Anselm’s Conception of God and Philosophy of Religion

Anselm’s Conception of God and Philosophy of Religion

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

It is possible to say that Anselmus basically adopted Platonist views. However, his thoughts on Plato were generally obtained through secondary sources. It is clear that Augustine had an important influence on this issue. At that time, two separate translations of Timaeus were circulating, translated by Calcidius or Cicero, and Anselmus probably had the opportunity to read these translations as well.

Anselmus, like the average medieval philosopher, thought that the sources of human knowledge were reason and faith. However, Anselmus was a student of Lanfranc and said that faith should be the beginning of all human study. In his work called Proslogion, in which he also exhibited the famous proof of God, which we will see a little later, he says the following: but I believe so I can understand. Because I also believe that unless I believe, I will not understand.” (Anselmus, Proslogion, I: “neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam”.)

In proposing this approach, it is necessary to assume that Anselmus knew the difference between philosophy and theology. However, he believed that faith could only be perfected as a result of mental study and effort. In other words, it was not Anselm’s intention to substitute faith for reason. The understanding built on this approach automatically clarifies the natural theology in Anselmus after a while.

Natural theology articulates a conception of God that can be grasped through natural processes in reasoning rather than through the aid of revelation.

Of course, at the beginning and end of this theology is God himself, both as a principle and as an end. What is important for him is the establishment of faith and, accordingly, dogma. After this establishment stage, the mind can attempt to understand the mysteries and secrets in the object of faith through “necessary reasons” (rationes necessariae). Although it is not possible to solve all these mysteries at once, it is possible to understand expressions such as the Trinity (Trinitas) in this way. Maybe that’s why the name given to him during the Middle Ages was “Second Augustine”.

Anselmus, who did not draw the weight of faith from logical judgments like other dialecticians of his time, has an original proof of God that he developed with the support of Augustine. In fact, Anselmus’ proof of God is more than one. Some historians of philosophy consider three of these to be notable.

Please look:

– Anselmus’ proofs of God
– What is the debate of Universals?

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook