- Proof of Faith
In Proslogium, Shannon feels that Anselm is trying to use his explanation of God as “something that needs to be grasped and not reasoned about”, to define faith (Shannon 86). Reasoning and philosophical thinking can hinder the development of faith by offering counter-arguments on the existence of God.
- Chapter 1- Proslogium
In the first chapter of Proslogium, Anselm presents his quests to God. He emphasizes humans’ deviation from their purpose for creation and the perceived desertion by God. In Anselm’s letter to God, he questions His failure to avert man from wrong-doing in spite of his ability and implores God to renew him that he may be fit for his intended purpose and re-direct His light to mankind (Anselm 49-51).
- The Human Condition
According to Anselm, was created in God’s image to enjoy blessedness yet has consistently turned his face towards misery, for which he was not made (50). Because of this misery, man always longs for happiness that can only be found in the unapproachable light of God (Anselm 50). The only way to see this light, he says, is to seek God and rely on his support and renewal
- Anselm’s prayer to God in Chapter 1.
At the end of chapter one, Anselm asks God to renew him that he may understand the truth of God, which he loves and believes, albeit to some degree so that he can be able to live for the purpose for which he was made (52-53). This understanding, according to Anselm, stems from the faith since he says that he believes so that he can understand.
- Anselm’s definition of God.
Anselm’s definition of God is, “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived” (53). In this definition, God is portrayed as the all-powerful and almighty being that is above every other thing.
- Why does Anselm think that God cannot be thought not to exist?
Anselm’s perception of God is a being that is greater than others hence it is impossible to think that God does not exist (Anselm 56).
- God’s uniqueness and existence
The understanding of God as the greatest being that exists is sufficient to make God’s non-existence impossible. Unlike other concepts that can exist in one’s mind without necessarily existing in reality, the conceptualization of an all-powerful and almighty being is itself adequate confirmation that such a being exists hence has to be understood to be in reality (Anselm 56).
- Understanding the concept of God and God’s existence in reality
Anselm’s argument suggests that the status of greatness accorded to God is sufficient confirmation of His existence in reality as God is greater than any being that can be conceived not to exist (Anselm 56). It is, therefore, possible to think about the concept of God and imagine it as non-existence, but that cannot make Him non-existent. This explanation of God’s existence, in reality, is probably accurate because any conceptualization of God as greater than any other being is a conceptualization of God as greater than non-existence.
- Faith and Understanding of God
In Anselm’s prayer in chapter one, he begs God to allow him to understand the truth of God, which he loves. In chapter 4, he is thankful because he has finally understood the truth. His understanding is founded on the belief that it is impossible to understand the concept of God’s existence in reality before first believing that existence (Anselm 56). Faith thus leads man from the thought of the concept of God to the understanding of God.
- Anselm’s argument for God’s existence.
Anselm’s argument for God’s existence is that conceptualization of an entity can be through either understanding the concept or experiencing it. Understanding the concept of God is easy from hearing and one can comprehend the concept without understanding the existence of God (Anselm 56). However, the conceptualization of God as a being greater than any other is satisfactory validation of God’s existence as any being that would be conceived not to exist would be below God.
Shannon, William H. The Life and Times of St. Anselm. In Shannon, William H. Anselm: The Joy of Faith. New York: Crossroads, 1999, pp. 15-32.
“God: Contemplating the Divine with St. Anselm,” pp. 77-110.
Saint Anselm. St Anselm’s Proslogium or Discourse on the Existence of God. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018.