ON DIVINE FILIATION(2)
(De filiatione Dei 1445)
51 To his confrere Conrad of Wartberg, devout priest and canon
at the monastery of Meinfelt (1) where Nicholas
of Cusa had been provost (2)
On the Filiation of God
At long last, the ardor of your zeal has compelled me finally to respond
to your frequent reminders. It seems that you, with good reason, demand
from me what I conjecture about the filiation of God, which that loftiest
theologian John reveals as given to us from the eternal ray of light, when
he says: "But as many as received him he gave to them power to be made
children of God, to them who believe in his name."
(3) Take, Right Reverend Confrere, what occurs here with this
agreement that you do not suppose that I am adding anything new to what
you have read in my past conceptions. (4)
For nothing has remained, even in the inmost heart, that I have not committed
to these writings, which express my general conjectures
(5) of whatever sort. Perhaps you will experience this in what
will be stated.
Moreover, in summary, I consider filiation of God to be reckoned as nothing else than deification, which in Greek is also called theosis. (6). But you yourself know that theosis is ultimacy of perfection, which is called both knowledge of God and of the Word and also intuitive vision. (7) Indeed, I believe it is the view of the theologian John that the Logos or Eternal Reason, which "in the beginning" was God "with God," (8) gave rational light to the human being when the Logos transmitted to the human a spirit according to the Logos' own likeness. (9) Afterwards, by various admonitions of visionary prophets and finally by the Word, which appeared in the world, the Logos declared that this light of reason is the life of the human spirit (10) and that in this our rational spirit, if we have received the divine Word, the power of filiation arises in believers. (11)
53 This is an exceedingly wondrous participation of divine power so that our rational spirit holds this potency in its intellectual faculty, as if the intellect were a divine seed whose power in a believer could ascend to such a degree that it attain to "theosis," namely, to the ultimate perfection of the intellect, that is, to the apprehension of truth, not as truth is veiled in image and enigma and various otherness in this sensible world (12) but as truth is intellectually visible in itself. (13) And this is the sufficiency that our intellectual power, actualized among believers by the divine Word's rousing, holds from God. (14) For whoever does not believe will not ascend at all, but
by closing off the path (15) for oneself, one has judged oneself unable to ascend. (16) Indeed, nothing is attained without faith, (17) which first sets the wayfarer on the journey. Our faculty of soul, therefore, can climb upward to the perfection of the intellect so far as it believes. Therefore, if faith is present, ascent even to the filiation of God is not prohibited. (18)
54 And since this filiation is the ultimate of all power, our
intellectual faculty is not exhaustible this side of theosis, nor
does it attain that which is its ultimate perfection at any level this
side of that stillness of filiation's perpetual light and life of eternal
joy. But I believe that this deification exceeds every mode of intuition.
For nothing in this world is able to enter into a human being's heart,
(19) mind, or intellect, however high and elevated, but that
it remains within a contracted mode, (20)so
that no concept of joy, of gladness, of truth, of essence, of power, of
self-intuition or some other concept can lack a restrictive mode.
(21) And this mode, various in every single thing, will be retracted
to phantasms according to the condition of this world. Thus, when we will
have been loosed from this world, we will be set free
(22) also from these obscuring modes so that our intellect, liberated
from these subtracting modes, will, by its intellectual light, obtain as
its happiness the divine life in which the intellect, although without
the enigmatic contracted things of the sensible world, will be raised to
intuition of the truth. Yet this intuition will not be without the mode
of that world. (23) For the theologian
(24) says that the light of reason has the power of attaining
filiation of God in all who receive the Word and believe. Therefore, the
filiation will be in many children by whom it will be participated in various
modes. For a multiplicity participates unity variously, in various otherness,
since every existing thing, of necessity, is in another differently than
in itself. Therefore, the filiation of the many will not be without mode,
and this mode can perhaps be named the "participation of adoption."
(25) But the filiation of the Only-Begotten, which is without
mode in the identity of nature with the father, is the superabsolute filiation,
in which and through which all children of adoption obtain filiation.
Now it seems that you want me to lead you in whatever way to where you can see what that ineffable joy of filiation is. Although you do not expect that this joy, which excels every mind, can be sufficiently expressed, especially since we cannot leap over the encumbering modes of enigmas by means of conjectures, I fear to be branded with presumptuous audacity by taking on myself, as a sinful human being, the duty of the purest minds. Yet the great desire to please you does not allow me to remain silent. Take, therefore, in very brief form what I now conjecture.
56 I do not believe we become children of God in such a way that we would then be something other than we are in the present mode. But we will then be in another mode that which we are now in this mode. For the intellectual faculty, which receives the actual divine light, by which the intellectual faculty has been vivified, draws by faith the light's continual influx, so that
it may grow into a complete man. (27) However, manhood does not belong to the world of childhood where a person is still growing, but to the world of completion. The boy and the man are the same. But the filiation is not apparent in the boy, who is numbered among the servants, (28) but rather in an adult state, (29) when he reigns together with the father. (30) The one who now is in school in order to progress is the same one who afterwards attains to the office of master. Here we study, there we are made master. But we study, as the theologian says, in the mode that we receive the word of reason from a master whom we believe because he is a truthful master and teaches us rightly, (31) and we are confident that we can progress and, because we receive his word and believe, we will be teachable by God. (32) Thereby the power arises in us to be able to attain to that mastership which is filiation.
57 A painter teaches a student to produce many particular figures with a stylus; then eventually the student is brought from the level of the school to that of a master. But mastery is moving past the knowledge of particulars to a universal art and between the two there is no proportion. In this world we study by means of the senses, which attain only to particulars. We are brought from the sensible world of particulars over to the universal art, which exists in the intellectual world. For the universal exists in the intellect and belongs to the intellectual realm. In this world our study occupies itself with various particular things as with various books. In the intellectual world there is only one object of the intellect, namely, the truth itself. In it the intellect possesses a universal mastery.
For in the various particular objects the intellect has sought, by means of the senses, nothing in this world but its own life and its life's food, namely truth, which is the intellect's life.
58 And this is the mastery that the intellect seeks in the study of this world: namely, to understand truth, nay more, to possess mastery of truth, nay more, to be a master of truth, (33) nay more, to be the art of truth, but the intellect does not find that art but rather those particulars, which are works of art. But the intellect is brought from the school of this world over to the realm of mastery and is made a master or art of the works of this world. Therefore, the study of life and perfection and every motion of the intellect comes to rest when the intellect finds itself to be in that realm where the Master of all workable works is, namely the Son of God, that Word through which the heavens and every creature were formed, (34) and finds itself to be similar to him (35). For the filiation of God is then in the intellect when the art is in it; nay more, when the intellect is itself that divine art in which and through which all things are (36); nay more, when it is itself God and all things in accord with that mode in which it has attained mastery. You should heed this in attentive meditation.
59 For indeed, in its universal receptiveness knowledge embraces all knowable things, that is, God and everything that is. Moreover, a learned scribe, who has obtained a mastery of universal knowledge, has a treasury from which he can bring forth
the new and the old. (37) Therefore, according to the mode of mastery, his intellect embraces God and all things in such a way that nothing escapes the intellect and nothing lies outside it, so that in it all things are the intellect. This is also the case, in its manner, in another learned scribe and so in all scholars. Hence, the more diligently someone in this school of this sensible world exercises oneself in intellectual study in the light of the Word of the divine Master, the more perfectly one will obtain mastery.
60 The mastery that we are seeking and in which the happiness of intellectual life consists is a mastery of what are the true and eternal. Therefore, if our intellectual spirit should come to be a perfect master, so that in itself it would possess eternally the most delectable intellectual life, it is necessary that its study not adhere to the temporal shadows of the sensible world, (38) but rather use them, in a perfunctory way, for intellectual study, just as boys in the schools use material and sensible writings. For their study is not occupied with the material forms of the letters but with their rational meaning. Thus they also use spoken words, by which they are instructed, intellectually and not sensibly so that through these vocal signs they attain to the mind of their master. But if there are those who are delighted rather in these signs, they do not attain to mastery of philosophy, but, as those who are ignorant, will degenerate into writers, painters, orators, singers, or citharists.
61 By such a likeness we who aspire to the filiation of God are admonished not to adhere to sensible things, which are enigmatic signs of the true, but because of our infirmity thus to use them without being contaminated by adhering to them, (39) as if through them the Master of truth were speaking to us and they were books containing the expression of his mind. And then in sensible things we shall contemplate intellectual things, and we shall ascend, by a certain unproportional
comparison, from transitory and fleeting temporal things, whose being
is in unstable flux, to eternal things, where all succession has been carried
off into a steadfast permanence of rest, and we shall be free for the contemplation
of the true, just, and joyous life and keep ourselves separate from every
defilement that would drag us downwards, so that freed from this and with
ardent desire for the study of this Master (40)
we can enter into that life by attainment of the mastery. This is the joy
of the Lord that no one will be able to take away,
(41) when we comprehend through the intellectual faculty of taste
that we have attained incorruptible life. And this is indeed that highest
delight, as if when with the soundest sense of taste we taste the food
of life, which we hungrily desire. For a sick person with an infected palate
eats very savory foods, but since the liveliness of his sense of taste
does not sense the sweetness of the flavor, he lives in misery with weariness,
pain, and hardship, (42) and it is punishment
to chew his food. But whoever is hungry and has a pure and healthy palate
eats his food with delight and enjoyment. This bears a certain, though
remote likeness, to the unremitting joy of the children of God, when the
intellectual life, because of its incorruptible nature, not only is not
corrupted in annihilation, but also lives on through intellectual tasting,
by which the intellect senses that it lives in true intellectual life,
which pure truth eternally refreshes.
62 Perhaps what has often been heard troubles you: that God is incomprehensible (43) and that filiation, which is the apprehension of truth, which is God, cannot be attained.
I believe that you have sufficiently understood that truth in something other can be comprehended only in another way. (44) But since these theophanic modes are intellectual, then God, although God is not attained as God is, (45) will however be seen in the purity of the intellectual spirit, without any enigmatic phantasm, and to the intellect this is a clear and face to face vision. (46) This mode of the appearance of absolute truth, since it is the ultimate vital happiness of an intellect thus enjoying truth, is God, without whom the intellect could not be happy.
63 I would like you to notice how the coming to rest of all intellectual motion is objective truth; outside its realm of truth no intellectual vestige is found, nor by the judgment of the intellect can there be anything outside the heaven of truth. But if, as we have expounded in our other books, you give most subtle attention, then the truth is not God, as God is triumphant in Godself, but it is a mode of God, through which God is communicable to the intellect in eternal life. For as triumphant in Godself God is neither intelligible nor knowable, neither is God truth nor life, nor is God,
but rather God precedes every intelligible thing as the sole most simple principle.
64 Therefore, since in such way God surpasses every intellect, (47) so in this way God is not found in the intellect's realm or heaven, nor can God be attained by the intellect in that heaven of being. Hence, since God cannot be attained outside the intellectual realm except negatively, then the way of the enjoyment of being and life in truth, in the empyrean heaven (48), namely the way of the highest rapture of our spirit, (49) is attained with peace and rest, when the spirit is filled full with this appearance of the glory of God. And in this is the highest intellectual joy, when knowing that its beginning, middle, and end surpass all its height of apprehension, the intellect contemplates in its proper object, namely in pure truth. And this means it apprehends itself in truth in such excellence of glory that it understands that nothing can be outside itself but in it all things are it.
65 However, I would like to provide a likeness to guide you. I know that you are not in the least unaware that forms of equal size in straight mirrors appear less equal in curved mirrors. Therefore, imagine that there were a highest reflection of our Beginning, of glorious God, in which God were to appear, that the reflection were a mirror of truth, without blemish, absolutely straight, boundless, and most perfect, that all creatures were mirrors that were more or less contracted and differently curved, and that among them the intellectual natures were mirrors that were living and clearer, and straighter. Since such mirrors were living, intellectual,
and free, conceive them to be able to curve, to straighten, and to cleanse themselves.
66 Therefore, I am saying: one mirror brightness shines forth in various ways in all the mirror reflections, and in the first, straightest mirror brightness all the mirrors shine forth as they are, as it can be seen with material mirrors when they are turned toward each other in an anterior circle. But in all the other mirrors, which are contracted and curved, all the mirrors do not appear as they themselves are, but rather according to the condition of the receiving mirror, namely with a diminishment because of the receiving mirror's departure from straightness.
67 When, therefore, any intellectual, living mirror will have been brought to the first, straight mirror of truth, in which all the mirrors shine forth truly as they are without defect, then the mirror of the truth transmits itself, with every reception from all the mirrors, into the intellectual, living mirror, and this intellectual mirror receives into itself that mirror radiance of the mirror of truth, which holds in itself the truth of all mirrors. But it receives in its own mode that living mirror, as if a living eye, in the same true moment (50) of eternity when at the reception of light from the first mirror's reflection, it --in that same mirror of truth-- sees itself as it is and in itself sees, in its own mode, all [the mirrors]. For the simpler, the more absolute, the brighter, the purer, the straighter, the more just, and the truer the intellectual mirror will have been, the more clearly, joyously, and truly will it see in itself the glory of God and all things. Therefore, in that first mirror of truth, which can also be called the Word, Logos, or Son of God, the intellectual mirror attains filiation
so that it is all things in all things and all things are in it, (51) and its kingdom is the possession of God and of all things in a life of glory.
68 For this reason, Confrere, take away the quantitative contractions of sensible mirrors and free your concept from place and time and from all sensible things by elevating yourself to the rational mirror brightnesses where our mind gazes at truth in clear reason. For we are investigating the lurking places of uncertain things with the brightness of the rational mirror, and we know to be true that which reason shows us. Transfer, therefore, what was stated previously by our example to the intellectual realm, in order that by such guidance you can elevate yourself nearer to catching sight of the filiation of God. For by means of a certain hidden intuition you will be able to foretaste that filiation is nothing other than conveyance from the shadowy vestiges of images to union with Infinite Reason, in which and through which our spirit lives and understands that it lives, in such a way that it perceives that nothing lives outside itself and that alone those things are living that in it are it itself, and it knows that it has life of such superabundance that in itself all things live eternally in such a way that no other things whatsoever confer life to it, but it itself is the life of living things.
69 For to this spirit God will not be other than this spirit itself, nor different, nor distinct, nor will the divine reason be other, nor the Word of God other, nor the Spirit of God other. For every otherness and every difference are inferior to filiation. For the purest intellect makes every intelligible thing to be the intellect, since in that intellect every intelligible thing is the intellect itself. Everything
true, therefore, is true and intelligible through the truth itself. Therefore, truth alone is the intelligibility of every intelligible thing. Therefore, the abstracted and most pure intellect makes the truth of every intelligible thing to be intellect so that it lives by an intellectual life, which is to understand. Therefore, when in the intellect the truth itself is the intellect, the intellect will always be understanding and living; however, it does not understand that which is another from itself when it understands truth, which in the intellect is the intellect. Indeed, except the intelligible nothing is understood. But in the intellect every intelligible thing in the intellect is the intellect. Therefore, nothing will remain except the pure intellect in itself, which understands nothing as able to exist except the intelligible. Therefore, since this is so, that intellect does not understand the intelligible as another nor will its understanding be something other, but in a unity of essence there is that which understands and that which is understood and the act itself that is the understanding. Truth will not be something other from the intellect, nor will the life by which the intellect lives be other from the intellect, living according to all the force and nature of intellectual vigor, which embraces all things in accord with itself and makes itself all things, when in it all things are it.
70 Filiation, therefore, is the ablation (52) of every otherness and difference and the resolution of all things into one, which is also the transmission of one into all things. And this is theosis. For, since God is the one in which all things are as one, which is also the transmission of the one into all things, so that all things are that which they are, and in the intellectual intuition there coincides being one in which are all things and being all things in
which there is one, then we are rightly deified when we are exalted to the extent that in the one we are the one in which are all things and are the one that is in all things.
71 Do not consider these words to be precise because ineffable
things are not attained by words. Hence, you need to be elevated, by means
of a profound meditation, beyond all contrarieties, figures, places, times,
images and contractions, beyond othernesses, disjunctions, conjunctions,
affirmations, and negations when through a transcendence of all proportions,
comparisons, and ratiocinations into pure, intellectual life you, as child
of life, will be transformed into life. And for this time let this be a
kind of conjecture, however remote, regarding theosis, whatever
description there could be of its highest profundity: surmise, as you can,
having to ascend above reason to something higher, in a simple purity,
beyond that which is explicable with any signs. Let these thus be the things
that have been stated about this matter.
However, since I have no doubt that you greatly wish me to reveal to you the concept of the path by which I conjecture, in the flux of this time, to go on with the pursuit of filiation, therefore, I will strive to explain the matter further, as it presents itself. I am also saying that the analytic schools will free us from various entanglements if we will regard the one and the modes of the one. Indeed, it is not that the one, which is free of all the considerations and
is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things, indeed which in all things is all things and in nothing is nothing, is in any way coordinated with intelligible, rational, sensible entities, as I have explained elsewhere, in On Learned Ignorance. (53) For one cannot arrive at the simply maximum in the ascent or descent of things, but rather the maximum remains superexalted above all order and gradation. Nevertheless, although it remains unattainable, it is the one that is attained in all attainable things. Therefore, the one will be that which is also all things, and at the same time, the unattainable one is attained in all things. It as if one might call unit (54) innumerable, which, however, is every number, and this innumerable unit is counted in every number. For every number cannot be other than the unit. For ten has all that it is from the unit, without which ten would be neither one number nor ten. For what ten is it holds entirely from the unit; ten is neither that which is other than the unit nor that which receives something from the unit, as if some being besides the unit
could suit it, but all that it is is the unit. Yet the number ten does not count the unit, but it remains innumerable to ten as it is also to any number, since this innumerable unit is exalted above every number. And since six is not seven, these two numbers will be different, although six's unit is not one thing and seven's unit another. For in these nothing is found except the unit in a variety. Therefore, unit, which is the beginning of number, cannot be found in number, but unity is in number numerally and in the unit innumerably. There is no coordination or proportion of the numerable to the innumerable, of the absolute to the modally contracted.
73 Thus it is fitting that you conjecture that that one which is the beginning of all things is ineffable, since it is the beginning of all effable things. Therefore, all that which can be spoken do not express the ineffable, but every elocution declares what is ineffable. For the ineffable is that one, is the father or begetter of the word, is all that which is verbalized in every word, and thus is signified in every sign, etc.
74 And also that I may guide you by another example: a master's intellect is entirely unattainable in the rational and intellectual realm. This intellect is moved out of the fullness of its mastery and of its power or goodness in order
to unite others to a likeness of itself. From itself it generates the mental word, which is the simple and perfect word of mastery or the perfect art of the master. The master wants this art to inspire the minds of the students. But since it can enter into the mind only through sensible signs, he inhales air and from it produces a vocal sound, which he gives form to and expresses in various ways, so that in this way he elevates the students' minds to an equality of mastery. (55) But all the master's words can in no way manifest the author of the words, that is, the intellect, except through the mental concept or the intellectual word, which is the image of the intellect.
75 The master's affection shines forth in such an expression of the master's teaching, and it does so in his pronunciation and in various ways according to the various modes of his expression. That the word may bear fruit the concept of the master's affection shines forth in the signification of the words, and there also shines forth the mastery from which his so fecund and so masterful concept emanates. All the modes of pronunciation fail to attain the affection, since it is so great that it cannot be pronounced sufficiently, and all the modes of speech do not attain the concept, which is of inexpressible fecundity, since it is the art of mastery, and speech and pronunciation with all their possible modes cannot express the intellectual mastery, although in all speech nothing other exists or is signified than the manifestation of that mastery for the purpose of transformation into a similar mastery. (56)
76 In such likeness our triune Beginning, from goodness belonging to the Beginning, created this sensible world for the sake of intellectual spirits and created its matter as if it were the voice by which the Beginning made the mental word shine forth in various ways. Therefore, all sensible things are the utterances of various expressions unfolded from God the Father through the Son the Word in the Spirit of all things to the end that by means of sensible signs the teaching of the highest mastery would transmit itself into human minds and effectively transform them into a similar mastery. Consequently, this entire sensible world would exist in this manner for the sake of the intellectual, and the human being would be the end of the sensible creatures, and the glorious God the beginning, middle, and end of all God's activity.
77 Therefore, the pursuit of those striving toward the filiation of God is this: to learn that every effable thing stems from the incoordinate and superexalted ineffable, that the ineffable is established above every intellectual thing and is the beginning, the middle, and the end of every intelligible thing, and that in an imparticipable way the one is the fount of intelligible being and is all that which it is, just as the mental word is the fount of the vocal and all that which it is and is signified by the vocal word without intermixture and partition of itself, for the mind cannot be participated or in any manner attained by the vocal word. However, the intellectual word is the intellectual reception of the ineffable word. Therefore, every intellectual word remains intellectual, free of every sensible contraction. (57) But the intellectual intellectually holds that which it is from the ineffable. Nevertheless, if the ineffable is named by the intellect, the naming would be in an absolute way since the intellectual mode is absolute in relation to sensible contractions.
78 Therefore, the ineffable can neither be named nor attained
in any way. Therefore, an absolute name, whether being or deity or goodness
or truth or even power or any other, in no way names God, who is unnameable,
but rather it expresses the unnameable God in various intellectual modes.
But in this way what is ineffable is effable, what is imparticipable participable,
and what is beyond all mode modifiable. Therefore, God is the beginning
above one and mode, who in the one and the mode of the one presents Godself
as participable. For this reason I conjecture that the pursuit by which
in this world we endeavor to ascend to the attainment of filiation can
perhaps be in something other so that our speculation occupies itself with
the one and the mode of the one.
And so in order that by my speaking in a more contracted way, you may taste in an example what I intend, apply the one and the mode to something that you will experience to be present and to flourish in all things. We experience that a certain power dwells in all things. Therefore, let power be freed by the intellect in order to consider power in an absolute way. Therefore, the absolute power will be a certain coordinate maximumness holding in itself all grades and modes of power in a universal height and in a unity of intellectual simplicity and the highest mode by which the superexcelling ineffable and entirely unattainable cause of all power is intellectually attained. For God is not power but the lord of powers.
80 Next, one should observe that God, existing beyond every absolute and every contracted thing, is attained as God not by any highest absoluteness (58) but with the absolute mode. In this absolute mode the intellectual natures participate the imparticipable intellectually, so that they are powers elevated above every contraction of power, as power itself is veiled in shadow in the sensible world. But the absoluteness of power has modes. For without mode the absoluteness is not participable. For this reason the absoluteness of power manifests various participating powers in a variety of modes. Therefore, there are various intellectual spirits participating power in various modes of absoluteness so that all absolute spirits participating the one power variously are not other than absolute power participated in various modes.
81 Now you see how great is the intellectual spirit's potency, because it is a power exalted above every power of the sensible world. Therefore, in the potency of this spirit's power is enfolded every power of the heavens and of those things that are under the spirit, so that every power that is in them is a certain unfolding of the power of the intellectual spirit. But this sensible world participates sensibly and in a variety of modes the one power, which the intellectual world participates intellectually. For this reason the absolute power of the intellectual world is contracted in the sensible world in a variety of participating modes: in the sky celestially, in sentient beings sentiently, in living things vitally, in vegetative things vegetatively, in minerals minerally, etc.
82 Therefore, in all things, if you pay attention, you will find power and its mode. Therefore, power is one, which in all things is all things, which participate it in their own mode. You may also conjecture in this way about being, goodness, and truth as about power.
For being is this one thing, which all things that exist participate, and it is likewise with both goodness and truth. For this reason, the most prudent lawgiver Moses says that God created all things and formed the human being, (59) as though God were the creative or formative power, although God is beyond all these. But Moses attempts to convey how all come forth into being through participation of God's power in the mode in which it is variously participable. In this way he says that God saw that all things were good (60) and shows that God is the fount of goodness from which, in the mode in which God is variously participable, various good things arise. Therefore, there is only the one thing, which cannot be participated without mode.
83 That I may explain to you more sufficiently what I am conjecturing: it is one that all the theologians and philosophers attempt to express in a variety of modes. One is the kingdom of heaven, of which there is also one likeness, which is able to be unfolded only in a variety of modes, as the Master of Truth shows (61). Nor did Zeno transmit something about truth and Parmenides, Plato, or any others different things, but all who were looking on the one expressed it in various modes. For although their modes of speaking are contrary and seem incompatible, yet they attempted to unfold only that one, which is established unattainably above every contrariety. And each attempted this in one's own mode, this one affirmatively, that one negatively, and another dubitatively. For theology is one: as affirmative, affirming all things of the one, as negative, denying all things of the same one, as dubitative, neither denying nor affirming, and as disjunctive, affirming one thing and denying another, and as unitive, joining opposites affirmatively or negatively
entirely rejecting the opposites unitively. Thus all possible modes
of speaking in theology are those which attempt in some way to express
Therefore, this is the pathway of pursuit of those who strive toward theosis: to perceive the one in the diversity of any modes whatsoever. For when any pursuer, by a subtle consideration, observes how the one, which is the cause of all things, is unable not to be expressed in every expression, (62) just as a word is unable not to be spoken with everyone who is speaking, whether he says that he is speaking or whether he says that he is not, then it is manifest to the pursuer that the power of the ineffable embraces every sayable thing and that nothing can be said in which in its mode the cause of every saying and of everything said does not shine forth. For this reason the scholar theologizing truly will find nothing in all the variety of conjectures that would disturb one. To such a theologian someone who says that nothing at all exists does not say less than one who says that all the things exist that appear to. Nor does someone who says that God is all things speak more truly than the one who says that God is nothing or is not, since one knows that God is ineffable, beyond every affirmation and negation, whatever any one might be saying, and that what anyone is saying of God is not other than a certain mode by which the one who is speaking speaks of the ineffable, just as these two species the human being and the ass express the genus of animality in a varying mode, and, indeed, the human species rationally, the asinine species irrationally. In accordance with the expression of the human species rationality then seems to fit animality, but in accordance with the expression of the asinine species
irrationality seems to fit. But whoever looks on the genus, that it is exalted in such way above these differences (63) and that, consequently, none of the differences fit it, perceives that the expression of the species is a certain differential mode of the genus, exalted above the differences. It is likewise with the asinine species. For this reason, those contrary expressions of the contrary differential modes do not impede whoever is looking on the one superexalted genus.
85 It is necessary then that the pursuer not neglect that in this school of the sensible world the one that is all things is sought in a variety of modes, but when mastery is attained, then in the heaven of pure intelligence all things are known in the one. But how this happens you may conjecture from what has already been stated. For then the mind is moved to apprehension not by any discursive reasoning from things sensibly received, but since the mind intellectually participates absolute power in such a way that in accord with the superabundant power of its nature there is a certain notion of all intelligible things. It is this potency of power that the mind as in this world strove to elevate to actuality through sensible incitements. Afterwards, when the power is actualized through reasoning and liberated from the vivification of the body, to which it made itself participable, and becomes at one with itself as living intellect, it discovers that it is a power that is also the actual notion of things.
86 For just as God is the actual essence of all things, so also the intellect, separated and united in itself in a living and converted way, is a living likeness of God. Consequently, as God is the essence of all things, so also the intellect, a likeness of God, is a likeness of all things. But knowledge
takes place through likeness. However, since the intellect is a living intellectual likeness of God, it, in itself as one thing, knows all things, when it knows itself. But the intellect knows itself, when it sees itself in God as it is. But this takes place when God in the intellect is the intellect. Therefore, to know all things is nothing other than for the intellect to see itself as a likeness of God, and this is filiation. Therefore, it sees all things in one simple cognitive intuition. But here it seeks the one in a variety of modes. Consequently, the intellectual power, which rationally and sensibly extends itself in its hunt in this world, recollects itself when it transfers itself from this world. For the intellectual powers that are participated in the sensory and rational organs will return to their intellectual center in order to live with intellectual life in the unity of their emanation.
87 It can now be sufficiently clear to you that according to my conjecture, of whatever kind it may be, the intellectual nature is a university of things in an intellectual mode, and, while the intellect is engaged in the schools of this world, it seeks to bring its potency to actuality, and it assimilates itself to particular forms. For from its power, by which it intellectually bears in its potency the university of things, it exerts an understanding of this or that thing, when it actually assimilates itself to the thing understood. This assimilative potency, brought in this way to actuality in particulars, is afterwards transferred to actuality completely and to the perfect art of mastery, when in the intelligible heaven it knows itself as a likeness of all things so that the intellect is actually an intellectual university of all things when it is a discriminative notion of all things.
88 But the intellect does not then see anything besides the intelligible heaven of its own rest and life. For it does not see temporal things temporally
in a changeable succession but in an indivisible present. For the present or now that enfolds all time is not of this sensible world, since it cannot be attained by sense, but is of the intellectual world. Thus the intellect sees quantities not in an extended, divisible corporeality but rather in the indivisible point in which there is the intellectual enfolding of all continuous quantity. Nor does the intellect see the othernesses of things in a variety of numbers but intellectually in the simple unit enfolding all number.
89 Therefore, the intellect perceives all things intellectually above every sensible, distracting, and obscuring mode. It sees the whole sensible world not in a sensible mode but in a truer, that is, intellectual, mode. For this perfect knowledge is, therefore, called "intuition" because between the knowledge of that world and that of this sensible world there is almost the difference that there is between the knowledge that is received through sight and that which is received through hearing. Therefore, the more certain and clearer the knowledge generated through sight is than the knowledge of the same thing produced through hearing, the more and to a much greater extent does the intuitive knowledge of the other world surpass the knowledge that there is of this world, just as to know "why something is" can be called "intuitive knowledge," since the knower regards the reason for a thing, and the knowledge "that something is" is from hearing. (64)
90 Receive graciously, I beseech you, these things about what we have been seeking that have been written cursorily, as time permitted, and deficiently. If at another time God provides something more excellent, it will not be hidden from you. Now farewell, very beloved Confrere, and
make me a partaker in your prayers so that when we have become translated from here, we may obtain the filiation of God in the only begotten Son Jesus Christ, ever-blessed. (65)
1. 1Now Münstermaifeld in Germany outside Koblenz.
2. 2See Erich Meuthen, "Die Pfründen des Cusanus,"Mitteilungen und Forschungsbeiträge der Cusanus-Gesellschaft 2 (1962) 15-66.
3. 3John 1:12. On the composition of De filiatione Dei and its relation to sermons preached on similar themes before and at the time of this work, see Rudolf Haubst, Streifzüge in die Cusanische Theologie (Münster, 1991), pp. 89-96 and 405ff. as well as Haubst's earlier version, "Nikolaus von Kues über dei Gotteskindschaft" in Nicolò da Cusa. Relazioni tenute al Convegno interuniversitario di Bressanone nel 1960 (Padova 1962) 29-46.
4. 4Cusa is apparently referring to what he has written in philosophical-theological writings prior to De filiatione Dei . Cf. De docta ignorantia , De coniecturis [1442-44], De Deo abscondito [before 1444] , and De quaerendo Deum [beginning of 1445].
5. 5In his De coniecturis Prol. 2 (h III.4) Cusa designates as coniectura "every human positive assertion of the true." We can never attain the precision of truth. The increase of the apprehension of the true is inexhaustible, and our actual knowledge bears no proportion to maximum knowledge, which is humanly unattainable. Hinc ipsam maximam humanitus inattingibilem scientiam dum actualis nostra nulla proportione respectet, infirmae apprehensionis incertus casus a veritatis puritate positiones nostras veri subinfert coniecturas. Later in Prol. 4 (h III.6) he speaks of attaining the generalem coniecturandi artem.
6. 6See below III.70. Cf. the use of "to deify" and "deification"in Pseudo-Dionysius, De div. nom. II.11 (PG 3.649 C; Dionysiaca 1161) and De cael. hier. I.3 (PG 3.124 A;
7. 7In De quaerendo Deum (h I.26, 2-7), Cusanus, in an extended analogy, has the intellectual natures designate their "King" as Theos for to them this "God" is the ultimacy of every perfection that is intuitive of all things as if speculationem seu intuitionem ipsam in suo complemento perfectionis omnia videndi. Later in De dato patris luminum (h V.113, 3-6), Cusanus speaks of the Spirit's working a perfection in things so that omnis creatura per perfectionem propinquius ascendat, quantum naturae suae patitur condicio, ad deificationenm, hoc est ad quietis terminum.
8. 8John 1:1.
9. 9Cf. Gen. 1:26.
10. 10I. e., the spirit given to the human being. Cf. De quaerendo Deum II.37.
11. 11Cf. John 1:1-17.
12. 12Sensibili here means perceptible to the senses or subject to the evidence of the senses.
13. 13Cf. 1 Cor. 13:12 and James 1:17.
14. 14Cf. 2 Cor. 3:5.
15. 15I. e. the way of ascent.
16. 16Cf. John 3:18.
17. 17Cf. Heb. 11:6.
18. 18Cf. Gal. 3:25-26.
19. 19Cf. Is. 64: 4 and 1 Cor. 2:9.
20. 20"Contracted," from contracta , the perf.. pass. part. of contrahere, "to draw together," which, in the present tense, for Cusa often means the action of reducing to smaller compass by constricting or limiting in extent and, metaphorically, that of simply bringing about, occasioning or making, as with the delimitation of a universal so as to be this or that, i. e. individuated and differentiated.
21. 21I. e. a mode of constriction and delimitation.
22. 22Relevatus in the text seems to be a mistake and perhaps should have been relevati; otherwise it refers to intellectus noster and should read "our intellect will be set free also from these obscuring modes."
23. 23In contrast with this world of ours on earth.
24. 24St. John the Gospeler.
25. 25Cf. Rom. 8:15, 23 and Eph. 1:5.
26. 26Cf. Gal. 4:4-5 and Col. 1-16.
27. 27Cf. Eph. 4:13-15 and 1 Cor. 13:11.
28. 28Cf. Gal. 4:1.
29. 29Cf. Eph. 4:13.
30. 30Cf. 2 Tim. 2:12.
31. 31Cf. Matt. 22:16.
32. 32Cf. John 6:45.
33. 33Cf. Matt. 22:16.
34. 34Cf. Ps. 32:6; John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16.
35. 35Cf. 1 John 3:2.
36. 36Cf. 1 Cor. 8:6 and Rev. 4:11.
37. 37Cf. Matt. 13:52.
38. 38Cf. Eccles. 7:1 and Wisdom 2:5.
39. 39Cf. 2 Peter 2:20.
40. 40The antecedent of ipsum (in the phrase cum ardenti desiderio studii circa ipsum) is unclear here. I take it to refer to magister veritatis above, in line 4 of the Latin text.
41. 41Cf. John 16:22.
42. 42Cf. Gen. 3:16-17.
43. 43Cf. Jer. 32:19.
44. 44That is, truth in another than itself can be comprehended only in an another way than it is in itself.
45. 45Contrast with 1 John 3:2.
46. 46Cf. 1 Cor. 13:12.
47. 47Cf. Philip. 4:7.
48. 48Literally the "fiery heaven," sometimes called simply the empyreum, the highest heaven where God and the angels dwell.
49. 49Cf. 2 Cor. 12:2.
50. 50The printed Latin text should read momento in place of momenot.
51. 51Cf. 1 Cor. 15:28.
52. 52That is, the removal or taking away.
53. 53See DDI I.5.13-14 (h I. 11-13).
54. 54Originally from , monad, unit, or a unity.
55. 55I. e. to equal mastery with the master.
56. 56Its purpose is to transform the mind of the students into a like mastery. Cf. 2 Cor. 3:18.
57. 57Or "Therefore, every intellectual word remains free of every sensible contraction," or possibly "Therefore, every word free of every sensible contraction remains intellectual."
58. 58Absolutio, the state or condition of being absolutus, literally of being freed or cut off. In Latin the synonyms of "absolute" are abstractus and separatus. Figuratively, it can mean unqualified, independent, unconditional, pure-and-simple, and separate from what is composite.
59. 59Cf. Gen. 2:1-7.
60. 60Cf. Gen. 1:31.
61. 61Wilpert in the documentation accompanying the Latin text cites the Kingdom parables of Christ, which disclose the "mysteries" of the Kingdom by considering the "one" Kingdom of Heaven in a variety of images. Cf. Matt. 13; Mark 4; and Luke 8.
62. 62Cf. Acts 4:20.
63. 63Differentiae [differentiarum] here suggest what distinguish one species from another in a genus, that is, differences in some respects but not in all respects, so as to differentiate one type, class, or species from another. Rationality, for example, is the differentia that sets apart the human being from other members of the genus animal.
64. 64Propter quid as distinct from quia, a distinction from Aristotle's Analytica posteriora II.1.89b.24-25.
65. 65Note that the explicit in codex Trevirensis 1918/1466 reads "Finished in the year of the Lord 1445 on the day of St. Pantaleon July." St. Pantaleon, an early fourth century martyr, was said to have been a court physician to the emperor Galerius in Nicodemia and was executed there during Diocletian's purge. He came to be considered a patron saint to physicians and his feast day is July 27.