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Title: The church, religious difference and the self in the philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa
Author: Emerson, E. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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Abstract:
This work examines the ideas of Nicholas of Cusa (c. 1401-1464). It brings together elements of his thought that have hitherto remained separate in the historiography, and it offers a new interpretation of the continuity between his ecclesiological and his philosophical works. In essence, I suggest that the theme of Cusa's ideas is one of man, and especially of man's intellect, as the conjunction between human and divine. Specifically, I argue that Cusa focuses upon human powers of communication, cognition and interpretation as the means to provide solutions to human conflicts, but equally as the means to achieve a degree of understanding about God. I begin by looking at those earlier strands of ecclesiology that I feel contributed most to Cusa's understanding of the church (including the work of William of Ockham, Marsilius of Padua, William Durant and Jean Gerson). I then discuss the work of Cusa's teacher and colleague, Heimeric van de Velde, and the philosophical principles demonstrated by Velde's ecclesiological texts. I go on to examine Cusa's conciliar De concordantia catholica and his papalist Dialogus, in order to show how the changing situation in the church led him to develop, but still to maintain, the philosophy of human cognition and interpretation that he drew in large part from Velde's tuition. In chapter 5, I turn to Cusa's De pace fidei in order to demonstrate the application of these same ideas to ecumenical issues. In chapter 6, I address Cusa's treatment of man in his later philosophical works. Although these later works deal with the self rather than with the church or with religious difference, I suggest that they constitute the development of the themes already present in the De concordantia catholica and, to some extent, in the work of Velde. I also examine the ways in which the subtlety of Cusa's distinctive philosophical approach was misunderstood, and misinterpreted in opposing ways, by two of his contemporaries. Finally, I offer some analysis of how this dichotomy of misinterpretation increased in the century or so after Cusa's death.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.598843  DOI: Not available
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