Highlights from Nicholas of Cusa

From Nicholas of Cusa’s On the Vision of God

Introduction § 1 

But I pray first the Word from on high and the all-powerful Discourse, which alone can disclose itself may be given to me in order to set forth, according to your grasp, the wonders which are revealed beyond all sensible, rational, and intellectual sight. (235)

Ch 6 § 21 

In all faces the face of faces is seen veiled and in enigma. It is not seen unveiled so long as one does not enter into a certain secret and hidden silence beyond all faces where there is no knowledge or concept of a face. This cloud, mist, darkness, or ignorance into which whoever seeks your face enters when one leaps beyond every knowledge and concept is such that below it your face cannot be found except veiled. But this very cloud reveals your face to be there beyond all veils… (244)

Ch 7 § 25

No one can approach you because you are unapproachable. No one, therefore, will grasp you unless you give yourself to this person. How do I have you, O Lord, I who am not worthy to appear in your presence? How will my prayer reach you, who are unapproachable by every means? How will I beseech you, for what would be more absurd than to ask that you give yourself to me, you who are all in all? (246)

Ch 9 § 34

If, therefore, your essence penetrates all things, so too does your sight, which is your essence. Just as nothing that exists is able to flee from its own proper being, so neither can it flee from your essence, which gives essential being to all things, nor therefore, can it flee from your sight. (250-251)

Ch 9 § 36

Hence, I experience how necessary it is for me to enter into the cloud and to admit the conincidence of opposites, above all capacity of reason, and to seek there the truth where impossibility confronts me. And above reason, above even every highest intellectual ascent when I will have attained to that which is unknown to every intellect and which every intellect judges to be the most removed from truth, there are you, my God, who are absolute necessity. And the more that cloud of impossibility is recognized as obscure and impossible, the more truly the necessity shines forth and the less veiled it appears and draws near (251)

Ch 9 § 37

Therefore, I thank you, my God, because you make clear to me that there is no other way of approaching you except that which to all humans, even to the most learned philosophers, seems wholly inaccessible and impossible. For you have shown me that you cannot be seen elsewhere than where impossibility confronts and obstructs me. (251)

Ch 12 § 47

Formerly you appeared to me, O Lord, as invisible by every creature because you are a hidden, infinite God. Infinity, however, is incomprehensible by every means of comprehending. Later you appeared to me as visible by all, for a thing exists only as you see it, and it would not actually exists unless it saw you. For your vision confers being, since your vision is your essence. Thus, my God, you are equally invisible and visible. (256)

Ch 12 §50

O Depth of riches, how incomprehensible you are! So long as I conceive a creator creating, I am still on this side of the wall of paradise. And so long as I imagine a creatable creator, I have not yet entered, but I am at the wall. But when I see you as absolute infinity to whom is suited neither the name of creating creator nor that of creatable creator, then I begin to behold you in an unveiled way and to enter the garden of delights. For you are not anything that can be named or conceived but are absolutely and infinitely superexalted above all such things. You are not, therefore, creator, but infinitely more than creator, although with you nothing is made or can be made. To you be the praise and the glory through all eternity. (257)

Ch 13 § 51

O Lord God, helper of those who seek you, I see you in the garden of paradise, and I do not know what I see, because I see nothing visible. I know this alone that I  know that I do not know what I see and that I can never know. I do not know how to name you, because I do not know what you are. Should anyone tell me that you are named by this or that name, by the fact that one gives a name I know that it is not your name. For the wall beyond which I see you is the limit of every mode of signification by names. Should anyone express any concept by which you could be conceived, I know that this concept is not a concept of you, for every concept finds its boundary at the wall of paradise. Should anyone express any likeness and say that you ought to be conceived according to it, I know in the same way that this is not a likeness of you. So too, if anyone wishing to furnish the means by which you might be understood should set forth an understanding of you, one is still far removed from you. For the highest wall separates you from all theses and secludes you from everything that can be said or thought, because you are absolute from all the things that can fall within any concept. (257-258)

Ch 13 § 52

Accordingly, when I am lifted up to the highest, I see you as infinity. For this reason you cannot be approached, comprehended, named, multiplied, or seen. Whoever, therefore, approaches you must ascend above every end, every limit, and every finite thing. Bu how will one reach you, who are the end to which one strives, if one must ascend above the end….The intellect, therefore, must become ignorant and established in darkness if it wishes to see you. But what, my God, is intellect in ignorance if not learned ignorance. O God, you are infinity, and no one can approach you except one whose intellect abides in ignorance, that is, one whose intellect knows that it is ignorant of you….The intellect knows that it is ignorant and that you cannot be grasped because you are infinity. For to understand infinity is to comprehend the incomprehensible. The intellect knows that it is ignorant of you because it knows that you can be known only if the unknowable could be known, and the invisible seen, and the inaccessible reached. (258)

Ch 13 § 53

My God you are absolute infinity itself, which I perceive to be the infinite end, but I am unable to grasp how an end without an end is an end. You, O God, are your own end, since you are whatever you have; if you have an end, you are an end. You are, therefore, an infinite end, because you are your own end, for your end is your essence….When, therefore, I assert the existence of the infinite, I admit that darkness is light, ignorance knowledge, and the impossible necessary.(258)

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