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Mathematical TheologiesNicholas of Cusa and the Legacy of Thierry of Chartres$
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David Albertson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199989737

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199989737.001.0001

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The Accidental Triumph of De docta ignorantia

The Accidental Triumph of De docta ignorantia

(p.169) 7 The Accidental Triumph of De docta ignorantia
Mathematical Theologies

David Albertson

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Nicholas of Cusa’s use of Thierry of Chartres’s theology in his first mystical treatise in 1440, the three books of De docta ignorantia (“On Learned Ignorance”). The first book weds negative theology with Neopythagorean mathematics, drawing on Thierry’s model of the arithmetical Trinity as well as De septem septenis. The second explores the theological meaning of the quadrivium and the cosmological meaning of Thierry’s folding and four modes of being. To articulate the four modes, Nicholas cited the critique by Fundamentum naturae instead of Thierry’s writings themselves. Cusanus seems to have considered them comparable texts, perhaps by the same author. In the third book Cusanus’s Christology defines the divine and human natures of Jesus in terms of his first and second books. This theory of Incarnation therefore both synthesizes the three books of De docta ignorantia and harmonizes Thierry’s words with those of his most acute critic.

Keywords:   Nicholas of Cusa, Cusanus, Fundamentum naturae, Christology, De docta ignorantia

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