Anselm of Canterbury and the Desire for the Word

Anselm of Canterbury and the Desire for the Word

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 412
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  • Book Info
    Anselm of Canterbury and the Desire for the Word
    Book Description:

    Sweeney's study offers a comprehensive picture of Anselm's thought and its development, from the early, intimate, monastically based meditations to the later, public, proto-scholastic disputations

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1959-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction. The Problem of Anselm: The Coincidence of Opposites
    (pp. 1-12)

    Anselm is an important and early source of two key themes in western thought and spirituality. First, in his development of rational arguments, expressed in long chains of logical inferences and elaborate linguistic analysis, he appears to be the prototype for the model of pure, neutral rationality. The audacity of Anselm’s willingness to submit not just the existence of God but the Incarnation, Virgin birth, and filioque controversy to the bar of reason, seeking necessary and indubitable conclusions is unparalleled. His faith in reason and in the power of words and arguments is seemingly boundless. Second, Anselm is far ahead...

  7. 1 The Prayers: Persuasion and the Narrative of Longing
    (pp. 13-37)

    Though the basis for the collection of Anselm’s letters as it appears in Schmitt’s critical edition are manuscripts derived from the collection of prayers and meditations Anselm sent to Matilda, Countess of Tuscany, in around 1104, most of the prayers were written between about 1063 and 1078, during his time as prior of Bec; thus, the form in which the prayers appear in the modern edition is somewhat artificial.¹ The manuscript tradition shows that Anselm’s prayers were collected in a variety of ways, early on anthologized with prayers by others and without attribution to Anselm.² In this period, it was...

  8. 2 The Letters: Physical Separation and Spiritual Union
    (pp. 38-73)

    F. S. Schmitt’s critical edition of Anselm’s works contains 475 letters, the vast majority written by Anselm but including some written to Anselm. The letters have been the subject of controversy on several fronts. The first is over whether Anselm himself made a collection of his letters late in his life, during his second exile. The controversy is focused on Anselm’s later letters written as archbishop since it is accepted that Anselm made a collection of the letters he wrote as prior and abbot of Bec. As a factual matter, the dispute between Richard Southern, Walter Fröhlich, and Sally Vaughn...

  9. 3 Grammar and Logic: Linguistic Analysis, Method, and Pedagogy
    (pp. 74-109)

    There was a time when Anselm’s De grammatico, the Lambeth Fragments, and even De veritate were neglected and disparaged in favor of the famous treatises on God, the Proslogion and Monologion.¹ Prantl, the great historian of western logic, complained that Anselm’s short dialogue known as De grammatico was “futile, wandering, tiresome, and laborious.”² Nineteenth-century commentators tended to draw a sharp line of separation between Anselm’s theological works and De grammatico, seeing its preoccupations as unconnected to the rest of the Anselmian corpus.³ Desmond Henry convincingly showed that the analysis of ordinary language, the construction of a technical language, and distinction...

  10. 4 The Monologion and Proslogion: Language Straining toward God
    (pp. 110-174)

    Central to the interpretation of the Monologion and Proslogion and the focus of centuries of controversy about them is their dueling claims to proceed sola ratione and by “faith seeking understanding.” Commentators have tried to understand and reconcile these claims in a variety of ways. The opposing positions were classically articulated by Karl Barth, who argued strongly that Anselm’s investigation takes place wholly within the context of faith, which provides the premises as well as the questions, and Etienne Gilson, who took it that Anselm’s project was to prove the things of faith—all of them—on rational grounds. Thus...

  11. 5 The Trilogy of Dialogues: Exploring Division and Unity
    (pp. 175-244)

    In the preface to this set of three dialogues (De veritate, De libertate arbitrii, and De casu diaboli), Anselm asks that they be published together in this order. They belong together, first, because all three pertain to sacred scripture and, second, because they are united by subject matter and similarity of discussion.¹ Anselm must specify this because unauthorized copies of the texts have been made and they have circulated in another order than he wished.² Anselm makes similar complaints in the preface to Cur Deus homo³ and gives similar directives that the work should appear complete and in the shape...

  12. 6 Uniting God with Human Being and Human Being with God
    (pp. 245-327)

    Anselm’s trilogy of works on the Incarnation are linked not just by their subject matter but also were linked in Anselm’s thinking. De conceptu virginali, Anselm carefully explains in his preface, was prompted by a thread of argument left untied in Cur Deus homo that he is certain Boso will want completed.¹ The connection between De incarnatione Verbi and Cur Deus homo has only recently come to light. A text edited by Constant Mews, apparently an earlier draft of a section of De incarnatione, contains the mention of the author’s desire to discuss not just the logic of the Incarnation...

  13. 7 The Later Works: From Meditatio to Disputatio
    (pp. 328-368)

    In the last two works of Anselm’s corpus, De processione Spiritus Sancti and De concordia praescientiae et praedestinationis et gratiae Dei cum libero arbitrio, the basic themes of earlier works return: the metaphysics of God, the most specifically Christian (and most difficult) theological problems, and the “metaphysics of creaturehood.” In these works we get a chance to see how Anselm’s way of working with these issues developed by the end of his career. The most obvious change is that these last works are in more than one sense the most “scholastic” of his Anselm’s writings. Even though avant la lettre,...

  14. Conclusion: Reason, Desire, and Prayer
    (pp. 369-378)

    There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of objections to Anselm’s project, one to its speculative expression—that it is too thoroughly rationalistic, and the other to its spiritual vision—that it is based on a distortedly negative view of the human person as sinful and of God as vengefully demanding payment. Though there are some signs of fraying over time in Anselm’s work, the argument of this book is that the rational and spiritual projects are elements of an integral whole: reason serving spirituality and spirituality giving value to reason. The final question for reflection, then, is whether attempting to...

    (pp. 379-394)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 395-404)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 405-406)