St. Anselm: Proslogium; Monologium: An Appendix In Behalf Of The Fool By Gaunilo;
And Cur Deus Homo, Translated From The Latin By Sidney Norton Deane, B. A. With An
Introduction, Bibliography, And Reprints Of The Opinions Of Leading Philosophers And
Writers On The Ontological Argument, (Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,, 1903,
THE present volume of St. Anselm's most important philosophical and theological
writings contains: (1) The Proslogium (2) the Monologium, (3) the Cur
Deus Homo, and (4) by way of historical complement, an Appendix to the Monologium entitled In Behalf of the Fool by Gaunilo, a monk
The Proslogium (which, though subsequent in point of time to the Monologium,
is here placed first, as containing the famous ontological argument), the Monologium and the Appendix thereto were translated by Mr. Sidney Norton Deane, of New Haven, Conn.;
the Cur Deus Homo was rendered by James Gardiner Vose, formerly of Milton, Conn.,
and later of Providence, R. I., and published in 1854 and 1855 in the Bibliotheca Sacra,
then issued at Andover, Mass., by Warren F. Draper. The thanks of the reading public are
due to all these gentlemen for their gratuitous labors in behalf of philosophy.
Welch's recent book Anselm and His Work, by its accessibility, renders any
extended biographical notice of Anselm unnecessary. We append, therefore, merely a few
brief paragraphs from Weber's admirable History of Philosophy on Anselm's position
in the world of thought, and we afterwards add (this, at the suggestion of Prof. George M.
Duncan, of Yale University) a series of quotations regarding Anselm's most characteristic
contribution to philosophy --the ontological argument --from Descartes, Spinoza,
Locke, Leibnitz, Kant, Hegel, Dorner, Lotze, and Professor Flint. A bibliography also has
been compiled. Thus the work will give full material and indications for the original
study of one of the greatest exponents of Christian doctrine.
Weber's History of Philosophy. Trans. by F. Thilly. New York
Scribner's. Price, $2 50
"The first really speculative thinker after Scotus is St. Anselm, the disciple of
Lanfranc. He was born at Aosta (1033), entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy (1060),
succeeded Lanfranc as Abbot (1078), and as Archbishop of Canterbury (1093). He died in
1109. He left a great number of writings, the most important of which are: the Dialogus
de grammatico, the Monologium de divinitatis essentia sive Exemplum de ratione
fidei, the Proslogium sive Fides quoerens intellectum, the De veritate,
the De fide trinitatis, and the Cur Deus Homo?
"The second Augustine, as St. Anselm had been called, starts out from the same
principle as the first; he holds that faith precedes all reflection and all discussion
concerning religious things. The unbelievers, he says, strive to understand because they
do not believe; we, on the contrary, strive to understand because we believe. They and
we have the same object in view; but inasmuch as they do not believe, they cannot
arrive at their goal, which is to understand the dogma. The unbeliever will never
understand. In religion faith plays the part played by experience in the understanding of
the things of this world. The blind man cannot see the light, and therefore does not
understand it; the deaf-mute, who has never perceived sound, cannot have a clear idea of
sound. Similarly, not to believe means not to perceive, and not to perceive means not to
understand. Hence, we do not reflect in order that we may believe; on the contrary, we
believe in order that we may arrive at knowledge. A Christian ought never to doubt the
beliefs and teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. All he can do is to strive, as humbly
as possible, to understand her teachings by believing them, to love them, and resolutely
to observe them in his daily life. Should he succeed in understanding the Christian
doctrine, let him render thanks to God, the source of all intelligence! In case he fails,
that is no reason why he should obstinately attack the dogma, but a reason why he should
bow his head in worship. Faith ought not merely to be the starting-point, --the
Christian's aim is not to depart from faith but to remain in it, --but also the
fixed rule and goal of thought, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all philosophy.
"The above almost literal quotations might give one the impression that St. Anselm
belongs exclusively to the history of theology. Such is not the case, however. This
fervent Catholic is more independent, more of an investigator and philosopher than be
himself imagines. He is a typical scholastic doctor and a fine exponent of the alliance
between reason and faith which forms the characteristic trait of mediaeval philosophy. He
assumes, a priori, that revelation and reason are in perfect accord. These two
manifestations of one and the same Supreme Intelligence cannot possibly contradict each
other. Hence, his point of view is diametrically opposed to the credo quia absurdum.
Moreover, he too had been besieged by doubt. Indeed, the extreme ardor which impels him to
search everywhere for arguments favorable to the dogma, is a confession on his part that
the dogma needs support, that it is debatable, that it lacks self-evidence, the criterion
of truth. Even as a monk, it was his chief concern to find a simple and conclusive
argument in support of the existence of God and of all the doctrines of the Church
concerning the Supreme Being. Mere affirmation did not satisfy him; he demanded proofs.
This thought was continually before his mind; it caused him to forget his meals, and
pursued him even during the solemn moments of worship. He comes to the conclusion that it
is a temptation of Satan, and seeks deliverance from it. But in vain. After a night spent
in meditation, he at last discovers what be has been seeking for years: the
incontrovertible argument in favor of the Christian dogma, and he regards himself as
fortunate in having found, not only the proof of the existence of God, but his peace of
soul. His demonstrations are like the premises of modern rationalism.
"Everything that exists, he says, has its cause, and this cause may be one or
many. If it is one, then we have what we are looking for: God, the unitary being to whom
all other beings owe their origin. If it is manifold, there are three possibilities: (1)
The manifold may depend on unity as its cause; or (2) Each thing composing the manifold
may be self-caused; or (3) Each thing may owe its existence to all the other things. The
first case is identical with the hypothesis that everything proceeds from a single cause;
for to depend on several causes, all of which depend on a single cause, means to depend on
this single cause. In the second case, we must assume that there is a power, force, or
faculty of self-existence common to all the particular causes assumed by the hypothesis; a
power in which all participate and are comprised. But that would give us what we had in
the first case, an absolute unitary cause. The third supposition, which makes each of the
'first causes' depend on all the rest, is absurd; for we cannot hold that a thing has for
its cause and condition of existence a thing of which it is itself the cause and
condition. Hence we are compelled to believe in a being which is the cause of every
existing thing, without being caused by anything itself, and which for that very reason is
infinitely more perfect than anything else: it is the most real (ens realissimum),
most powerful, and best being. Since it does not depend on any being or on any condition
of existence other than itself it is a se and per se; it exists, not because
something else exists, but it exists because it exists; that is, it exists necessarily, it
is necessary being.
"It would be an easy matter to deduce pantheism from the arguments of the Monologium.
Anselm, it is true, protests against such an interpretation of his theology. With St.
Augustine he assumes that the world is created ex nihilo. But though accepting this
teaching, he modifies it. Before the creation, he says, things did not exist by
themselves, independently of God; hence we say they were derived from non-being. But they
existed eternally for God and in God, as ideas; they existed before their creation in the
sense that the Creator foresaw them and predestined them for existence.
"The existence of God, the unitary and absolute cause of the world, being proved,
the question is to determine his nature and attributes. God's perfections are like human
perfections; with this difference, however, that they are essential to him, which is not
the case with us. Man has received a share of certain perfections, but there is no
necessary correlation between him and these perfections; it would have been possible for
him not to receive them; he could have existed without them. God, on the contrary, does
not get his perfections from without: he has not received them, and we cannot say that he has them; he is and must be everything that these perfections imply; his attributes are
identical with his essence. Justice, an attribute of God, and God are not two separate
things. We cannot say of God that be has justice or goodness; we cannot even say that be
is just; for to be just is to participate in justice after the manner of creatures. God is
justice as such, goodness as such, wisdom as such, happiness as such, truth as such, being
as such. Moreover, all of God's attributes constitute but a single attribute, by virtue of
the unity of his essence (unum est quidquid essentialiter de summa substantia dicitur).
"All this is pure Platonism. But, not content with spiritualising theism, Anselm
really discredits it when, like a new Carneades, he enumerates the difficulties which he
finds in the conception. God is a simple being and at the same time eternal, that is,
diffused over infinite points of time; he is omnipresent, that is, distributed over all
points of space. Shall we say that God is omnipresent and eternal? This proposition
contradicts the notion of the simplicity of the divine essence. Shall we say that he is
nowhere in space and nowhere in time? But that would be equivalent to denying his
existence. Let us therefore reconcile these two extremes and say that God is omnipresent
and eternal, without being limited by space or time. The following is an equally serious
difficulty: In God there is no change and consequently nothing accidental. Now, there is
no substance without accidents. Hence God is not a substance; he transcends all substance.
Anselm is alarmed at these dangerous consequences of his logic, and he therefore prudently
adds that, though the term 'substance' may be incorrect, it is, nevertheless, the best we
can apply to God --si quid digne dici potest --and that to avoid or condemn it
might perhaps jeopardise our faith in the reality of the Divine Being.
"The most formidable theological antinomy is the doctrine of the trinity of
persons in the unity of the divine essence. The Word is the object of eternal thought; it
is God in so far as he is thought, conceived, or comprehended by himself. The Holy Spirit
is the love of God for the Word, and of the Word for God, the love which God bears
himself. But is this explanation satisfactory? And does it not sacrifice the dogma which
it professes to explain to the conception of unity? St. Anselm sees in the Trinity and the
notion of God insurmountable difficulties and contradictions, which the human mind cannot
reconcile. In his discouragement be is obliged to confess, with Scotus Erigena, St.
Augustine, and the Neo-Platonists, that no human word can adequately express the essence
of the All-High. Even the words 'wisdom' (sapientia) and 'being' (essentia)
are but imperfect expressions of what he imagines to be the essence of God. All
theological phrases are analogies, figures of speech, and mere approximations.
"The Proslogium sive Fides quoerens intellectum has the same aim as the Monologium: to prove the existence of God. Our author draws the elements of his argument from St.
Augustine and Platonism. He sets out from the idea of a perfect being, from which he
infers the existence of such a being. We have in ourselves, he says, the idea of an
absolutely perfect being. Now, perfection implies existence. Hence God exists. This
argument, which has been termed the ontological argument, found an opponent worthy
of Anselm in Gaunilo, a monk of Marmoutiers in Touraine. Gaunilo emphasises the difference
between thought and being, and points out the fact that we may conceive and imagine a
being, and yet that being may not exist. We have as much right to conclude from our idea
of an enchanted island in the middle of the ocean that such an island actually exists. The
criticism is just. Indeed, the ontological argument would be conclusive, only in case the
idea of God and the existence of God in the human mind were identical. If our idea of God
is God himself, it is evident that this idea is the immediate and incontrovertible proof
of the existence of God. But what the theologian aims to prove is not the existence of the
God-Idea of Plato and Hegel, but the existence of the personal God. However that may be,
we hardly know what to admire most, --St. Anselm's broad and profound conception, or the
sagacity of his opponent who, in the seclusion of his cell, anticipates the Transcendental
Dialectic of Kant.
"The rationalistic tendency which we have just noticed in the Monologium and the Proslogium meets us again in the Cur Deus Homo? Why did God become
man? The first word of the title sufficiently indicates the philosophical trend of the
treatise. The object is to search for the causes of the incarnation. The
incarnation, according to St. Anselm, necessarily foIlows from the necessity of
redemption. Sin is an offence against the majesty of God. In spite of his goodness, God
cannot pardon sin without compounding with honor and justice. On the other hand, he cannot
revenge himself on man for his offended honor; for sin is an offence of infinite degree
and therefore demands infinite satisfaction; which means that he must either destroy
humanity or inflict upon it the eternal punishments of hell. Now, in either case, the goal
of creation, the happiness of his creatures, would be missed and the honor of the Creator
compromised. There is but one way for God to escape this dilemma without affecting his
honor, and that is to arrange for some kind of satisfaction. He must have infinite
satisfaction, because the offence is immeasurable. Now, in so far as man is a finite being
and incapable of satisfying divine justice in an infinite measure, the infinite being
himself must take the matter in charge; he must have recourse to substitution. Hence, the necessity of the incarnation. God becomes man in Christ; Christ suffers
and dies in our stead; thus he acquires an infinite merit and the right to an equivalent
recompense. But since the world belongs to the Creator, and nothing can be added to its
treasures, the recompense which by right belongs to Christ falls to the lot of the human
race in which he is incorporated: humanity is pardoned, forgiven, and saved.
"Theological criticism has repudiated Anselm's theory, which bears the stamp of
the spirit of chivalry and of feudal customs. But, notwithstanding the attacks of a
superficial rationalism, there is an abiding element of truth in it: over and above each
personal and variable will there is an absolute, immutable, and incorruptible will, called
justice, honor, and duty, in conformity with the customs of the times."
[Note: As of 1902 - Do not rely on this!]
Patrologioe Cursus Completus. Series Secunda. Tomi CLVIIICLIX. S. Anselm.
[Ed. ABBE MIGNE]. Paris, 1853.
CHURCH. A. W. St. Anselm. [Third Edition]. London, 1873
FRANCK, G F. Anselm von Canterbury. Tubingen, 1842.
HASSE, F. R. Anselm von Canterbury. Leipzig, 1843. 2 volumes.
-The same. Translated and abridged by W. Turner. London, 1850.
REMUSAT, CHARLES DE. Anselme de Canterbury. Paris, 1854; 2nd ed., 1868.
RIGG, J. M. St. Anselm of Canterbury. London, 1896.
RULE M. The Ltfe and Times of St. Anselm. London, 1883. 2 volumes.
DE VOSGES, LE COMTE DOMET. Saint Anselme, in the series Les Grands
Philosophes. Paris, 1901.
WELCH, A. C. Anselm and His Work. Edinburgh, 1901.
BAUR, F. C. Vorlesungen uber die christliche Dogmengeschichte. Leipzig, 1866.
Zweiter Band, 249-251, 298 ff.
ERDMANN, J. E. A History of Philosophy. English Translation [Ed. W. S. HOUGH].
London, 1891. Vol I., 303-314.
HEGEL, G. W. F. Lectures on the History of Philosophy. Translated from the
German by E. S. Haldane and F. H. Simson. London, 1896. Vol. III., 61-67.
HOOK, W. T. Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London, 1862. Vol. VIII.,
MAURICE, F.D. Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy. London, 1882. Vol. I., 507-533.
PFLEIDERER, 0. The Philosophy of Religion. Translated by A. Menzies. London,
1888. Vol. III., 27I-276.
UEBERWEG, F.1 History of Philosophy. Translated by G. S. Morris. New
York, 1892. Vol. I., 377-386.
Ueberweg gives the titles of German and Latin dissertations on Anselm not included in this