|Reading for Philosophical Inquiry: A Brief Introduction to Philosophical Thinking ver. 0.21; An Open Source Reader|
Canterbury Cathedral, Library of Congress, ©Detroit Publishing
About the author…
St. Anselm (1033-1109), a member of the Benedictine Order and Bishop of Canterbury, extended the Augustine tradition of seeking to believe in order to understand the truth and existence of God rather that seeking to understand in order to believe in the truth and existence of God. Even so, St. Anselm does not distinguish clearly between religious and philosophical pursuits. Many theologians avoid trusting reason from the fear of the specter of skepticism; however, Anselm believes reason is necessary to elucidate and validate faith. Anselm is often considered to be the father of scholastic philosophy since his work emphasizes linguistic and analytical thinking. Scholasticism was the dominant approach to philosophical and theological problems during the medieval period.
About the work…
Although Anselm's argument for God's existence presented in this article is based on predominately on reason, Anselm presents the argument as clarification Christian faith. The heart of his argument is the insight that if God is defined as a "being than which no greater can be conceived," then God could not be conceived of as not existing because perfection, he thinks, implies existence. Baruch Spinoza and René Descartes employed versions of the ontological argument where the very concept of God as a perfect being implies existence as a property. In philosophical jargon, a feature of the essence of God is said to be existence.
Explain whether you think St. Anselm believes understanding the nature of religious belief is a necessary condition for believing in the nature and existence of God.
As clearly as possible, restate Anselm's ontological argument.
Clearly explain what St. Anselm means when he writes there is only one way God can be conceived not to exist.
Explain why, according to St. Anselm, only God and nothing else cannot not exist? According to Anselm, why couldn't other necessary beings exist?