On Vision, the Finite and the Infinite

29 12 2009

Cusanus proposes that man must first accept the fact that no overlap can exist between the finite and the infinite. Accepting this separation allows the possibility of seeing the One in the many and the many in the One. In De Visione Dei, Cusanus sees the resolution of universal and particular exemplified in Rogier van der Weyden’s self-portrait. The eyes of the sitter, following both stationary and moving observers, are coinstantaneously fixed upon one viewer and all others, taking part, in synchronous fashion, in the movement of one and all. Cusanus says that we can know the divine when (in a manner similar to the self-portrait) we begin to approach God from infinitely multiple points of view, collecting these views in a unified vision, a visio intellectualis. True knowledge then, lies in accepting particularity and “allowing it to unfold in all its richness.” But even all this does not mean that we have mediated the difference between the finite and the infinite. Cusanus believed that any process beginning in the empirical would end in the empirical. To overcome this, we must replace the empirical with the spiritual, the spiritual universal content of humanity. Cusanus saw this universal content embodied in Christ, a natura media encompassing the finite and the infinite.

-Robert D. Huerta, Vermeer and Plato: Painting the Ideal