After Aquinas, Anselm is the most significant medieval thinker. Utterly convinced of the truth of the Christian religion, he was none the less determined to try to make sense of his Christian faith, and the result is a rigorous engagement with problems of logic which remain relevant for philosophers and theologians even today. This translation provides the first opportunity to read all of Anselm's most important works in one volume.
In the Proslogion, St. Anselm presents a philosophical argument for the existence of God. Anselm's proof, known since the time of Kant as the ontological argument for the existence of God, has played an important role in the history of philosophy and has been incorporated in various forms into the systems of Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel, and others. Included in this edition of the Proslogion are Gaunilo's "A Reply on Behalf of the Fool" and St. Anselm's "The Author's (...) Reply to Gaunilo." All three works are in the original Latin with English translation on facing pages. Professor Charlesworth's introduction provides a helpful discussion of the context of the Proslogion in the theological tradition and in Anselm's own thought and writing. (shrink)
The reason of faith -- Thought and language -- Truth -- The Monologion arguments for the existence of God -- The Proslogion argument for the existence of God -- The divine attributes -- Thinking and speaking about God -- Creation and the word -- The Trinity -- Modality -- Freedom -- Morality -- Incarnation and atonement -- Original sin, grace, and salvation.
The paper discusses Anselm's account of human finitude and freedom through his discussion of what it means to receive what we have from God in De casu diaboli. The essay argues that Anselm is considering the same issue as Jean Paul Sartre in his account of receiving a gift as incompatible with freedom. De casu diaboli takes up this same question, asking about how the finite will can be free, which requires that it have something per se, when (...) there is nothing, as St. Paul asserted in Romans, that we have not received. Anselm's notion that we have two wills, one for benefit or advantage, and one for justice, allows for something to come per se from the individual who wills and also accounts for the willing of the good angels as the acceptance of what they are and have as received and, hence, as finite. The essay concludes with reflection on Sartre and Camus's The Plague taking as the central ethical and existential problem of human life, as Anselm does, the problem of finitude, and comparing their responses. (shrink)
Ranging from his early treatises, the ’Monologion’ (a work written to show his monks how to meditate on the divine essence) and the ’Proslogion’ (best known for its advancement of the so-called ontological argument for the existence of God), to his three philosophical dialogues on metaphysical topics such as the relationship between freedom and sin, and late treatises on the Incarnation and salvation, this collection of Anselm’s essential writings will be of interest to students of the history of philosophy (...) and theology as well as to anyone interested in examining what Anselm calls "the reason of faith." (publisher). (shrink)
Introduction -- The pre-text : the dialectical origins of Anselm's argument -- The text -- Proslogion -- Pro insipiente -- Responsio -- Commentary on the Proslogion -- Anselm's defence and the Unum argumentum -- The medieval reception -- The modern reception -- Anselm's argument today -- Conclusion: The significance of Anselm's argument.
`For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand. For I believe this also, that unless I believe, I shall not understand.' Does God exist? Can we know anything about God's nature? Have we any reason to think that the Christian religion is true? What is truth, anyway? Do human beings have freedom of choice? Can they have such freedom in a world created by God? These questions, and others, (...) were ones which Anselm of Canterbury took very seriously. He was utterly convinced of the truth of the Christian religion, but he was also determined to try to make sense of his Christian faith. Recognizing that the Christian God is incomprehensible, he also believed that Christianity is not simply something to be swallowed with mouth open and eyes shut. For Anselm, the doctrines of Christianity are an invitation to question, to think, and to learn. Anselm is studied today because his rigour of thought and clarity of writing place him among the greatest of theologians and philosophers. This translation provides readers with their first opportunity to read all of his most important works within the covers of a single volume. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. (shrink)
In his monumental work Das Gastmahl des Platon (1869) the artist Anselm Feuerbach depicted the scene in Plato’s Symposium in which a drunken Alcibiades, accompanied by a band of revelers, enters the dining chamber of the house of the poet Agathon. We have reason to attribute three aims to the artist: (1) to recreate a famous scene from ancient Greek literature, making extensive use of recent archaeological discoveries in southern Italy; (2) through the depiction of a senate and dignified (...) Agathon, to convey a sense of the nobility of the ancient Greeks; and (3) to express in visual terms the contrast of reason with desire. As he set out to accomplish these objectives Feuerbach displayed considerable indifference to the details in Plato’s depiction. Thus, what Das Gastmahl offers us is less Plato’s symposium and more Feuerbach’s symposium, a visually striking but in several respects unfaithful recreation of the Platonic original. -/- . (shrink)
Introduction -- Anselm's classical theism -- The Augustinian legacy -- The purpose, definition, and structure of free choice -- Alternative possibilities and primary agency -- The causes of sin and the intelligibility problem -- Creaturely freedom and God as Creator Omnium -- Grace and free will -- Foreknowledge, freedom, and eternity : part I, the problem and historical background -- Foreknowledge, freedom, and eternity : part II, Anselm's solution -- The freedom of God.
In this brief essay, I argue that Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God achieves its effect through the verbal equivalent of a magician's "sleight-of-hand." More technically, the argument commits the informal fallacy of equivocation. I provide a brief analysis of the argument's text to demonstrate this.
This essay argues that Anselm’s Proslogium II is self-invalidating and that it must be so in order for Proslogium III to be a valid argument. It begins by differentiating between necessary existence, logical possibility, and contingency, establishing that necessary existence can never be treated as a matter of logical possibility. In turn, possibility must always be defined alongside the concept of contingency. It is then further shown that necessity can in no sense be possible, for the possible implies the (...) contingent at some future time. In the context of Anselm’s Proslogium II, this means that the proposition that that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-conceived could exist invalidates Anselm’s conclusion that it does exist in reality for it confines Deity to contingent actuality only. Furthermore, it is shown that the conclusion of Proslogium III—that a necessary being is that than which nothing greater can be conceived—rests on the invalidity of the contingent actuality established in Proslogium II, which is shown to be invalid retrospectively as a logical consequence of the validity of III and prospectively as the condition for the validity of III. It is not that III is merely the stronger of the two arguments; it is, if correct, the only valid argument. (shrink)
A good place to start in assessing a theory of truth is to ask whether the theory under discussion is consistent with Aristotle’s commonsensical definition of truth from Metaphysics 4: “What is false says of that which is that it is not, or of that which is not that it is; and what is true says of that which is that it is, or of that which is not that it is not.”1 Philosophers of a realist bent will be delighted (...) to see that Anselm unambiguously adopts the Aristotelian commonplace. A statement is true, he says, “when it signifies that what‐is is.”2 But the theory of truth that Anselm builds on this observation is one that would surely have confounded Aristotle. For no matter what the topic, Anselm’s thinking always eagerly returns to God; and the unchallenged centrality of God in Anselm’s philosophical explorations is nowhere more in evidence than in his account of truth. Indeed, we see in the student’s opening question in De veritate that the entire discussion has God as its origin and its aim: “Since we believe that God is truth, and we say that truth is in many other things, I would like to know whether, wherever truth is said to be, we must acknowledge that God is that truth.”3 The student then reminds Anselm that in the Monologion he had argued from the truth of statements to an eternal Supreme Truth. Does this not commit Anselm (the student seems to be asking) to holding that God himself is somehow the truth of true statements? But what definition of truth could make sense of such an odd claim? Anselm is happy to take up the challenge of showing that his description of God as “Supreme Truth” is no mere metaphor, but the expression of the deepest insight into the nature of truth. An account of truth is just theology under a different name. This first distinctive characteristic of Anselm’s theory, the centrality of God as Supreme Truth, helps account for a second distinctive characteristic: its strong insistence on the unity of truth. All truth either is God or somehow reflects God; thus, one simple being provides the.... (shrink)
Anselm of Canterbury, in his work Proslogion," originated the "ontological argument" for God's existence, famously arguing that "something than which nothing greater can be conceived," which he identifies with God, must actually exist, for otherwise something greater could indeed be conceived. Some commentators have claimed that although Anselm may not have been conscious of the fact, the Proslogion "as well as his Reply to Gaunilo" contains passages that constitute a second independent proof: a "modal ontological argument" that concerns (...) the supposed logical necessity of God's existence. Other commentators disagree, countering that the alleged second argument does not stand on its own but presupposes the conclusion of the first. Anselm's Other Argument "stakes an original claim in this debate, and takes it further. There is" a second a priori" argument in Anselm, A. D. Smith contends, but it is not the modal argument past scholars have identified. This second argument surfaces in a number of forms, though always turning on certain deep, interrelated metaphysical issues. It is this form of argument that in fact underlies several of the passages which have been misconstrued as statements of the modal argument. In a book that combines historical research with rigorous philosophical analysis, Smith discusses this argument in detail, finally defending a modification of it that is implicit in Anselm. This "other argument" bears a striking resemblance to one that Duns Scotus would later employ. (shrink)
This article provides an explanation of Anselm’s understanding of necessity. Anselm did not write much about modality, and what he did write is puzzling. The dominant readings of Anselm see him as having two concepts of necessity, one merely physical or causal, the other logical or “alethic.” This article argues that Anselm has just one concept of necessity, which corresponds best to what is now called broadly logical or absolute necessity, but whose metaphysics is in terms (...) of powers and lacks of power. The rival interpretations of A. D. Smith, Thomas Williams, and Sandra Visser are discussed and criticized in detail. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 53, Issue 2-4, pp 194 - 220 This paper offers an interpretation of Anselm of Canterbury’s semantic doctrines in _De Grammatico_, paying special attention to five distinctions present in the dialogue: _dicitur in eo quod quale/dicitur in eo quod quid, esse ut in subiecto/esse non ut in subiecto, significare/appellare, significare ut unum/significare non ut unum_ and _significare per se/significare per aliud_. It elucidates the theoretical role of these distinctions, showing that they are introduced with different purposes (...) and that conflation between them must be avoided. Three specific features of this interpretation are the following: an analysis of the distinction between _significare_ and _appellare_ in relation to the orders of intellection and predication, an account of the difference between predication _in eo quod quid/in eo quod quale_ and essential and accidental predication, and an analysis of the thesis that ‘_grammaticus_’ not only signifies _per se qualitas_, but also _per se habere_. (shrink)
In Anselm on Freedom Katherin Rogers investigates Anselm's attempt to provide room for genuine creaturely freedom in a world in which a perfect being is altogether sovereign. She begins with two chapters of general background. Chapter 1, "Anselm's Classical Theism," reads like a grab bag of brief essays on Anselm's account of the divine nature, the relationship between Creator and creature, theological semantics, the problem of evil, and the relationship between God and the moral order. Chapter (...) 2, "The Augustinian Legacy," is devoted to an exposition of Augustine's account of freedom and the fall. (shrink)
Saint Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God, formulated nearly a millennium ago, continues to bedevil philosophers. There is no consensus about what, if anything, is wrong with it. Some philosophers insist that the argument is invalid. Others concede its validity but insist that it is unsound. A third group of philosophers maintain that Anselm begs the question. It has been argued, for example, that Anselm’s use of the name “God” in a premise assumes (or presupposes) (...) precisely what has to be proved, namely, that God exists. Another tack is to argue that the premise that God is possible implies or presupposes the conclusion that God exists, or perhaps that, in order to know that God is possible, one must know that God exists. Just as no consensus has emerged about what, if anything, is wrong with Anselm’s argument, no consensus has emerged about whether the argument begs the question. In this essay, I focus on the second type of claim made by the third group of philosophers—the claim that Anselm’s argument begs the question by assuming, as a premise, that God is possible. In particular, I focus on the argument of the contemporary analytic philosopher William Rowe, who has claimed, since at least 1975, that Anselm’s ontological argument begs the question. I argue that Rowe’s argument fails. (shrink)
In this paper we offer a reconstruction of Anselm’s account of freedom that resolves various apparent inconsistencies. The linchpin of this account is the definition of freedom. Anselm argues that the power to preserve rectitude for its own sake requires the power to initiate an action of which the agent is the ultimate cause, but it does not always require that alternative possibilities be available to the agent. So while freedom is incompatible with coercion and external causal determination, (...) an agent can, under certain circumstances, act freely even though he cannot act otherwise than he does. (shrink)
In Proslogion II, Anselm writes: "But surely when this same Fool hears what I am speaking about, namely ‘something-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought’, he understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his mind, even if he does not understand that it actually exists. … Even the Fool, then, is forced to agree that something-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought exists in the mind, since he understands this when he hears it, and whatever is understood is in the mind." In this paper, I provide a careful (...) analysis of this argument. In my view, this is where the important action in Proslogion II is located. (shrink)
St Anselm is one of the major thinkers of the medieval epoch of the history of philosophy. Interest in Anselm usually focuses on his discussion of the problem of the existence of God especially as contained in the Proslogion. Indeed Anselm is mostly known for his attempt to proof the existence of God in the Proslogion. The argument he advances here which goes by the name ontological argument has been a point of reference all through the history (...) of Western philosophy and is usually viewed as his most substantive contributions to philosophy of religion, with Hume and Kant criticizing it in the eighteenth century and thinkers such as Hartshorne, Malcom and Plantinga endorsing it in the Twentieth century. Like Augustine before him and Aquinas after him, Anselm did not see any opposition between faith and reason, or again, between philosophy and theology, as he was concerned with providing rational ground for the doctrines of Christianity which he already accepted as a matter of faith. Indeed as commentators rightly note, Anselm’s thought can be summed up in the Augustinian dictum, “faith seeks understanding”, so that he is arguably one of the early pioneers of Christian theology, so far as he sees certain solidarity between faith and reason, with reason providing the excellent service of rational clarification of what we accept by faith. The inter-play Anselm sees as subsisting between faith and reason is one we must take into account if we must appreciate his contributions to theology and metaphysics, for this consideration permeates the whole of his thought. For him clearly, that there is no divorce between faith and reason means concretely that “I do not seek to understand in other that I may believe, but rather I believe in order that I may understand”. (shrink)
The title refers to Anselm's insight into the modal uniqueness of the divine existence and the proof based upon it in Proslogium III. Hartshorne continues his vigorous defense of "the Proof," his polemic against its critics, most of whom confuse it with the weaker one in Proslogium II, and his attempt to show that Anselm's discovery is ultimately viable only in the context of neo-classical theism. In the second half of the book a variety of responses to the (...) proof, from Gaunilo to several contemporaries, are examined and criticized. While this does not add substantially to the presentation and defense of the argument given in the first half, it does provide ample evidence of the way in which a host of philosophical questions are brought into sharp focus by reflecting on Anselm. Some of these, e.g., the theory of modalities, receive important attention which was lacking in The Logic of Perfection. The author's own position has not changed, though he now seems more impressed than previously by Barth's treatment of Anselm.—M. W. (shrink)
Saint Anselm’s proof for God’s existence in his Proslogion, as the label “ontological” retrospectively hung on it indicates, is usually treated as involving some sophisticated problem of, or a much less sophisticated tampering with, the concept of existence. In this paper I intend to approach Saint Anselm’s reasoning from a somewhat different angle.
Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) was the outstanding Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century. He is best known for the celebrated “ontological argument” for the existence of God in chapter two of the Proslogion, but his contributions to philosophical theology (and indeed to philosophy more generally) go well beyond the ontological argument. In what follows I examine Anselm's theistic proofs, his conception of the divine nature, and his account of human freedom, sin, and redemption.
The chapter presents Anselm’s incompatibilist account of human freedom within the context of his theodicy and presents two arguments against his account. Both arguments aim to show there is a genuine conflict between his account of freedom and the role of God’s grace in making agents just. The first argument, the problem of harmonization, highlights the conflict within the soteriological context where an agent changes from being unjust to being just. The second argument, the problem of just creation, highlights (...) the conflict within the context of the creation of agents prior to the presence of evil. Holding fixed his incompatibilist account and the necessity of divine grace, the upshot of both arguments is that Anselm must endorse a version of Pelagianism. (shrink)
Anselm is commonly credited with two a priori arguments for God's existence, the non-modal argument of Proslogion 2 and a modal argument some find in Proslogion 3. But his Reply to Gaunilo contains a third. The argument as Anselm gives it has flaws, but they are not fatal, and its main premise can serve as the basis of a simpler, stronger argument.
Can human beings be free and responsible if there is an all-powerful God? Anselm of Canterbury offers viable answers to questions which have plagued religious people for at least two thousand years. Katherin Rogers examines Anselm's reconciliation of human free will and divine omnipotence in the context of current philosophical debates.
Saint Anselm’s ontological argument is usually interpreted either (1) as an attempt to deductively prove God’s existence or (2) as a form of prayer, which is not intended to “prove” God’s existence, but rather to deepen the devotion of those who already believe. In this paper I attempt to find a mean between these two interpretations, showing that while Anselm’s argument is not a deductive proof, it is nevertheless a proof of God’s existence. I argue that Anselm’s (...) ontological argument is analogous to Aristotle’s to elegktikōs apodeixai (retorsive argument) for the truth of the principle of non-contradiction in Metaphysics IV: an argument that does not move from premises to conclusion, but rather demonstrates the truth of its conclusion by showing that its conclusion is always presupposed. I argue that interpreting Anselm’s ontological argument in this way exempts it from the most common objections against it. (shrink)
In the _Proslogion_, St. Anselm presents a philosophical argument for the existence of God. Anselm's proof, known since the time of Kant as the ontological argument for the existence of God, has played an important role in the history of philosophy and has been incorporated in various forms into the systems of Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel, and others. Included in this edition of the_ Proslogion _are Gaunilo's "A Reply on Behalf of the Fool" and St. Anselm's "The Author's (...) Reply to Gaunilo." All three works are in the original Latin with English translation on facing pages. Professor Charlesworth's introduction provides a helpful discussion of the context of the _Proslogion_ in the theological tradition and in Anselm's own thought and writing. (shrink)
Anselm's "Cur Deus" Homo argues that only by the Incarnation can God save humanity. This seems to sit ill with the claim that God is omnipotent and absolutely free, for this entails that God could save humanity in other ways. I show that features of Anselm's concept of God and treatment of necessity make the claim that the Incarnation is a necessary means of salvation problematic. I then show that for Anselm, all conditions which make the Incarnation (...) necessary for human salvation stem from God's nature and prior choices. If so, the Incarnation's necessity restricts neither God's freedom nor His power. For that the Incarnation is necessary given God's actual choices does not entail that it would have been necessary had God made other choices, or that God could not have made choices which would have made the Incarnation non-necessary. (shrink)
In his paper “St. Anselm’s ontological argument succumbs to Russell’s paradox” Christopher Viger presents a critique of Anselm’s Argument from the second chapter of Proslogion. Viger claims there that he manages to show that the greater than relation that Anselm used in his proof leads to inconsistency. I argue firstly, that Viger does not show what he maintains to show, secondly, that the flaw is not in the nature of Anselm’s reasoning but in Viger’s (mis)understanding of (...)Anselm as well as in Viger’s (mis)application of some set-theoretical notions. I also describe some features of Anselmian greater than relation, which indeed plays a crucial role in his Ontological Argument. Last but not least, I present the Argument itself. (shrink)
Anselm’s argument for the existence of God in Proslogion 2 has a little-noticed feature: It can be properly formulated only by beings who have the ability to think of things and refer to things independently of whether or not they exist in reality. The authors explore this cognitive ability and try to make clear the role it plays in the ontological argument. Then, we offer a new version of the ontological argument, which, we argue, is sound: it is valid, (...) has true premises, and does not beg any questions against the atheist. However, the new reconstruction of the argument falls short of Anselm’s goal of producing “a single argument that would require no other for its proof than itself alone; and alone would suffice to demonstrate that God exists.” The new reconstruction requires a subsidiary argument to show that God exists in the understanding. The subsidiary argument relies on premises that are both contingent and known a posteriori. However, the somewhat amplified argument, if it is sound as the authors believe it to be, does show that God exists in reality. Moreover, the new reconstruction escapes an important recent criticism by Peter Millican (2004, 2007) against ontological arguments generally. (shrink)
It is characteristic of Anselm to adopt the formulations of his authorities while giving them meanings of his own, hiding conceptual disagreement by means of verbal echoes. Anselm's considerable originality sometimes goes unnoticed because readers see the standard Augustinian language and miss the fact that Anselm uses it to state un-Augustinian views. One striking instance of Anselm's quiet radicalism is his understanding of free choice and the fall. He seems to uphold standard Augustinian privation theory when (...) he affirms that injustice is merely an absence of justice where justice should be; he seems also to be committed to the standard Augustinian view that everything that has being is created by God. A closer examination, however, shows that Anselm clearly has qualms about whether privation theory can do all of the work to which Augustine had tried to put it; and Anselm actually affirms that every free choice has being and yet is not created by God. I begin by showing that Anselm regards unjust acts a.. (shrink)
Scholars were greatly indebted to Max Charlesworth for publishing in 1965 the Latin text of Anselm’s Proslogion, together with his own translation and commentary. The intense discussion this argument has received since then has, however, clarified a number of points about the logic of this argument. Its first premise is not a definition of God, and that identification is one of the conclusions of a three-stage argument. Also, the much-discussed issue of the relation of Chap. 3 to Chap. 2 (...) has now been clarified: that the premise with which Anselm begins Chap. 3 is entailed by the conclusion of Chap. 2. For that reason, substituting a description of anything other than God for Anselm’s formula, such as Gaunilo’s Lost Island, entails that that thing both can and could not be thought not to exist. So, no such substitution is legitimate. (shrink)
We offer a reading of Anselm's Ontological Argument inspired by Wittgenstein which focuses on the fact that the “argument” occurs in a prayer addressed to God, making it a strange argument since as a prayer it seems to presuppose its conclusion. We reconstruct the argument as expressive. Within the religious perspective, the issues are to be focused on the right object not to present an argument for the existence of God. While this sort of reading lets us understand much (...) about the argument, it also opens new avenues of criticism, one of which is the problem of worship. (shrink)
"Anselm of Canterbury gave the first modal "ontological" argument for God's existence. Yet, despite its distinct originality, philosophers have mostly avoided the question of what modal concepts the argument uses, and whether Anselm's metaphysics entitles him to use them. Here, Brian Leftow sets out Anselm's modal metaphysics. He argues that Anselm has an "absolute", "broadly logical", or "metaphysical" modal concept, and that his metaphysics provides acceptable truth makers for claims in this modality. He shows that his (...) modal argument is committed to the Brouwer system of modal logic, and defends the claim that Brouwer is part of the logic of "absolute" or "metaphysical" modality. He also defends Anselm's premise that God would exist with absolute necessity against all extant objections, providing new arguments in support of it and ultimately defending all but one premise of Anselm's best argument for God's existence"--. (shrink)