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Confessions of a Rational Mystic

Confessions of a Rational Mystic

Gregory Schufreider
Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: Purdue University Press
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  • Book Info
    Confessions of a Rational Mystic
    Book Description:

    Confessions of a Rational Mystic exposes both aspects of this transitional thinker through a multidimensional interpretation of his Pioslogion. It treats Anselm's famous proof for the existence of God as both a rational argument and an exercise in mystical theology, analyzing the logic of its reasoning while providing a phenomenological account of the vision of God that is embedded within it. Through a deconstructive reading of the cycle of prayer and proof that forms the overall structure of the text, not only is the argument returned to its place in the Proslogion as a whole, but the historic relationship that it attempts to establish between faith and reason is examined. In this way, the critical role that Anselm played in the history of philosophy is seen in a new light.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-046-5
    Subjects: Philosophy, Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[x])
  3. PART ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    Anselm is a central figure in the history of Western thought. As the pivotal thinker in medieval philosophy, he was both the heir of Augustine and the “father of scholasticism,” whose own favorite son is Thomas Aquinas. Unfortunately, so positioned between these two giants, he has in certain respects been dwarfed by the company he keeps. This underestimation of his work results, at least in part, from the contribution to the history of philosophy for which he is normally credited. For however illegitimate a child of his scholasticism may be, the tendency is to regard Anselm’s thought primarily in terms...

  4. PART TWO The Monologion
    (pp. 18-96)

    Anselm’s first attempt at philosophical writing remains among the many unread texts of medieval philosophy, despite, if not because of, the notoriety his work has otherwise received. If Anselm is famous for anything, it is for the “ontological argument,” which first makes its appearance in our history in his second book, theProslogion. Consequently, while almost every student of philosophy, whether knowingly or not, has read some portion of theProslogion,few have ever read a word of theMonologion. In fact, in what until recently was the standard English translation of Anselm’s works, theProslogionis put first in...

  5. PART THREE The Proslogion
    (pp. 97-239)

    As we mentioned at the outset, Anselm did not begin his writing career with a philosophical treatise but with a set of prayers and meditations of a rather more spiritual variety. In a strange way, the uniqueness of theMonologionresides, at least in part, in its lack of religious fervor or of any obvious devotional character. If anything, its dispassionate rationality displays a philosophical devotion that is to provide an example of a new sort of meditation on the ground of faith. Consequently, after our account of theMonologion,one may wonder what warrants our speaking of mysticism at...

  6. PART FOUR Conclusion
    (pp. 240-309)

    Ironically, the full import of the scarcely spoken assumptions at the root of such meditational works as theMonologionandProslogionsurfaces later in Anselm’s own writings, when those assumed conditions no longer obtain. Once Anselm can no longer presuppose the practices of a sympathetic monastic community, once he is confronting a hostile world that does not share his interest in elevating the mind to the contemplation of God or his confidence in reason, in short, once Anselm loses his innocence, he must make clear the assumed conditions for the practice of rational understanding that are at issue in his...

  7. PART FIVE Text and Translation: Anselm’s Proslogion
    (pp. 310-376)

    The translation that follows would not have been possible were it not for existing translations. I have tried to take advantage of them as well as of the unique opportunity provided by this series to offer a translation that is not so much designed to stand alone as to come at the end of, and to appear entirely within the context of, an extensive interpretation. In short, since this translation is not designed to compete with other translations so much as to complete our reading of Anselm, I have not just felt free to offer a rather free translation but...

    (pp. 377-386)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 387-400)