The organization How to make facial hari grow registered Faith seeking understanding latin Poland as an NGO understqnding Once he was in 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. He says in On Free Choice of the Will 2. The feast of Saint Anselm on 21st April provides an appropriate occasion to offer reflections on his thought, especially reflections which are also relevant to the purpose of this Jesuit journal, Faith seeking understanding latin Faith. Therefore if that than which nothing greater can exist is just in the mind, then that than which nothing greater can exist is something than which something greater can exist: which surely understabding be the case. God must, for example, be omnipotent. He left home at twenty-three, and after three years of apparently aimless travelling through Burgundy and France, he came to Normandy in It means that faith comes before understanding. Because he is our parish patron, today is a Solemnity for us here in northeast Philly. Hintikka ed.
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- Today, April 21st, is the feast of St.
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- The Proslogion Latin Proslogium ; English translation, Discourse on the Existence of God , written in —, was written as a prayer, or meditation, by the medieval cleric Anselm which serves to reflect on the attributes of God and endeavours to explain how God can have qualities which often seem contradictory.
On the feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Professor Jack Mahoney SJ assesses the lasting contribution to Christian thought of this eleventh century monk, and also notes some limitations we might yet need to overcome. The feast of Saint Anselm on 21st April provides an appropriate occasion to offer reflections on his thought, especially reflections which are also relevant to the purpose of this Jesuit journal, Thinking Faith.
Recognised now as the leading Christian thinker of the eleventh century, Anselm was born in Italy and became abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Bec in France before moving to England where he was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in the wake of the Norman conquest.
The ontological argument takes a different line, starting from the idea of God; and since Anselm first enthusiastically developed it, it has teased generations of thinkers, appealing to such diverse figures as Descartes Copleston and Bertrand Russell Southern From this it continued,. The result was that Jesus became depicted as paying his life over to the devil in an exchange agreed between God and Satan for the release of the captive human race and its return to its original lord.
Kelly , Obviously, there was a need to make up for that grave dishonour, yet humankind in its sinful state could not begin to offer anything like sufficient compensation or proportional satisfaction for such an offence. Echoing the Anselmian and tridentine doctrine, the Catholic Catechism has continued to teach no.
The phrase appealed to him so much that he mentions having planned at one time to use it as a title for one of his theological studies Migne PL ; and it provides a view of theology which has stood the test of time and may be considered especially appropriate today.
To link belief in religion and its tenets with continuing intellectual enquiry into the content and the implications of such beliefs has the merit not only of respecting the divine revelation imparted to us by God but also of equally respecting the faculty of reasoning with which human believers have been endowed by their creator.
Of course, the point of theology is not to make beliefs totally transparent to understanding. Otherwise we succumb to a one-sided tendency of stressing belief to the exclusion of understanding and giving way to the arbitrary byways of fideism or to unreflective biblicism and fundamentalism. First, it might be thought of as somewhat over-cerebral, concentrating on purely intellectual activity, such as we have seen Anselm himself apparently reveling in as he developed his ontological proof for the existence of God.
Secondly, allied to that, his description of theology as faith seeking understanding may not pay sufficient attention to the cultural environment of our understanding at any particular time, or to the surrounding context of human experience within which it is being exercised.
As I wrote,. The idea of considering Jesus as offering by means of a painful death some kind of compensation to God for a serious dishonour committed against the divine majesty is scarcely one with which we are disposed to sympathise today. It involves a continual testing of our faith in the light of increasing human experience, as it involves an unending interpreting of that experience in the light of our belief.
As such it is a human activity which can never be completed nor perfect this side of heaven. In celebrating the feast of St Anselm appropriately it is useful to recall, by way of conclusion, how Socrates once observed that the unexamined life is not worth living Apology 38a; Plato So God must exist? If it were just in the mind it can be thought of as existing in reality also: which is something greater. Therefore if that than which nothing greater can exist is just in the mind, then that than which nothing greater can exist is something than which something greater can exist: which surely cannot be the case.
But a being which actually exists is greater than a being which is only thought to exist. Therefore God actually exists. As I wrote, It is, if we may so express it, a matter of trying to make faith-sense of experience, and at the same time of making experience-sense of faith; of finding an overall context of a meaning and purpose to life within which to locate all our ordinary experiences and interrelate them, and at the same time of continually checking such a vision of life against each new experience as it arises.
Saint and Scholar , ed. Copleston, F. Kelly, J. Mahoney, J. Plato , The Last Days of Socrates , trans. Tredennick, London, Penguin Classics. Southern, R.
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Saint Anselm (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
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 born 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 in 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 reputation, and under his leadership the school at Bec had become an important 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 in , Anselm 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 —76 , the Proslogion —78 , and his four philosophical dialogues: De grammatico —60 , De veritate , and De libertate arbitrii , and 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 the 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. When William was killed in , his 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 Verbi , Cur Deus Homo —98 , De conceptu virginali , De processione Spiritus Sancti , the Epistola de sacrificio azymi et fermentati —7 , De sacramentis ecclesiae —7 , and 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.
But Anselm is not hoping to replace faith with understanding. 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.
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. Things that are good through another i.
In chapter 2 he 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.
So ii collapses into i , and 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. The only question is how many beings occupy that highest level of all.
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 with some one thing. On the other hand, if that thing is distinct from them, then they do not occupy the highest level after all.
Instead, 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 Monologion , Anselm 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 Proslogion , he wanted to find.
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 reject , Anselm's argument goes like this. Is it possible to convince the fool that he is wrong? It is. But whatever is understood exists in the understanding, just as the plan of a painting he has yet to execute already exists in the understanding of the painter.
So that than which a greater cannot be thought exists in the understanding. But if it exists in the understanding, it must also exist 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 be possible to think of something greater than it namely, that same being existing in reality as 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 greater cannot be thought; and that, obviously, is a contradiction. So that than 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.
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. 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 offered 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.
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.
For example,. Once we have formed this idea of that than which a greater cannot be thought, Anselm says, we can see that such a being has features that cannot belong to a possible but non-existent object — or, in 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, it would not be that than which a greater cannot be thought after 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 is developed at length in Visser and Williams , chapter 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 Monologion , Anselm would consider the Proslogion a failure.
But in fact the concept of that than which nothing greater can be thought turns out to be marvelously fertile. God must, for example, be omnipotent. For if he were not, we could conceive of a being greater than he. But God is that than which no greater can be thought, so he must be omnipotent. Similarly, God must be just, self-existent, invulnerable to suffering, merciful, timelessly eternal, non-physical, non-composite, and so forth.
For if he lacked any of these qualities, he would be less than the greatest conceivable being, which is impossible. The ontological argument thus works as a sort of divine-attribute-generating machine. Admittedly, though, the appearance of theoretical simplicity is somewhat misleading. That is, the ontological argument tells us that God has whatever characteristics it is better or greater to have than to lack, but it does not tell us which characteristics those are.
We must have some independent way of identifying them before we can plug them into the ontological argument and generate a full-blown conception of the divine nature.