Read Proslogion by Anselm of Canterbury Max J. Charlesworth Online


In the Proslogion, St. Anselm presents a philosophical argument for the existence of God. Anselm's proof, known since the time of Kant as the ontological argument for the existence of God, has played an important role in the history of philosophy and has been incorporated in various forms into the systems of Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel, and others. Included in this edition oIn the Proslogion, St. Anselm presents a philosophical argument for the existence of God. Anselm's proof, known since the time of Kant as the ontological argument for the existence of God, has played an important role in the history of philosophy and has been incorporated in various forms into the systems of Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel, and others. Included in this edition of the Proslogion are Gaunilo's "A Reply on Behalf of the Fool" and St. Anselm's "The Author's Reply to Gaunilo." All three works are in the original Latin with English translation on facing pages. Professor Charlesworth's introduction provides a helpful discussion of the context of the Proslogion in the theological tradition and in Anselm's own thought and writing....

Title : Proslogion
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780268016975
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 204 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Proslogion Reviews

  • Katie
    2018-11-08 10:14

    Anselm, you charming little monk.I went into this work not expecting to be overly impressed. The only thing I really knew about the Proslogion was that it was the home of the famous (infamous?) ontological argument for the existence of God. I wouldn't really label myself as a religious person, but ontological arguments and the like have always kinda rubbed me the wrong way. The idea of proving the existence or nature of God through reason alone seems vaguely arrogant, and also kinda besides the point: it's always seemed to me that if you could reason God's existence out with human logic, God wouldn't be terribly God-like anyway. But Anselm really surprised me, and I found the Proslogion to be kind of beautiful. The argument for the existence of God is certainly there, and it's elegant if not logically unassailable. Anselm's God is simply defined as "that than which nothing great can be thought" and since existence is better than non-existence, God must necessarily exist. That takes up about two pages of the work. The rest of the work is honestly far more interesting, and it is surprisingly mystical for a work known almost solely for its logical arguments. Anselm's God is explored through a series of dichotomies - He is both incorporeal and perceptive, omnipotent and unable to do all things, just and merciful, seen and unseen. There is a deluge of light/dark imagery. On the whole, the Proslogion is a tract about the process of seeking, and how it must inherently be a dialogue: a diligent search for God through all possible means will not allot the seeker a unobstructed view, but will allow him or her small pieces of understanding. It's a humble and optimistic work. If you don't believe in God already, the Proslogion is not going to change your mind. But's that not a mark against it - Anselm wasn't aiming for that kind of undertaking. Instead, I think the Proslogion is better viewed as a prayer for further understanding, and an attempt at articulation. Anselm and his audience already believed in God and his existence. Anselm was just reaching out for further understanding, and for a better set of words to encapsulate his belief.

  • J. M.
    2018-11-11 12:23

    I find Anselm’s longing for understanding ennobling, moving and poetic. He lived in a period of intellectual darkness. The Christian Church had finally succeeded in closing the western mind; the eleventh century saw the culmination of the rise of faith and the fall of reason. In his review of Charles Freeman’s The Closing of the Western Mind for The New York Times, Anthony Gottlieb writes that Freeman “is right to emphasize the colossal ignorance of the Christian West in the second half of the first millennium. By the year 1000, all branches of science, and indeed all kinds of theoretical knowledge except theology, had pretty much disintegrated. Most classical literature was largely unknown. The best-educated people (all of them monks) knew strikingly less than many Greeks 800 years earlier. And the few mathematical writings from the time were for the most part downright stupid.”I would like to think (on the evidence of his Monologion and Proslogion) that Anselm was one of those few exceptional human beings who felt a compelling will to understand. But Western Europe had to wait another four hundred years for the discovery by Poggio Bracciolini of a unique manuscript of Lucretius’s De rerum natura in a German monastery, and a further two centuries for Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum and his use of inductive reasoning. Yet, Anselm’s thirst for knowledge was unquenchable, as evidenced by his two tracts. There was no House of Wisdom in Medieval Europe, nor the flourishing of learning, poetry, science and philosophy that turned Córdoba into the Ornament of the World, as the German nun Hroswitha of Gandersheim called it. The Toledo School of Translators was founded in the century following Anselm's death. Had he lived in the 12th century, he might have been able to read Latin translations of Al-Khwarizmi, of Avicenna and of Aristotle, of Euclid by Adelard of Bath and of Ptolomy by Gerard of Cremona. But Anselm was born one century too early and his longing for knowledge could only be satisfied at that time and in that place by his kind of poetic, circular (poetry likes circuitousness), tautological, platonic (as Russell points out in his History of Western Philosophy, Plato uses a kind of ontological argument to prove the objective reality of ideas), yet beautiful, poignant, mystical, deductive reasoning.Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus sold his soul to the Devil for knowledge of the physical world (“Now would I have a book where I might see all characters and planets of the heavens, that I might know their motions and dispositions. . . let me have one book more, wherein I might see all plants, herbs, and trees, that grow upon the earth”, etc.); Anselm sold his soul to his God for a spiritual, ethereal knowledge. That is how I read “Faith seeking understanding”. Lacking the tools to reach an understanding of the world he lived in, Anselm surrendered his reason to the inscrutabilities of his God. It is tempting to assume that one thousand years ago in Western Europe no one questioned the existence of God, but if that were the case, why take the trouble to prove it? Anselm tried to escape the “dark night of the soul” (to quote a Spanish mystic) by climbing a ladder, held upright by skyhooks, that led to the clouds.

  • JP
    2018-11-10 11:06

    Anselm is recognized as revolutionary for the contemplative style of prayer that he wrote in a time when theology required something very different. Moreover, he provided a step in the direction toward a more rational (logical) approach to theology and faith. His Proslogion is not a prayer but instead instructive about the nature of God, man, sin, and faith. Chapter 14 and 17 are especially worth reading. His writing style, in the Latin, is remarkable for the word choice and structure, both emphasizing the depth of feeling. It's especially enjoyable Latin to read aloud.

  • Matt
    2018-11-04 09:17

    Of course, the historical significance of this work is in Anslem's ontological argument for the existence of God. And this argument appears within the first six pages of the book. But I found the rest of the book very rewarding. Faith Seeking Understanding -- that is the driving theory of the book, and Anselm's sincerity is moving. Some of his arguments are successful, others... not so much. But throughout, it is a passionate philosophical work.Why don't we write philosophy like this anymore?

  • Christopher
    2018-11-04 09:29

    Worth reading for the first recorded description of the Ontological argument. The first few chapters have more philosophical merit than the latter chapters, which descend in to god fearing chanting and prayer.Here's the argument, which seeks to prove the existence of God. When you first read it, you may think, as Bryan Maggee puts it, that 'there's something wrong with this', but it's a deceptively disconcerting argument. Therefore, 0 Lord, You who give understanding to faith, grant me to understand—to the degree You know to be advantageous—that You exist, as we believe, and that You are what we believe [You to be]. Indeed, we believe You to be something than which nothing greater can be thought. Or is there, then, no such nature [as You], for the Fool has said in his heart that God does not exist? But surely when this very same Fool hears my words “something than which nothing greater can be thought,” he understands what he hears. And what he understands is in his understanding, even if he does not understand [i.e., judge] it to exist. For that a thing is in the understanding is distinct from understanding that [this] thing exists. For example, when a painter envisions what he is about to paint: he indeed has in his understanding that which he has not yet made, but he does not yet understand that it exists. But after he has painted [it]: he has in his understanding that which he has made, and he understands that it exists. So even the Fool is convinced that something than which nothing greater can be thought is at least in his understanding; for when he hears of this [being], he understands [what he hears], and whatever is understood is in the understanding. But surely that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot be only in the understanding. For if it were only in the understanding, it could be thought to exist also in reality—something which is greater [than existing only in the understanding]. Therefore, if that than which a greater cannot be thought were only in the understanding, then that than which a greater cannot be thought would be that than which a greater can be thought! But surely this [conclusion] is impossible. Hence, without doubt, something than which a greater cannot be thought exists both in the understanding and in reality ..... Assuredly, this [being] exists so truly [i.e., really] that it cannot even be thought not to exist. For there can be thought to exist something which cannot be thought not to exist; and this thing is greater than that which can be thought not to exist. Therefore, if that than which a greater cannot be thought could be thought not to exist, then that than which a greater cannot be thought would not be that than which a greater cannot be thought—[a consequence] which is contradictory. Hence, something than which a greater cannot be thought exists so truly that it cannot even be thought not to exist. And You are this [being], 0 Lord our God.

  • Christopher
    2018-10-24 14:09

    Ok boys and girls. This is the FIRST ontological arguement for the existence of God.It follows such as roughly as I would like to re-translate the latin as the phrase that-than-which-a-greater-can-be-thought is used like a variable in the arguement. That said here is the outline.Saint Anselms logic begins with faith.I have faith in order to understand. God exists.Faith and Reason are tough to join together.When I think of God I think of that of which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought. Like how a painter has an image in the mind of what he is going to paint, the idea exists, but when the idea exists in reality, it's a greater idea. After the painter paints the painting, the painting as been brought into reality. Idea of GodThe idea of God is less than the reality of GodThe idea and the reality are the same (big assumption)Descartes is not alive yet.God is realityThe idea of God is infinite, therefore there is only one God, there cannot be subservient lesser gods because I could not think of that which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought.If I can think of that of which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought, then that which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought is not God, this is absurd, One God exists.Not bad for the middle ages.

  • Yann
    2018-11-06 11:19

    Anselm de Cantorbéry, ecclésiastique du onzième siècle, qui fut nommé en Angleterre, alors fraichement envahie par les Normands, tente dans ce livre de démontrer l’existence de Dieu par des arguments rationnels. L'argument de taille, consiste à étendre l'intellect à la réalité, à confondre les mots et les choses. Si ses contemporains avaient déjà émis des réserves sur la démonstration, il connu pourtant une grande renommée, allant jusqu' à être nommé docteur, puis cannonisé. Mais le lecteur aura beau mettre sa cervelle à l’alambic pour démêler les apparences de raisonnements de cet ouvrage, il n’en tirera qu’impatience, et haine de la chicane et des pédants. La fin du livre est accompagnée d’un dossier contenant des textes de philosophes célèbres, qui ont repris à leur compte, comme Descartes, ou critiqué, comme Kant, les arguments de l’auteur, et qui ne manqueront pas de fatiguer ceux qui auront la patience, ou plutôt l’imprudence, d’y prêter attention.

  • Asha
    2018-10-20 14:30

    Perhaps the new agey think it, manifest it idea germinated from this 11th c monk's ontological argument for the existence of G_d! I think it's weak. but, I have to admit it is rather charming given the dearth of educational resources in those medieval times. A time when Europe and the christian church closed off all intellectual pursuits this monk actually deems it necessary to put forth an argument for the existence of "something than which nothing greater can be thought " well, I think pink elephants exist...This is required reading for the philosophy class I am taking with Harvard edX. I have this fear of not gathering once again its edX time.

  • Scott
    2018-10-19 17:17

    Is it blasphemous to not give this five stars? Reading it as a philosophical text compared to a religious text it is easy to see how Descartes, Kant and others shredded this. Lots of repeated ideas throughout but should be a required read as a foundational text.

  • Katie Marquette
    2018-10-31 11:13

    A dense, poorly executed 'logical' arguement attempting to prove the existence of God. Anselm's logic is completely flawed as the nature of his claim relies almost solely on subjective experience. I was vastly unimpressed.

  • Eli
    2018-10-25 10:03

    A good read. Lots of solid nuggets as well as some strange and not-so-Biblical ideas. Overall an real encouragement to seek God and to find joy in Him.

  • Matthew McLellan
    2018-10-20 16:18

    Quite repetitive, but an interesting philosophical argument.

  • John Yelverton
    2018-10-22 15:12

    A truly amazing work as Anselm of Canterbury tries to sort out not only God and His deeds, but Anselm's personal relationship with God as well. It's an amazing book that every Christian should read.

  • Andrew Price
    2018-11-09 11:26


  • Erik Steevens
    2018-11-03 14:10

    only for those who are seekers

  • Hope
    2018-10-30 13:16

    Selected readings

  • Manu
    2018-11-08 12:13

    A logical proof of god so bad that other christians were embarrassed and had to publicly refute him. Self pwnage done dark ages style.

  • Brittany Petruzzi
    2018-11-09 13:08

    A clear and unforgettable ontological argument for the existence of God.