On 11 August 1464, Nicholas of Cusa (1401 – 1464) passed away in Umbria, Italy.
A passage from James Hannam’s book “God’s Philosophers” (2009):
–’The most original thinker of the fifteenth century was Nicholas of Cusa (1400–64) from Germany. His interests included mathematics, philosophy and theology. For his education he travelled to the university of Padua, where he received a doctorate in law, before leading an eventful life mixed up in ecclesiastical politics. In 1448 he was made a cardinal. Despite his busy professional career, he still found time to write important books on theology and philosophy. While returning from Constantinople on church business he conceived “On Learned Ignorance”, the book that made him famous. The title suggests that that book was not meant to be taken seriously, but learned ignorance is actually a method of discovering truths about God based on accepting what we cannot know. Nicholas’s views are not always easy to comprehend but to us, they can seem quite inspired. He argued that in order to reflect God’s majesty, the universe he created would have to be limitless, if not quite infinite. He continues: ‘Therefore, the earth cannot be in the centre … and just as the earth is not at the centre of the universe, so the sphere of the fixed stars is not its outer border.’ He continues that the earth must also be moving although, and this comes straight from John Buridan, we do not notice because we are riding along with it. Most radically, he reduces the earth to just another star (albeit the most important one) and suggests that alien life forms could exist elsewhere in the universe. At the time, no one would have objected to this kind of speculation as long as it stayed hypothetical. As Nicholas could not prove anything, he simply postulated ideas to see what they looked like. He probably never dreamed that within two centuries of his death, his speculations would be found to have been uncannily accurate.’
Source: Hannam, James. “God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science.” (London, UK: Icon Books Ltd, 2009)