Mikhail Khorkov

Professor Mikhail Khorkov is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of History of Western Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He studied history and philosophy in Moscow and Karlsruhe, and received his Ph.D. at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

From 1999 to 2013, he was Associate Professor for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at the Institute of History of Philosophy at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in Moscow; from 2013, he is engaged as Senior Fellow principally in research in the history of medieval philosophy and European philosophy of the 20th century at the Russian Academy of Sciences. From 2016 to 2017, he was COFUND Fellow at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt, Germany. His projects have been supported many times by such foundations as DAAD, ÖAD, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, German Literary Archives (DLA), Russian Foundation for Humanities. His research work is successfully combined with guest lectures and seminars (at the Universities of Bremen, Erfurt, and Salento, among others) and activities in advisory boards of the International Society for the Study of Medieval Philosophy (SIEPM) and Max Scheler Society (MSG).

Research project: Cusanus in Erfurt

My project attempts to clarify the extraordinary reception of the works of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) in the manuscripts from the Erfurt Charterhouse at the end of the 15th century. The main object of my study must be collected manuscripts Weimar, Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Q 50 and Q 51; Eisleben, Turmbibliothek St. Andreas 960; Berlin, SBB-PK, Ms theol. Latin oct. 89; Erfurt, Bistumsarchiv, Hist. 1 and Hist. 6, Wrocław, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, Cod. IV.F.54. This project is innovative for both research areas (Carthusian studies and Cusanus studies), to which it attaches a new perspective due to the fact that it unites them in one of the key points of their problem fields.

On the basis of my previous studies, the most promising and important is the study of the question of how the context of the practice of Carthusian intellectual meditation could affect the formation of a close connection of the De idiota dialogues of Nicholas of Cusa with his reading of Plato's dialogues during the preparation of his visitation to Erfurt and discussions with the Erfurt Carthusians on the nature of wisdom and mystical theology. Following Jean Gerson (1363-1429), the Erfurt Carthusians of the 15th century (Jacob de Paradiso, John de Indagine) gave an "affective" and "irrationalist" interpretation of the mystical theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. As far as we know, Nicholas of Cusa was very intensely involved in the discussions with Erfurt Carthusians on this topic during his visitation trip in 1451, when he was about two weeks in Erfurt at the end of May and the beginning of June.

Considering these facts, it is not excluded that the De Idiota dialogues were written in the context of the preparation of Cusanus legation trip to Germany. That is, they could be written in the context of the discussion with the German and especially Erfurt Carthusians about the nature of wisdom. In contrast to the Carthusians, Cusanus used as his main source the dialogues of Plato (in Latin translation), which his opponents could not yet read at that time. His position is not argued more strongly, but it is better reasoned, and, at the end, as the manuscripts show us, the Erfurt Carthusians largely recognized it.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2017 - 31 July 2018