By Jasper Hopkins
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Extra resources for A Concise Introduction to the Philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa
In short, the universe is finite but (externally) unbounded. , it is unlike every object within the universe. , considered in itself it cannot be greater than it is. Nicholas's argument for this conclusion is bizarre: The universe cannot be greater than it is. This results from a lack. For possibility or matter does not extend beyond itself. For to say that the universe is able always to be actually greater is the same as saying that possible being passes over into actually infinite being. But this latter [occurrence] is impossible.
And I know that all creatable beauty is only a certain disproportionate likeness to that Beauty (1) which is actually the possibility of the existence of all beauty and (2) which is not able to be different from what it is, since it is what it is able to be. The case is similar concerning the good and life and other things. . 69 This leads him to view the traditional names for God—"Creator," "Justice," "Goodness," etc. 70 Through employing these terms, we cannot reach beyond our ignorance to apprehend the true nature of God.
Indeed, how could we conceive of Him positively? —if to do so required conceiving of something which exists in a sense not opposed to not-existing, something which is alive in a sense not opposed to not being alive, something which is one in a sense not opposed to not being one, something which is merciful in a sense not opposed to not being merciful, something which is sun in a sense not opposed to not being sun, and so on. Though we can indeed conceive that something —call it God —transcends these distinctions, we cannot conceive, positively, of what it is like for anything to transcend them, of what it is like for anything to be God.
A Concise Introduction to the Philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa by Jasper Hopkins