Anselm of Canterbury

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Anselm of Canterbury


Born 1033, in Aosta, Italy; died Apr. 21, 1109, in Canterbury, England. Theologian; representative of the Scholastics. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093.

Anselm understood faith to be a prerequisite for rational knowledge: “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand” (Proslogion, p. 1). In contrast to the deductions of the existence of god from the existence of objects, Anselm developed the so-called ontological proof of god, deducing his being from the very concept of god, for “something than which nothing greater can be conceived” cannot be thought of as nonexistent. The understanding of being as some sort of “perfection,” which appeared in this reasoning, and the striving toward a direct intellectual contemplation of god are characteristic of the Platonic tradition. In a polemic about universals, Anselm took the position of realism. His extreme theological rationalism appears in the tract Cur Deus homo? (Why Did God Take Human Form?), in which he attempted through pure logic to prove the necessity of the incarnation of god.


Opera omnia, vols. 1–5. Edinburgh-Rome, 1946–51.
Monologion. Latin-German edition of F. Schmitt. Stuttgart-Baden-Baden, 1964.


Istoriiafilosofii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1940. Pages 425–30.
Barth, K. Fides quaerens intellectum: Anselms Beweis der Existenz Gottes. . . . Munich, 1931.
Jaspers, K. Die grossen Philosophen, vol. 1. Munich, 1957.


References in periodicals archive ?
The topics include Bede's case against the British church regarding theology and the paschal controversy, Carolingian prayers of private devotion, minds wandering and monastic stability in the early monastic letters of Anselm of Bec, monastic meditations on Jerusalem's conquest, the founding of two contrasting religious communities in the 18th century, and the messianic figure of the Song of Songs.
Published between these two works is Vaughn's first monograph, Anselm of Bec and Robert of Meulan: The Innocence of the Dove and the Wisdom of the Serpent (1987), which argued--in response to Southern's first work--that Anselm was a more accomplished statesman/politician than Southern allowed.
Among their topics are master and community in 10th-century Reims, the pattern of Anselm of Bec's teaching, and reason and original thinking in English intellectual circles.