David Bartosch, Foreign Expert, School of International Relations and Diplomacy, Beijing Foreign Studies University
The mirror metaphor has been an essential asset especially during the pre-modern history of philosophy. The present article is concerned with its use in the philosophy of the German thinker Nicolas of Cusa (1401-1464). Being rooted in the intellectual traditions of Greek antiquity and Medieval Christian philosophy, Nicolas of Cusa has also been hailed as one of the first modern European philosophers. Long before other occidental thinkers, Nicolas of Cusa used the mirror metaphor to describe the foundational logic of self-consciousness on his own terms and in the context of his time and his cultural environment. This article presents the most important passages where Nicolas of Cusa uses the images of the mirror and of mirroring to explain the creative self-relation of consciousness as well as to hint at a way of a transformation of the common forms of reflexivity of the epistemological functions of the mind into its complete form of existence as absolute self-consciousness. In this context, Nicolas of Cusa’s use of the mirror metaphor is also concerned with the question of an all-encompassing humanistic self-perfection, practice as well as with basic anthropological considerations.
Nicolas of Cusa, mirror metaphor, dialectics, self-consciousness, unity of unity and difference
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