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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by Akademie Verlag June 19, 2018

Messen ohne Maß? Nicolaus Cusanus und das Kriterium menschlicher Erkenntnis

  • Christian Kny
From the journal Das Mittelalter


In the late Middle Ages, Nicholas of Cusa renders human cognition as creative, asymptotic assimilation—humans creatively approach their objects of cognition without ever fully reaching them. Questions about measuring are an important part of Nicholas’ model of cognition in two regards: On the one hand, he explicitly calls human cognition a ‘measuring’ (mensurare), moving the concept into the centre of attention. On the other hand, measuring in the sense of evaluating epistemic activities is an issue for Nicholas. He describes humans as living images of god who ‘enfold’ (complicare) the ideas of all things within themselves in a specific way. They measure, i. e. judge, their epistemic activities looking at what they enfold. However, Nicholas provides little information about what exactly that means. He is thus threatened with a serious epistemological problem: the lack of a satisfying criterion of epistemic activities. In my paper, I discuss options of how to deal with this problem. After briefly describing (1) Nicholas’ notion of human cognition and (2) what he has on offer regarding a criterion of epistemic activities, I (3) try to clarify what ‘enfolding the ideas of all things’ can mean. Presenting and discussing two plausible interpretations of this expression—a static and a dynamic one—sheds light on possible answers Nicholas can give as well as the limitations these answers are confronted with.


Dieser Beitrag wurde vom European Research Council im Rahmen des Förderungsvertrags Nr. 637747 für das Project ‚Rationality in Perception: Transformations of Mind and Cognition 1250–1550‘ gefördert.

Published Online: 2018-6-19
Published in Print: 2018-6-12

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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