Who is Anselmus? (Saint Anselmus)

Who is Anselmus? (Saint Anselmus)

December 1, 2020 Off By Felso

Anselmus is a Christian philosopher who lived between 1033-1109 and is known for his ontological proof of the existence of God.

Born in 1033 in Aosta, in the north of Italy, to a family of Roman nobility, Anselmus is sometimes referred to as Aostali Anselmus. He was taught by the priests of the Benedictine sect in Aosta, where he stayed until the age of 23. He visited different places in Europe for about three years and entered the Bec Monastery in 1059. His teacher Lanfranc at Bec was the archbishop of Canterbury at the time, and when he died in 1089, Anselmus was appointed to his post in 1093.

He took the view of Augustine “I believe in order to understand” and tried to base belief with reason. He is a philosopher who adopts the attitude of “I believe in order to understand” rather than “I try to believe, to understand” and prioritizes belief or belief over reason, and authority over knowledge when it comes to the relationship between belief and reason. Anselmus’s endeavor is an indication of scholasticism’s attempt to combine reason and belief.

Anselmus is of the view that judgments must be absolute. For example, if it is good, it must be absolutely good. If there is existence, it must also be an absolute asset. According to him, the existence of God will be proved through this thought. Another God proof of Anselmus is as follows: God is the most perfect being. If we think that God does not exist, partly God is missing. Yet God’s definition is that he is the most perfect being. So there is God.

Anselmus accepts Augustine’s idea that the original sin lasted for all generations. According to him, God took human form to save people from this original sin (Jesus) and was crucified to save all people from original sin. In this early period of scholasticism, religion and philosophy were tried to be reconciled. Religious concepts were tried to be explained with reason and Plato’s concept realism was used for this.

Anselmus’s proof of God is more than one. Some historians of philosophy consider three of them to be noteworthy: The first God proof is indeed at the forefront of the whole history of philosophy. Accordingly, our mind and senses convey information that there are many good things around us. The central question at this point is: Are all these good things good for one good thing; Or is the goodness in each of them a unique feature? Of course, the answer given by Anselmus to this question is clear: All good things are good for one good.

Anselmus’s proof of another God also evolves to remind him of other proofs. According to him, everything derives its existence from a being that realizes its existence through itself. Existence involves a certain level of excellence. Every more or less perfect being receives this perfection from the one with the highest degree of perfection, and he is God. Finally, Anselmus said, “We believe that you (God) are something more unthinkable than himself.” He puts forward the basic premise of the famous ontological proof of God.

According to Anselmus, justice is about the proper use of will. If the will has a proper disposition, then an action that finds the truth has occurred. Freedom of will is closely related to righteousness or honesty, which means virtuous behavior. According to Anselmus, this freedom is a state of demanding truth only for himself. According to Anselmus, will has three meanings. Will means above all else the power or ability to want. Second, will can be understood as the disposition or the influence of the power of will. The third meaning of will is the act of willing. The emergence of these actions is a process of knowledge. For, wanting anything makes it necessary to act in accordance with the functioning of the mind. Therefore, there is a visible parallel between choice and will and mind. Will,then, it is the power to choose the righteous morally. The most fundamental element on which this power is based is God himself. Therefore, Anselmus’s moral understanding is largely based on divine principles.

Anselmus, who made important gains in the name of the church in the fight between the Kingdom of England and the church, died on April 21, 1109. His works include About the Literary (De Grammatico), Monologion, Proslogion, De Veritate, About Freedom of Choice (De Libertate Arbitrii).

Prepared by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology First Class “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2., 3., 4. Class “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook