The Renaissance philosopher/theologian Nicolas Cusanus wrote of an understanding of the divine as a "conjunction of opposites". He opposed this form of logical contradiction to what he saw as the over-rationalization & superficial verbalizing of late Scholasticism.

In a kind of elaboration on this basic idea, he wrote about humankind's intellectual activity and perception as the construction of a "conjectural world". The reality we see and experience is a fully-human construct, because our perception is filtered through the limitations of human vision & understanding. Our conjectural world is not exactly equivalent to the real or actual world, which is God's Creation.

Our conjectural world and the actual world are united, according to Cusanus, by the revelation of Christ - the Incarnation, the Redemption. The Incarnation itself is understood as a wonder, a logical contradiction, a conjunction of opposites (infinite/finite, spirit/flesh, time/eternity, mortal/immortal...).

I seem to take a perpetual interest in these thinkers who stand at the borderline between humanism and theological vision : Cusanus, George Berkeley, Wallace Stevens... They themselves are fascinated by this oscillation between the "artifice" of our perceptual world and the world as it actually is.

I have a feeling Teilhard de Chardin, the 20th-cent. Catholic theologian, might be of interest here (I have an old book of his on my shelf, which I haven't read yet).

The theology of the 2nd Coming or Eschatology... the inkling that if you put together an understanding of the 3rd Person of the Trinity - the Holy Ghost - with the idea of the transpersonal unity of the Church (the "Body of Christ") - & combine these with a sense of the historical destiny of humankind as a species...

I mean I'm imagining far into the future here, and identifying the scriptural image of "the Son of Man" with a Teilhardian concept of "species-Man". Man as Imago of God united with humanity's "conjectural" (constructed) world. The georgic/Virgilian ideal of a renewal or recreation of the earthly Paradise, humanity's ultimate harmonization with the natural world of the earth & the social-political world... The long, slow destiny of Mankind-as-Gardener, who will, as Faulkner said in his Nobel speech, not only survive, but ultimately prevail. I'm always reminded, in this context, of the (quietly hilarious, heartfelt) episode in the Gospels, at Easter, when Mary Magdalen discovers the empty tomb, & sees Jesus standing nearby, & at first mistakes him for the gardener...

(some of this "gardener" impulse surfaces at the very end of Stubborn Grew... the Joycean bit with Anna Akhmatova rambling on pilgrimage toward Oxford to get her honorary degree, cheered on by rural farm-folk...)

I think this kind of visionary impulse underlies three deep & ancient channels of intellectual labor : epic/dramatic poetry, prophetic witness, & philosophy... it underlies Dante's integration of political & theological hope.

Here the historical work of Redemption replaces the cyclical or fatalistic tendency of traditional religion and Stoic philosophy... this-world optimism replaces otherworldly pessimism... Russian Acmeism supercedes Symbolism...

(there is some of this also in the "Joachimite" (Joachim of Fiore - another Joycean figure) undercurrent in that other book, Rest Note...)

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