According to Nicholas of Cusa, doxology is the highest form of science. This is so because a response of praise is a response to the inherent goodness of a thing. As Johannes Hoff explains (The Analogical Turn: Rethinking Modernity with Nicholas of Cusa, 19), “if our praise is genuine, and not just the expression of a herd instinct, we judge something to be good because it makes us wonder and praise without requiring that we give any thought about what we are doing.” Praise is “pre-reflexive” recognition of the goodness of God.

In Hoff’s view, this liturgical setting for knowledge supported the “innovative” and the “conservative” side of Cusa’s thought, and held the two sides together.

“Throughout his life, Cusa’s philosophical theology oscillated between the early modern enthusiasm for social, cultural, and technical innovations that transcend our natural possibilities, and the humble admiration of a reality which goes ‘beyond all capacity of reason and beyond every most lofty intellectual assent.’”

He recognized the reality of human progress, and “would have concurred that the enthusiasm for the unprecedented and new might occasionally open up possibilities that appeared as impossible for earlier generations (like the moon landing, the modern cinema, or the intercontinental transmission of information at the speech of light).”At the same time, he stressed “the limitations of our analytic rationality in the face of an ‘impossibility’ that exceeds the rationality of our proportional knowledge by necessity” (21).

We may embrace scientific discovery, but only in “the light of our docta ignorantia with regard to the One ‘who fashioned all things from out of His praises and for the sake of His praise.’” Because of this, “only the praise of God can preserve our truth-seeking mind from the analytic pretensions of a disoriented rationality for its own sake. Whenever scientists praise the selective achievements of human progress more than the glory of their creator . . . , the philosophical quest for knowledge becomes caught up in a maze of self-deception” (22).