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.


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