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Desire and the Desirable: Nicholas de Cusa's Interfaith Imagination

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Modern psychology and psychoanalysis tell us about the importance of desire. But what is the meaning of desire? Can it account for itself? An older tradition reminds us of the distinction between desire and what is "desirable." In some philosophical perspectives, desire and the desirable are sharply separated, leading to the dichotomies between "is and ought" or "inclination and duty." However, can something be truly desirable if it is not also somehow desired? Some philosophers have tried to build a linkage; Aristotle famously connected "orexis" and "arete." This paper turns to Nicolaus of Cusa who delineated a path of existential transformation and pedagogy: the search for truth and goodness animated by love. Two aspects are singled out: his emphasis on concrete experiential learning; and his concern with interfaith imagination as a pathway to peace.

Affiliations: 1: University of Notre Dame


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