The Legacy of Learned Ignorance

by Peter J. Casarella

6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780813232676
  • Published: August 2019


  • Hardcover
  • 9780813214269
  • Published: March 2006


  • eBook
  • 9780813220352
  • Published: March 2006



The thought of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) draws upon a rich heritage of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance traditions and ties these traditions together into a synthesis that continues to evoke new ideas in philosophy, theology, aesthetics, history, political theory, and the philosophy of science. This volume offers a detailed historical background to Cusanus's thinking while also assaying his significance for the present. It brings together major contributions from the English-speaking world as well as voices from Europe. Each essay represents a fresh new perspective on Cusanus—the cardinal, philosopher, theologian, political theorist, mathematician, and humanist from the fifteenth century.

The collection encompasses four kinds of research on Cusanus. One approach focuses on the ancient and medieval tradition of which Nicholas saw himself to be a part. A second mode of inquiry looks at particular ideas or texts of Cusanus in their own right. A third method treats Cusanus in terms of his relationship to other thinkers of the fifteenth century. Finally, a fourth perspective opens the door to a contemporary retrieval of Cusanus's thought. Never before have so many disciplinary perspectives been collected together in a single volume on Nicholas of Cusa. The diverse voices of the volume are thus attuned to the multifaceted heritage of the thinker of the fifteenth century but speak in a compelling way for the need to reconsider his novel integration of thought today.

The book will appeal not only to specialists in the thought of Cusanus but also to individuals who are interested in learning how the personal and intellectual legacy of a German cardinal from the fifteenth century can still provoke so much interest among a global community of scholars today.


Peter J. Casarella is associate professor of systematic theology at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of several books and articles including Word as Bread: Language and Theology in Nicholas of Cusa (forthcoming).


Elizabeth Brient, Peter Casarella, Louis Dupré, Wilhelm Dupré, Walter Andreas Euler, Karsten Harries, Jasper Hopkins, Nancy Hudson, Regine Kather, Il Kim, Bernard McGinn, Cary J. Nederman, Thomas Prügl, Paul E. Sigmund, Frank Tobin, and Morimichi Watanabe


"This is a very rich collection of papers which portray and analyze Nicholas of Cusa as mystic, philosopher, politician, aesthete and natural scientist. They excellently communicate both the versatility and the underlying coherence of Nicholas' magisterial work. Peter Casarella and his contributors have given us an important publication which is to be warmly recommended not only for those with interests in the late medieval world, but also for those who wish to discover in the past vital resources for the formation of the present."—Oliver Davies, King's College London

"Peter Casarella and the contributors have presented a book which leads to many fundamentally convincing aspects of the legacy of learned ignorance." — Harald Schwaetzer, The Medieval Review

"The editor of this volume, Peter Casarella, has organized a collection of papers rooted in a panoply of viewpoints, presuppositions and fields of inquiry, which, when gathered together, much like the Tegernsee monks gathered around the icon of Christ in Cusa's classic, De visione Dei, works to supplement, enrich and augment what otherwise would be more impoverished perspectives. In this way, the collection authentically represents the Cusan legacy, demonstrating the importance and enduring relevance of Cusa's conjectures in various fields.... The essays in this collection demonstrate a significant advance in Cusan scholarship.... [The] quality of research represented in these essays helps bend the branches that the fruit may be