenced Nicholas; he introduced him to Neoplatonism and made him familiar with the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita , which had conveyed late antique Neoplatonic ideas to the Middle Ages. In 1428 Nicholas traveled to Paris to study the works of the Catalan thinker Raimundus Lullus . He dealt intensively with Lullus. He copied many of the Catalan's works by hand, making notes. In 1428 and 1435 he turned down two calls to Leuven, where the university offered him a professorship in canon law.

As a humanist, Nikolaus made important contributions to historical-philological research, both by finding manuscripts of ancient works, some of which have been lost, and discovering unknown medieval sources, as well as through his critical examination of the source texts. He was one of the pioneers of legal history research, which at that time was particularly topical because of the disputes over church reform. His achievement was groundbreaking, not only referring to the current legal collections, but also finding lost manuscripts and documents and evaluating them for current conflicts. He studied the old Germanic people's rights and compared their provisions with the legal practice of his time. In the Cologne Cathedral Library he discovered a manuscript with papal letters to the early medieval Frankish kings (“ Codex epistolaris Carolinus ”). In 1433 he showed for the first time with philological arguments that the Donation of Constantine , an alleged document of Emperor Constantine the Great , on which the curia has relied since the 11th century to justify its territorial claims, is a forgery. A few years later, Lorenzo Valla provided evidence of the forgery, which was also based on linguistic observations. Nicholas was also able to prove the inauthenticity of the alleged texts of ancient popes contained in the pseudo-Isidoric decretals . Among the manuscripts of the works of ancient writers he discovered was one that contained twelve hitherto unknown comedies by Plautus and one with the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus .

As usual with humanists, Nikolaus was also bibliophile (book-loving), he eagerly collected valuable manuscripts of all kinds, whereby he also appreciated volumes with magnificent book decorations. However, he was not a typical Renaissance humanist, because literacy, which was primarily oriented towards stylistic quality, and the enthusiasm for perfect rhetorical and poetic art played a minor role for him. Instead, he showed a rare interest among humanists at the time in dealing independently with difficult philosophical and theological questions.

In 1450 Nikolaus became friends with the astronomer Georg von Peuerbach . He had already dealt intensively with astronomy and bought astronomical instruments and writings in 1444, but it is unknown whether he also used the instruments for his own observations.

In his writing on the calendar reform (De correctione kalendarii) Nicholas went into the flaws of the Julian calendar and the Easter bill . He was an important representative of the efforts to reform the calendar . However, his concern was only realized in 1582 through the Gregorian calendar reform .

Politics and church politics

Council of Basel

At the beginning of 1430, Nikolaus' patron Otto von Ziegenhain, the Archbishop of Trier, died. In the dispute over the succession (" Trier Bishop Dispute "), Nikolaus took the side of the candidate Ulrich von Manderscheid , who was supported by a strong aristocratic party. Ulrich's rivals were Jakob I. von Sierck , who was elected by the majority of the cathedral chapter , and Raban von Helmstatt , the candidate of Pope Martin V. Ulrich prevailed by force and was excommunicated . After the death of Pope Martin, Ulrich approached the Council of Basel at the beginning of 1432 , where he hoped to assert himself against the new Pope Eugene IV . He sent Nikolaus, who was his secretary and chancellor and had already represented him at the Nuremberg Reichstag in 1431, to Basel. Nikolaus raised the local dispute over the Archdiocese of Trier to a question of principle by advocating the rights of the laity, which no bishop should be forced upon by the Pope. He shared the view of the majority of the Council that what concerns everyone must also be approved by everyone, and he advocated the primacy of divine law and natural law over positive law. Even the Pope had to adhere to this; he must therefore strive for a consensus with those affected by his decisions.

Although Ulrich was defeated before the council, Nikolaus was able to gain increasing reputation and influence there; his diplomatic skills and his ability to mediate in conflicts were valued. Among the tasks that were assigned to him and that he was able to solve included finding a compromise with the rebellious Hussites who, after initially rejecting his ideas, agreed to his ideas, and clarifying the role of the papal legates at the council. At first, because of his role as a representative of Ulrich's interests, he was on the side of the conciliarists , who advocated the precedence of the council over the pope and who were in the majority among the council participants. As a follower of Ulrich, he was even excommunicated from the perspective of the curia . In 1436, however, he changed parties and took the side of the minority who supported the Pope. The decisive factor for him was to achieve a reunification of the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Byzantine Church; He believed that he could achieve this goal more with the Pope than with the conciliarists. The Byzantine envoy recognized the papal council minority as the legitimate representative of the western church.

To what extent Nikolaus' conversion to the papal party was a consequence of his previously represented theoretical convictions, as he himself claimed, and what role opportunistic motives might play, was already controversial at that time and has not yet been clearly clarified. On the one hand, as a conciliarist, Nikolaus had put forward arguments that he could later refer to when changing parties, on the other hand, a power-political calculation suggested the step; he had a realistic and accurate expectation that the council would fail, and his change of heart became the starting point for his brilliant career.

As ambassador to Constantinople

On May 17, 1437, Nikolaus left Basel and, on behalf of the papal party, went to Constantinople to negotiate church unity . There he prevailed against a delegation from the council majority. On November 27, 1437, the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaiologos , the Patriarch of Constantinople and numerous bishops of the Eastern Church set out with the papal ambassadors, including Nicholas, to the west. Their goal was to achieve unity at a union council and thus also to win military support for the Byzantine Empire, which was threatened with extinction in the fight against the Turks. The Greek archbishop and later Cardinal Bessarion , who became friends with Nicholas, was one of the participants in the long voyage . They landed in Venice on February 8, 1438. With this, Nikolaus had successfully distinguished himself in politics on a European level.

As an envoy in Germany

In March 1438 the German electors and the new King Albrecht II declared their neutrality in the conflict between Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Basel. Nikolaus was the only German among the prominent papal envoys who were supposed to break this neutrality and win the Germans over to the Pope. At first he had only a low formal rank among the papal representatives, but on July 22, 1446 he was appointed legate and thus assumed a key position. Enea Silvio de 'Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II , paid tribute to his central role by calling him "Hercules of the Eugenians"; the other side attacked him as a traitor. In the protracted ten-year struggle, he appeared at a number of imperial diets and prince assemblies, including the Diet of Nuremberg in 1438, the Diet of Mainz in 1441 and the Prince's Day of Aschaffenburg in 1447, at which the German princes finally voted for the Pope. In 1448 he was instrumental in the conclusion of the Vienna Concordat , which finally regulated the ecclesiastical conditions in the empire and the relations between empire and curia.

In addition, Nikolaus was busy with a multitude of political and church tasks in Germany during these years, with the main focus being on dispute settlement. He was particularly active in his home region of Trier.

Cardinal and Bishop of Brixen

Nicholas was named cardinal by Eugene IV as a reward for his successful services, but the Pope died before he could publicly announce this step. In the subsequent conclave , votes for Nicholas were already cast in the papal election. Cardinal Tommaso Parentucelli ( Nicholas V ), an important promoter of humanism and a long-time friend of Nicholas of Kues , was elected as Eugen's successor . He publicly elevated the Kusaner to cardinal on December 20, 1448 with the titular church of San Pietro in Vincoli , but the newly appointed did not receive the cardinal's hat until January 11, 1450 in Rome. At that time he was the only German cardinal.

On March 23, 1450 he was appointed by the Pope to be Bishop of the Duchy of Brixen in what is now South Tyrol and consecrated on April 26. There he had to assert himself against the cathedral chapter, which had already elected the local canon Leonhard Wismair as bishop. Behind Leonhard stood Duke Sigmund “the rich in coins” of Austria , who ruled in Tyrol . In March 1451 an agreement was reached in Salzburg, Nikolaus achieved the resignation of the opposing candidate and was recognized by the duke.

On December 24th, 1450 Nicholas was appointed papal legate and given extraordinary powers to reform churches and monasteries in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. He then went on the legation journey, which lasted until the spring of 1452. Again, dispute settlement was an essential part of his duties; One of the conflicts with which he had to deal was in particular the protracted Soest feud , in the settlement of which he was instrumental. An important task that he had to carry out was the proclamation of the indulgence , which was granted to the faithful on the occasion of the jubilee year 1450.

Buchenstein Castle (Andraz), where Nicholas found refuge

In carrying out the reform, Nicholas, who had previously been successful through his diplomatic, mediating manner, now often appeared tough and uncompromising, based on the authority of his office. He met with fierce resistance, especially from the mendicant orders. The rigorous measures he demanded against the Jews also provoked protests from the bishops, the City Council of Nuremberg and the Margrave of Brandenburg , and did not meet with approval from the king or the pope either. He accused the Jews of greed and usury and demanded that they be identified with visible signs on clothing.

After the end of the legation trip, Nicholas personally took over the administration of his heavily indebted diocese of Brixen in April 1452. There he wanted to implement his ideas on church reform in an exemplary manner and establish a “model church bishopric” - a “kind of 'religious Switzerland'”. He was successful in the economic rehabilitation of the diocese, but got into power struggles with the Tyrolean nobility. The resistance of the nobility was sparked mainly by the unsuccessful reform of the Sonnenburg Monastery , which Nikolaus sought to provide for daughters from noble families. After a protracted argument, Nikolaus excommunicated the stubborn abbess Verena von Stuben and finally forced her to resign. In the conflict there was even - through no fault of Nicholas - a military clash (“Battle of Enneberg ” on April 5, 1458) in which over 50 men were killed.

When Nikolaus procured his nephew Simon von Wehlen a benefice in the cathedral chapter in 1456 and excommunicated canons who opposed this decision, his resolute demeanor aroused offense. His opponents were able to win the support of Duke Sigmund, who generally disliked Nikolaus' energetic exercise of power. Nicholas was intimidated with death threats. Fearing for his life, he retired to Buchenstein Castle ( Andraz ), which belonged to his diocese, in July 1457 , where he stayed until September 1458. He imposed the interdict (prohibition of acts of worship) over the entire territory of the duke . In May 1458 the conciliarist statesman Gregor Heimburg entered the service of Sigmund. Gregory was a consistent opponent of papal politics and had already come out against Nicholas at the Reichstag. Finally, Pius II, who had ascended the papal throne in August 1458, brought Nicholas to Rome, where the cardinal arrived on September 30, 1458.

Bruneck Castle , where Nikolaus von Kues was forced to surrender

On January 11, 1459, Nicholas was appointed legate and vicar general in the Papal States by the Pope . He took over the leadership of the Papal State while Pius went to the Congress of Princes in Mantua .

The Pope wanted a reconciliation between Nicholas and Sigmund, but his intensive attempts at mediation failed. The influence of Gregor Heimburg contributed significantly to the hardening of the position of the duke. In particular, no agreement could be reached on the right to exploit a silver mine near Garnstein. In February 1460, Nicholas returned to Brixen and took up the fight for his diocese. Militarily he was hopelessly inferior from the beginning, and moreover he could not rely on the cathedral chapter and the clergy. Many clergymen advocated a compromise. The priesthood and the population were enraged by the interdict imposed by the cardinal. Finally, at Easter 1460, Sigmund took military action against the city of Bruneck , where Nikolaus was staying. Given the balance of power, the city quickly gave up the fight, and Nicholas withdrew to the castle. There he was forced to surrender on April 17th. He had to undertake war compensation of 10,000 Rhenish guilders , renounce the silver mines and give in on other issues. After his release, however, he revoked all concessions. On April 27th he left Bruneck. Since he was hardly able to act in his diocese, he went to the Pope in Siena without appointing a representative for his spiritual tasks in the diocese.

The conflict continued. In Italy Nikolaus found a lot of understanding for his position, in the German-speaking area the sympathies were more on Sigmund's side. In August 1460, the Pope intervened with a ban and interdict in favor of the cardinal. The dispute was only settled in June 1464; Nicholas remained bishop, but had to leave the exercise of office to a representative.

Nikolaus spent the last years of his life as a curia cardinal in the Papal States, where he worked out a concept for reforming the church leadership that had no consequences. He expressed his bitterness with the words: “I like nothing that is done here at the Curia; everything is spoiled, nobody does his duty. ... When I finally speak of reform in the consistory , I am laughed at. ”From 1461 he was seriously ill; among other things he suffered from gout .

Death, funeral and inheritance

The final version of Nicholas' will, drawn up on August 6, 1464 in Todi. Bernkastel-Kues, St. Nikolaus-Hospital / Cusanusstift, Sign. Urk. 48 A.
Tomb of Nicholas of Cues in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

In the summer of 1464, as part of the crusade project against the Turks operated by Pius II, Nicholas was commissioned to look after a crowd of 5000 destitute and partly sick crusaders who wandered between Rome and Ancona , from where the fleet was supposed to set sail . On the way he died in Todi on August 11th . His body was immediately transferred to Rome and buried in his titular church, San Pietro in Vincoli . The epitaph in the left aisle of the church, a work by Andrea Bregno , shows Nicholas kneeling in front of the apostle Peter. At his request, however, his heart was buried in the chapel of the St. Nikolaus Hospital (Cusanus pin) in Kues , founded by him and his siblings in 1458 . He also bequeathed the main part of his library to the hospital, which is still there today. It shall apply with its collection of hundreds of medieval manuscripts and incunabula ( incunabula ) from theology, philosophy, science and mathematics as the most important private library that has survived from the Middle Ages (see the main article library of the St. Nicholas Hospital in Bernkastel-Kues ) .


Autograph letter from Nikolaus von Kues to Duchess Eleonore , the wife of Duke Sigmund of Austria, dated July 26, 1458. Innsbruck , Tyrolean State Archives

Nikolaus wrote more than 50 writings, about a quarter of them in dialogue form, the rest as a rule as treatises, further about 300 sermons as well as an abundance of files and letters. According to the content, his works can be divided into three main groups: philosophy and theology, church and state theory, mathematics and natural science. His short autobiography, which he wrote in 1449, occupies a special position. He himself arranged a (albeit incomplete) collection of his writings, which are available in two manuscripts in his library in Kues.

Church and State Theory

The writing De concordantia catholica (“On all-encompassing unity”) in three books is one of the Kusan's most famous works. It was written in Basel in 1433/34 . Starting from the basic idea of ​​unity, Nikolaus developed a general doctrine of the church in the first book, explained his council theory and his ideas for reforming the church and councils in the second book, and presented his state theory and his ideas for the reform of the empire in the third book Conflicts carried out by Basel also include other writings, including De maioritate auctoritatis sacrorum conciliorum supra auctoritatem papae (“On the priority of the authority of the holy councils over the authority of the Pope”, 1433), the Opusculum contra errorem Bohemorum (“Against the error of the Bohemians ", 1433) on the conflict with the Hussites and De auctoritate praesidendi in concilio generali (" On the presidency in a general council ", 1434). He presented his views on general church reform in 1459 in the text Reformatio generalis ("General Reform").

Philosophy and theology

Nikolaus von Kues, De venatione sapientiae (“On the hunt for wisdom”), Bernkastel-Kues, St. Nikolaus-Hospital / Cusanusstift, Sign. Cod. Cus. 219, fol. 112r

This part of Nikolaus' work is primarily concerned with questions of metaphysics and ontology and the theological consequences that arise from answering them. It is characteristic that philosophical statements are made useful for answering theological questions.

Already in one of his first writings, De docta ignorantia (“On the learned ignorance”, 1440), Nikolaus developed the foundations of his theology and a speculative cosmology closely related to it .

A large part of his writings deal with the search for the hidden God, which begins in the darkness of ignorance, and the knowledge of God. These include the Dialogus de deo abscondito (“Dialogue about the hidden God”, 1444/45), De quaerendo deum (“From the search for God”, 1445), De filiatione dei (“From being children of God”, 1445), De dato patris luminum ("On the gift of the father of lights", 1445/46), the dialogue Idiota de sapientia ("The layman on wisdom", two books, 1450), De theologicis complementis ("On theological additions", 1453 ), De visione dei (“From the God show”, 1453), De beryllo (“About the Beryl”, 1458) and De principio (“About the beginning”, also Tu quis es , 1459). In the last years of his life, Nicholas came back to this topic and summarized his ideas on the knowledge of God in some of his last writings, including De non aliud (“Vom nichtanderen”, 1461/62), De venatione sapientiae (“On the hunt for wisdom ", 1462/63) and De apice theoriae (" On the highest level of contemplation ", 1464), Nikolaus' last work; his Compendium (1463/64) offers a short version . The Dialogus de ludo globi ("Dialogue about the ball game", 1463), in which Nicholas uses the "ball game" he invented, illustrates his idea of ​​the universe and the position of man in it, to practice the steps leading to the contemplation of God .

In the treatise De coniecturis (“On Conjectures”, around 1442), Nikolaus deals with the problem of approaching the unknowable, which was already addressed in De docta ignorantia . It takes place through conjectures with which the human being gradually approaches divinity from one level to the other. In the Dialogus de genesi (“Dialogue on Becoming”, 1447) the question of the origin of the universe and the origin of the being of all beings is discussed. The dialogue Idiota de mente (“The layman on the mind”, 1450) deals with the theory of intellect and knowledge . The "Trialog" (three- way conversation ) "About the ability-is" ( Trialogus de possest , 1460) deals with the divine name "Possest", which God designates as "everything that can be" (omne id quod esse potest) that realized All-ability as the only reality, the coincidence of possibility and reality.

In De pace fidei ("On the Peace of Faith"), a work that was written in 1453 under the impression of the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, Nikolaus examines the question of the truthfulness of the various religious teachings and of tolerance between religions . Specifically from the point of view of the relationship between Christianity and Islam, he discusses this topic again in 1460/61 in the Cribratio Alkorani (“ Sifting the Koran”, three books).

Exegesis and biblical theology play a relatively minor role in Nikolaus' work ; it usually offers him only starting points for philosophical discussions. These include the 1441 interpretation of the Lord's Prayer (Sermon 24) and the text De aequalitate (“On Equality”, 1459), a philosophical interpretation of a passage in the prologue of the Gospel of John . The Coniectura de ultimis diebus ("Conjecture about the last days"), written in 1446, occupies a special position , a treatise in which Nicholas calculates the period in which the end of the world and the resurrection are to be expected (according to his assumption 1700–1734).

Math and science

The mathematical and scientific work of Cusanus is mainly shaped by his interest in the theory of science and by his metaphysical-theological questions; he wants to lead from mathematical to metaphysical insights. He deals with analogies between mathematical and metaphysical thinking in writings such as De mathematica perfectione ("On mathematical perfection", 1458) and Aurea propositio in mathematicis ("The golden sentence in mathematics", 1459). De mathematicis complementis ("About mathematical supplements", 1453) is considered to be his main mathematical work . He deals with the problem of circular quadrature and the calculation of the circumference of a circle, including De circuli quadratura ("About the quadrature of the circle", 1450), Quadratura circuli ("Die Kreisquadratur", 1450), Dialogus de circuli quadratura ( "Dialogue on the quadrature of the circle", 1457) and De caesarea circuli quadratura ("On the imperial circle quadrature", 1457). Nikolaus also deals with this problem in De mathematica perfectione . He considers a circle quadrature to be only approximately possible and suggests a method for it.

With his dialogue Idiota de staticis experimentis (“The layman on experiments with the scales”, 1450) he is one of the pioneers of experimental science. In it he suggests measuring the pulse rate with the help of a water meter and points out that the question of whether alchemical conversions of matter can be realized in practice can only be clarified through experimental quantitative research. De correctione kalendarii ("About the calendar improvement", also: Reparatio kalendarii , 1436) deals with the calendar reform that was already urgently needed at the time , but which was not implemented until the 16th century.

Philosophy and theology


One page of a copy of Proklos' Parmenides commentary in Latin translation with handwritten marginal notes by Nikolaus von Kues (Bernkastel-Kues, Library of the St. Nicholas Hospital, Codex 186, fol.125r)

Cusanus is one of the speculative theologians of the late Middle Ages, on whom Meister Eckhart had a significant influence. He only used Eckhart's Latin writings, not the German sermons. His Eckhart handwriting, which he provided with handwritten marginal notes, has been preserved. Since a number of Eckhart's theological theses had been condemned as heretical by a papal bull shortly after his death , he was usually quoted without naming his name. So did Cusanus. He made explicit reference to Eckhart in only two of his works: in a Latin sermon and in the Apologia doctae ignorantiae . In the Apologia he defended himself and Eckhart against Johannes Wenck's accusation of pantheism . He wrote that Eckhart was orthodox, but his statements could easily be misunderstood; therefore his works are unsuitable for the common people.

The late antique Neo-Platonist Proklos exerted an immense influence on Cusanus. Proclic ideas first appeared around 1442 in the De coniecturis font . Proclus is mentioned by name and cited directly for the first time in 1458 in the De beryllo text . In the works from the last years of the Kusan's life, Proclus is of central importance; his commentary on Plato's Parmenides is used, as well as his Theologia Platonis from 1462, and occasionally the Elementatio theologica .

Cusanus also drew ideas of Neoplatonic origin from the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita and Albertus Magnus , in particular from Albert's Dionysius Commentary, as well as from works by his friend Heymericus de Campo , who defended Albert's teachings against the Thomists . The main focus was on the concept of the coincidence of opposites, which Albert had already approached.

Cusanus also received important suggestions from Raimundus Lullus . However, he seldom quotes him and mentions him by name only twice; this cautious attitude is probably connected with the controversy of the teaching of Lullus, which was banned in the theological faculty of the Paris University.

Coincidence theory

Nikolaus himself describes the idea of ​​coincidence ( coincidentia oppositorum ), the collapse of opposites into a unity, as a core element of his approach or method (by which he does not mean a doctrine or a system). With this concept he emerges as the originator of a new theory that the previous philosophy has lacked. He believes that all intellectual effort must be directed towards achieving the "simple unity" in which all kinds of opposites (opposita) coincide, thus paradoxically also the contradictory (contradicting) opposites, which exclude each other according to the Aristotelian principle of contradiction . The inclusion of these opposites in the all-embracing unity is what is new compared to the earlier approaches.

In the sense of the Neoplatonic tradition, Nikolaus regards the one creative source of becoming as the ultimate goal of all efforts at knowledge, which is at the same time the starting point and determination of all becoming. In theological terms this is God, but Nicholas argues philosophically. He identifies the source with the utmost simplicity. At the same time, however, he also ascribes diversity to it, for he sees in the utterly simple the source of all empirically ascertainable multiplicity in the world. If the many existed alongside the one, the one would not really be comprehensive, but rather limited by the many. For Nikolaus, the one is only infinite because it is also the many. God is the unfolding (complicatio) of the world, the world is the unfolding (explicatio) of God. In the sense of his expression, which works with mathematical analogies, it is an absolute maximum, which is also the absolute minimum (as maximum smallness). This maximum is not a special substance that exists alongside other substances, but that on which the diversity of substances and in general of all individual things is based. It is a unity that appears in everything and includes everything, including the philosophizing and knowing subject. However, since people are caught in their thinking, which is governed by the principle of contradiction, they do not recognize this unity as the basis of the world, but always approach it in a one-sided way. If they recognize what is unsatisfactory in these one-sidednesses, they come to the conclusion that the truth is inaccessible. The seeker of truth sees himself as a subject who is itself outside the truth and therefore has to look for it in something else. However, his doubts about the discoverability of the truth can be overcome if he understands that it is not to be sought in the other. Rather, it is precisely the non-other (non-aliud) , because each individual contains the entire reality with which it is connected regardless of its individual separation. The otherness only applies to world things in so far as the understanding regards them.

Nikolaus illustrates the infinite unity with the example of an infinite straight line. This is not only a straight line, but also a triangle (with the largest base and the smallest associated height), a circle and a sphere (with an infinitely large diameter).

Taught ignorance and knowledge of God

The beginning of De docta ignorantia in the manuscript Bernkastel-Kues, Sankt-Nikolaus-Hospital, 218, fol. 1r (15th century)

In De docta ignorantia Nikolaus professes the Neoplatonic, especially negative theology emphasized by Pseudo-Dionysius , which rejects all positive statements about God as inadequate and thus misleading. He does not turn to God by claiming knowledge about him, but by acquiring knowledge of his own ignorance and thus an “ignorance taught” about himself ( docta ignorantia ) .

According to his terminology, the human understanding (ratio) is the force that orders sensory impressions and brings them under unifying terms. This is done by distinguishing between them, in that the mind includes and excludes and thus also negates what the senses are incapable of doing. The mind can do this by keeping the infinite out of contemplation. All intellectual knowledge is based on comparison and is therefore related to the relative. Hence the human mind cannot grasp something absolute like the maximum or the infinite, for it there is no proportion between the finite and the infinite. However, man has another ability, reason (intellectus) , which is far above understanding. It is able to negate the discriminating negation of the understanding and thus to arrive at the concept of infinity and infinite unity. This is a content of reason and as such is beyond what is accessible to intellectual activity.

It is true that reason is finite and therefore, according to De docta ignorantia , like understanding, cannot transcend contradictions and reach coincidence; but since it is “something divine” at the same time, it can “see” and “touch” the divine truth as it were. Later, in De coniecturis (around 1442) and the little writings written in the period 1445–1447, Nikolaus came to a more optimistic assessment of the possibilities of reason. Now he trusts her to overcome the contradictions against the resistance of the intellect and thus to gain paradoxical insights, for example to equate the greatest with the smallest. In addition, he now accepts the possibility of a “divine” thinking of man, which no longer prefers negative as a truer view to affirmation in the sense of negative theology. The contrast between affirmation and negation is also transcended in the sense of the idea of ​​coincidence. Nikolaus claims that this divine thinking also leaves reason and its understanding of contradicting opposites behind, in order to turn towards absolute unity and infinity. God is not the coincidence of opposites, but the coincidence thinking is only the way human reason appropriate to approach him. Therefore, in De visione dei in 1453, Nicholas described the coincidence as a “wall” between the seeker and God. However, he does not consider this wall to be insurmountable in principle.

In his last work, De apice theoriae , Nikolaus wrote that he had worked his way through to ever greater confidence in knowledge. His optimism regarding the knowledge of God is related to his conviction that the human spirit is similar to God. In De coniecturis he even describes man as a created “second god” - a bold phrase for the time. Just as the divine intellect creates the real world, the human intellect creates the world of concepts.

Search for wisdom

In 1450, in the dialogue Idiota de sapientia , Nikolaus turns again to the topic of rational activity, this time in a sharp demarcation from the scholastic , Aristotelian-influenced university philosophy of the late Middle Ages. A “layperson”, that is, a seemingly uneducated person outside the university, talks to a “speaker”, a rhetorically trained scholar who only gets his knowledge from books, about wisdom. The layman takes on the role that Socrates plays in Plato's dialogues . He explains to the speaker that his efforts to gain knowledge through book knowledge are in vain and also joyless; the Aristotelian school science with its authorities deceive, the thinking of one caught up in it is "shackled" and does not allow access to the truth. The layman turns not only against the late medieval scholasticism, which the humanists despise, but also against the humanistic cult of rhetoric , which sacrifices brevity and clarity to the need for superfluous decoration. School science is cumbersome and arduous, whereas wisdom can be found easily and directly and is full of joy. It is naturally associated with the human intellect as its nourishment. The possibility of finding them is inherent in him, and this is the reason that he goes on a search and, when he has found what he is looking for, also knows that it is what he is looking for. In wisdom the intellect is alive, active from within and therefore blissful. He attains his satisfaction in his movement towards his archetype; this is God as the concept of concepts or the absolute concept (conceptus absolutus) . The prerequisite for this is the practice of coincidence thinking, which also leads to the comprehensibility of the incomprehensible. The layman describes the process meant by this as an infinite approach through constant progress into infinity, incessant ascent (continue ascendere) .

Concordance idea

A central role in Nikolaus' state and church political thinking plays the question of how a harmonious cooperation can be made possible between different groups and individuals despite the differences in their views and goals. This requires that they voluntarily recognize each other's actions as legitimate. Legal and institutional prerequisites must be created for such a concordance, whereby the principle of consensus as the basis of legitimacy should apply in the regulations.

In his conciliarist phase, Nicholas was influenced by Marsilius of Padua . In De concordantia catholica, he extensively cites his state-theoretical work Defensor Pacis , mostly without naming the source. The Kusan represents the idea of ​​concordance as a principle of legitimation for the exercise of power in this book for both the secular and the spiritual. In his opinion, laws require the consent of those affected by them, and the authorities are also bound by them. With the philosophical foundation of law he refers to Cicero and his concept of natural law . The striving for what is beneficial and avoidance of what is harmful belong to every being by nature; the individuals are given a sense with which they can recognize what is necessary for them, and this sense is reliable in the majority of cases. This way of thinking prompts Nikolaus to support the elective monarchy , since this form of government corresponds most closely to natural law. He advocates a strong central power with a standing imperial army and a uniform imperial code and a imperial tax. In places he criticized the arbitrariness of the nobility, whom he generally viewed critically as bourgeois. According to his understanding of history, the partial powers in the empire became independent, seized power at the expense of the whole and robbed the empire of its authority. Now the "old law" is to be restored. An annual meeting of the estates is to serve as a permanent institution to achieve the concordance. All imperial matters are to be dealt with at the annual imperial assemblies. The empire is to be divided into twelve judicial districts, the courts of which are directly subordinate to the imperial power and stand above the sovereign courts. Nikolaus also demands a general peace in the country and a ban on feuds .

When assessing and resolving conflicts, Nikolaus makes his ideal of unity the highest value; He regards factual differences of opinion as secondary, they must not stand in the way of unity. He demands that the Hussites submit to the current customs of the Roman Church and rejects their appeal to a biblical tradition from which the Church later deviated; the church has a right to change rites and to interpret the Bible according to the circumstances of the time. He believes that early Christianity is not a norm and that the church's interpretation of a biblical text takes precedence over its wording. There are no other commandments of Christ than those which the Roman Church recognizes as such.

Nicholas already represented this view of the infallibility of the Roman Church in his conciliarist phase; In doing so, he does not refer to the Pope, but to the Church as a whole. He even points out that popes were heretics, citing as examples Liberius and Honorius I , who was cursed by the Third Council of Constantinople after his death. With this he addresses the " Honorius question ", which played an important role in the discussion about papal infallibility in the 19th century . Since the Pope can err in questions of faith, he is subject to the religious decisions of the Council of the Universal Church. The "true church" consists of those believers who make up the majority in Christendom and the cathedra Petri , the Roman chair , connect. Nikolaus regards the certainty of religious judgments as gradual; the more amicable a decision is made in the church, the more certain is its correctness. A council draws its authority from the consensus of its participants; these are representatives of the whole of the believers. All spiritual and worldly violence is hidden among the people as a realizable possibility ( potency ).

Religious peace

Nicholas not only strives for the ideal of unity in church and state, but also wants to see it realized in relationships between followers of different faiths. He sees the way to do this in the dialogue about the contents of faith. Therefore, he repeatedly deals intensively with the question of the truth content of the various religions or denominations: Judaism , ancient " paganism ", Islam, Catholic Christianity, teachings of the "Bohemians" (Hussites), the Persians ( Zoroastrianism ), Chaldeans , etc. He thinks that every religion has a legitimate concern and a certain access to the truth and is better insofar as its opponents want to admit, but only in Christianity are all these concerns realized and partial knowledge united. Judaism rightly recognized and venerated God as absolute, detached from everything sensually perceptible. The Gentiles, on the other hand, would have perceived God's work in his various visible works and therefore given him different names according to their differences; that is only apparently polytheism . Both are to be found in Christianity, on the one hand the transcendence of God, on the other hand also a divine aspect of what is sensually perceptible, because man and God Christ have both united in themselves. Therefore, a Jew who rejects Christ denies the very essence of his own religion. In contrast to the traditional Christian view, Nicholas does not place the Jews above the Gentiles, but grants both religions equally a certain justification, which, however, becomes invalid if their representatives refuse to accept the properly understood worship of Christ as the actual realization of what they strive for to recognize.

In De pace fidei (“On the Peace of Faith”), Nicholas uses a literary fiction to explain his conception. It depicts a vision of a man - meaning the author himself - who witnessed a meeting in heaven. Under God's guidance, the angels and the blessed deliberate on the misery on earth caused by violent religious conflict. The wisest representatives of the individual peoples are drawn in - as if raptured in ecstasy . Before the word of God and the apostles Peter and Paul , they present their points of view and are taught by them about divine truth. The instruction is not authoritative, but by means of philosophical argumentation; the wise appear as philosophers. They are given the task of returning to their peoples and calling a meeting in Jerusalem to resolve an eternal worldwide peace of faith.

In this outfit, Nicholas presents his opinion on the religious disputes and their possible end. According to this, God sent kings and prophets to the individual peoples at different times , who instructed the raw, uneducated people and introduced religious regulations and cult rites. However, people then confused these "habits" with the absolute truth. They continue to believe that their religious mores are the implementation of direct, verbal instructions from God. Therefore they think that they have to enforce or defend their special belief, which they consider to be true out of habit, against the others by force of arms. They believe that they are fulfilling the divine will. In truth, however, from Nikolaus' point of view, the forms of worship of the various religions and the various Christian rites are only special manifestations of a single, absolutely true universal religion. In this, Christ has the central function of mediator between God and human beings, because in him the divine and human nature are united in the best possible way. Nicholas tries to show that the existence of such a perfect mediator is a necessary consequence of God's perfection.

The unity among the religious communities (Latin sectae ), which Nikolaus strives for, analogous to his striving for unity within Christianity, does not, however, amount to a coexistence of all their teachings in equal rights. Rather, he advocates explaining Christian beliefs such as the Trinity , the Incarnation of God and the sacraments to non-Christians in such a way that those of other faiths recognize the correctly understood veneration of Christ as the actual basis of their own faith. Thus, the followers of other religions should in fact become Christians, even if they stick to their rites and customs such as circumcision , which Nicholas allows them.

Nicholas even considers a variety of customs and rites desirable. He has the apostle Paul advocate a competition between the peoples (nationes) . Each people should cultivate its special religious tradition in order to surpass the others in the competition. Such competition could promote piety. Nicholas even has his Christ explain that the worship of a plurality of gods in polytheism implicitly applies to the one deity on which everything is based and therefore does not need to be abolished. In addition, the cult of the one cause of all things should also be explicitly included in the religious practice (religio manifesta) of the polytheists. They could then continue to worship their gods as Christians do their saints, but should reserve worship to the one Creator. In this way the conflict between them and the monotheists could be resolved.

Natural philosophy

Nikolaus is of the opinion that the universe cannot be imagined as limited, since it has no discoverable limits, but for him an infinity does not follow from this infinity in an absolute sense. He states that the earth is not in the center of the world, and that it is evident that it is not at rest, as the appearance suggests, but that it is moving. She is a “noble star” and as such is no less important than the stars in the sky. Their shape is only approximately that of a sphere, and the orbits of the heavenly bodies are not exact circular paths. He also puts forward the hypothesis of a multiplicity of worlds . The worlds do not coexist without connection, but are integrated into the system of the one universe that includes them all. With these ideas Nicholas made a radical break with the geocentric worldview of the cosmology of the time , which was determined by the ideas of Ptolemy and Aristotle . He rejects the idea of ​​a hierarchical structure of the world with the earth as the bottom and the fixed star sky as the top as well as the idea of ​​immobile celestial poles. He does not replace the geocentric world view with a heliocentric one ; rather, for him the world has neither a center nor a circumference. In such a world there can be no absolute motion, since there is no stationary frame of reference; all movement is relative. Nikolaus argues not empirically and astronomically, but metaphysically; to that extent he is not a forerunner of Copernicus . His conviction that nothing in nature is in perfect rest is a consequence of his doctrine of coincidence: opposites such as rest and movement can never occur in pure form in nature, because the absolute is only given in the absolutely infinite, in which the opposites coincide .

Nikolaus does not see the world as a collection of independent substances, but assumes an all-nature that is present in each individual thing in a specific way. In his concept of nature, unity and multiplicity do not form an exclusive opposition, but rather a mutually penetrating pair of opposites; therefore in every single thing the unity and with it the whole reality is given.

With regard to the knowledge of nature, Nikolaus emphasizes the aspect of quantification, the mathematical measurability. By recording differences in specific weight, knowledge about material substances can be gained. Diseases should be made measurable so that the correct drug or the outcome of the disease can be concluded by comparing the measurement results. It is also possible to measure speeds, times of day and seasons, the moisture content of the air, geographical and astronomical conditions, etc. The attraction of a magnet can be measured using a scale. This is how the hidden can be found in nature. However, it is not known whether the experimental implementation of one or more of the measurement proposals in the Idiota de staticis experimentis dialogue has ever been tried. The experiments proposed there can only be carried out in part.

Nicholas does not limit himself to emphasizing the usefulness of measuring. He maintains that the knowable things are there for the sake of the knowing soul; the world is constructed as it is so that it can be recognized by humans. Therefore he regards the measuring man, who sets a measure for all created things, as the measure of all things. In contrast to the scholastic tradition, according to which human reason can only measure what does not exceed its own rank, he maintains that the human intellect also measures the divine (mensurat divinum intellectum) .

Nikolaus draws on mathematical conditions to lead to metaphysical statements and to illustrate them symbolically, whereby he is particularly concerned with transcendence and infinity. His theologically motivated attempts to bring the mathematically finite to mathematical infinity, in order to illustrate the path to God's infinity figuratively, belong to the preliminary stages of the development of infinitesimal calculus .


Nikolaus von Cues on his
tomb, created by Andrea Bregno , in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Times

A philosophical or theological school of Cusanus did not develop; his philosophy was not received in its entirety, but rather in parts. The strong handwritten distribution of his works, especially in southern Germany and Austria, testifies to the interest that his contemporaries showed in his ideas.

The writing about the "taught ignorance" sparked sharp controversy among the controversies of the Kusan. A prominent opponent was the Heidelberg theology professor Johannes Wenck , who in 1442/43 accused Nicholas of heresy, pantheism and the destruction of theology in a pamphlet De ignota litteratura (“About the unknown erudition”) . Nicholas reacted to this with vehemence in the counter- script Apologia doctae ignorantiae ("Defense of the learned ignorance", 1449), to which Wenck in turn replied with a (not received) reply. Another sharp opponent of Nikolaus' theological views was the Carthusian Vincent von Aggsbach , who wrote a letter in 1454 that later became known as Impugnatorium laudatorii doctae ignorantiae ("Attack on the praise of 'learned ignorance'"). In it he turned against the Benedictine Bernhard von Waging , a follower of Cusanus, who in 1451/52 had written a laudatory doctae ignorantiae ("In praise of 'learned ignorance'"). Bernhard responded in 1459 with a Defensorium laudatorii doctae ignorantiae ("Defense of the praise of 'learned ignorance'"). The controversy was exacerbated by the fact that the main opponents of "learned ignorance", Wenck and Aggsbach, were also conciliarists.

A sharp critic of Cusanus' mathematical reasoning was the mathematician and astronomer Regiomontanus († 1476), who checked some approximation methods for circular quadrature and found them to be inadequate. He turned against the view of Cusanus, which goes back to Aristotle and Averroes and which was widespread in the late Middle Ages, that straight and curvilinear are incomparable and therefore an arc of a circle cannot be measured precisely. The opinion of Regiomontanus, which was only published in 1533, was subsequently regarded in specialist circles as the decisive judgment on the mathematical endeavors of Cusanus.

Individual elements of the constitutional proposals of Cusanus, which other reform theorists had also propagated in different versions, were implemented as part of the imperial reform from the end of the 15th century: the orderly imperial jurisdiction, the perpetual peace and, to some extent, the imperial tax.

The printing history of the works of Cusanus began in Nuremberg in 1471 with the first edition of the Coniectura de ultimis diebus . A two-volume collection (Opuscula) was printed in Strasbourg in 1488. In 1514 the humanist and Cusanus admirer Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples published a complete edition in Paris that became the standard edition for the following centuries. In 1565 an (incorrect) reprint of the Paris edition appeared in Basel.

In Italy, some of Cusan's ideas found favor with humanists with a similar orientation, such as Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola . In the 16th century, the Reformed theologian Johannes Kymaeus referred to Cusanus, whose doctrine of justification he regarded as the forerunner of the Lutheran doctrine . Giordano Bruno took up the cosmological considerations of Cusanus, but accused him of a lack of clarity and consistency, which was the result of bias due to a commitment to conventional false principles. Johannes Kepler made various references to cosmological and mathematical-philosophical assumptions of Cusanus, partly in agreement, but predominantly critical (especially with regard to the natural-philosophical consequences). He firmly rejected the hypothesis of an infinite space without a center, which encompasses a multitude of worlds. He considered them to be incompatible with his idea of ​​cosmic order and harmonious proportion in the universe.

Science fiction authors of the 17th century also referred to Nikolaus von Kues.


Nikolaus von Kues, bronze sculpture by Kurt Tassotti (2013) next to the Wendalinus basilica in St. Wendel

Development and evaluation of the overall performance

Although Cusanus was never completely forgotten in the early modern period - as was mistakenly believed in the past - and was sometimes even intensely received, there was no comprehensive appreciation of his philosophy in its entirety. Modern research has only achieved this and a correspondingly higher assessment of its overall performance. It emphasizes its originality and its independence from the limitations of the traditional late scholastic way of thinking. Ernst Cassirer's work on the history of philosophy proved to be groundbreaking for this appreciation .

In 1927, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences decided to publish a new critical complete edition of the works of Cusanus, which should replace the old editions of the 16th century. The first volume appeared in 1932; The academy project was completed in 2005.

Acta Cusana , a large-scale collection of sources on the life story of Cusanus, has been published since 1976 . The Cusanus Society founded the Institute for Cusanus Research in 1960 , which was initially based in Mainz and has been in Trier since 1980. It publishes scientific papers in the field of Cusanus research, including since 1961 the journal Mitteilungen and Forschungsbeitbeitrag der Cusanus-Gesellschaft .

The question of mysticism

The current classification of Cusanus as a mystic is assessed differently in research. It starts from an interpretation of the doctrine of coincidence, which interprets it as a description of mystical experience. Rudolf Haubst assigns the conception of the ignorance to be taught to "mystical theology", whereby this is to be understood as "a method that leads to union with God". A number of researchers regard Cusanus as a mystic in the sense of such an understanding or a similar one. It is particularly emphasized that overcoming the “wall” between the seeker and God presupposes the abolition of the principle of contradiction, which is impossible in the context of philosophy; the "jump over the wall" is therefore a mystical process with which the inaccessible to the mind is mystically grasped. The justification of the designation of Cusanus as a mystic is derived from his intensive examination of this topic. Anyone who takes the mystical experience of union as a goal can hardly be declared a non-mystic. However, it is certain that Cusanus, by his own admission, did not experience such an experience. So if by a mystic is meant someone who refers to his or her personal mystical experience, Cusanus does not fall into that category.

Hans Gerhard Senger states that the affective mysticism of experience has remained unknown and suspect to the cardinal and, since it is not an object of knowledge, he has not considered it to be teachable. He was concerned with a mystical, but teachable knowledge about God; thus he represented a “cognitive-epistemic mysticism with theoretical status”. Werner Beierwaltes examines mystical elements in the thinking of Cusanus, whereby he understands by mysticism "the highest possibility (apex theoriae!) Of all human powers, that is, the conscious unity of his intellectual and affective abilities and needs".

Kurt Flasch , who pleads for not using the term “mystic”, points out that the term “mysticism” is vague and flexible and problematic because of its vagueness. In modern times the field of rationality has narrowed; therefore any philosophy that lies outside this narrow field appears mystical in the sense of irrational. Such a terminology would not do justice to Cusan's understanding of reason. Rather, it is an expression of a point of view that underlies an objection to his doctrine of coincidence that was raised in his day and with which he had to grapple.

Reception outside of the Cusanus research

Cusanusstift, south view from the Moselle bridge
Main portal of the Cusanus pin

In 1958, the Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena published a poem entitled De Docta Ignorantia , which was inspired by the Cusanian keyword of “learned ignorance”. In the historical novel Nuori Johannes by the Finnish author Mika Waltari , published posthumously in 1981 and published in German under the title Johannes Peregrinus in 2013 , Nikolaus von Kues is one of the protagonists. His participation in the Council of Basel, his embassy in Constantinople (1437/1438) and his participation in the Union Council in Ferrara and Florence are discussed in the novel. In 2005 Wolfgang Jeschke published the novel Das Cusanus-Spiel , in which Nikolaus appears as a literary figure.

The St-Nikolaus-Hospital (Cusanusstift) in Bernkastel-Kues, donated by Cusanus as an old people's home for the poor, still fulfills the function that the founder intended for it.

Cusanus gave its name to a number of institutions, including the Cusanuswerk (episcopal scholarship) and the Cusanus Academy in Bressanone. A number of schools bear his name: the Bischöfliches Cusanus-Gymnasium in Koblenz , the Cusanus-Gymnasium in Erkelenz , the Cusanus-Gymnasium in St. Wendel , the Cusanus-Gymnasium in Wittlich , the Nicolaus-Cusanus-Gymnasium in Bergisch Gladbach , the Nicolaus-Cusanus-Gymnasium in Bonn , the Nikolaus-von-Kues-Gymnasium in Bernkastel-Kues and the Cusanusschule, a primary and secondary school in Münstermaifeld . In addition, the Cusanus University in Bernkastel-Kues has existed since 2014 . In Stuttgart there is the Nikolaus-Cusanus-Haus, an anthroposophical retirement home.

The moon crater Cusanus is named after him.

Text editions and translations

Editions without translation

Critical complete edition

  • Nicolai de Cusa opera omnia (complete edition of the Heidelberg Academy); published so far:
    • Volume 1: De docta ignorantia. Edited by Ernst Hoffmann and Raymond Klibansky , Leipzig 1932.
    • Volume 2: Apologia doctae ignorantiae. Edited by Raymond Klibansky, 2nd edition, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7873-1788-2 .
    • Volume 3: De coniecturis. Edited by Josef Koch and Karl Bormann , Hamburg 1972, ISBN 3-7873-0218-2 .
    • Volume 4: Opuscula I: De deo abscondito, De quaerendo deum, De filiatione dei, De dato patris luminum, Coniectura de ultimis diebus, De genesi. Edited by Paul Wilpert, Hamburg 1959.
    • Volume 5: Idiota, De sapientia, De mente. Edited by Renate Steiger ; De staticis experimentis. Edited by Ludwig Baur, 2nd edition, Hamburg 1983, ISBN 3-7873-0484-3 .
    • Volume 6: De visione dei. Edited by Heide Dorothea Riemann, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-7873-1368-0 .
    • Volume 7: De pace fidei, cum epistula ad Ioannem de Segobia. Edited by Raymond Klibansky and Hildebrand Bascour, Hamburg 1959.
    • Volume 8: Cribratio Alkorani. Edited by Ludwig Hagemann, Hamburg 1986, ISBN 3-7873-0641-2 .
    • Volume 9: Dialogus de ludo globi. Edited by Hans Gerhard Senger, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-7873-1309-5 .
    • Volume 10 Fascicle 1: Opuscula II: De aequalitate (Vita erat lux hominum); Responsio de intellectu evangelii Ioannis (Quomodo ratio divina sit vita). Edited by Hans Gerhard Senger, Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-7873-0914-4 .
    • Volume 10 Fascicle 2a: Opuscula II: De deo unitrino principio: De theologicis complementis. Edited by Heide Dorothea Riemann and Karl Bormann, Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-7873-1075-4 .
    • Volume 10 Fascicle 2b: Opuscula II: De deo unitrino principio: Tu quis es ‹de principio›. Edited by Karl Bormann and Heide Dorothea Riemann, Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-7873-0750-8 .
    • Volume 11/1: De beryllo. Edited by Hans Gerhard Senger and Karl Bormann, Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-7873-0749-4 .
    • Volume 11/2: Trialogus de possest. Edited by Renate Steiger, Hamburg 1973, ISBN 3-7873-0307-3 .
    • Volume 11/3: Compendium. Edited by Bruno Decker and Karl Bormann, Hamburg 1964.
    • Volume 12: De venatione sapientiae, De apice theoriae. Edited by Raymond Klibansky and Hans Gerhard Senger, Hamburg 1982, ISBN 3-7873-0528-9 .
    • Volume 13: Directio speculantis seu de non aliud. Edited by Ludwig Baur and Paul Wilpert, Leipzig 1944.
    • Volume 14: De concordantia catholica libri tres. Edited by Gerhard Kallen , Hamburg 1963–1968.
    • Volume 15 Fascicle 1: Opuscula III: Opuscula Bohemica: De usu communionis, Epistulae ad Bohemos, Consilium, Intentio (opusculum dubium). Edited by Stefan Nottelmann and Hans Gerhard Senger, Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-7873-1873-5 .
    • Volume 15 Fascicle 2: Opuscula III: Opuscula ecclesiastica: Epistula ad Rodericum Sancium, Reformatio generalis. Edited by Hans Gerhard Senger, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7873-1730-1 .
    • Volume 16: Sermones I (1430-1441). Edited by Rudolf Haubst et al., Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-7873-0990-X .
    • Volume 17: Sermones II (1443-1452). Edited by Rudolf Haubst, Hermann Schnarr et al., Hamburg 1983ff. (6 fascicles published so far).
    • Volume 18: Sermones III (1452-1455). Edited by Silvia Donati et al., Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7873-1733-2 .
    • Volume 19: Sermones IV (1455-1463). Edited by Silvia Donati et al., Hamburg 1996-2008 (seven fascicles and one index fascicle).
    • Volume 20: Scripta mathematica. Edited by Menso Folkerts , Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-7873-1737-0 .

Other expenses

  • Cusanus texts. Winter, Heidelberg (some of the editions of the Cusanus texts not listed here have been overtaken by the complete edition)
    • II. Treatises
      • 1. De auctoritate presidendi in concilio generali , ed. Gerhard Kallen, 1935
      • 2. De maioritate auctoritatis sacrorum conciliorum supra auctoritatem papae , ed. Erich Meuthen , 1977, ISBN 3-533-02589-6
    • III. Marginalia
    • 1. Nicolaus Cusanus and Ps. Dionysius in the light of the quotations and marginal notes of Cusanus , ed. Ludwig Baur, 1941
    • 2. Proclus Latinus. The excerpts and marginal notes of Nikolaus von Kues on the Latin translations of the Proclus writings
      • 2.1. Theologia Platonis, Elementatio theologica , ed. Hans Gerhard Senger, 1986, ISBN 3-533-03744-4
      • 2.2. Expositio in Parmenidem Platonis , ed. Karl Bormann, 1986, ISBN 3-533-03746-0
    • 3. The excerpts and marginal notes of Nikolaus von Kues on the writings of Raimundus Lullus , ed. Theodor Pindl-Büchel, 1990, ISBN 3-533-04366-5
    • 4. Raimundus Lullus. The collection of excerpts from the writings of Raimundus Lullus in Codex Cusanus 83 , ed. Ulli Roth, 1999, ISBN 3-8253-0910-X
    • 5. Apuleius. Hermes Trismegistus. From Codex Bruxellensis 10054-56 , ed. Pasquale Arfé, 2004, ISBN 3-8253-1596-7

Editions with translations

  • Nikolaus von Kues: Philosophical-theological works , ed. Karl Bormann, 4 volumes, Meiner, Hamburg 2002 (Latin texts without critical apparatus with German translation)
  • Nikolaus von Kues: Philosophical-theological writings. Study and anniversary edition , ed. Leo Gabriel et al., 3 volumes, Herder, Vienna 1964–1967 (Latin texts without critical apparatus with German translation)
  • Writings of Nikolaus von Kues in German translation (commissioned by the Heidelberg Academy; the Latin text of the critical complete edition, but without the critical apparatus, and German translation); Meiner, Hamburg (formerly Leipzig)
    • Book 1: The layman on wisdom. Idiota de sapientia , ed. Renate Steiger, 1988, ISBN 978-3-7873-0765-4
    • Book 2: About Beryl. De beryllo , ed. Karl Bormann, 4th edition, 2002, ISBN 978-3-7873-1608-3
    • Book 3: Three Writings from the Hidden God. De deo abscondito, De quaerendo deum, De filiatione dei , ed. and annotated by Elisabeth Bohnenstaedt, 3rd edition, 1958
    • Book 4: Of God's Seeing. De visione Dei , ed. Elisabeth Bohnenstaedt, 2nd edition, 1944
    • Volume 5: The layman on experiments with the scales. Idiota de staticis experimentis , ed. Hildegund Menzel-Rogner, 2nd edition, 1944
    • Book 8: On Peace In Faith. De pace fidei , ed. Ludwig Mohler, 1943
    • Issue 9: Three-way conversation about the ability-is , ed. Renate Steiger, 3rd edition, 1991, ISBN 3-7873-0943-8
    • Book 11: The mathematical writings , ed. Josepha Hofmann and Joseph Ehrenfried Hofmann , 2nd edition, 1980, ISBN 3-7873-0491-6
    • Book 12: Vom nichtanderen (De li non aliud) , ed. Paul Wilpert, 3rd edition, 1987, ISBN 3-7873-0743-5
    • Book 15a: The ignorance taught. De docta ignorantia. Book I , ed. Paul Wilpert and Hans Gerhard Senger, 4th edition, 1994, ISBN 978-3-7873-1158-3
    • Booklet 15b: The ignorance taught. De docta ignorantia. Book II , ed. Paul Wilpert and Hans Gerhard Senger, 2nd edition, 1977, ISBN 3-7873-0416-9
    • Book 15c: The ignorance taught. De docta ignorantia. Book III , ed. Hans Gerhard Senger, 1977, ISBN 3-7873-0362-6
    • Issue 16: Compendium. Brief presentation of the philosophical-theological teachings , ed. Bruno Decker and Karl Bormann, 3rd edition, 1996, ISBN 978-3-7873-1190-3
    • Book 17: Conjectures. De coniecturis , ed. Josef Koch and Winfried Happ, 2002, ISBN 978-3-7873-1604-5
    • Issue 19: The highest level of consideration. De apice theoriae , ed. Hans Gerhard Senger, 1986, ISBN 978-3-7873-0652-7
    • Booklet 20a – c: Viewing the Koran. Cribratio Alkorani , ed. Ludwig Hagemann and Reinhold Glei , 3 issues, 1989–1993, ISBN 978-3-7873-0934-4 , ISBN 978-3-7873-0937-5 , ISBN 978-3-7873-0938-2
    • Book 21: The layman on the mind. Idiota de mente , ed. Renate Steiger, 1995, ISBN 3-7873-0975-6
    • Issue 22: Conversation about the globe game. Dialogus de ludo globi , ed. Gerda von Bredow, 2000, ISBN 978-3-7873-1554-3
    • Issue 23: Tu quis es ‹De principio›. About the origin , ed. Karl Bormann, 2001, ISBN 978-3-7873-1271-9
    • Issue 24: De venatione sapientiae. The Hunt for Wisdom , ed. Karl Bormann, 2003, ISBN 3-7873-1626-4
  • Cusanus texts. I. Sermons. 6. The Interpretation of the Our Father in four sermons , ed. Josef Koch and Hans Teske , Winter, Heidelberg 1940 (contains Middle High German and Latin sermons with German translation or translation into modern German)
  • Nikolaus von Kues: The calendar improvement. De correctione kalendarii , ed. Viktor Stegemann , Kerle, Heidelberg 1955
  • Nikolaus von Kues: From peace between religions , ed. Klaus Berger and Christiane Nord, Insel, Frankfurt a. M. 2002, ISBN 3-458-17137-1

Translations without the original text

  • Nikolaus von Kues: Sermons in German translation , trans. Walter Andreas Euler et al., Aschendorff, Münster 2007ff.
  • Nikolaus von Kues: De visione Dei. Seeing God , trans. Helmut Pfeiffer, 2nd edition, Paulinus, Trier 2002, ISBN 3-7902-1562-7
  • Nikolaus von Kues: About the origin. De principio , transl. Maria Feigl, Kerle, Heidelberg 1967
  • The preacher on the porta. The Trier sermons of Nikolaus von Kues , trans. Franz-Bernhard Stammkötter, Aschendorff, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-402-02620-1
  • Wilhelm Oehl (Ed.): German Mystic Letters of the Middle Ages, 1100–1550 . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1972 (Reprint of the Munich 1931 edition; reading edition in Fraktur, currently offers the only New High German translation for some letters from and to Cusanus)
  • Nicolaus Cusanus: Philosophical and theological writings , ed. Eberhard Döring, Marix, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 978-3-86539-009-7 (reading edition, based on the translation by Franz Anton von Scharpff from 1862; thematically arranged text selection)
  • Gerhard Wehr : The mystic Nicolaus Cusanus. Text selection and comment. Marix, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-86539-259-6 .

Sources (including correspondence)

  • Acta Cusana. Sources on the life story of Nikolaus von Kues , ed. Erich Meuthen et al., Meiner, Hamburg 1976ff. (critical edition without translations). Published so far:
    • Volume 1 (deliveries 1–4), 1976–2000 (covers the period up to March 1452)
    • Volume 2, ed. Johannes Helmrath and Thomas Woelki, Delivery 1, 2012 (period April 1452 to May 1453); Delivery 2, 2016 (period June 1453 to May 1454); Delivery 3, 2017 (period June 1454 to May 1455); Delivery 4, 2018 (period June 1455 to May 1456); Delivery 5, 2019 (period June 1456 to May 1457)
  • Nikolaus von Kues: Letters and documents on the Brixen dispute , ed. Wilhelm Baum and Raimund Senoner, Vol. 1, Vienna 1998 and Vol. 2, Klagenfurt 2000 (original texts without critical apparatus with translation)
  • Cusanus texts. IV. Correspondence from Nikolaus von Kues , Winter, Heidelberg 1944–1956
    • 1. Collection , ed. Josef Koch, 1944
    • 2. Collection: Cardinal Nikolaus von Kues ' Bressanone Letter Book , ed. Friedrich Hausmann , 1952
    • 3. Collection: The legacy of Nikolaus von Kues. The letter to Nikolaus Albergati along with the sermon in Montoliveto (1463) , ed. Gerda von Bredow, 1955
    • 4. Collection: Nikolaus von Kues and the German Order. The correspondence between Cardinal Nikolaus von Kues and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order , ed. Erich Maschke , 1956


Overview and overall representations

  • Marco Brösch et al. (Ed.): Handbook Nikolaus von Kues. Life and work. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2014, ISBN 978-3-534-26365-3 .
  • Hans Gerhard Senger: Nikolaus von Kues. Life - teaching - impact history. Winter, Heidelberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-8253-6561-5
  • Hans Gerhard Senger: Nikolaus von Kues. In: Author's Lexicon . Vol. 6, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1987, ISBN 3-11-010754-6 , Sp. 1093-1113.

To the biography

  • Wilhelm Baum : Nikolaus Cusanus in Tyrol. The work of the philosopher and reformer as Prince-Bishop of Brixen . Athesia, Bozen 1983, ISBN 88-7014-298-1 .
  • Hermann Hallauer : Nikolaus von Kues Bishop of Brixen 1450–1464. Collected Essays. Athesia, Bozen 2002, ISBN 88-8266-153-9 .
  • Anton Lübke: Nikolaus von Kues. Church prince between the Middle Ages and modern times. Callwey, Munich 1968.
  • Erich Meuthen : The last years of Nikolaus von Kues. Biographical research based on new sources. Westdeutscher Verlag, Cologne and Opladen 1958.
  • Erich Meuthen: Nikolaus von Kues 1401–1464. Sketch of a biography. 7th edition, Aschendorff, Münster 1992, ISBN 978-3-402-03492-7 .
  • Tom Müller: The young Cusanus. A departure into the 15th century. Aschendorff, Münster 2013, ISBN 978-3-402-13029-2 .
  • Rolf Schönberger:  Nikolaus von Kues. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , pp. 262-265 ( digitized version ).
  • Sylvie Tritz: "... to collect treasures in heaven for us." The foundations of Nikolaus von Kues (= sources and treatises on the Middle Rhine church history. Vol. 125). Verlag der Gesellschaft für Mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte, Mainz 2008, ISBN 978-3-929135-60-2 .
  • Morimichi Watanabe: Nicholas of Cusa - A Companion to his Life and his Times. Ashgate, Farnham 2011, ISBN 978-1-4094-2039-2 .

To work and reception

  • Siegfried Dangelmayr: Knowledge of God and the concept of God in the philosophical writings of Nikolaus von Kues (= monographs on philosophical research. Volume 54). Hain, Meisenheim 1969
  • Kurt Flasch : Nikolaus von Kues. Story of a development. 3rd edition, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-465-04059-0 .
  • Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues in his time. Stuttgart 2004.
  • Klaus Jacobi : The method of the Cusan philosophy. Alber, Freiburg and Munich 1969
  • Klaus Jacobi (ed.): Nikolaus von Kues. Introduction to his philosophical thinking. Alber, Freiburg and Munich 1979, ISBN 3-495-47242-8 .
  • Karl Jaspers : Nikolaus Cusanus . Piper, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-492-10660-9
  • Raymond Klibansky: The history of the impact of the dialogue “De pace fidei”. In: Rudolf Haubst (ed.): Peace among religions according to Nikolaus von Kues. Files from the symposium in Trier from October 13 to 15, 1982 (= communications and research contributions from the Cusanus Society. Vol. 16). Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, Mainz 1984, pp. 113–125 (overview of the history of effects).
  • Thomas Leinkauf : Nicolaus Cusanus. An introduction. Aschendorff, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-402-03171-X .
  • Stephan Meier-Oeser: The presence of the forgotten. On the reception of the philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus from the 15th to the 18th century. Aschendorff, Münster 1989, ISBN 3-402-03160-4 .
  • Hans Gerhard Senger: Ludus sapientiae. Studies on the work and the history of the impact of Nikolaus von Kues. Brill, Leiden 2002, ISBN 90-04-12081-5 .
  • Norbert Winkler: Nikolaus von Kues as an introduction. 2nd edition, Junius, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-88506-339-1 .

Collections of articles

  • Ian Christopher Levy et al. (Ed.): Nicholas of Cusa and Islam. Polemic and Dialogue in the Late Middle Ages . Brill, Leiden 2014, ISBN 978-90-04-27475-4 .
  • Isabelle Mandrella (Ed.): Nikolaus von Kues (= The Middle Ages. Perspectives of Medieval Research. Vol. 19, Issue 1). De Gruyter, Berlin 2014, ISSN  0949-0345 (contains nine essays on life and work).
  • Martin Thurner (Ed.): Nicolaus Cusanus between Germany and Italy. Contributions to a German-Italian symposium in the Villa Vigoni. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-05-003583-8
  • Bozner Schlösser Foundation (Ed.): Nicolaus Cusanus. A misunderstood genius in Tyrol (= Runkelsteiner writings on cultural history. Vol. 9). Athesia, Bozen 2016, ISBN 978-88-6839-175-1 .

Web links

Commons : Nikolaus von Kues  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Text editions and translations




  1. See on the dating Erich Meuthen (Hrsg.): Acta Cusana , Volume 1 Liefer 1, Hamburg 1976, p. 4 Note 2 to No. 11; Paolo Sambin: Nicoló da Cusa, student a Padova e abitante nella casa di Prosdocimo Conti suo Maestro . In: Quaderni per la Storia dell'Università di Padova (Milan) 12, 1979, pp. 141-145.
  2. See on the dating Erich Meuthen (Ed.): Acta Cusana , Volume 1 Liefer 1, Hamburg 1976, p. 6 (No. 18).
  3. On Cesarini's influence on Nicholas see Hans Gerhard Senger: Ludus sapientiae. Studies on the work and impact history of Nikolaus von Kues , Leiden 2002, pp. 9–11.
  4. Nikolaus' relationship to this benefice is examined by Werner Martin: Cusanus and his relationships with St. Wendel , Part 1, St. Wendel 2010 (see especially pp. 22–25, 31f., 37).
  5. For details see Erich Meuthen: The benefices of Cusanus . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 2, 1962, pp. 15–66. See Erich Meuthen: Nikolaus von Kues 1401–1464. Sketch of a biography , 6th edition, Münster 1982, pp. 20-22.
  6. On Heymericus and his relationship with Nikolaus see Florian Hamann: Das Siegel der Ewigkeit. Universal science and conciliarism in Heymericus de Campo , Münster 2006, pp. 9–13, 21f., 50–54, 57–59, 231–262.
  7. For details see the study by Eusebio Colomer: Nikolaus von Kues and Raimund Llull , Berlin 1961.
  8. Ralf Kern: Scientific instruments in their time , vol. 1: From astrolabe to mathematical cutlery , Cologne 2010, p. 235; Fritz Nagel: Nicolaus Cusanus and the emergence of the exact sciences , Münster 1984, p. 85 Note 12. Werner Martin's own observations in connection with his efforts to improve the calendar assume Werner Martin: Cusanus and his relationships with St. Wendel , part 1, St. Wendel 2010, pp. 78-81.
  9. Enea Silvio Piccolomini: De gestis concilii Basiliensis commentariorum libri II , 14.
  10. Erich Meuthen: The German legation trip of Nikolaus von Kues 1451/52. In: Hartmut Boockmann, Bernd Moeller , Karl Stackmann (eds.): Life lessons and world designs in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age. Politics - Education - Natural History - Theology. Report on colloquia of the commission to research the culture of the late Middle Ages 1983 to 1987 (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen: philological-historical class. Volume III, No. 179). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989, ISBN 3-525-82463-7 , pp. 421-499.
  11. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. Story of a development. Frankfurt / Main 1998, p. 350f.
  12. ^ Hannes Obermair : City and Territory in Tyrol. Side lights from the Middle Ages and early modern times. In: Helmut Flachenecker , Hans Heiss (Ed.): Franconia and South Tyrol. Two cultural landscapes in comparison (= publications of the South Tyrolean Provincial Archives. Vol. 34), Innsbruck 2013, pp. 121–131, here: 129.
  13. For a detailed description of the events in Bruneck see Hermann Josef Hallauer: Bruneck 1460. Nikolaus von Kues - the bishop fails because of secular power . In: Johannes Helmrath, Heribert Müller (Ed.): Studies for the 15th Century , Volume 1, Munich 1994, pp. 381-412.
  14. Erich Meuthen: The last years of Nikolaus von Kues. Biographical studies based on new sources , Cologne 1958, p. 81.
  15. See Diana Bormann-Kranz: Investigations on Nikolaus von Kues, De theologicis complementis , Stuttgart 1994.
  16. On the efforts of Cusanus to square the circle see Tom Müller: Perspektiven und Infendlichkeit, Regensburg 2010, pp. 47–73; Fritz Nagel: Nicolaus Cusanus and the emergence of exact sciences , Münster 1984, pp. 61–82; Marco Böhlandt: Hidden Number - Hidden God , Stuttgart 2009, pp. 188–304.
  17. Witalij Morosow: The legacy of Nikolaus von Kues in the mirror of alchemy , Münster 2018, p. 133.
  18. On the influence of Eckhart on Cusanus see Herbert Wackerzapp: The influence of Meister Eckhart on the first philosophical writings of Nikolaus von Kues (1440–1450) , Münster 1962, Rudolf Haubst: Nikolaus von Kues as interpreter and defender of Meister Eckhart . In: Udo Kern (ed.): Freedom and serenity , Munich 1980, pp. 75–96 and the fourth volume of the Meister Eckhart yearbook : Harald Schwaetzer, Georg Steer (ed.): Meister Eckhart and Nikolaus von Kues , Stuttgart 2011.
  19. ^ Hans Gerhard Senger (ed.): Cusanus texts. III. Marginalia. 2. Proclus Latinus. The excerpts and marginal notes of Nikolaus von Kues on the Latin translations of the Proclus writings. 2.1 Theologia Platonis, Elementatio theologica , Heidelberg 1986, pp. 11-28.
  20. ^ Rudolf Haubst: On the continued life of Albert the great with Heymerich von Kamp and Nikolaus von Kues . In: Studia Albertina , Münster 1952, pp. 420–447.
  21. Eusebio Colomer: Nikolaus von Kues and Raimund Llull , Berlin 1961, p. 68ff.
  22. Gerhard Schneider: Gott - das nichtandere , Münster 1970, pp. 70–81; Hermann Schnarr: Modi essendi , Münster 1973, pp. 6-9; Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, p. 46f.
  23. ^ Gerhard Schneider: Gott - das nichtandere , Münster 1970, pp. 81–83, 87–170; Mariano Alvarez-Gómez: The hidden presence of the infinite in Nikolaus von Kues , Munich 1968, pp. 51–53.
  24. Nikolaus von Kues, De docta ignorantia I 13-16. See Marco Böhlandt: Hidden Number - Hidden God , Stuttgart 2009, pp. 89-103.
  25. ^ Gerhard Schneider: Gott - das nichtandere , Münster 1970, pp. 65–70; Christian Ströbele: Performance and Discourse: Religious Language and Negative Theology at Cusanus , Münster 2015.
  26. On the role of reason and understanding in the epistemology of Cusanus see Theo van Velthoven: Gods show and human creativity. Studies on the Epistemology of Nikolaus von Kues , Leiden 1977, pp. 17–47; Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 153–164, 302–306.
  27. For the development of the epistemology of Cusanus see Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 150–164, 433–439. For the wall metaphor, see João Maria André: The metaphor of the “Wall of Paradise” and the cartography of recognition in Nikolaus von Kues . In: João Maria André et al. (Ed.): Intellectus and Imaginatio. Aspects of spiritual and sensual knowledge in Nicolaus Cusanus , Amsterdam 2006, pp. 31–42; Rudolf Haubst: The epistemological and mystical meaning of the “wall of coincidence” . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 18, 1989, pp. 167–195; Walter Haug: The Wall of Paradise . In: Theologische Zeitschrift 45, 1989, pp. 216-230.
  28. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 251–269.
  29. On the Marsilius reception of Cusanus see Werner Krämer: Concordance and Consensus in Church and Respublica Christiana . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 21, 1994, pp. 231–273, here: 258f .; Gregorio Piaia: Marsilius of Padua († around 1342) and Nicolaus Cusanus († 1464): an ambiguous relationship? In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 24, 1998, pp. 171–193.
  30. On Cusanus' remarks on the choice of a king see Erich Meuthen: Modi electionis. Drafts by Cusanus on electoral procedures . In: Karl-Dietrich Bracher et al. (Ed.): State and parties , Berlin 1992, pp. 3–11; Günter Hägele, Friedrich Pukelsheim: The royal election system of the Concordantia catholica . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 29, 2005, pp. 81–94.
  31. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 87–90.
  32. On the state philosophy of Cusanus see Werner Krämer: Concordance and Consensus in Church and Respublica Christiana . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 21, 1994, pp. 231–273, here: 255–264; Johannes Bärmann: Cusanus and the imperial reform . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 4, 1964, pp. 74-103.
  33. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 72–75.
  34. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 75–86.
  35. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 332–357. For the truth content of the individual religions in Cusanus and his concept of religious plurality, see the research report by Markus Riedenauer: Pluralität und Rationalität , Stuttgart 2007, pp. 121–126. For his conviction that the Islamic understanding of the nature and role of Christ is compatible with and contained in the doctrine of the Trinity of a properly understood Christianity and that the doctrine of the Trinity can also be communicated to the Jews, see Nikolaus von Kues, De pace fidei IX 25f .; XII 39; XII 41; XIV 47-49.
  36. On the philosophical character of the religious conversation see Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 340–345.
  37. Nikolaus von Kues, De pace fidei I 2; I 4-6; II 7.
  38. Nikolaus von Kues, De pace fidei XIII 42–44. For the argumentation see Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 360–368.
  39. ^ On the circumcision of Nikolaus von Kues, De pace fidei XVI 60; Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, p. 350.
  40. Nikolaus von Kues, De pace fidei XIX 67; see. I 6. See Markus Riedenauer: Historical and cultural relativization of religion in Nikolaus Cusanus . In: Harald Schwaetzer (ed.): Nicolaus Cusanus: Perspektiven seine Geistphilosophie , Regensburg 2003, pp. 35–50, here: 42–47.
  41. Nikolaus von Kues, De pace fidei VI 18.
  42. Nikolaus von Kues, De docta ignorantia II 11.
  43. Nikolaus von Kues, De docta ignorantia II 12.
  44. Nikolaus von Kues: De docta ignorantia II 11. See Albert Zimmermann : "Taught ignorance" as a goal of natural research . In: Klaus Jacobi (Ed.): Nikolaus von Kues. Introduction to his philosophical thinking , Freiburg 1979, pp. 121-137, here: 131-133; Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, p. 100.
  45. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, p. 101.
  46. See Fritz Nagel: Nicolaus Cusanus and the emergence of exact sciences , Münster 1984, pp. 83–85; Tom Müller: Perspektiven und Infendlichkeit , Regensburg 2010, pp. 155–168.
  47. Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus Cusanus , Munich 2001, pp. 66f., 77-80.
  48. ^ Fritz Nagel: Nicolaus Cusanus and the emergence of exact sciences , Münster 1984, pp. 68f.
  49. On the Austrian Cusanus reception in the 15th century see Wilhelm Baum: Nikolaus Cusanus in Tirol. The work of the philosopher and reformer as Prince-Bishop of Brixen , Bozen 1983, pp. 58–82.
  50. See on the conflict James Hogg et al. (Ed.): Autour de la docte ignorance: une controverse sur la théologie mystique au XVe siècle , Salzburg 1992 (contains a reprint of the study of the same name by Edmond Vansteenberghe , Münster 1915, with edition of source texts on the controversy ); Stephan Meier-Oeser: The presence of the forgotten. On the reception of the philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus from the 15th to the 18th century , Münster 1989, pp. 26–31; Wilhelm Baum: Nikolaus Cusanus in Tyrol. The work of the philosopher and reformer as Prince-Bishop of Brixen , Bozen 1983, pp. 63–79, 129f .; Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , 3rd edition, Frankfurt a. M. 2008, pp. 181-194.
  51. Joseph E. Hofmann: Regiomontans and Buteon's position on circle approximations of Nikolaus von Kues . In: Communications and research contributions of the Cusanus Society 6, 1967, pp. 124–154.
  52. ^ Hugo de Novo Castro: Tractatus de victoria Christi , Nuremberg 1471, Appendix: Bl. 39r – 40v.
  53. ^ Hans Gerhard Senger: Nikolaus von Kues. In: Author's Lexicon. 2nd edition, Vol. 6, Berlin 1987, Sp. 1093-1113, here: 1111.
  54. On the controversy surrounding the reception of Cusanus by Ficino and Pico, see Kurt Flasch: Nicolaus Cusanus , Munich 2001, pp. 149–152.
  55. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nicolaus Cusanus , Munich 2001, pp. 154–158; Stephan Meier-Oeser: The presence of the forgotten. On the reception of the philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus from the 15th to the 18th century , Münster 1989, pp. 231–281.
  56. On Kepler's discussion of Cusanus see Stephan Meier-Oeser: Die Presence des Vergessenen. On the reception of the philosophy of Nicolaus Cusanus from the 15th to the 18th century , Münster 1989, pp. 285–292; Volker Bialas: Johannes Kepler , Munich 2004, p. 69f.
  57. ^ Marie-Luise Heuser : Transterrestrik in the Renaissance: Nikolaus von Kues, Giordano Bruno and Johannes Kepler . In: Michael Schetsche, Martin Engelbrecht (Ed.): From humans and extraterrestrials. Transterrestrial encounters in the mirror of cultural studies , Bielefeld 2008, pp. 55–79.
  58. See Kirstin Zeyer: Cusanus in Marburg. Hermann Cohen's and Ernst Cassirer's productive form of the appropriation of the history of philosophy , Münster 2015.
  59. See the edition report by Werner Beierwaltes : The Cusanus Edition of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences . In: Volker Sellin (ed.): The research projects of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences 1909–2009 , Heidelberg 2009, pp. 105–113 ( online ).
  60. ^ Rita Warmbold: Overview of the communications and research contributions ( Memento from February 7, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  61. ^ Rudolf Haubst: Streifzüge in die Cusanische Theologie , Münster 1991, pp. 334–339.
  62. Alois Maria Haas : "... attaining the last of our longings." Nikolaus von Kues als Mystiker , Trier 2008, p. 6f. and note 5, pp. 64-67; William J. Hoye: The mystical theology of Nicolaus Cusanus , Freiburg 2004, pp. 180-183.
  63. Alois Maria Haas: "... attaining the last of our longings." Nikolaus von Kues als Mystiker , Trier 2008, p. 6f. and note 5; Jan Bernd Elpert: Loqui est revelare - verbum ostensio mentis. The linguistic-philosophical hunting expeditions of Nikolaus Cusanus , Frankfurt am Main 2002, p. 215
  64. In this sense Karl-Hermann Kandler notes : Nikolaus von Kues. Thinker between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era , 2nd edition, Göttingen 1997, p. 106: "You can hardly call Nicholas a 'mystic' in the strict sense of the word". Cf. Bernard McGinn : Die Mystik im Abendland , Vol. 4, Freiburg 2008, p. 712.
  65. Hans Gerhard Senger: Mysticism as a theory with Nikolaus von Kues . In: Peter Koslowski (Ed.): Gnosis and Mystik in the History of Philosophy , Zurich 1988, pp. 111-134, here: 113.
  66. Werner Beierwaltes: Mystical elements in the thinking of Cusanus . In: Walter Haug, Wolfram Schneider-Lastin (ed.): German Mysticism in Occidental Context , Tübingen 2000, pp. 425–446, here: 445.
  67. ^ Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. History of a development , Frankfurt / Main 1998, pp. 50–53.
  68. ^ Text of the poem by Hans Gerhard Senger: Ludus sapientiae. Studies on the work and history of the impact of Nikolaus von Kues , Leiden 2002, p. 386f. (Portuguese and German); Interpretation on p. 384–395.
  69. ^ Nikolaus-Cusanus-Haus.
  70. Extensive bibliographical information in the Cusanus portal.
predecessor Office successor
Johann Röttel Bishop of Brixen
Georg Golser
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on June 2, 2011 in this version .