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Cusa on "Plato and Aristotle": no difference between them except in the way they considered the matter!

BACK TO: The myth of "Plato v. Aristotle"

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Nicholas of Cusa was, says LaRouche, a major "representative" of this pro-Plato conspiracy against Aristotle's. Here is what "Neo-Platonist" Cusa wrote about this apparent controversy :

14. How the mind is said to descend from the Milky Way through the planets to the body and to return. The imperishable ideas of separated spirits and our perishable ideas.
PHILOSOPHER: You bring in very fine and very fitting examples to explain things that are unusual and removed from sense perception. Since sunset is coming and does not allow us to stay longer, please say what the philosophers mean who say that the souls descend from the Milky Way through the planets to bodies and in this same way return to the Milky Way. And why does Aristotle, when he wants to describe the power of our soul, begin from reason by saying that the soul ascends from reason to doctrine, and from doctrine to intelligibility? But why does Plato say the opposite- stating that intelligibility is the elementary reality and that intelligibility becomes doctrine or intelligence by deteriorating, and intelligence becomes reason by deteriorating ?
LAYMAN : I am without knowledge of written works. But perhaps the first thinkers who spoke of the ascent and descent of souls meant the same thing as Plato and Aristotle. For Plato looked to the image of the creator and this especially consists in intelligibility where mind becomes like the divine simplicity There he located elementary reality and the substance of mind which he wanted to remain after death. In the order of nature that intelligibility preceded intelligence, but it deteriorates into intelligence when it falls off from the divine simplicity where everything is one, and when it wants to grasp everything intuitively in itself just so far as each thing has its own proper being distinct from any other. Thereafter mind deteriorates even more when by the activity of reason it comprehends things no longer in itself, but as a form exists in changeable matter, where it cannot hold onto its true nature, but veers into an image.
But Aristotle, who considered all things insofar as they are given verbal expression (words are assigned by the activity of reason), made reason elementary reality and perhaps meant that reason ascends to intelligence through training, which takes place through language, and afterwards even higher to intelligibility. So he made reason the element for the ascent of intellect, while Plato made intelligibility for its descent. So there seems no difference between them except in the way they considered the matter." (1)

In conclusion, there is no opposition between the "Top-Down" method of Plato and the "Bottom-Up" method of Aristotle!
Should we be surprised that Cusa, so well reknown for his theological defense in favor of the "coincidence of the opposites" wouldn't see any contradiction between these two philosophers?

Indeed, Cusa wrote in his Apologia Doctae Ignorantiae ("A Defense of Learned Ignorance"):

"But the Aristotelian sect now prevails. This sect regards as heresy [the method of] the coincidence of opposites."


1. THE LAYMAN: ABOUT MIND, Nicholas of Cusa (1450)
2. Nicholas of Cusa (Wikipedia)

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Page last modified on August 16, 2012, at 11:20 AM