Saint Anselm of Canterbury (–) was the outstanding . And in the Proslogion Anselm sets out to convince “the fool,” that is, the. PROSLOGION. CON LAS RÉPLICAS DE GAUNILÓN Y ANSELMO by San Anselmo de Canterbury and a great selection of related books, art and collectibles. 3. Anselmo de Canterbury – Proslogion (fragmento).pdf – Download as PDF File . pdf) or read online.

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Saint Anselm of Canterbury — was the outstanding Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century. In what follows I examine Anselm’s theistic proofs, his conception of the divine nature, and his account of human freedom, sin, and redemption. Anselm was ajselmo in near Aosta, in those days a Burgundian town on the frontier with Lombardy. Little is known of his early life. He left home at twenty-three, and after three years of apparently aimless travelling through Burgundy and France, he came to Normandy in Once he was ve Normandy, Anselm’s interest was captured by the Benedictine abbey at Bec, whose famous school was under the direction of Lanfranc, the abbey’s prior.

Lanfranc was a scholar and teacher of wide proslovion, and under his leadership the school at Bec had become an prosloigon center of learning, especially in dialectic. In Anselm entered the abbey as a novice. His intellectual and spiritual gifts brought him rapid advancement, and when Lanfranc was appointed abbot of Caen inAnselm was elected to succeed him as prior. He was elected abbot in upon the death of Herluin, the founder and first abbot of Bec.

Under Anselm’s leadership the reputation of Bec as an intellectual center grew, and Anselm managed to write a good deal of philosophy and theology in addition to his teaching, administrative duties, and extensive correspondence as an adviser and counsellor to rulers and nobles all over Europe and beyond.

His works while at Bec include the Monologion —76the Proslogion —78and his four philosophical ansekmo De grammatico —60De veritateand De libertate arbitriiand De casu diaboli — In Anselm was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The previous Archbishop, Anselm’s old master Lanfranc, had died four years earlier, but the King, William Rufus, had left csnterbury see vacant in order to plunder the archiepiscopal revenues.

Anselm was understandably reluctant to undertake the primacy of the Church of England under a ruler as ruthless and venal as William, and his tenure as Archbishop proved to be as turbulent and vexatious as he must have feared.

William was intent on maintaining royal authority over ecclesiastical affairs and would not be dictated to by Archbishop or Pope or anyone else. So, for example, when Anselm went to Rome in without the King’s permission, William would not allow him to return.

Saint Anselm (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

When William was killed inhis successor, Henry I, invited Anselm to return to his see. But Henry was as intent as William had been on maintaining royal jurisdiction over the Church, and Anselm found himself in exile again from to Despite these distractions and troubles, Anselm continued to write.

His works as Archbishop of Canterbury include the Epistola de Incarnatione VerbiCur Deus Homo —98De conceptu virginaliDe processione Spiritus Sanctithe Epistola de sacrificio azymi et fermentati —7De sacramentis cantegbury —7and De concordia —8. Anselm died on 21 April He was canonized in and named a Doctor of the Church in This motto lends itself to at least two misunderstandings.

First, many philosophers have taken it to mean that Anselm hopes to replace faith with understanding. The theistic proofs are then interpreted as the means by which we come to have philosophical insight into things we previously believed solely on testimony.

Anselm of Canterbury

But Anselm is not hoping to replace faith with understanding. Faith for Anselm is more a volitional state than an epistemic state: For the abbreviations used in references, see the Bibliography below. Hence, they argue, the theistic arguments proposed by faith seeking understanding are not really meant to convince unbelievers; they are intended solely for the edification of those who already believe.

This too is a misreading of Anselm’s motto. For although the theistic proofs are borne of an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of the beloved, the proofs themselves are intended to be convincing even to unbelievers. Thus Anselm opens the Monologion with these words:.


Having clarified what Anselm takes himself to be doing in his theistic proofs, we can now examine the proofs themselves. In the first chapter of the Monologion Anselm argues that there must be some one thing that is supremely good, through which all good things have their goodness. For whenever we say that different things are F in different degrees, we must understand them as being F through F -ness; F -ness itself is the same in each of them.

Anselm of Canterbury – Wikipedia

Now we speak of things as being good in different degrees. So by the principle just stated, these things must be good through some one thing. Clearly that thing is itself a great good, since it is the source of the goodness of all other things. Moreover, that thing proslgoion good through itself ; after all, if all good things are good through that thing, it follows trivially that that thing, being good, is good through itself.

Things that are good through another i. In chapter 2 proslogionn applies the principle of chapter 1 in order to derive again the conclusion that there is something supremely great. In chapter 3 Anselm argues that all existing things exist through some one thing. Every existing thing, he begins, exists either through something or through nothing. But of course nothing exists through nothing, so every existing thing exists through something.

There is, then, either some one thing through which all existing things exist, or there is more than one such thing. If there is more than one, either i they all exist through some one thing, or ii each of them exists through itself, or iii they exist through each other. So ii collapses into iand there is some one thing through which all things exist.

That one thing, of course, exists through itself, and so it is greater than all the other things. For example, a horse is better than wood, and a human being is more excellent than a horse. The only question is how many beings occupy that highest level of all. Is there just one, or are there more than one? Suppose there are more than one. By hypothesis, they must all be equals. If they are equals, they are equals through the same thing.

That thing is either identical with them or distinct from them. If it is identical with them, then they are not in fact many, but one, since they are all identical anseljo some one thing. On the other hand, if that thing is distinct from them, then they do not occupy the highest level after all.

Proslkgion, that thing is greater than they are. Either way, there can be only one being occupying the highest level of all. He then goes on in chapters 5—65 to derive the attributes that must belong to the being who fits this description.

But before we look at Anselm’s understanding of the divine attributes, we should turn to the famous proof in the Proslogion. Looking back on the sixty-five chapters of complicated argument in the MonologionAnselm found himself wishing for a simpler way to establish all the conclusions he wanted to prove. As he tells us in the preface to the Proslogionhe wanted to find. Or so it is commonly said: The proper way to state Anselm’s argument is a matter of dispute, and any detailed statement of the argument will beg interpretative questions.

But on a fairly neutral or consensus reading of the argument which I shall go on to rejectAnselm’s argument goes like this. Is it possible to convince the fool that he is wrong? But whatever is understood exists in the understanding, just as the plan of a painting he has lroslogion to execute already exists in the understanding of the painter.

D that than which a greater cannot be thought exists in the understanding. But if it exists in the understanding, it must also canterburyy in reality. For it is greater to exist in reality than to exist merely in the understanding. Therefore, if that than which a greater can be thought existed only in the understanding, it would proslogkon possible to think of something greater than it namely, that same being existing in reality proelogion well.


It follows, then, that if that than which a greater cannot be thought existed only in the understanding, it would not be that than which a cannterbury cannot be thought; and that, obviously, is a contradiction. So that camterbury which a greater cannot be thought must exist in reality, not merely in the understanding. Versions of this argument have been defended and criticized by a succession of philosophers from Anselm’s time through the present day see ontological arguments.

Our concern here is with Anselm’s own version, the criticism he encountered, and his response to that criticism. Gaunilo’s most famous objection is an argument intended to be exactly parallel to Anselm’s that generates an obviously absurd conclusion. But again following Anselm’s reasoning that island must exist in reality as well; for if it did not, we could imagine a greater island—namely, one that existed in reality—and the greatest conceivable island would not be the greatest conceivable island after all.

Surely, though, it is absurd to suppose that the greatest conceivable island actually exists in reality. Gaunilo concludes that Anselm’s reasoning is fallacious. Gaunilo’s counterargument is so ingenious that it stands out as by far the most devastating criticism in his catalogue of Anselm’s errors.

Not surprisingly, then, interpreters have read Anselm’s reply to Gaunilo primarily in order to find his rejoinder to the Lost Island argument. Sympathetic interpreters such as Klima have csnterbury ways for Anselm to respond, but at least one commentator Wolterstorff argues that Anselm offers no such rejoinder, precisely because he knew Gaunilo’s criticism was unanswerable but could not bring himself to admit that fact.

Saint Anselm

A more careful look at Anselm’s reply to Gaunilo, proslogioj, shows that Anselm offered no rejoinder to the Lost Island argument because he rejected Gaunilo’s interpretation of the original argument of the Proslogion. Gaunilo had understood the argument in the way I stated it above.

Anselm understood it quite differently. In particular, Anselm insists that the original argument did not rely on any general principle to the effect that a thing is greater when it exists in reality than when it exists only in the understanding. And since that is the principle that does the mischief in Gaunilo’s counterargument, Anselm sees no need to respond to the Lost Island argument in particular.

Correctly understood, Anselm says, the argument of the Proslogion can be summarized as follows:. Anselm defends 1 by showing how we can form a conception of that than which a greater cannot be thought on the basis of our experience and understanding of those things than which a greater can be thought. Answlmo we have formed this idea of that than which dee greater cannot be thought, Anselm says, we catnerbury see that such a being has features that cannot belong to a possible but non-existent object — or, cantefbury other words, that 2 is true.

For example, a being that is capable of non-existence is less great than a being that exists necessarily.

If that than which a greater cannot be thought does not exist, it is obviously capable of non-existence; and if it is capable of non-existence, then even if it were to exist, proalogion would not be that than which a greater cannot be thought canterury all. So if that than which a greater cannot be thought can be thought — that is, if it is a possible being — it actually exists.

This reading of the argument of the Proslogion prosloogion developed at length in Visser and Williamschapter 5. Recall that Anselm’s intention in the Proslogion was to offer a single argument that would establish not only the existence of God but also the various attributes that Christians believe God possesses. If the argument of chapter 2 proved only the existence of God, leaving the divine attributes to be established piecemeal as in the MonologionAnselm would consider the Proslogion a failure.