Date of Award
Master of Arts
Robert Bast, Owen Bradley
In the study of Nicholas of Cusa (1402-1464) and his theology and metaphysics scholars have recognized the important influence of Ramon Lull’s (1232-1315) writing and thought on Cusa’s work. This influence appears most clearly in Cusa’s understanding of the Holy Trinity and his Trinitarian world view. On the surface, this influence appears difficult to understand because Lull understood the Trinity, and its role in Creation, in positive and active terms, while Cusa has become famous for his embrace of negative theology. By comparing the two most famous works of these two authors. Lull’s The Book of the Gentile and the Three Wise Men, and Cusa’s On Learned Ignorance, this thesis sets out to explain how Cusa was able to incorporate Lull’s affirmative ideas about the Trinity into his negative theology. What one finds is that Nicholas of Cusa could only use Lull’s ideas by modifying them and limiting their influence. When discussing the Holy Trinity within the Godhead, Cusa could not incorporate freely Lull’s ideas because they described, in a positive manner, a God that Cusa only understood through negation. On the other hand, Lull’s understanding of the Trinity within Creation could incorporated more completely into Cusa’s cosmology because it described the Trimtanan nature of the finite world and not the infinite God. But to keep in line with his own negative theology, Cusa changed his Neoplatonism and did away with the direct connection between God and Creation. This meant that Lull’s own Neoplatonic understanding of the Trinity and Creation could not be used by Cusa to make affirmative statements about God.
Todd, Baird Herbert, "A oneness of trinity and negative theology: elements of Ramon Lull's trinitarian world view in Nicholas of Cusa's De docta ignorantia. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2000.