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A? 3 



yl Reply on Behalf of the Fool 
by Gaunilo 


The Author’s Reply to Gaunilo 






Odifor ni<a 

University of Notre Dame Press edition published in 1979 
First edition published by Oxford University Press in 1965 

This reprint has been authorized by Oxford University Press 
Copyright © 1965 by Oxford University Press 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Anselm, Saint, Abp. of Canterbury, 1033-1109. 

St. Anselm’s Proslogion. 

Reprint of the ed. published by the Clarendon 
Press, Oxford. 

English and Latin. 

Includes bibliographical references. 

1. Good-Proof, Ontological. I. Charlesworth, 
Maxwell John. II. Gaunilo, 11th cent. Liber 
pro insipiente. English & Latin. 1978. 

III. Title. IV. Title: Proslogion. 

B765.A83P73 1978 212 78-63300 

ISBN 0-268-01696-8 
ISBN 0-268-01697-6 pbk. 

Printed in the United States of America 


In this book a new translation of St. Anselm’s. Proslogion is 
offered, together with the texts of the subsequent debate be¬ 
tween St. Anselm and Gaunilo. The introduction to these 
texts attempts to set the Proslogion within the context of St. 
Anselm’s life and thought; and the commentary expounds and 
assesses the arguments contained in them. 

I have been at pains to clarify St. Anselm’s position in the 
Proslogion as he intended it, because in the past it has had all 
kinds of arbitrary interpretations foisted upon it. St. Anselm 
did not ask himself precisely the same questions about faith 
and reason as the philosophers of the thirteenth century, such 
as St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, were to ask; nor, of 
course, did he consider the questions that theologians and 
philosophers are compelled to put to themselves at the present 
day. On the whole matter of faith and reason St. Anselm’s 
thinking has a fluid, uncrystallized, or (blessed word!) ambi¬ 
valent character, and it is all too tempting, and all too easy, 
if one comes to the Proslogion with one’s own favoured theory 
about faith and reason, to make St. Anselm either into a pre¬ 
cocious Aquinas or into a twelfth-century Karl Barth. What 
I have tried to do is to re-present St. Anselm’s ideas as he 
intended them. 

I have not, however, confined myself to a neutral exposition 
or re-presentation of St. Anselm’s ideas in the Proslogion ; but 
I have gone on to discuss them in a critical way and to argue 
with them. Many medieval texts are of antiquarian interest 
only, but the Proslogion is still of real moment for the philosopher 
as well as for the historian, and we can do St. Anselm (and 
ourselves) the honour of arguing with him, philosopher to 
philosopher, much as we might argue with a contemporary. 

The translation keeps as close as possible to the literal sense 
of the original texts consistent with making good sense in 
English. St. Anselm’s style, upon which he obviously prided 
himself, is characterized by elaborate antitheses and word¬ 
plays, oratorical flights and crescendos, and, in the Proslogion, 


by a mixture of intensely fervent prayer with fine and subtle 
philosophical analysis in which every word and nuance counts. 
Inevitably, unless the translator engages in a good deal of 
glossing, he must miss much of the rich flavour of St. Anselm’s 
writing. However, for the purposes of philosophical discussion, 
there are advantages in a fairly literal translation even though 
it exacts a certain stylistic price. 

The Proslogion is translated together with Gaunilo’s reply and 
St. Anselm’s counter-reply. Eadmer, St. Anselm’s disciple and 
biographer, tells us that St. Anselm himself wished the three 
texts to be collected and considered together. ‘A friend,’ he 
writes, ‘sent this [Gaunilo’s reply] to Anselm who read it with 
pleasure, and after thanking his critic he wrote his own reply 
to this reply. He had this appended to the tract which had 
been sent to him, and returned it to the friend who had sent it, 
requesting any others who deigned to possess this tract to 
append to the end of it the criticism of his argument and his 
own reply to the criticism.’ 

The Latin text of the Proslogion and of the two annexed texts is 
reproduced from the magnificent edition of St. Anselm’s works, 
S. Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia, by Dom. F. S. 
Schmitt, O.S.B. (Nelson & Sons, Edinburgh, 6 vols., 1946-61). 
References in Latin to other texts of St. Anselm are also to 
Dom. Schmitt’s edition, and I wish to make very grateful 
acknowledgement to Dom. Schmitt and to the publishers, 
Nelson & Sons, for their generous permission to make use of it. 

M. J. C. 



The Proslogion Argument 3 

St. Anselm: Life and Times 8 

St. Anselm’s System 

1. The Character of St. Anselm’s Thought 22 

2. St. Anselm and St. Augustine 26 

3. Faith and Reason in the Cur Deus Homo 30 

4. Karl Barth’s St. Anselm 40 


Proslogion 49 

A Reply on Behalf of the Fool by Gaunilo 83 

The Author's Reply to Gaunilo 90 


Proslogion 102 

A Reply on Behalf of the Fool by Gaunilo 156 

The Author's Reply to Gaunilo 168 







It is not too much to claim that St. Anselm’s argument for the 
existence of God in the Proslogion is one of the most enduring 
texts in the history of philosophy. The boldness and originality 
(or—according to one’s point of view—the outrageousness) 
of the argument compel one’s interest and force one to declare 
oneself either for or against it, and it has provoked lively con¬ 
troversy right from the time of St. Anselm’s contemporary and 
first adversary, Gaunilo of Marmoutier, to the present day. 

To some extent we have to qualify what has just been said, 
for, curiously, there is little explicit reference to the Proslogion 
argument by St. Anselm’s own immediate disciples in the early 
twelfth century. So Rodulfus or Ralph, in his Libellus primus de 
nesciente et sciente , uses a primitive causal proof to establish the 
existence of a First Cause of life, without referring at all to the 
Proslogion argument of the master. 1 There is, however, a remini¬ 
scence of the Proslogion in the work of another of Anselm’s 
English disciples, Gilbert Crispin, abbot of Westminster between 
1085 and 1117. In Gilbert’s interesting Disputatio Christiani 
cum Gentile de Fide Christy ‘ Christianus’ proves that there can 
be only one God by arguing that ‘God is that than which 
nothing greater or better exists’, from which it follows that 
there cannot be a number of Gods. 2 Apart from this, however, 
St. Anselm’s Proslogion might have fallen stillborn from the scri¬ 
ptorium for all the influence it had upon his own intellectual milieu. 

This same neglect of the Proslogion argument continues 
through the latter part of the twelfth century, owing, no doubt, 

1 On Rodolfus, who is probably to be identified with Ralph, a monk of Caen 
who subsequently became prior of Rochester under Lanfranc, and abbot of Battle 
(1107-24) under Anselm, see R. W. Southern, ‘St. Anselm and his English Pupils’, 
in Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies, (MARS), i, 1941-3, 15-19, and the same 
author’s St. Anselm and his Biographer, Cambridge, 1963, pp. 206-9. 

2 *Deus est quo nihil maius ac melius sit, et quod super omnia est.’ Text edited by 
C. C. J. Webb, in MARS, in, 1954, 58-77. Again, in Gilbert’s dialogue, Disputatio 
Iudaei et Christiani , the Jew defines God as ‘quo nichil maius sive sufficientius 
cogitari potest’: see Gisleberti Crispini Westmonasterii Abbatis, Disputatio Iudaei et 
Christiani, ed. B. Blumenkranz, Ultraiecti, 1958. On Gilbert see J. Armitage 
Robinson, Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster, Cambridge, 1911; and R. W. 
Southern, ‘St. Anselm and Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster’, in MARS, iii, 
*954> 78 - 115 - 


to the sudden and quite radical change in the philosophical 
climate that followed the introduction of new translations of the 
works of Aristotle soon after St. Anselm’s death. 1 In the early 
thirteenth century, however, St. Anselm’s argument began to 
enjoy a considerable vogue. William of Auxerre, in his Summa 
Aurea, written between 1215 and 1231, is the first known thir¬ 
teenth-century thinker to refer to the Proslogion argument, 2 and 
he is followed by other contemporaries such as the Oxford 
Dominican, Richard Fishacre, and the Franciscan, Alexander 
fof Hales. Richard Fishacre has an extremely ingenious variant 
I of the Anselmian proof: thus he says, God may be defined as the 
\ ‘most simple being’ (‘ens simplicissimum’); but such a being 
cannot be distinguished from its existence, for then it would no 
longer be simple; therefore its essence must be identical with 
lits existence, which is to say it must exist necessarily. 3 

Some thirty years later the great St. Bonaventure takes up 
the Proslogion argument and gives it an important place in his 
natural theology. In his Quaestiones disputatae he concludes: 
‘The truth “God exists” is a truth which is most certain in 
itself in that it is a primary and most immediate truth. For not 
only is the cause of the predicate contained in the subject, but 
the existence which is predicated of the subject is absolutely 
identical with the subject. That is why, just as the uniting of a 
subject and predicate which are removed to the greatest degree 
from each other is completely repugnant to the intellect, so 
also the dividing of what is one and indivisible is not less 
repugnant to the intellect. Thus, just as it is false in an abso¬ 
lutely evident way that the same thing can both exist and not 
exist, or that it should at the same time be the greatest existent 

1 A. Daniels, O.S.B., has remarked upon the rareness of manuscripts of the 
Proslogion in twelfth-century monastic libraries. See his collected thirteenth- 
century texts referring to the Proslogion: Quellenbeitrdge und Untersuchungen zur 
Geschichte dor Gottesbeweise im dreizehnten Jahrhundert, Munster, 1909, p. 111, in the 
series Beitrage zur Gesckichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters . There is, though, an echo 
of the Proslogion formula, ‘quo nichil melius cogitari potest’, as well as other 
Anselmian themes, in the work of Achard of St. Victor, who was abbot of St. 
Victor between 1155 and 1160 and who died in 1171. See ‘Achard de St. Victor’ 
by M.-Th. Alvemey, in Reckerckes de thiologie ancienne et midiivale , xxi, 1954,299-306. 

2 Summa Aurea , lib. i, cap. i. Text in Daniels, p. 26. 

3 SenterUiarum , lib. i, dist. iii. Daniels, p. 23. For a discussion of Richard’s argu¬ 
ment see J. Chatillon, ‘De Guillaume d*Auxerre k saint Thomas d’Aquin: l’argu- 
ment de saint Anselme chez les premiers scolastiques du XIII* si£cle’, in the collec¬ 
tion Spicilegium Beccense, i, Paris, 1959. 



and not exist in any way, so also it is most evidently true that 
the primary and greatest thing exists. . . .V 

It was, so it seems, partly against St. Bonaventure’s version 
of the Anselmian argument that St. Thomas Aquinas argued. 1 2 
Aquinas, it is well known, completely rejects the argument, or 
what he took to be Anselm’s argument, though, as we shall see 
later, it can be shown that his criticisms rest upon a misunder¬ 
standing. At all events, understood or misunderstood, the 
Proslogion argument continued to be discussed in the late 
thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries by such thinkers as 
Giles of Rome, Henry of Ghent, and William of Ware. 3 Duns 
Scotus, for one, took the argument seriously and revised or 
‘coloured’ it so as to make it into a proof of the infinity of the 
‘First Being’. 4 Again, in the De Primo Principio , Scotus exploits 
Anselm’s idea of a ‘pure perfection’ and argues that the idea of 
God as a synthesis of ‘pure perfections’ cannot contain any 
contradiction, since contradiction can only occur where some¬ 
thing is posited and something is negated. 5 Scotus’s version can 
be considered as a bridge between St. Anselm’s argument and 
the later variations of it developed by Leibniz and Descartes. 
The Leibnizian formula, ‘If God is possible, God exists’, derives 
in fact from Scotus. 6 

After Duns Scotus, other fourteenth-century thinkers such as 
the Cambridge master Robert Holkot and John of Beverley also 
gave the Proslogion argument close attention, while John 

1 Text in Chatillon, Spic. Bee ., pp. 224-5; other texts in Daniels, Quellenbeitrage .. 
pp. 38-40. Chatillon remarks (loc. cit., pp. 229-30) that for St. Bonaventure St. 
Anselm’s argument was linked with St. Augustine’s proof of God through the 
notion of truth conceived as a participation in the divine truth. ‘It is because the 
primary’ truth dwells in us and manifests itself in us in a certain way that we know 
its existence with evidence. ... In this idea of something than which one cannot 
conceive of a greater, where St. Bonaventure claimed to have perceived a reflection 
of the divine light, St. Thomas Aquinas would recognise only a concept.’ 

2 Aquinas discusses the argument in his Summa Theologiae , la, q. II, art. I; 
Summa Contra Gentiles , 1. x, xi. 

3 Texts in Daniels, Quellenbeitrage .... 

4 See E. Gilson, Jean Duns Scot , Paris, 1952, pp. 166 ff. 

5 See A. Wolter, The Transcendental and their Function in the Metaphysics of Duns 
Scotus, New York, 1946, ch. vii, p. 174. 

6 ‘Si potest esse, potest esse a se, et ita est a sc’, De Primo Principio, iii. 2. The 
principle, however, comes originally from Aristotle: ‘In the case of eternal things, 
what can be must be’, Physics , iii, c. 4, 203b3o; De Gen. et Corr. ii, c. 2, 337b35. 
On Scotus’s position sec A. Koyr£, Essai sur Vidie de Dieu et les preuves de son existence 
chez Descartes , Paris, 1922, p. 195. 



Wyclif, always an admirer of St. Anselm, adopted the argu¬ 
ment as his own in his Summa de Ente (c. 1369), 3 

Even after the waning of scholasticism and the beginning 
of the philosophical revolution represented principally by 
Descartes, St. Anselm’s argument maintained its interest for 
philosophers. Whether or not Descartes knew St. Anselm’s 
Proslogion at first hand, there is no doubt that it influenced his 
own celebrated proof of the existence of God based on the idea 
of a ‘supremely perfect being’, though it is open to dispute 
whether or not the Cartesian proof is a legitimate descendant 
of St. Anselm’s argument. 2 

Leibniz was greatly attracted by the Anselmian argument 
and described it as ‘very beautiful and really very ingenious’ 
though needing extra elements to make it logically rigorous. 3 
On the other hand, Kant, as is well known, rejected the 
argument, though it seems that he did not know St. Anselm’s 
texts at first hand and that his criticisms of what he confusingly 
calls the ‘ontological proof’ (a proof abstracting, from, all ex¬ 
perience and concluding a priori from simple concepts _to .the 
odstence_of a_ supreme .being) axe directed primarily against 
Descartes and Leibniz. 4 Whether or not Kant’s objections 
affect the Proslogion argument depends, of course, upon 
whether the Anselmian and Cartesian arguments involve the 
same principles and have the same logical structure, and we 
shall have to reserve this very moot question until later. How¬ 
ever, whatever the truth about this, from Kant’s time onwards 
it came to be assumed that the criticisms of the ‘ontological 
proof’ in the Critique of Pure Reason were fatal to St. Anselm’s 
argument. Consequently, in post-Kantian philosophy, the 
argument came to be viewed as a quaint and naive medieval 

1 See R. W. Southern, ‘St. Anselm and his English Pupils’, p. 3. For Wyclif see 
Johannes Wyclif: Summa de Ente , Libri Primi Tractatus Primus et Secundus , ed. with 
introduction by S. Harrison Thomson, Oxford, 1930, pp. 78-79. 

* Koyr6, in his Essai sur Vidie de Dieu . . . chez Descartes , claims that Descartes 
knew of St. Anselm’s argument at first hand, though he pretended ignorance of it. 
Gilson, on the other hand, claims that Descartes knew St. Anselm’s position only 
through Aquinas’s distorted version of it. See his Etudes sur le rSle de la pensie midiivale 
dans la formation du sysUme cartisien , Paris, 1930, especially ch. iv, ‘Descartes et 
saint Anselme*. See also ‘Position anselmienne et demarche cart&ienne*, by Joseph 
de Finance, in Spic. Bee., pp. 259-72. For Descartes’ s proof see Discourse , 4th part; 

\j Meditations, v. 

9 New Essays Concerning Human Understanding , Book IV, ch. x. 

♦ Critique of Pure Reason, ‘Transcendental Dialectic’, Book II, ch. iii, sec. 4. 



conundrum easily to be dispose^ of by rehearsing the Kantian 
axiom that existence is not a predicate. On the neo-scholastic 
side also St. Anselm’s argument came to be neglected because 
it was considered that Aquinas’s refutation of it was final and 
definitive, though there were certain nineteenth-century 
Catholic thinkers who revived a psychologized form of it. 1 

St. Anselm’s brain-child, however, has weathered this period 
of condescension and neglect and is once more the subject of 
philosophical discussion. On the Continent, for example, over 
the last thirty years Anselm’s work has been exhaustively 
discussed from many angles, and the Proslogion argument has 
claimed the attention of thinkers as diverse as Karl Barth and / 
Etienne Gilson. 2 

Again, even in the contemporary Anglo-Saxon philosophical 
world where, one might suppose, there would not be a great 
deal of sympathy with the kind of philosophical reasoning 
exemplified in the Proslogion, there has been a modest but 
significant renaissance of interest in the Anselmian argument. 3 

Quite apart from this, however, the Proslogion is a genuinely 
‘classical’ text in philosophical tfiec^ogy. Whatever one may 
think, in the last resort, of the Cogency ofS£ Anselm’s argument, 
it nevertheless brings up, in a very profound and vivid way. 
certain quite fundamental points about the ‘logic’ of the con¬ 
cept ‘God’ which have to be pondered by anyone thinkin g in 
the field of philosophical theology. So long, then, as the enter¬ 
prise of philosophical theology continues, we may expect to 
have the Proslogion argument still very much with us. 

1 See J. Bainvel’s article ‘Anselme de Canterbury’ in Dictionnaire de thiologie 
catholique , i, pt. ii, 1327-60. 

2 K. Barth, Fides quaerens intelUctum , Munich, 1931, English translation i960. 

£. Gilson, ‘Sens et nature de l’argument de saint Anselme’, in Archives d'histoire 
doctrinale et UtUraire du moyen dge , ix, 1934, 5-51. See also the various articles on the 
Proslogion argument in Spic. Bee.: H. Bouillard, ‘La Preuve de Dieu dans le Pros¬ 
logion et son interpretation par Karl Barth’; A. Forest, ‘L’Argument de saint 
Anselme dans la philosophie reflexive*; H. de Lubac, ‘Sur le chapitre xrv° du 
Proslogion*. See also M. Cappuyns, ‘L’Argument de saint Anselme*, in Recherckes 
de thiologie ancienne et miditvale, xi, 1934, 313-16, for a review of discussions in the 
1930*3 of the Proslogion argument. 

3 See D. P. Henry, ‘The Proslogion Proofs’, in The Philosophical Quarterly, v, 

1955, 147-51; C. K. Grant, ‘The Ontological Disproof of the Devil’, in Analysis, 
xvii, 1957, 71-72; N. Malcolm, ‘Anselm’s Ontological Arguments’, in The Philo¬ 
sophical Review, lxix, 1960,41-62. See also ibid., lxx, 1961, for the many replies to 
Malcolm’s article. 


A Benedictine monk after a misspent youth; abbot and 
teacher at Bee; Archbishop of Canterbury; adversary of 
William Rufus and Henry I; a central figure in the Investiture 
quarrel; recognized by the Pope and all Christendom as the 
first theologian of the age—the events and achievements of 
St. Anselm’s life are so dramatic and remarkable that it is small 
wonder that he has been the subject of so many biographies. 1 
The first, which remains the best, was that written by his 
English secretary and devout disciple Eadmer. Eadmer wrote 
two accounts of the saint’s life, De Vita et Conversatione Anselmi 
Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis, which is mainly concerned with his 
private life, and the Historia Novorum, which is an accout of 
Anselm’s public career as Archbishop of Canterbury. 2 Eadmer’s 
work has qualities of sobriety and objectivity that make it 
stand out among medieval histories and biographies, not usually 
remarkable for these qualities, and the Historia Novorum. has 
been described as ‘the first major Latin historical work in 
England since Bede and ... one of the greatest achievements of 
Anglo-Norman historiography’. 3 Other medieval biographies, 
such as those by Baldwin of Tournai and John of Salisbury, are 
for the most part based upon Eadmer’s two works. 4 

1 Among the older biographies, those by R. W. Church, St. Anselm , London, 
1888; J. H. Rigg, St. Anselm of Canterbury , London, 1896; C. de Rdmusat, St. 
Anselme de Cantorbiry , Paris, 1868, still retain their value, although they all tend to 
be over-sympathetic to St. Anselm and a little un-critical in their approach. This 
defect is more than compensated by R. W. Southern’s fresh and astringent ap¬ 
praisal of St. Anselm’s life and career in his book St. Anselm and his Biographer , 
Cambridge, 1963. 

2 Both edited by M. Rule in the Rolls Series, lxxxi, London, 1884. See also the 
new edition of Eadmer’s Vita Anselmi by R. W. Southern: The Life of St. Anselm , 
Archbishop of Canterbury , by Eadmer , London, 1962. 

3 N. F. Cantor, Church , Kingship and Lay Investiture in England'. 1089-1135 , Prince¬ 
ton, 1958, p. 39. For a balanced assessment of Eadmer’s two works see Southern, 
St. Anselm and his Biographer , pp. 218-43. 

* Baldwin’s biography is incorporated in the Chronicle of Ralph de Diceto , ed. 
Stubbs, Rolls Series, lxviii (1), 223-38; for John of Salisbury’s life see Migne, 
P.L. exeix. 1009-40; see also William of Malmesbury, De Gestis Pontificum , Rolls 
Series, ed. Hamilton, lii. 74 ff. Two other works also give a little oblique informa¬ 
tion not available in Eadmer’s accounts. One is the so-called Liber de Similitudinibus, 
once ascribed to Anselm, but now thought to be by another (possibly William of 


St. Anselm was bom in 1033 near Aosta, now in Italy and 
then on the frontier of Lombardy and Burgundy. He was most 
probably a Burgundian by race. 1 Save for a few pious tales 
almost nothing is known of his parents or of his youth, although 
it has been conjectured that his mother Ermenburga had some 
connexion with the Counts of Savoy. His father, Gundulf, 
seems also to have been a man of substance. Anselm’s mother 
died when he was in his twenties and, according to Eadmer’s 
account, ‘the ship of his heart, having as it were lost its anchor, 
drifted almost completely among the waves of the world’.* 
Quarrelling with his father, he left home at the age of twenty- 
three, and after wanderings in Burgundy and France, where 
he probably spent some time in the schools of Fleury-sur- 
Loire and Chartres, he arrived in Normandy in 1059. The 
Benedictine abbey of Bee, sixteen miles south-west of Rouen, 
founded in 1040 by Herluin, attracted Anselm’s interest, 
mainly through the reputation of a fellow Italian Lanfranc, 
then prior of the abbey and master of its celebrated school, and 
then also engaged in controversy with Berengar. Lanfranc was 
but one of a number of Italian scholars who came to Normandy 
in the late tenth and eleventh centuries. William of Volpiano 
and John of Ravenna, for example, had created a school at 
Fecamp, and another Italian, Suppo, became abbot of Mont 
St. Michel in 1033, while two of Lanfranc’s nephews, Paul and 
Lanfranc, also followed their uncle to Normandy. 3 At all 
events, Lanfranc, described by Pope Clement II as ‘a guide and 
light leading the minds of the Latins into a study of the trivium 
and quadrivium which had fallen into neglect and profound 
obscurity’, seems to have provided as broad a study of the 

Malmesbury), although based upon Anselm’s own sayings. There is also a similar 
collection of Anselmian sayings entitled Dicta Anselmi, written by Alexander, a 
monk of Christ Church. R. W. Southern has discussed the significance of both 
works in his essay ‘St. Anselm and his English Pupils’. Southern comments on the 
Dicta as follows (p. 8): ‘They show how fragmentary and occasional a part of his 
teaching the great treatises were, and how much he was absorbed in the ordinary 
necessities of monastic instruction.’ See also the same author’s St. Anselm and his 
Biographer , pp. 221-5. 

1 See B. Secret, ‘Saint Anselme, bourguignon d’Aoste’, in Spic. Bee., pp. 561-70; 
and Epistola 262, Schmitt, iv. 176-7, where Anselm speaks of his family’s being 
related to Humbert of Savoy. 

2 Eadmer, Vita, 1. iv; Southern, p. 6. 

3 Cantor, op. cit., p. 23; J. Laporte, ‘Saint Anselme et l’ordre monastique*, in 
Spic. Bee., p. 455. 



‘humanities’ as was available at the time. It is known that 
Lanfranc wrote two (now lost) logical works, one entitled 
Dialectica and the other Quaestiones, and he seems to have given 
particular emphasis to the study of logic. William of Malmes¬ 
bury reports, a little tartly, that ‘his pupils constantly had their 
mouths full of it’. 1 

His father having died, leaving him all his property, Anselm 
debated whether he should return home to Italy or become a 
monk attached to Bee. He decided on this latter course and 
entered the monastery at Bee as a novice in 1060. With exag¬ 
gerated modesty Anselm says that he chose to enter Bee rather 
than Gluny because he knew that at Bee Lanfranc’s intellectual 
brilliance would so overshadow him that he would be left free 
to meditate upon God without distraction!* Anselm’s rise to 
positions of authority in the monastery was rapid, and when 
Lanfranc went to a new monastery, founded by William the 
Conqueror at Caen in 1063, Anselm succeeded him as Prior of 
Bee. He had held this post for fifteen years, 1063-78, when, 
upon the death of Herluin, he became abbot of the monastery. 
A medieval abbot, particularly of a large and famous monastery 
such as Bee, enjoyed considerable social and political prestige 
and power, and during his abbacy Anselm came to have an 
international reputation as a counsellor and adviser. The scope 
of his influence in high places can be gauged from his letters 
to personages as diverse as Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem; 
Matilda, Countess of Tuscany; the King of Scots; the High 
King of Ireland, and the Earl of Orkney. 3 We know also that 
when William the Conqueror lay dying at Rouen in 1087 he 
sent for Anselm to hear his confession. 

Apart from these advisory activities and his considerable 
administrative duties as head of Bee, Anselm carried on his 
scholarly work in a very intense way and made Bee an even 

1 De Gestis Regum , ed. Stubbs, Rolls Series, xc (ii). On Lanfranc see A, J. 
Macdonald, Lanfranc , A Study of his Life , Work and Writing, Oxford, 1926; and R. W. 
Southern, ‘Lanfranc and Berengar of Tours*, in Studies Presented to F. M. Powicke , 
London, 1948, pp. 27-28. 

2 Vita , 1. iv; Southern, p. 9. 

3 Letters in Schmitt, iii, iv, v. See also J. F. A. Mason, ‘Saint Anselm*s Relations 
with Laymen: Selected Letters*, in Spic. Bee ., pp. 547-60. ‘Not only as a scholar but 
also as an Archbishop, Anselm was an international figure, whose interests through 
birth, office or friendship extended from the new Christian state in Syria, through 
Italy to the far fringes of the British Isles.* 


more famous intellectual centre than it had been under 
Lanfranc. It was during these thirty years at Bee, 1063-93, that 
Anselm wrote his Meditations and what we might loosely call 
his philosophical works, the Monologion (1076), the Proslogion 
(1077-8), the De Grammatico , the De Veritate , and the De 
Libertate Arbitrii (1080-5). During this period he also wrote 
the De Casu Diaboli (1085—90) and began a work against the 
arch-nominalist Roscelin, which later became the Epistola de 
Incamatione Verbi (1092-4). The latter work, together with his 
other theological treatises (though Anselm himself would not 
recognize our distinction between his philosophical and 
theological works), the Cur Deus Homo (1094-8), the De 
Conceptu Virginali (1099-1100), the De Processione Spiritus Sancti 
(1102), the Epistola de Sacrificio Azymi et Fermentati 9 and the 
De Sacramentis Ecclesiae (1106-7) were all written during 
Anselm’s pontificate as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 
1109. In his last years also Anselm wrote two other philo¬ 
sophical works, one the De Concordia (1107-8), and the other an 
unfinished logical treatise which has been given the name De 
Potestate et Impotentia , Possibilitate et Impossibilitate , Necessitate et 
Libertate . 1 

Tantalizingly little is known of St. Anselm’s teaching methods 
at Bee or of the structure of the scholastic curriculum that 
the young, monks followed there. 2 Eadmer tells us that Anselm 
taught ‘not as others do, but in a vastly different way, explain¬ 
ing each point by referring to common and well-known 
examples, and basing it on solid arguments, without any 
ornaments or tricks of speech ’.3 Another contemporary, 
Guibert of Nogent, also recounts how St. Anselm guided him 
in his reading and studies. St. Anselm, he says, recommended 

1 This extremely interesting logical work was discovered by F. S. Schmitt and 
edited by him under the title, Ein news unvollendetes Werk des hL Anselm von 
Canterbury: *Dc Potestate et impotentia , possibilitate et impossibilitate , necessitate et 
libertate\ in the series Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters , xxxiii, 1936. 
On the chronology of St. Anselm*s works see F. S. Schmitt, ‘Zur Chronologic der 
Werke des hi. Anselm*, in Revue BinSdictine, xliv, 1932, 322-50. 

2 Cf. R. W. Southern, ‘Lanfranc and Rerengar’, p. 27: ‘The two chief obstacles 
to the understanding of the thought of the 11 th century are our ignorance of the 
scholastic methods of the period and an inadequate biographical knowledge of the 
masters who developed these methods. Between Gerbert (d. 1103), whose methods 
of teaching have been sketched by his pupil Richer, and the masters of the early 
12th century, the lecture rooms of Europe are only faintly illuminated.* 

3 Vita, 1. xxxi; Southern, p. 56. 



the Moralia of St. Gregory to him as valuable for the interpreta¬ 
tion of Scripture, and he taught Guibert the elements of 
philosophy while commenting upon the Scriptures. 1 In his 
various writings Anselm often uses the dialogue form, which 
he says is ‘clearer and more pleasing to many minds, particu¬ 
larly to those who are slower in intelligence’, 2 and it may be 
that this reflects his own teaching methods. In any event the 
formal scholastic method of argument had, for good or ill, not 
yet been invented, nor did St. Anselm have a full-blown 
technical philosophical vocabulary at his disposal. For the most 
part he made do with everyday language. This no doubt had 
its disadvantages, for one often feels while reading St. Anselm 
that he did not have a sufficient arsenal of concepts and distinc¬ 
tions to express precisely what he meant to say. But it also had 
some advantages in that St. Anselm’s thought was never 
bemused by abstractions in the way in which the thinking of 
some of the later scholastics certainly was. As he puts it, his 
works are the fruit of meditation ‘from the point of view of one 
seeking through silent reasoning within himself things he knows 
not’. 3 

If we do not know in detail how St. Anselm taught and studied 
at Bee, we do however know in general outline how studies 
were organized in monasteries of the eleventh and early 
twelfth centuries similar to Bee. 4 Bee was a monastery following 
the Benedictine Rule and teaching and learning had to be 
fitted into the time left over from the religious exercises (the 
‘Opus Dei’) that occupied a good deal of the day. Thus the 
monks rose between midnight and 2 a.m. to chant the collec¬ 
tion of psalms, lessons, and prayers known as Nocturns (later as 
Matins). This was followed by the office of Lauds, the whole 
night office taking about two hours. The monks then returned 
to bed until the first office of the day, known as Prime, which 
was said at about 6 a.m. in summer and at daybreak in winter. 

x De Vita sua sive monodiarum libri tres, P.L. clvi. 874, 

2 Cur Deus Homo , 1. i; Schmitt, ii. 48. 

3 Proslogion , Preface, p. 103. 

4 See P. Delhaye, ‘L’Organisation scolaire au xn® stecle*, in Traditio , v, 1947, 
pp. 2ii~68; C. H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century , Harvard, 1927, 
ch. ii; G. Par6, A. Brunet, P. Tremblay, La Renaissance du XII e sticle, Toronto, 
1933; R* W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages , London, 1959, ch. iv; 
J. de Ghellinck, Le Mouvement thiologique du Xll e sticle, 2nd ed., Paris, 1948. 



The monks would then wash and go about their tasks until the 
time for the monastic or chapter Mass. Just before this Mass a 
light breakfast ( mixtum) of bread with a little beer or wine 
would be taken. The chapter Mass was followed by the office 
of Terce, three hours after sunrise, and then the monks would 
assemble for half an hour in the chapter house for spiritual 
instruction and correction from the abbot and for the discus¬ 
sion of monastic business. The various manual and intellectual 
tasks would then be done. At about 12 a.m. High Mass would 
be sung, this being the most important part of the monastic 
day, and after the Mass, at about 2 p.m., the principal meal 
(cena) would be taken. The Benedictine Rule forbade the eating 
of meat, and for the most part the monks ate bread, fish, eggs, 
and cheese. After dinner the office of None was sung, and then 
the afternoon was given over to manual labour and to study 
and the copying of manuscripts in the scriptorium and reading 
room, which were usually in the walk attached to the monastery 
church, this being partially screened against the weather and 
having the floor covered with straw. At 5 p.m. the Office of 
Vespers was sung and then a small supper was served before 
the last office of the monastic day, Compline. The monks retired 
a little before 7 p.m. 1 

It will be evident from this that study and scholarly research 
were very much a secondary concern of twelfth-century monastic 
life, and one wonders, indeed, how St. Anselm was able to find 
the time and opportunity to write so much while he was at Bee. 
One can only marvel at his intellectual stamina. 

As for the actual course of studies pursued by the monks at 
Bee, we may surmise that it was constituted in roughly the same 
way as in the other great eleventh-century schools such as 
Fulbert’s famous school at Chartres which was flourishing a 
litde before Anselm’s time. 2 * * * Lanfranc, we have already noted, 
had established the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) and 
quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy) in 

1 See D. Knowles, The Monastic Order in England , 1950, ch. xxvi, The Daily Life 
of the Monastery; also The Constitutions of Lanfranc , 1951, pp. xxxv-xxxvi for 
Lanfranc’s monastic timetable based to some extent on the customs at Bee. 

2 On Fulbert (960-1021) and his successors at Chartres see A. Clerval, Les 

£coles de Chartres au moycn dge , du V e au XVI 6 sikles, Chartres, 1895, especially 

chs. ii and xiii. See also Loren C. MacKinney, Bishop Fulbert and Education at the 

School of Chartres , Notre Dame, U.S.A., 1957. 



Normandy, and the subjects comprised by these two would have 
formed the backbone of the teaching at Bee. Particular emphasis 
would have been given to the study of grammar (or the mixture 
of logic and grammar that ‘grammar’ then was) which was held 
to be basic to the study of philosophy. 1 So St. Anselm, speaking 
of his own little logico-grammatical treatise, the De Grammatico, 
says that it was meant as an introduction to dialectics. 2 

We know also that great stress would have been placed on the 
study of dialectics or logic, and it is easy to see from St. Anselm’s 
own writings that he had given close attention to those of 
Aristotle’s logical works available to him through Boethius’ 
translations and commentaries. Thus, Anselm refers to the 
Categories, the Topics, and the De Interpretation of Aristotle, the 
so-called ‘logica vetus’, as well as to Boethius’ commentary on 
the Isagoge of Porphyry (itself a commentary on Aristotle) and 
the same author’s two commentaries on the Categories. Recent 
studies have shown to what an extent St. Anselm’s thought was 
influenced by Aristotelian and Boethian logic, particularly in 
his use of the modal concepts of possibility and necessity which 
play so large a part in his thinking. 3 

The study of theology, mainly through the texts of the early 
Fathers, also occupied, of course, a central place in monastic 
studies. St. Augustine was given pride of place but, judging from 
the references in Anselm’s own works, later writers such as Leo 
the Great and Gregory the Great were also closely studied. 
Certain of the Roman poets would also have been available 
(Ovid, Virgil, Horace), and a good selection of the historical 

1 See R. W. Hunt, 'Studies in Priscian in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries’, 
in MARS, i, 1941, pp. 194-231: ‘If we neglect grammatical theory, we are cutting 
ourselves off from an important source of understanding the thought of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries. At that time everyone had to study grammar and it was re¬ 
garded as “the foundation and root of all teaching”.’ See also the important article 
‘Grammaire et th6ologie’, by M. D. Chenu, in La Thiologxe au XII 6 sikle, Paris, 
* 957 . PP- 90 ff- 

2 De Veritate, Praef.; Schmitt, i. 173. On the De Grammatico see D. P. Henry, 
‘Why “Grammaticus” ?*, in Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi , xxviii, 1958,165-80; and 
‘St. Anselm’s “De Grammatico*”, in The Philosophical Quarterly, x, i960, 115-26. 

3 This recognition of the strongly ‘Boethian* character of St. Anselm’s thought is 
due above all to the work of D. P. Henry. In addition to the articles already 
cited see this author's 'St. Anselm on the Varieties of “Doing”*, in Theoria, xix, 
3,178 ff.; ‘The Proslogion Proofs’, in The Philosophical Quarterly, v, 1955, 147 ff.; ‘St. 
Anselm’s Nonsense', in Mind, Ixxii, 1963, 51-60; ‘The Scope of the Logic of St. 
Anselm', vnUHomme et son destin d'aprls les penseurs du mqyen dge, Louvain-Paris, 1960, 
pp . 377-83- 



and philosophical writings of classical Roman authors, Cicero, 
Seneca the Stoic, Pliny the Elder, Caesar, and others. The 
rudiments of civil and canon law would also have been studied. 1 
It is well to remember that eleventh- and twelfth-century lib¬ 
raries were on quite a small scale. Thus we know that early 
in the twelfth century Bee had a library of one hundred and 
sixty-four volumes, while Monte Cassino had at the same time 
about seventy volumes. 2 

Some idea of how scarce books were and how much valued 
can be gathered from certain of the instructions laid down by 
Lanfranc for the monks at Christ Church, Canterbury. On the 
Monday after the first Sunday in Lent, Lanfranc writes: ‘Before 
the brethren go into chapter the librarian should have all the 
books save those that were given out for reading the previous 
year collected on a carpet in the chapter house: last year’s books 
should be carried in by those who have had them, and they 
are to be warned by the librarian in chapter the previous day 
of this. . .. When each hears his name read out he shall return 
the book which was given him to read, and anyone who is 
conscious that he has not read in full the book he received shall 
confess his fault prostrate and ask for pardon. Then the aforesaid 
librarian shall give to each of the brethren another book to read.’ 3 

At all events under Anselm’s guidance Bee became the fore¬ 
most intellectual centre in Europe, attracting students from 
Italy and other countries. Eadmer lays great stress on the 
gentleness and kindness of Anselm’s dealings with his monks and 
students and he gives us a number of stories—Anselm personally 

1 D. P. Henry has remarked the echoes of Roman law distinctions in the De 
Potestate ...; see his ‘St. Anselm on Scriptural Analysis’, in Sophia (Australia), vol. i, 
no. 3, 1962, pp. 8-15; and ‘St. Anselm and Paulus’ in Law Quarterly Review , Ixxix, 

1963* 3 <>- 3 i‘ 

2 See J. W. Thompson, The Medieval Library , Chicago, 1939, 239-41, on Bee. 
Also Ldon Maitre, Les £coles ipiscopales et monastiques avant les university (768-1180 ), 
Ligug^-Paris, 1924: for an analysis of certain eleventh- and twelfth-century 
libraries, including Bee, see pp. 179-86. See also Haskins, The Renaissance of the 
Twelfth Century y p. 37; and the same author’s The Normans in European History , 1919, 
pp. 178-80, for an analysis of the one hundred and thirteen books bequeathed to 
Bee by Philip, Bishop of Bayeux. Knowles, The Monastic Order in England, pp. 522-7, 
points out that from 1150 onwards most of the important Benedictine Houses had 
quite large libraries. In 1170 Christ Church had 600 volumes, Durham had 400, 
and in 1202 Rochester had 300. See also for further details J. de Ghellinck, art. 
‘Biblioth&ques* in Dictionnaire de spirituality, i, 1604. 

3 Cited in Knowles, The Monastic Constitutions of Lanfranc , p. 19. 



attending a young monk when ill, or rebuking a fellow abbot 
for his harshness towards his monks, or weeping at the memory 
of a dead monk dear to him—which present the saint in a 
very charming and attractive light. This side of his character 
is brought out very well in the remarkable prayer composed by 
Anselm, in which he addresses Christ as a mother. ‘And Thou, 
Jesus, dear Lord, art Thou not a mother too? . . . Indeed Thou 
art, and the mother of all mothers, who didst taste death in 
Thy longing to bring forth children unto life.’ 1 

But beneath the gentleness and charm Anselm had great 
toughness of mind and will, and in his tempestuous dealings 
with William Rufus and Henry I after his election to the see of 
Canterbury, as well as in his forceful policy to secure the 
primacy of Canterbury, he showed himself a shrewd and com¬ 
petent statesman, despite his own conventional disclaimers of 
any interest in public affairs or of any aptitude for playing 
politics. 2 

In 1078 Anselm, already a well-known and universally 
respected figure, visited his old master Lanfranc, who had 
become Archbishop of Canterbury at the Conquest. Anselm 
made a very favourable impression in England, and when 
Lanfranc died in 1089 Anselm was the obvious choice as his 
successor. William Rufus, however, was anxious to plunder as 
much of the Canterbury revenues as possible and kept the see 
vacant for four years, so that it was not until 1093 that it was 
offered to Anselm. At first Anselm refused on the ground that, 
as a monk and scholar, he was unfitted to engage in secular 
affairs, particularly with a ruler such as William Rufus. How¬ 
ever, in a fantastic scene which Eadmer has described for us, 
the English bishops thrust the archiepiscopal staff between 
Anselm’s fingers and dragged him by force to the church to be 
inducted into the office. Anselm finally agreed after laying down 

1 Oratio io; Schmitt, ill. 40. On Anselm’s prayers and meditations see A. 
Wilmart.^u/euM spirituels et textes divots du moyen dgt tom, Paris, 193a; also the same 
author’s introduction to Miditations et priires de saint Anselme, Paris-Maredsous, 

* See Epist. 3; Schmitt, iii. 354. R. W. Southern, St. Anselm and his Biographer, 
on the other hand, makes much of St. Anselm’s supposed political ineptitude. 
However, as Southern himself admits, Anselm did have a measure of success in 
clarifying the old Norman feudal confusion between the spiritual and temporal 
spheres, as well as in his own policy of securing the primacy of Canterbury, in 
which he was prepared even to oppose the Pope. 



a number of conditions which William Rufus reluctantly 
accepted. So on the 25th September 1093 Anselm was en¬ 
throned as Archbishop of Canterbury, and there began his long 
and violent relationship with William Rufus. 

William seems to have combined the virtues of an American 
gangster with those of a South American dictator; as one writer 
puts it, ‘from the moral standpoint he was probably the worst 
king that has occupied the throne of England’. 1 It was not, 
however, so much his personal vices that brought him into 
contact with Anselm as his maintenance and exaggeration of 
the tradition of William the Conqueror (and of the Norman 
dukes before the Conqueror), according to which ministers of 
the Church were subjects in the strict sense of the temporal 
ruler and bound to pay feudal fealty. This tradition was, more¬ 
over, supported by a considerable body of theory purporting 
to justify royal supremacy over the bishops. 2 According to 
Eadmer, William the Conqueror ‘would not suffer anyone 
settled in the whole of his dominions to receive the Bishop of 
Rome as apostolic Pope unless at his command, or to receive 
letters of the Pope on any account if they had not previously 
been shown to him’. The King, Eadmer goes on, ‘did not permit 
the Primate of his kingdom, that is to say the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, if he assembled and presided over a council 
general of his bishops, to enact or forbid anything, except what 
was agreeable to his will and had been previously ordained by 
him*. 3 

Lanffanc had in practice accepted William’s strict control of 
the Church and seems to have acquiesced in his rejection of 
papal interference in Norman affairs, though it has to be 
remembered that the Conqueror had used his power with 
discretion and had, for instance, been instrumental in reform¬ 
ing the Norman episcopacy and the clergy in general. Anselm, 
however, was a moderate supporter of the policies of Pope 
Gregory VII (elected in 1073), who was determined to assert 

x A. L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta , Oxford, 1951, p. 99. 

2 See G. H. Williams, The Norman Anonymous of York , 1100 A.D. , in the series 
Harvard Theological Studies, xviii, 1951. 

3 Hist. Nov., in Rolls Series, lxxxi. 9. See also F. N. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 
I 947 > P* 667; and also D. Knowles, ‘Religious Life and Organization* in the collec¬ 
tion Medieval England, vol. ii, ed. A. L. Poole, Oxford, 1958, p, 391; cf. Cantor, 
Church , Kingship and Lay Investiture, pp. 29-31. 

826610 G 



the ‘liberty of the Church’ (as against the confusion between 
the temporal and spiritual orders that was the legacy of the 
Carolingian compromise) vis-d-vis the power of the temporal 
ruler. In practice this meant rejecting the feudal right claimed 
by medieval rulers to invest bishops with their badges of office 
and to demand their submission as subjects. 1 Pope Urban II, 
Anselm’s contemporary, carried on this policy and, as we have 
noted, Anselm gave it his support in England. Anselm’s own 
interpretation of his position in relation to the King is expressed 
very clearly in a passage reported by Eadmer: ‘The plough 
(which must cultivate the fields of the Lord) in England is drawn 
and directed by two oxen superior to all others, the King and 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, the former by the exercise of 
justice, the latter by teaching divine doctrine and by the exercise 
of the magisterium.’ 2 Pere Congar, in a magisterial essay, 
sums up Anselm’s position in the following words: ‘The great 
motive inspiring St. Anselm was that which had animated the 
reform movement for fifty years before Anselm succeeded 
Lanfranc: Libertas ecclesiae .... Anselm shared the fundamental 
conviction of the men of the reform: the Church is not a 
creature of the King, it does not belong to him, it is not of his 
dominium. It is the Church of God; it is to Him that it belongs. 
And, from this point of view, it is for all the faithful, including 
Kings, a mother.’ 3 

Congar has also drawn attention to the parallelism in the 
twelfth century between the movement towards the recogni¬ 
tion of the proper autonomy of the temporal and spiritual 
orders with respect to each other, and the movement towards 
recognition of the autonomy of the spheres of faith and reason 
with respect to each other. However, although Anselm saw, 
more clearly than Lanfranc and many of his contemporaries, 
the distinction between the temporal and spiritual provinces, 
he did not have the idea of the ‘State’ as a separate and auto- 

1 For the Gregorian reform see A. Fliche, La Rtforme Grigorienne et la reconquite 
chritienne (1057-iz23) , tome viii. in the series Histoire de Viglise ..ed. A. Fliche and 
V. Martin, Paris, 1940. 

2 Hist. Nov., p. 36. 

3 Y. Congar, ‘L’figlise chez saint Anselme’, in Spic. Bee., pp. 371-99. See also 
Anselm’s words upon his departure for Rome in 1097, Eadmer, Vita , n. xxi; 
Southern, p. 93: *1 go indeed willingly trusting in God's mercy, that my journey 
will do something for the liberty of the Church in future times,' 


nomous power that was to be developed in the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. Nor did he have the clear and well-defined 
view of the autonomy of ‘reason’ and philosophy (as against 
that of the realm of ‘faith’ and theology) that was also to be 
developed later. 1 

Once committed to this policy of securing the liberty of the 
Church St. Anselm opposed the King’s right to invest bishops 
of the Church with their insignia, in the most intransigent way. 
As he put it in one of his letters: ‘It is not I who prohibit the 
King from conferring investitures, but having heard the Apos¬ 
tolic (the Pope) in a great council, excommunicate all those 
who give or receive lay investitures, I have no wish to hold 
communion with excommunicates or to become an excom¬ 
municate myself.’ 2 Anselm held to this position tenaciously 
and refused to accept the pallium, the symbol of papal ratifica¬ 
tion of his office, from William. Further, in 1097 he insisted on 
going to Rome without the King’s permission, and so, according 
to William, forfeited his archbishopric and became an exile. 
In Rome Anselm was received with extravagant respect by 
Urban II, who spoke of him as the ‘pope and patriarch of 
another region’, 3 and who gave him the place of honour at the 
Council of Bari in 1098 and at the Easter Council in Rome in 
1099. It was during his stay in Rome that Anselm finished his 
major theological work, the Cur DeusHomo. Urban II, however, 
refused to take direct action against William in support of 
Anselm’s claims, and, somewhat disappointed, Anselm retired 
to Lyons to stay with the Archbishop Hugh he mentions in the 
preface to the Proslogion. In 1100, the third year of Anselm’s 
exile, William Rufus was killed, and the new king, Henry I, 
invited Anselm to return to his see. The old quarrel, however, 
broke out again almost immediately when Henry demanded 
feudal submission from Anselm. Once again Anselm refused 
and was supported strongly by the new pope, Paschal II. After 
another journey to Rome in 1103 Anselm was once more 
exiled. In 1105, however, Paschal II excommunicated Henry’s 
chief adviser, and Anselm threatened to impose the same 

x From this point of view Congar’s conclusion goes too far: op. cit., p. 396, 
‘The consistency of the natural order, on the dual plane of Reason and of the State, 
is thus, for Anselm, a fact, a datum.* 

2 Epist . 327; Schmitt, v. 258. 

3 Eadmer, Vita , n. xxix; Southern, p. 105. 



sentence upon Henry. Henry thereupon showed that he was 
willing to come to some kind of compromise over the whole 
question, and in 1107 an agreement was reached between him 
and Anselm, Henry giving up his claim that feudal homage 
should be exacted from a bishop-elect before his consecration. 
Just what was gained by each side is open to question. It is 
possible to see the result of the compromise as a victory for 
Anselm and the right of the Church against the temporal 
power; thus Dean Church, in his old but excellent book on 
Anselm, concludes: c By the surrender of the significant cere¬ 
mony of delivering the bishopric by the emblematic staff and 
ring, it was emphatically put on record that the spiritual powers 
of the bishop were not the king’s to give; the prescription of 
feudalism was broken; a correction was visibly given to the 
confused but dangerous notions in which that generation had 
been brought up.’ On the other hand, it is possible to see the 
agreement of 1107 as a victory for Henry and for the lay powers 
generally. 1 

What is remarkable is that, during this time of alarms and 
excursions, Anselm managed to keep up his scholarly work. 
In fact between 1092 and 1102 Anselm produced the De 
Incamatione Verbi , his great and central theological work the 
Cur Deus Homo, the De Conceptu Virginali , the Meditatio Redem¬ 
ptions Humanae , and the De Processione Spiritus SanctL In other 
words more than half the bulk of Anselm’s writing was done 
after he had become Archbishop of Canterbury. 

We know little in detail of the last years of Anselm’s life. Nor 
unfortunately do we know a great deal about the very interest¬ 
ing school of disciples that he gathered about him while he was 
at Canterbury; Eadmer, Ralph, Gilbert Crispin, Baldwin, 
Alexander, Elmer, the beloved Boso, and the mysterious 
Honorius Augustodunensis. 2 

As we have already remarked St. Anselm’s writings had very 
little influence immediately after his death, and in the years 
until the beginning of the thirteenth century they are rarely 

1 Church, St. Anselm , p. 342. Cf. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta , 
p. 181: ‘The comment of Hugh the Chanter that by the surrender of the right of 
investiture the king had lost little or nothing, a little perhaps in royal dignity, 
nothing at all in power, seems to be fair estimate of the result of the six years* 

2 See Southern, St. Anselm and his Biographer , ch. v. 



cited or discussed. In the middle of the twelfth century the 
thought of Achard of St. Victor certainly shows an Anselmian 
impress, but, apart from him, Anselm is merely mentioned by 
Abelard and John of Cornwall, and the rest is largely silence. 
It is, in fact, not until the thirteenth century that the ‘Philo- 
sophus Christi’ (Henry of Huntingdon’s splendid name for 
Anselm) comes to be taken seriously. In 1215 Philip the 
Chancellor was discussing St. Anselm’s views on free will at the 
University of Paris, and by 1240 the ‘quasi-official reign of 
the theologian of Bee had clearly entered its glorious phase’. 1 
That, however, was some 100 years after St. Anselm’s death. 

St. Anselm died on the Wednesday before Easter, 21st April 
1109, in his seventy-sixth year and in the sixteenth year of his 
archiepiscopal reign. Eadmer has a charming story about the 
saint’s death which we may use to bring this summary account 
of his life and times to a conclusion: ‘When Palm Sunday 
dawned we were sitting around his bed as usual. One of our 
number said to him: “Father and Lord, as far as it is given to 
us to know, you are leaving this world and going to keep the 
Easter Court with your Lord.” He replied: “If it is His will I 
shall gladly obey, but if He should prefer me to stay with you 
just long enough to solve the question of the origin of the soul 
which I have been turning over in my mind, I would gratefully 
accept the chance, for I doubt whether anybody else will solve 
it when I am gone.” ’ 2 

1 J. de Ghellinck, Le mouvement thiologique du XII e stick , p. 85. The above details 
are taken from de Ghellinck. 

2 Vita , 11. lxvi; Southern, p. 141. 


i. The Character of St. Anselm's Thought 

We cannot hope to understand the Proslogion and its argument 
without knowing something of St. Anselm’s thought in general 
and above all of how he conceived of the relationship between 
knowledge through religious faith and knowledge through 
unaided philosophical reason. The difficulty, however, is that 
Anselm himself was not concerned formally and explicitly to 
demarcate the realm of faith and theology from the realm of 
reason and philosophy, assigning to each its respective ‘formal 
object’ and distinguishing the proper method of each, in the 
manner of l Aquinas__and the thirteenth-century thinkers. We 
may, no doubt, distinguish between certain philosophico- 
theological questions that interested Anselm—questions such 
as the existence and attributes of God, the freedom of the will, 
the nature of truth, and so on—and properly theological ques¬ 
tions such as the nature of the Trinity and the motive for the 
Incarnation, with which he was also concerned. But Anselm, 
like St. Augusti ne, did not explicitly make such a distinction; 
for him faith and reason were both parts of what we may call 
Christian wisdom, just as in the social sphere the Church and 
the temporal power were both parts of ‘Christendom’ for the 
men of his time. 

Questions that forced themselves o n Aquinas an d his con¬ 
temporaries (for example, concerning the way in which‘natural 
reason’ functions in the sphere of theology, and the proper 
demarcation of the realms of faith and reason) simply did not 
occur to St. Anselm, and we cannot expect him to be answering 
questions that he did not, and in a sense could not, put to 
himself. Anselm’s ideas on this whole question are in an un¬ 
crystallized state and we can be suspicious a priori of any 
interpretation that offers a tidy and unambiguous explanation 
of his position on faith and reason. 

At the same time it is legitimate and useful (though also a 
risky and delicate task) to analyse the virtualities or implicit 
intentions of St. Anselm’s thought and to try to discern whether 
they lend themselves to development in one direction or 


another. For example, we might ask whether, if St. Anselm 
were to return among us, he would recognize Aquinas and M. 
Gilson as his intellectual heirs; or whether, on the contrary, 
he would extend the right hand of fellowship to Professor 
Karl Barth; or whether, perhaps, he might deny his paternity 
to all three? It can be helpful to ask such hypothetical 
questions of St. Anselm, provided always that they are asked 
with tact. 

Before we go on to consider St. Anselm’s position on faith 
and reason we ought to say something about the general 
character or style of St. Anselm’s thought. The primary in¬ 
fluence upon his mind, as St. Anselm acknowledges, was that of 
St. Augustine. At the beginning of the Monologion he says that 
he does not wish to hold any doctrine that does not accord with 
the of the Fathers of the Church ‘and above all with 

the writings of St. Augustine’. 1 However, it would be a mistake 
to see St. Anselm simply as a servile plagiarist of St. Augustine, 
for, despite his declaration in the Monologion , he parts company 
with Augustine on several quite crucial points.* Again, as we 
shall see, Augustine’s influence upon St. Anselm was crossed! 
by a very strong logical and ‘rationalist’ strain, which hej 
derives from Aristotle and Boethius. 

From Augustine, together with Denys the Areopagite, and 
perhaps John Scotus Erigena, St. Anselm derived. a general 
neo-Platonic ‘world-view’ characterized by a hierarchical 
conception of reality, where everything is graded or ordered 
according to different ‘degrees of perfection’, 3 and by an 
‘exemplarism’, according to which created beings in the world 
derive their being and perfection by way of‘participation’ in a 
Divine ideal or archetype or exemplar. And perhaps, though 
this is much more open to question, Anselm also shares some¬ 
thing of the ‘gnosticism’ of the neo-Pla.tonists, that is to say, 
their tendency to identify the end of philosophical speculation 
with the end of religious knowledge. John Scotus Erigena says, 
for example, that ‘the true philosophy is the true religion and, 
inversely, the true religion is the true philosophy’, and again 

1 Monol. i; Schmitt, i. 8. See F. J. Thonnard, ‘Caractires augustiniens de la 
mithode philosophique de saint Anselme’, in Spic. Bee., pp. 17* 

* For example, on Augustine’s theory of the ‘rights of the devil over mankind. 
See Cur Deus Homo , i. vii; Schmitt, ii. 5 6 "57- 

3 Monol. iv; Schmitt, i. 17* 



‘no one enters into heaven save through philosophy’. 1 2 No doubt 
it would be over-facile to see Scotus Erigena as a ‘gnostic’ in the 
strict sense, but he certainly tends to hold that reason can 
bring us in the long run to what we believe by faith. And, as we 
shall see, there are hints and suggestions of the same kind in 
St. Anselm. 

However, if St. Anselm’s thought is neo-Platonic in this wide 
and general sense, it is not so in any more specific sense. Once 
again it is instructive to compare St. Anselm with John Scotus 
Erigena here. Erigena was a fully committed neo-Platonist, and 
following Denys he constructed a vast and intricate system 
incorporating the classical neo-Platonic theses—the doctrine 
of‘emanation’, the ineffability of the divine One and the method 
of ‘negative theology’, the antithesis between the spiritual and 
material orders. But none of these particular neo-Platonic theses 
is exploited in St. Anselm’s works. What is striking, indeed, 
is St. Anselm’s lack of any really systematic metaphysics such 
as that of Erigena; or even of a theory of knowledge such as 
Augustine had attempted to develop. When, then, it is said 
that St. Anselm is a neo-Platonist, this can only be accepted in 
a very broad and general sense, and we ought not to make too 
much of this side of his thought.* 

One can say, indeed, that it is not so much the neo-Platonic 
elements in St. Anselm’s thought that give it its distinctive cast 
or style, but rather the dialectical or ‘rationalist’ strain that he 
derives from Aristotle and Boethius. This seemed to Lanfranc 
and others the novel (and dangerous) element in Anselm’s 

1 De Praedestinatione, 1, i; Annotationes in Martianum , 38, ii. Cited by Cappuyns* 
Jean Scot Engine, sa vie , son oeuvre, sa pensie, Louvain-Paris, 1933, pp. 303-5. 

2 Cf. A. Koyrd, UIdie de Dieu dans la philosophic de saint Anselme, Paris, 1925. 
Koyrd says, p. vii, that his object is to show ‘the links which connect St. Anselm to 
St. Augustine and, through the medium of this latter, to Plotinus and to the neo- 
Platonic philosophy*; and, p. 60, ‘We have the right to consider St. Anselm as a 
Plotinian*. See also C. Filliatre, La Philosophie de saint Anselme, Paris, 1920. Filliatre 
sees Anselm as continuing the tradition of Erigena and Proclus, and, beyond them, 
of the tradition of ‘Christian gnosticism* represented by Clement of Alexandria, 
Justin, Origen, and Augustine. There is, in fact, a passage by Clement of Alexan¬ 
dria, Stromata, vii. 57, that is curiously reminiscent of some of the things St. Anselm 
is to say later: ‘Faith is, so to speak, an elementary and summary knowledge 
(“gnosis**) of necessary things. “Gnosis** is a firm and stable demonstration of what 
has been received by faith. It is built up upon faith through the teaching of the 
Lord and passes into a state of intellectual surety and comprehension*; cited Y. 
Congar, art. ‘Th6ologie*, in Dictionnaire de thSologic catholique , xv, p. 348. 


2 5 

thought, 1 and it was this strain that became more and more 
pronounced in his thinking. It makes the Cur Deus Homo, for 
example, such an original work, and it is also significant that 
his last work, the De Potestate, was a severely logical treatise. The 
influence of Aristotle, or rather of Boethius’ version of Aristotle, 
is everywhere evident in St. Anselm’s works, and he is quite 
clearly within the ‘dialectical’ tradition that had been running 
an uneasy course during the half century before his time. 

The conflicts in the early eleventh century between the 
‘dialecticians’ and ‘anti-dialecticians’ were essentially con¬ 
flicts between those who, on the one hand, saw theology as a 
matter of textual commentary and paraphrase of Scripture, and 
who wished ‘not only to say nothing other, that is nothing 
different, from what is to be found in Scripture, but also to say 
nothing more’; 2 and, on the other hand, those who saw the 
need for rational analysis and systematization of the various 
data of revelation. St. Peter Damian is a good example of an 
‘anttdialectician’ distrustful of.admitting reason in matters of 
faith and anxious to minimize its use in theology. So, for instance, 
he says: ‘Conclusions drawn from the arguments of dialecticians 
or rhetoricians ought not to be lightly applied to the mysteries of 
divine power; and as for the rules which perfect the use of the 
syllogism and the art of speech, let them cease to be obstinately 
opposed to the laws of God and to claim to impose the so-called 
necessities of their inferences on the divine power.’ 3 On the 
other hand, the ‘dialecticians’ could appeal to the authority 
of St. Augustine’s acceptance of dialectics as a weapon against 
the errors of heretics, 4 and it would be quite wrong to J^nl^ of 
the ‘dialectical’ tradition as being in some way heterodox. °Tt 
was a misfortune that, in the famous debate between Berengar 

1 One can infer Lanfranc’s attitude from a letter of Anselm, Epist. 77, Schmitt, 
iii. 199-200. 

2 Y. Congar, art. ‘Th£ologie’, p. 347. 

3 Cited by Jean Leclercq, Saint Pierre Damien , ermite et homme de Viglise , 
Rome, i960, p. 222. Leclercq points out, however, that Peter’s position was in 
large measure a reaction against the excesses of the dialecticians of his time, and 
was also influenced by the fact that no systematic or autonomous body of philo¬ 
sophical knowledge as yet existed. See also J. Gonsette, S. Pierre Damien et la 
culture profane , Louvain, 1956, p. 60: ‘Peter Damian does not absolutely deny the 
utility of dialectics in theology, but through lack of a systematic and coherent 
metaphysics is led to limit considerably its sphere of application.* 

4 De Doctrina Christiana , ii. 31; P.L. xxxiv. 57-58. 



and Lanfranc, the ‘dialecticians’ were represented by such an 
inept thinker as Berengar seems to have been. Berengar had 
insisted that we should ‘have recourse to dialectic in all things’, 
for, as he continued, ‘recourse to dialectic is recourse to reason, 
and he who does not avail himself of reason abandons his chief 
honour, since by virtue of reason he was made in the image of 
God ’. 1 However, in this eulogy of reason, Berengar was simply 
exaggerating in a one-sided way a perfectly orthodox idea 
which had its origin in St. Augustine’s dictum that God cannot 
despise reason since it is reason that makes man superior to 
everything else . 2 Later on, St. Anselm was to use exactly the 
/'same idea in the Monologion : ‘since it is by the rational mind 
i that man is most like God, it is by the mind that man knows 
God ’. 3 

In the quarrel between ‘dialecticians’ and ‘anti-dialecticians’, 
then, St. Anselm was very much on the side of the former (de¬ 
spite Berengar), and it is important to remember this if we are 
to have a right view of St. Anselm’s thought . 4 

2. St. Anselm and St. Augustine 

We must now return to a more specific examination of St. 
Anselm’s position on faith and reason in relation to that of 
St. Augustine. As we have already remarked, everyone acknow¬ 
ledges St. Anselm’s dependence upon St. Augustine in this 
matter, but it is not always recognized that St. Augustine’s 
own position on faith and reason is a very complex and even 
ambiguous one. 

First of all, it is clear that for Augustine reason has a value 
of its own, independently of its help to faith, for by implanting 
reason in man God has made him superior to the rest of 
creation. In fact, we could not believe unless we had rational 
souls. And again, reason can persuade the mind to rise to faith. 
This function of reason is anterior to faith and is contrasted with 
another function of reason, posterior to the act of religious 
belief, seeking to understand what is believed by faith. As 

1 Cited by A. J. Macdonald, Authority and Reason in the Early Middle Ages, London, 
' 933 . P; 87. 

2 Epist. 120; P.L. xxiii. 453. See also Sermo 126; P.L. xxxviii. 699. 

3 Monol. lxvi; Schmitt, i. 77. 

4 For a general survey of the ‘dialectical’ tradition see J. de Ghellinck, ‘Dia- 
lectique et dogme aux X e -XII c siecles’, in Festgabe Clemens Baeumker, Munster, 1913. 



Augustine puts it: ‘So, ther efore, if it is ra tional thaLfaith 
precedes reason in the c ase o f cert ain great m atters which 
cannot be grasped 7 there cannot bcTlie least~douhtl Kat reason 
which pers uades us on this precept—that faith pre cedes 
reason—itself precedes_faXthJi-AgauvSi^ugustine concludes 
one of his sermons with the following words: ‘Believe in Him 
whom you do not see, because of the things which you do see. 
And do not imagine that it is I alone who exhort you thus. 
Listen to what the Apostle says to you: “The invisible things of 
God, from the creation of the world are made visible by the 
works He has made”’ (Rom. i. 20 ). 1 2 

On the other hand, St. Augustine also uses frequently the 
celebrated formula from Isaiah, ‘nisi credideritis non intelli- 
getis’. So, for example, he remarks at the end of another sermon: 

^,‘Understand my word in order to believe it; hut believe the 
word oTGod^nrorder to rmderstanefit .’ 3 Here Augustine seems 
to diitihgulsh betweeiTthe ‘word’ of human reason approaching 
God independently of faith (where ‘crede ut intelligas’ does 
not apply), and the ‘word’ of God revealing truths about 
Himself not accessible to human reason (and here ‘crede ut 
intelligas’ does apply). Understood in this way ‘crede ut in¬ 
telligas’ is restricted to the sphere of revealed truth and does 
not apply to the ‘preambles’ of faith (the existence and attri¬ 
butes of God), nor, a fortiori, to other truths available to human 
reason . 4 

It is also possible to interpret the Augustinian ‘crede ut 
intelligas’ in a wider sense. Thus it has been pointed out that 
for Augustine faith is not just a theoretical assent to revealed 
truths but rather ‘a total and concrete adhesion of the soul ’. 5 
From this point of view we might say that, for Augustine, while 

1 Epist. 120; P.L. xxxiii. 453. 

2 Sermo 126; P.L. xxxviii. 699, *. . . God made you a rational animal . . . and 
formed you in His own image.... Therefore lift up your mind, use your eyes like a 
man, look at heaven and earth, look at the things that are made and look for the 
Maker; look at the things you see, and look for Him whom you do not see.’ 

3 ‘Ergo intellige, ut credas: crede, ut intelligas. . . . Intellige ut credas verbum 
meum; crede ut intelligas verbum Dei’: Sermo 43; P.L. xxxviii. 257-8. See also 
A. A. Cayre, La Contemplation augustinienne, Paris, 1954, ch. viii. 

4 It was, as we shall see later, in this way that the Augustinian formula was 
interpreted by twelfth-century thinkers later than St. Anselm—Gilbert de la 
Porr^e and Simon of Tournai, for example. 

5 Cayre, La Contemplation augustinienne , p. 223. 



reason enables us to give ‘notional assent’ (to use Newman’s 
term) to certain truths about God, it is only through faith 
that we come to have a ‘real assent’ to those truths. ‘Believe 
that you may understand’ may then be paraphrased as: ‘By 
believing and living, in the life of Christian faith, certain truths 
which can in themselves be known notionally by human 
reason, one comes to know them in a deeper and more vital or 
more real sense.’ 1 

No doubt we must not force St. Augustine’s ideas too much. 
For Augustine himself does not distinguish formally and ex¬ 
plicitly between the different functions of ‘understanding’ in 
relation to faith. But we can at least say that, while he is 
anxious to safeguard the autonomy of faith by means of the 
‘crede ut intelligas’ formula, he is equally anxious to affirm 
the possibility of rational speculation about God prior to and 
independendy of faith in God. In his own theological practice 
St. Augustine does in fact devote a great deal of attention to 
what were later to be called the ‘preambles’ of faith, the possi¬ 
bility of knowing God as the ground of rational certitude, the 
nature of the soul, freedom of the will. There is, indeed, a 
strong ‘rationalistic’ strand in St. Augustine’s thought; one has 
only to remember the labyrinthine discussion on the subject of 
time in the Confessions , and again, the Augustinian theory of 
‘illumination’ can also be interpreted in a ‘rationalistic’ way, 
for according to the theory God is the source of illumination 
that makes possible knowledge equally of necessary rational 
truths and of truths of faith. 2 However, as we have already 
remarked, Augustine did not want to be a ‘rationalist’ denying 
the proper autonomy of faith, any more than he wanted to be 
a naive fideist denying the autonomy of reason, and the strain 
represented by ‘crede ut intelligas’ and that by ‘intellige ut 
credas’ exist together in his thought in an unresolved or ambi¬ 
valent state. 3 

1 Cayr< 5 , ibid., p. 333. 

2 Cf. J. J. O’Meara, ‘Augustine and neo-Platonism 1 , in Recherches augustiniennes , 
vol. i, Paris, 195^* P* 102. ‘Augustine considered in 386 that it was possible by 
reason alone to arrive at the truths revealed by authority, since God was the source 
of illumination for both co-ordinated though independent sources of knowledge. 1 

3 See F. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, London, 1950, ii. 48: ‘It is not that 
Augustine failed to recognise, still less that he denied, the intellect’s power of attain¬ 
ing truth without revelation; it is rather that he regarded Christian wisdom as one 
whole, that he tried to penetrate by his understanding the Christian faith and to 


This same ambiguity is reflected also in the later Augustinian 
tradition. Thus, for example, Gregory the Great in his Moralia 
(written between 578 and 585), a work which strongly in¬ 
fluenced St. Anselm, insists very firmly on the one hand upon 
the limited and negative character of our rational knowledge 
of God, and upon the need for revelation to enable us to know 
God in any positive way. At the same time, however, he can 
speak of ‘reason’ in the following terms: ‘Holy Church in her 
teaching makes no demand on the ground of authority, but 
persuades by reason. So she says plainly that she is not believed 
because of authority, but her assertions are weighed by reason 
in order to discover whether they are true. Even when she makes 
an assertion which cannot be comprehended by reason, yet the 
advice given by her—namely that human reason ought not to 
pry into divine things—is rational advice.’ 1 

Similarly with Erigena, although Erigena’s Augustinianism 
is of a very hybrid kind, we find very much the same ambivalent 
view of faith and reason. We have already seen that in his 
De Praedestinatione Erigena writes as follows: ‘Is the study of 
philosophy concerned with aught else save the exposition of the 
principles of true religion, which adores humbly and searches 
by reason for God, the supreme cause and source of all beings? 
It follows that true philosophy is true religion and, inversely, 
that true religion is true philosophy.’ 2 

After St. Anselm, in the late twelfth century, these Augus¬ 
tinian ideas on faith and reason will be interpreted in a much 
more definite way, although the later interpretations do not 
represent a clean break with the older Augustinian tradition so 
much as a development of its implicit intentions or virtualities. 
Thus, for example, a younger contemporary of Anselm, Gilbert 
de la Porr^e (1076-1154), distinguishes the realm of theology, 

see the world and human I he in the light of Christian wisdom. He knew quite well 
that rational arguments can be adduced for God’s existence, for example, but it was 
not so much the mere intellectual assent to God’s existence that interested him as 
the real assent, the positive adhesion of the will to God, and he knew that in the 
concrete such an adhesion requires divine grace.’ 

1 Moralia , viii. 3. See the introduction to Gregoire le Grand , * Morales sur Job' , ed. 
Robert Gillet, in the series Sources chritiennes , Paris, 1950. J. de Ghellinck, art. 
‘Bibliothfcques’, in Victionnaire de spirituals, i. 1604, remarks that Gregory’s 
writings ‘formed, together with those of St. Augustine, the mentality of the Middle 
Ages, both inside and outside the cloister*. 

2 Cited M. Cappuyns, Jean Scot Engine, p. 302. 



where faith is prior and reason secondary, and the realm of 
philosophy, where reason is prior; and a little later Simon of 
Tournai (c. 1190) echoes the same idea by saying: ‘The teach¬ 
ing of Aristotle concerns those things about which understand¬ 
ing leads to faith (“ratio facit fidem”); but the teaching of 
Christ concerns those things about which faith leads to under¬ 
standing (“fides facit rationem”).’ 1 

Even though these twelfth-century thinkers were later than 
St. Anselm, and were able to draw upon Aristotelian concepts 
that helped them to make a fairly precise distinction between 
the realms of faith and reason, they were, as we have just 
said, nevertheless simply prolonging and developing ideas that 
had been in the air some eighty years before, in St. Anselm’s 

This, then, was the tradition of thought about faith and 
reason that formed the context of St. Anselm’s thinking on this 
question. We must now examine St. Anselm’s own position. 

3. Faith and Reason in the Cur Deus Homo 

The best way to understand St. Anselm’s position on faith 
and reason is to see howjie him self used reason in ^matters nf 
f aith in his ^theological writings. Anselm’s fundamental treatise, 
the Cur Deus Homo , is recognized by all to be the best example of 
his theological method, and it will be worth while examining 
that book in a little detail to see what, for him, is the office of 
reason in relation to faith. We might remark in parenthesis 
that, even though the Cur Deus Homo was written some seven¬ 
teen years after the Proslogion , there is no reason to think that 
Anselm’s position on faith and reason had changed or developed 
in any radical way in that period of time. Anselm did not begin 
writing his formal treatises until he was forty-three, and the 

1 Expositio in Symbolum Quicumque , cited by M. D. Chenu, La Thiologie comme 
science au XIII e siecle , Paris, 1957, pp. 35-36. For Gilbert de la Porr£e see In Librurn 
Bo'etii de praedicatione trium personarum y P.L. lxiv. 1303-4. See also Alan of Lille 
(d. 1203), De Planctu Naturae , P.L. ccx. 446; ‘Nature’ is comparing herself with 
‘Theology’: ‘Ego ratione fidem, ilia (Theologia) fide comparat rationem; ego 
(Natura) scio ut credam, ilia (Theologia) credit ut sciat: ego consentio sciens, ilia 
sentit consentiens.’ On Alan see Alain de Lille: Poete du XII e sikle by G. Raynaud 
de Lage, Paris, 1951, p. 168: It is ‘an essential tendency of Alan of Lille’s mind . .. 
to appeal to philosophical authorities owing nothing to Christianity in order to 
support a proof and to convince non-Christians’. 


main lines of his thought seem to have been well and truly 
laid by then and to have remained constant. 1 

The Cur Deus Homo is concerned to sho w that man needs to be 
saved, and that salvation can only be effe cted,Jby_God!s be- 
cohiing man, so as to satisfy the ‘debt 5 owed to God because of 
mankind’s sin. As Boso, Anselm’s partner in the dialogue, puts 
it, the question that the book is concerned with is ‘ why God 
bec ame man in order to save ma n kind bv His death , whenTt 
wouTcTappear that He could have ef fected this in some other 
way’. 2 St. AnselmT^eginTby saying that he is addressing him¬ 
self not only to Christian believers but also to unbelievers 
(‘infideles’) who hold that the Christian faith is ‘repugnant to 
reason 5 . Because of this, he goes on, his discussion will abstract 
altogether from what we know about Christ by faith and 
through the scriptures, and will appeal only to ‘necessary 
reasons’ (‘rationes necessariae’) to prove that man can be 
saved only by Christ: ‘Leaving Christ aside, just as though He 
never was, we shall prove by necessary arguments that it is 
impossible to be saved without Him.’ 3 

The Christian, of course, will not need to be convinced by 
reason of the truth of the Incarnation and Redemption since 
he already believes this byQaith) All the same, however, the 
rational explanation of this truth will be useful to the believer 
in that it will enable him to penetrate more deeply into what 
he believes and, in addition, will give him a means to defend his 
faith against others. 4 Bo th believers and unbelievers, then, wan t 
an explanati on of why God became man, but Jor different 
reasonsTAnd Anselm clearly thinks that the sameBcpSiTtioir 
will suffice for both; it will confirm the believer in his faith, on 
, th e oneTiand j^ and rationally convince the unbeliever of the 
truth of the Christian faith and of the necessity of believing in 
it. The unbelievers, he says, ‘look for rational explanation 
because they do not believe, while we for our part do so because 

- 1 The Cur Deus Homo is in Schmitt, ii, and page references are to this edition. 

Another edition of the work, together with a translation into French and an 
excellent introduction, has recently been published by R. Roques, Anselme de 
Cantorbiry: Pourquoi Dieu s'est fait homme, in the series Sources chritiennes , Paris, 1963. 
Roques’s long introduction is by far the best available discussion of the Cur Deus 
Homo. See also J. McIntyre, St. Anselm and his Critics: A Re-interpretation of the *Cur 
Deus Homo 1 , Edinburgh, 1954. 

2 Bk. 11, ch. xviii; p. 126. 

4 1. i; 47 - 

3 Preface; 42. 



we believe; but the object of our search is one and the same 5 . 1 
However, it remains true that it is primarily the needs of the 
unbeliever which dictate the supposedly purely rational method 
of investigation of the Cur Dens Homo , and that it is the un¬ 
believer who is in view in most of the book. So, in the conclusion 
to the whole work, Boso does not mention the believer, but 
says instead that Anselm has satisfied ‘by reason alone not onl y 
the Jews but also the pagans 5 that the Old and New Testaments 

aTe true. 2 ‘ “ ---— 

^ Who, may we ask, are these ‘unbelievers 5 (‘infideles 5 ) and 
‘pagans 5 (‘pagani 5 )? From what Anselm says, we may infer 
that therunbelievers 5 are those who do not accept all the assump- 
tions thaf the Christian believer makes^ In this sense the Jews 
• are ‘unbelievers 5 , in that while accepting the Old Testament 
\ they do not accept the New Testament. The ‘pagans 5 , however, 
J are unbelievers in a more radical sense in that they accept 
neither the Old nor the New Testament. In other words, they 
C are those^a lheists and others, who do not accept any of t he 
\ artT clesof Christian revelation. They are those who have to be ap¬ 
p ealed to by reason alone (‘sola ratione 5 ) and against whom we 
Ccannot appeal to any scriptural authority. St. Anselm certainly 
was aware of the objections of the atheist or religious sceptic, 
and it seems certain that in the Cur Deus Homo he had the 
sceptic in mind as well as the Jews. 3 The point is an important 

1 i. iii; 50. See also Epist . 136; Schmitt, iii. 280-1: ‘Our faith ought to be defended 
by reason against those who ridicule it, but not against those who glory in the 
name of Christian. Regarding the latter, we may justly demand that they stand 
by the promise made in baptism; as for the former, they should be shown by 
rational means how irrationally they spurn us. However, the Christian ought to 
come to understanding through faith and not to faith through understanding, 
otherwise if he lacked understanding he would lose his faith.* 

2 11. xxii; 133. This conclusion of Boso seems to refute Roques*s contention that 
Anselm’s main purpose is to justify the hope of the believer : Pourquoi Dieu ..., p. 96. 

3 J. de Ghellinck, Le Mouvement thiologique . . p. 289, notes that in the com¬ 
mentary of Marius Victorinus on Cicero’s De Inventione (written before Marius* 
conversion) there are sceptical attacks on the Virgin Birth of Christ and on the 
doctrine of the Resurrection. This commentary was widely used in the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries and must have been known to St. Anselm. Roques claims, 
Pourquoi Dieu . . ., p. 72, that * the “pagani” represent rather the Muslims’, and, 
p. 91, that St. Anselm does not have in view ‘the pagan pure and simple, nor the 
atheist*. Certainly there is evidence that in the twelfth century ‘pagani* is used to 
signify the Muslims. Eadmer, for example, uses the term to describe the Arab troops 
of Count Roger of Sicily (Vita, ii, xxxiii; Southern, p. Ill), and later writers such 
as Alan of Lille identify the ‘pagani* and the ‘Sarraceni’ (see Raynaud de Lage, 
Alain de Lille .. ., pp. 12, 28). However, St. Anselm himself nowhere mentions the 



one, for upon it depends how we are to appreciate Anselm’s 
whole purpose in the Cur Deus Homo\ that is, whether the ex¬ 
planations offered in the Cur Deus Homo are to be seen as 
‘necessary’ only for those who already accept some or all of the 
religious (supra-rational) assumptions that the Christian makes, 
or whether they are to be seen as rationally ‘necessary’ or 
compelling in the strict sense. If, as we believe, St. An selm 
intends his arguments to be convincing to those who do not 
accept any supernatural revelation at all, then this obviously 
implies that he did not think that the only office of reason 
regarding faith was to make explicit what was already known by 
faith, but that reason had a function anterior to and indepen- 
dent of faith. 1 

However, if St. Anselm wishes to reserve a place for reason 
independent of faith, he is at the same time equally concerned 
to emphasize the autonomy of faith. In other words, he wishes 
to say that faith is possible without any kind of prior rational 
preparation or justification. The Christian believer, as he 
constantly says, can (indeed must) believe before he under¬ 
stands. So, Boso says at the beginning of the Cur Deus Homo 
that ‘right order’ demands that we should believe first in the 
Christian mysteries before presuming to discuss them ration¬ 
ally, and he goes on to say, ‘Even were I unable in any way to 
understand what I believe, still nothing could shake my con¬ 
stancy’. Here, then, far from being the basis of belief, reason 
seems to be relegated to a merely secondary role. If you believe, 
then reason can show that your belief is rational; but it is not 

Muslims or identifies them with the ‘pagan? or suggests that the latter, like the 
Jews, share some at least of the Christian’s assumptions. Anselm mentions the ‘pa¬ 
gan? in only two other places, in the Epistola de Incamatione Verbi (Schmitt, ii; io) 
and in the Epistola de Sacrificio de Azymi . . . (Schmitt, ii; 237). In both references 
the ‘Iudae? and the ‘pagan? are mentioned as distinct categories of unbelievers, 
the inference being that while the Jews share part of Christian belief, namely that 
contained in the Old Testament, the ‘pagan? share nothing and so must be 
approached by ‘reason alone*. Anselm’s use of‘paganus* is in fact quite traditional 
(see Dictionnaire d'archiologie chfitienne et de liturgie , Paris, 1937, xiii, 375-80), and his 
general position coincides with that proposed later by Aquinas in his Summa Contra 
Gentiles (I, ii). 

1 Roques, op. cit., p. 96, claims that St. Anselm is concerned principally to 
justify the faith of the believer, and then by showing ‘the internal coherence of his 
faith* he persuades the unbeliever. However, St. Anselm is obviously concerned to 
show more than that the Christian faith is coherent or self-consistent; what he 
claims to prove is that it is true and necessarily so; see 1. iv; 52.1. xxiv; 94. n. xvi; 





formally because it is rational that you believe. As Boso puts it 
again, ‘I have come not that you should remove doubts from 
my faith, but that you should show me the reasons for my 
certainty (of faith).’ 1 

Within this context St. Anselm is concerned to emphasize 
the limits of reason in matters of faith. So he remarks, for 
instance, that though by reason we can know the necessity of 
the fact of the Incarnation, we do not know ‘how’ (‘quomodo’) 
4 it is necessary. 2 Again, in such a theological inquiry, Anselm 
says, ‘Whatever a man might be able to say, the deeper reasons 
(‘altiores rationes’) of so important a fact are still hidden.’ 3 

Here, then, wahave the two sides to St. Anselm’s thought. On 
the one hand,treason is allo\yccL an in dependent function prior 
to faith, and, in some sense, reason^im-hc mg usTd assentto the 
truths of faith . On the other hand, St. Anselm clearly acknow¬ 
ledges that faith is possible without any kind of prior rational 
preparation or justification, and that for the believer the only 
function of reason is to understand what is already believed. 
Clearly, as they stand, these two sides to St. Anselm’s thought 
are not consistent, and some kind of distinction between the 
function of reason which brings us to faith and the function of 
reason which operates within faith would have to be made to 
make them consistent. However, like Augustine, St. Anselm 
does not have the categories with which to make this distinction 
clearly and unequivocally, and the two strains in his thought 
exist in an unresolved, uncrystallized state. 

This ambiguity in Anselm’s position is very strikingly brought 
out by an examination of his use of‘rationes necessariae’ in the 
Cur Deus Homo . At times Anselm uses the expression to denote 
a strict, logically necessary, demonstration, that is to say, an 
argument whose premisses are certainly and indubitably true 
and whose conclusion follows with syllogistic necessity from 
them. ‘Necessary reasons’ in this sense leave no room for any 
doubts, and one would be a ‘fool’ (‘insipiens’) to deny such 
demonstrations. 4 Though Aristotle’s treatises, Prior Analytics 
and Posterior Analytics , were not available to St. Anselm, he had, 
nevertheless, a clear idea of the notion of logical necessity 5 

1 i. i; 48. 2 1. xxv; 96. 3 1. ii; 50. 4 1. xxv; 95. 

5 See, for example, 11. xvii; 23, ‘If something exists necessarily it is impossible 
for it not to exist, and if it is necessary for something not to exist it is impossible for 
it to exist, and conversely.* 



and, as we have remarked, there seems to be no doubt that, on 
occasions at least, Anselm uses the notion of ‘necessary reasons’ 
in this strict sense to mean logically necessary arguments, in 
contrast with arguments of ‘fittingness’ (‘convenientia’) or 
probable arguments based upon analogy, which Boso says in the 
Cur Deus Homo are mere ‘paintings upon clouds’. 1 One might 
say perhaps that it is when St. Anselm is anxious to stress the 
claims of reason that he thinks of‘necessary reasons’ in this sense. 

But Anselm also uses ‘necessary reasons’ in a much more 
general and looser sense than this. The notion of ‘rationes 
necessariae’ was probably known to St. Anselm through 
Cassiodorus, who distinguishes between an ‘argumentum 
necessarium’ and an ‘argumentum probabile’. For Cassiodorus 
the main difference between the two is that a ‘necessary argu¬ 
ment’ attains to the actual truth about a thing, so that one can 
say ‘that is how the thing is’, while a ‘probable argument’ is one 
which is neither true nor false but only likely or probable. 2 In 
this sense any true explanation of any fact will be ‘necessary’. 
And Anselm, in fact, at times seems to use ‘necessary reasons’ in 
this sense, so that to ascribe a true rational justification of any 
kind to any thing or event is to show its ‘necessity’. 3 As he makes 
clear in the opening passages of the Cur Deus Homo, what he is 
attempting to do is to show that there is a rational justification 
for the Incarnation and Redemption, as against those ‘volun¬ 
tarists’, as we might call them, who argue that God could have 
/ saved man by a simple arbitrary act of the will. For Anselm 
(/ God does nothing arbitrarily, but there is a reason for all His 
acts which we can find by rational investigation. We can never 
be satisfied with ‘God so wills it’ as a final explanation. One 
might, in fact, almost think that St. Anselm had someone like 
St. Peter Damian in mind, that is, a theologian who held that 
no limi ts could be set to the omnipotent will of God, with the 
consequence that the acts of God could never be really subject 
to rational inquiry. 4 

1 i. iv; 52. 

2 Cassiodorus, De Artibus et disciplinis liberalium artiutti> P.L. lxx. 11 77 * ^ ee *h e 

discussion of Cassiodorus* distinction by A. M. Jacquin, Les Rationes necessariae 
de saint Anselme’, in Melanges Mandonnet, Paris, 1930, ii. 67-78. There is also a 
reference to ‘certas necessariasque rationes* in Augustine’s De duabus animabus 
contra Manichaeos, xiv. 23. P.L. xlii. no. 3 1. i; 48, ‘ratione vel necessitate*. 

4 I# yiii; 59, ‘The will of God is never irrational*; see also 1. xii; 70, ‘It does not 


Used in this loose sense ‘necessary reasons’ are no longer 
distinguished sharply from arguments of ‘fittingness 5 , and in 
certain passages in the Cur Deus Homo St. Anselm seems to 
suggest that an argument of ‘fittingness 5 or an argument by 
analogy can in fact function as a ‘necessary reason 5 . 1 Once 
again one might say that perhaps it is when St. Anselm is con¬ 
cerned to stress the supra-rationality of the articles of faith, and 
the autonomy of the order of faith in general, that he tends to 
use ‘necessary reasons 5 in this loose or weak sense. 2 

These, then, are the two sides to St. Anselm’s thought on 
faith and reason. If we stress the one side of his thought we can 
easily make St. Anselm into a rationalist for whom not only the 
‘preambles’ or presuppositions of faith are rationally demon¬ 
strable, but also the mysteries of faith themselves. 3 On the 

follow that if God wishes to lie, it is just to lie; rather it follows that that being is 
not God.* 

1 So, i. iv; 52, St. Anselm uses ‘necessaria ratio* and ‘decebat* as equivalents. 

Again, n. viii; 104, Anselm says that the virgin birth of the God-Man is‘eminently 

fitting* (‘valde convenit*), and Boso replies ‘valde pulchrae et rationabiles sunt 
istae picturae*. See also the interesting discussion of ‘convenientia* and ‘necessitas’ 
by Roques, op. cit., pp. 78 ff. 

2 After St. Anselm the notion of ‘rationes necessariae* continues to be used. 
So Richard of St. Victor holds that we can have ‘necessary reasons’ for what we 
believe by faith: De Trinitate , i. 45 P*L, cxcvi. 892; and two hundred years after 
Anselm Duns Scotus cites both Anselm and Richard as ‘authorities* for the posi¬ 
tion that we can have ‘necessary reasons’ about God. Scotus, however, distinguishes 
between what he calls ‘evidently necessary’ reasons, that is logically necessary 
truths whose denial would involve self-contradiction, and ‘non-evidently neces¬ 
sary’ propositions, that is propositions necessary in themselves but not logically 
necessary to us. And it is only in this latter sense that we can speak of ‘rationes 
necessariae’ applying to God. On Scotus see E. Gilson, Jean Duns Scot, pp. 340-1, 
and by the same author, ‘Les Seize premiers theoremata et la pensde de Duns 
Scot’, in Archives d'histoire doctrinale et UtUraire du moyen age , xii, 1937, 61. 

3 Dom Cyprien Vagaggini in his magisterial ‘La Hantise des “Rationes Neces¬ 
sariae** de saint Anselme dans la thlologie des processions trinitaires de saint 
Thomas,’ in Spic. Bee,, pp. m-12, seems to suggest that, on the theoretical level 
at least, St. Anselm’s categories do not allow him to differentiate between the 
mysteries of faith and what we know about God by reason. After noting that 
Anselm distinguishes between knowing that (‘quia sint’) there are three persons in 
God (provable by ‘necessary reasons’), and knowing how (‘quomodo sint’) there are 
three persons in the divine nature (inaccessible to reason), Dom Vagaggini goes 
on to say: ‘But when we try to find out what Anselm means by quomodo sit it is 
seen that for him this consists simply in the fact that the human intelligence never 
comes to have an exhaustive and direct knowledge of the Trinity, in the same way 
that it never comes to have a direct and exhaustive knowledge of die divine wisdom 
or the divine being. Thus one cannot prove that for St. Anselm the mystery 
of the Trinity is essentially greater than the mystery of the divine wisdom or 


other hand, if we stress the other side of Anselm’s thought we 
can equally easily make him into a quasi-fideist maintaining 
that nothing can be known about God save on the basis of faith. 1 

However, as we have suggested above, St. Anselm does not 
want to exaggerate either the rationalistic side of his thought or 
the fideist side to the exclusion of the other. Like Bossuet in 
another connexion he wishes to hold ‘les deux bouts de la 
chaine’ and to maintain both that reason has a role to play 
prior to faith and within the realm of faith, and also that faith 
transcends reason so that it cannot be on purely rational 
grounds that we believe in the mysteries of faith. After all, 
Anselm had extravagant examples of both rationalism (Berengar) 
and quasi-fideism (St. Peter Damian) before him to serve as a 
war ning , and there is no doubt that he knew the dangers of 
exaggerating reason vis-d-vis faith, and faith vis-d-vis reason. 

But it is also true that St. Anselm does not formally and 
explicitly distinguish the objects and methods of the two spheres 
of faith and reason, and there is no doubt that this lack of 
explicit formulation does lead him at times into confusion. 
Later on, the thirteenth-century Aristotelians will make a clear 
distinction between the role of reason prior to the act of faith, 
whose function it is to justify the ‘preambles’ of faith, and the 
role of reason in explicating the content of the theological 
mysteries. So, according to Aquinas, ‘sacred doctrine makes a 
threefold use of philosophy. The first is to demonstrate those 
truths that are preambles of faith and that have a necessary 
place in the science of faith.’ The second is ‘to give a clearer 
notion, by certain similitudes, of the truths of faith. . .’. The 
third is ‘to resist those who speak against the truth, either by 

1 See, for example, G. Leff, Medieval Thought, London, 1958) P- 99 ! ‘St. Anselm s 
entire position rests upon the primacy of faith. We must recognize that, like St. 
Augustine, he allowed reason no independent validity. For both, reason was an 
instrument in demonstrating what was already believed: of itself it could not add 
to certitude, although it could give additional evidences of its truth.’ R. McKeon, 
Selections from Medieval Thinkers , New York, 1929, i. 142, goes even further and 
quite fancifully makes faith, for Anselm, a prerequisite for any kind of knowledge 
at all. For Anselm he says, ‘It is important that faith precedes understanding, 
since of the two sources of human knowledge, reason and faith, faith can exist 
without reason, but reason cannot exist without faith. In rational enquiry there 
must be a foundation of faith in the principles of the enquiry, and in the principles 
of the understanding itself.* See also E. Br^hier, La Philosophic du moyen dge , Paris, 
pp. 122-3; for St. Anselm, ‘Holy Scripture is the authority on which all rational 
truths are based.’ 


showing that these statements are false, or by showing that 
they are not necessarily true’. 1 Here, on the one hand, the 
‘rationes necessariae’ are confined to the sphere of the pre¬ 
ambles of faith; and, on the other hand, the ‘crede ut intel- 
ligas’ formula is confined to the sphere of the mysteries of 

Anselm himself does not make such an explicit distinction 
' between the two spheres, but all the same it is not too much to 
say that he is groping his way confusedly towards such a 
distinction. In fact, though we should not wish to make Anselm 
into a precocious Thomist, there are some interesting passages 
in his writings that hint at the kind of position Aquinas was 
later to adopt. In the Cur Detis Homo , for instance, St. Anselm 
admits that the theological mystery of the Incarnation goes 
beyond the powers of the human mind, but, he says, we can 
nevertheless show that ‘higher reasons’ are hidden in the 
mystery. Even though we do not know them, there are ‘reasons’ 
explaining the Incarnation, so that the Incarnation is not a 
wholly arbitrary and irrational action on the part of God. We 
can in this sense give ‘some reason’ for the Incarnation, so that 
jvthe appropriate attitude before a theological mystery is not one 
/Of reasonless silence; or, in other words, if the Incarnation is 

* supra-rational, it is not thereby irrational. ‘You will’, says St. 

• Anselm, ‘be more able to prove that higher reasons are implicit 
I i 11 this (mystery of the Incarnation) if you show some reason for 
(it than if, by saying nothing, you prove that there is no reason 

in - it to comprehend.’ 2 He seems to be making very much the 
same point in the Monologion , 3 where, apropos the Tr ini ty^ he 
says, ‘Though this truth is inexplicable it demands belief.’ And, 
he goes on, ‘One who is investigating an incomprehensible 
object ought to be satisfied if his reasoning shall have brought 
him far enough to recognize that this object most certainly 
exists’, even though he cannot explain it. In other words, we 
can explain that there are three persons in God even if we cannot 
explain how this can be.* Then in the next chapter of the 
Monologion Anselm raises the important question as to how we 

1 In Boetium de Trinitate, IX. ii. 4. See Chenu, La Thiologie comme science au XIII 9 
sikle, on pre-Thomist positions; and Y. Congar, art. ‘Thiologie*, 382 ff. 

2 11. xvi; 117. 

3 75. 

4 *♦ • • etiamsi penetrare nequeat intellectu quomodo ita ait** 


may speak about God at all. If I use words in their ordinary 
everyday sense—as I must if I am to be understood—how can 
they adequately express anything about God (who is, by 
definition, above and beyond anything within our everyday 
experience) ? How, in other words, can ordinary language be 
used to describe an extraordinary being such as God is? 
Anselm answers that we cannot speak of God directly and as He 
is in Himself, but we can speak of Him by way of analogies and 
images (‘per aliquam similitudinem aut imaginem’). This 
knowledge of God is indirect since we know Him through some¬ 
thing other than Him and we do not see Him as He is in Him¬ 
self. But, for all that, this knowledge is of some value. If this 
knowledge is not the whole truth it is not therefore false. As 
Anselm puts it, ‘This (divine) nature is ineffable since it is 
inexpressible by words or any other means; but any indirect 
knowledge of it based on reasoning and having, as it were, the 
character of a reflection is not therefore false’. 1 

Incomplete and confused and undeveloped as his ideas are 
then, Anselm is feeling his way tentatively towards the theory 
of analogy that plays a central roleinAquinas’s theology, and in 
general towards the distinction between the proper spheres of 
faith and reason which Aquinas and the other thirteenth- 
century Aristotelians were to make so clearly. But unfortunately 
Anselm simply did not have the concepts and distinctions 
available to make his intentions clear. He was thinking at a time 
before the introduction of the whole Aristotelian philosophical 
corpus and he did not have a complete conception of what 
‘natural reason’ or philosophy was capable of, what it com¬ 
prehended, and what its boundaries were. ‘Reason’ for Anselm 
could not have precisely the same meaning and the same 
resonances as it had for the thirteenth-century philosophers. 
For Anselm, again, it was difficult to make a precise distinction 
between the sphere of theology and that of philosophy because 
he was not acquainted with the Aristotelian conception of 
‘science’ (‘scientia’) with all its elements—material and formal 
objects, the role of ‘principles’, the notion of ‘subalternation’, 
&c.—which was to be such a potent instrument of clarification 
(and sometimes of mystification!) in the hands of the thirteenth- 
century thinkers.* 

* Ibid.; 77. 

* On this see Chenu, La Thiologie comma science .... 


St. Anselm, then, was unable to express clearly and distinctly 
what he wanted or intended to say about the relations between 
faith and reason. However, what his intentions were in this 
matter are now sufficiently clear; and for our purposes here 
what is important is that one of the things St. Anselm intended 
to say was that reason was to some extent capable of under¬ 
standing God and the things of God prior to faith and inde¬ 
pendently of faith. The relevance of this conclusion for a right 
appreciation of the Proslogion will be obvious. 

4. Karl Barth's St. Anselm 

Our conclusion, that St. Anselm implicitly allows the possi¬ 
bility of a rational approach to God, logically prior to and 
independent of a properly theological approach, has the mis¬ 
fortune directly to contradict the view of St. Anselm’s system 
proposed by the celebrated Swiss theologian, Karl Barth. 1 And 
Barth’s interpretation of St. Anselm is so persuasive and has 
been so influential that we must give some consideration to it. 

For Barth, Anselm allows no place of any kind for ‘philo¬ 
sophical theology’, prior to and independent of faith and con¬ 
cerned with establishing the ‘credibility’ of faith. The task of 
the theologian is not to justify in any way the articles of faith 
but, as Barth says, to investigate the ‘how’ of the articles of 
faith; in other words, reason operates within the context of 
faith and always presupposes faith. ‘A science of faith’, so 
Barth says, ‘which denied or even questioned the faith (the 
Credo of the Church) would ipso facto cease to be either “faithful” 
or “scientific”.* 2 The only knowledge of God is that of faith 
given as a grace by God, so that unaided reason is powerless in 
this realm. ‘For Anselm right knowledge is conditioned by the 
prevenient and co-operating grace of God. This general con¬ 
sideration and also the fact that this grace must ever be sought 
by prayer already imply that the ultimate and decisive capacity 
for the intellectus fidei does not belong to human reason acting 
on its own but has always to be bestowed on human reason.’ 3 
For Anselm to allow reason any justificatory office in this realm 
would be in effect to ‘create a substitute for the knowledge of 
faith’, and would mean that man has ‘some kind of power of 

1 See his Fides Quaerens IntelUctum, English trans., 1960. 

* P. 37 - 3 P- 57 - 



his subjective ratio existing from creation and not obliterated by 
the Fall’. 1 It is, then, only if the unbeliever is prepared to grant 
the Christian theologian’s premisses that any communication 
between them is possible. ‘It would have been quite impossible’, 
Barth concludes, ‘for Anselm to write a Surnma Theologica as well 
as a Summa Contra Gentiles’, a volume of Dogmatics as well as 
a Philosophy of Religion or the like.’ 2 

It is within this general context, Barth goes on to argue, that 
the Proslogion argument must be appreciated. The Proslogion 
argument is not meant to be a rational proof of the existence 
of God, of the same kind as Aquinas’s ‘five ways’, for example. 
The major premiss of the Proslogion argument is a datum of a v/ 
faith and valid only within the context of faith, and the aim of 
the argument is not in any way to demonstrate the existence 
of God to the unbeliever by unaided reason. The aim of the 
Proslogion is rather to explicate all that is implicitly contained 
in one of the revealed ‘names’ of God, that is, God named as 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’, implying that 
we are prohibited from thinking that there is anything greater 
than He. ‘Should the creature fail to hear this Name of God 
and the prohibition it contains then that can only mean that he 
has not yet understood the Creator as such nor himself as 
creature. It is in faith that he understands Him and himself 
within this relation and so hears His Name and the prohibition 
against conceiving anything greater than He.* 3 

This, then, is Barth’s interpretation of St. Anselm’s position, 
an interpretation which makes Anselm into a fideist of a very 
rigorous kind—in fact, into a precocious Barthian. Now, what 
is to be said of Barth’s view? First of all, we may say that Barth’s 
interpretation is too good and too consistent to be true, for it 
supposes that Anselm had, as it were, faced the question 
of the relationship between faith and reason and had resolved 
it unequivocally in a neo-Barthian way. However, as we have 
already seen, if we approach St. Anselm’s texts prepared to take 
the confusions and unresolved ambiguities in his position as they 
occur, without trying to explain them away, then we cannot 
interpret Anselm either as a rationalist, or as a fideist, or, for 
that matter, either as a neo-Thomist or as a neo-Barthian. The 
most we can say is that his thought lends itself, so to speak, to a 
1 p. 7i. * p. 67. » p. 153. 



development in one direction rather than another, and, as we 
have seen, the evidence suggests that, if anything, a develop¬ 
ment in the direction of Aquinas’s position would do least 
violence to St. Anselm’s intentions. 

Second, the obvious objection to Barth’s interpretation is 
that it seems to disregard Anselm’s own professed theological 
aim. In the Cur Deus Homo , as we have seen, Anselm declares 
his purpose to be to convince the unbeliever ‘by reason alone’ 
(‘sola ratione’). As Boso puts it, ‘In proving necessarily that God 
became man, leaving aside what is in the Bible—namely, about 
the Three Persons in God and about Adam—you convince not 
only the Jews, but also the pagans by reason alone.’ 1 Again, 
in his reply to Gaunilo, Anselm explicitly distinguishes between 
the appeal his proof will have to the believer on the one hand, 
and to the unbeliever on the other hand. If the believer 
(‘Catholicus’) alleges that it is not evident that the formula 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ has a sense, 
then we may appeal to his ‘faith and conscience’. 2 However, if 
the unbeliever alleges this, we cannot appeal to his faith, but 
we can nevertheless use rational means to show him that 
the definition of God as ‘that than which nothing greater can 
be thought’ is a meaningful one. As Anselm puts it, ‘There is, 
then, a way by which one can get an idea of “that-than-which- 
a-greater-cannot-be-thought.” In this way . . . the Fool, who 
does not accept the sacred authority [of Revelation] can be 
easily refuted if he denies that he can form an idea from other 
things of “that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be thought”.’ 3 

St. Anselm’s counter-reply to Gaunilo represents, in fact, the 
crucial objection to Barth’s whole interpretation. For, if Barth 
is correct, then Gaunilo’s criticisms of the Proslogion must rest 
upon a ‘sheer misunderstanding’ 4 of Anselm’s point and purpose 
in that work. In other words, on Barth’s interpretation, 
Gaunilo’s attack is not simply invalid or inconclusive but rather 

1 H. xxii ; 133. See also Eadmer’s account of Anselm’s intention in the Monologion : 
‘Fecit quoque libellum unum quem Monologion appellavit. Solus enim in eo et secum 
loquitur, ac, tacita omni auctoritate Divinae Scripturae, quid Deus sit sola ratione 
quaerit et invenit, et quod vera fides de Deo sentit invincibili ratione sic nec aliter 
esse posse probat et astruit.* Vita , 1. xlx; Southern, p. 29. 

2 The Author's Reply to Gaunilo , p. 169. 

3 Ibid., p. 187. 

4 Barth, op. cit., p. 131. 


wholly irrelevant and pointless, for Gaunilo, in criticizing the 
Proslogion argument as a rational argument for the existence of 
God, is in fact criticizing it for something which St. Anselm 
never intended it to be. However, if Barth sees Gaunilo’s 
attack as being a complete misunderstanding of St. Anselm’s 
position, this is certainly not the way in which St. Anselm him¬ 
self sees it. In his reply to Gaunilo he does not, in fact, anywhere 
complain that Gaunilo’s criticisms are irrelevant or beside the 
point, but he confronts Gaunilo’s objections on Gaunilo’s own 
ground and attempts to show that they are invalid. In short, 
what is obvious in St. Anselm’s counter-reply is that he agrees 
completely with Gaunilo’s reading of the Proslogion argument 
as a rational proof of the existence of God. 

These objections to Barth’s interpretation of St. Anselm are 
reinforced by circumstantial evidence of an historical kind. 
First, as we have noted, Anselm saw himself as a follower of 
St. Augustine and his thought is in fact impregnated with 
Augustinian ideas and themes. Now, as our discussion showed, 
although St. Augustine’s position on faith and reason is not a 
clear-cut one, it is nevertheless not a fideist position, nor a 
position identical with that which Barth wishes to read into 
St. Anselm. If Barth’s interpretation is correct, then St. Anselm 
must have been breaking, in a pretty radical way, with St. 
Augustine and the whole Augustinian tradition on this question. 
But of course there is not the slightest evidence to suppose that 
St. Anselm was consciously parting company with St. Augustine, 
nor that Anselm’s contemporaries saw him as an innovator on 
this question of the relationship of faith to reason. 1 In fact, his 
contemporaries saw him as the pillar of orthodoxy. So, for 
example, at the Council of Bari (1098) Anselm was given pride 
of place by the Pope. If, then, Barth’s interpretation is correct, 
Anselm’s neo-Barthianism was accepted without demur by the 
whole of the early twelfth-century Church, from Pope Urban II 

1 For Lanfranc, indeed, St. Anselm was something of a theological innovator, 
but for reasons quite contrary to those proposed by Barth. For Lanfranc it was 
St. Anselm’s emphasis on ‘reason* and his neglect of‘authorities* which represented 
a new, and perhaps dangerous, departure; see on this Anselm’s Epist. 77; Schmitt, 
iii; 199-1200. See also William of Malmesbury’s later testimony, De Gestis Ponti - 
Jicumy Rolls Series, Iii. 76. For William it was Anselm’s appeal to reason and 
rational argument, where others had appealed merely to the credulity of their 
audience, that was his main claim to fame. 



downwards! Oddly, and ironically, the view of theology that 
Barth wants to read into St. Anselm is displayed in a very pure 
form in the anti-Aristotelian movement in the early years of 
the thirteenth century. One of the most notable representatives 
of this movement was Pope Gregory IX, the author of the 
celebrated warning (in 1228), to the theological masters at the 
University of Paris about the dangers of introducing Aristo¬ 
telian philosophy into Christian theology. ‘The “intellectus 
theologicus ’”, Gregory wrote, ‘must not be corrupted by an 
earthly ferment, that is by philosophy. To introduce philo¬ 
sophical reason into the heart of faith is to make faith useless 
and senseless and to deprive it of all merit.’ 1 

Again, in our discussion of St. Augustine’s position, we saw 
that there is a strong rationalistic side to his thought, and this 
‘rationalism’ is reinforced in St. Anselm by the profound 
influence that Aristotelian and Boethian logic had upon him. 
As St. Anselm puts it in the Monologion, it is by his reason that 
man is ‘the image of God’, 2 and as we remarked, this is a 
commonplace in the later Augustinian tradition. From this 
point of view Barth’s reading of the Lutheran doctrine, that 
reason is completely corrupted by the Fall, into St. Anselm does 
violence both to die history of eleventh- and twelfth-century 
thought and to St. Anselm. 3 4 5 

Finally, a study of the writings of Anselm’s own immediate 
disciples, Rodulfus and Gilbert Crispin, shows quite clearly 
that they did not interpret their master’s thought in a fideist or 
neo-Barthian way. In fact, if anything, they accentuated the 
rationalistic side of St. Anselm’s thought. Thus, in his Dispu- 
tatio Christiani cum Gentile de Fide Christie Gilbert Crispin de¬ 
scribes a debate at a kind of philosophical society which met 
in London at an inn. s A Christian engages in a discussion with 

1 Text in Chenu, La Thiologie comme science au XIIF sikle, p. 31. 

2 lxvi; 77. 

3 More geneially, Barth’s whole conception of St. Anselm’s approach to theology 
is equally questionable. See the excellent studies of J. McIntyre, St. Anselm and his 
Critics, and the essay, ‘Premises and Conclusions in the System of St. Anselm’s 
Theology’, in Spic. Bee., pp. 95-101. 

4 Ed. C. C. J. Webb, in MARS, iii, 1954, 58-77. 

5 C. C. J. Webb rather romantically sees this as evidence of an underground 
movement of freethinkers in London: Studies in the History of Natural Theology, 
Oxford, 1915, pp. 94 ff. R. W. Southern, however, interprets Gilbert’s dialogue as 
an allegory where ‘Christianus’ is meant to represent St. Anselm himself. 



an unbeliever over the credibility and rationality of the Christian 
faith and they both agree to leave aside all appeal to the authority 
of the Scriptures. 1 In other words, Gilbert (and this is confirmed 
by the further course of the dialogue) clearly acknowledges the 
possibility of a rational ‘apologetic 5 of the Christian faith. 

The same ‘rationalistic 5 strain emerges in the work of another 
disciple of St. Anselm, Rodulfus. For instance, in his dialogue 
between ‘Peccator 5 and ‘Ratio 5 , Rodulfus declares that ‘those 
who live according to reason rightly advance upon the right 
road, and if they make their way always with reason they will 
come finally into the company of the saints 5 . 2 Again, in his dia¬ 
logue between ‘Sciens 5 and ‘Nesciens 5 , Rodulfus elaborates a 
causal proof of the existence of a First Cause of life. The proof is 
constructed independently of faith in order to persuade ‘Nesciens 5 
who doubts whether God exists inasmuch as one cannot believe 
anything which cannot be seen with one’s own eyes. 3 

To sum up: If Barth’s interpretation of St. Anselm’s position 
on faith and reason is correct, St. Anselm must have been out 
of step with the whole Augustinian tradition of his own time; 
he must have been misunderstood and misrepresented by his 
contemporaries, including his own close disciples; and finally 
St. Anselm himself must have been unaware of the revolutionary 
character of his own views. We conclude then that, even though 
Barth’s view of St. Anselm contains many valuable insights, his 
interpretation must be rejected. In other words, St. Anselm 
cannot be interpreted as having denied in principle the possi¬ 
bility of a ‘natural theology’, a rational approach to God, 
logically prior to and independent of faith. 4 

1 ‘Omittamus igitur Scripturarum nostrarum auctoritatem’, Webb, p. 60. 

2 Again, he says, ‘God indeed is supreme reason and in Him exists the sure 
source of all reasons’: cited, R. W. Southern, MARS, i, 1941, 14, n. 2. 

3 Libellus primus de nesciente et sciente, cited Webb, MARS, iii, 1954, 59. 

4 This conclusion also goes against Gilson’s interpretation of St. Anselm’s 
thought. ‘In so far as philosophy for us means an investigation which starts from 
rational premisses in order to end in rational conclusions it can be said that St. 
Anselm did not write a single work of philosophy*: Etudes de philosophic mSdUvale , 
Strasbourg, 1921, p. 14. As against Gilson, H. Bouillard, Spic. Bee., p. 206, has this 
to say: ‘The Proslogion proof, discovered within faith in order to support faith does 
present a theological aspect; but because it is meant to work independently of 
faith, it also has a philosophical character.* Dom M. Cappuyns, ‘L*Argument de 
saint Anselme* in Recherches de thiologie ancienne et nUdiivale , vi, 1934,313-30, also holds 

that Anselm intended the Proslogion argument as a rational demonstration valid 
even for the religious unbeliever. 

4 6 


Once again, it is obvious what importance this conclusion 
has if we are to interpret the Proslogion according to the inten¬ 
tion of its author. In the Proslogion, as in the Cur Deus Homo, 
Anselm addresses both believers and unbelievers. For the 
believer the proofs Anselm offers will enable him to penetrate 
more deeply into the mystery of the Godhead and to understand 
what he believes; but for the unbeliever the proofs will serve to 
convince him of the existence of God and give him understand¬ 
ing so that he may come to believe. 




St. Anselm begins the Preface to the Proslogion by mentioning 
his earlier work, the Monologion (written one year before the 
Proslogion ), where he had attempted to prove the existence of a 
being which is ‘the best and greatest and highest of all things ’. 1 
We can, he says, prove this by reason alone (‘sola ratione’) and 
in many different ways. St. Anselm, however, offers to present 
the most easily understood proof based on the fact that there 
are many good things, a fact evident from sense experience and 
from intellectual apprehension. Things may, as compared with 
each other, be equally good or more or less good, but the fact 
that they are good means that they are nevertheless the same in 
this respect. Now, that diverse things are the same in being good 
implies that they are good ‘through something ’. 2 In a later 
chapter Anselm explains that for a thing to be ‘through some¬ 
thing’ means that it has come to be through an efficient cause 
or a material cause or through an instrumental cause . 3 

It seems proper, then, to interpret St. Anselm’s argument 
here as meaning that diverse things that are the same in some 
respect are caused to be the same in that respect by something 
extrinsic to them, and this cause possesses the characteristic in 
question ‘through itself’ (‘per se’). Thus there is something 
good ‘through itself’, and all the other diverse things that are 
good are good through it. There is, then, so Anselm concludes, 
a being that is in the highest degree good and great, and that is 
the most supreme being. + 

This proof, Anselm says, began from the fact that there are 
many good things, but the concept of goodness is not at all 
necessary to the proof, which may be generalized to prove 

1 i; Schmitt, i, 13. On the Monologion see the interesting, but debatable, 
study by P. Vignaux, ‘Structure et sens du Monologion in Revue des sciences philo - 
sophiqueset thiologiques , xxxi, 1947,192-212. See also F. S. Schmitt, ‘Les Corrections 
de saint Anselme k son Monologion *, in Revue BSnidictine , 1 , 1938, 194-205. 

2 i; r 4* 

3 vi; 19. ‘Quod enim dicitur esse per aliquid, videtur esse aut per efficiens aut 

per materiam aut per aliquod aliud adiumentum, velut per instrumentum.’ See 
also ch. vii, where it is made clear that things exist ‘through* God by way of 
creation‘ex nihilo*. 4 i; 15. 





that whatever exists, exists through some one thing. Anselm 
apparently treats existence as an ordinary characteristic so 
that all the diverse things that exist, though they exist in 
different ways, are the same in this respect, namely, that they 
exist. And that they are the same must be explained by positing 
the existence of some one thing which, existing through itself, 
is the cause of existence in other things. As Anselm puts it: 
‘Everything which exists exists either through something or 
through nothing. But nothing exists through nothing. For it 
cannot be thought that something should not exist through 
something. Whatever exists, therefore, does not exist save 
through something .’ 1 

Now this being through which all other beings exist must be 
either one or more than one. If more than one then they would 
be the same in respect of existing through themselves or being 
existents ‘per se’, and we should have to postulate some one 
being through which these existents ‘per se 5 would derive their 
same existence ‘per se’. Therefore we must postulate the exis¬ 
tence of one being which, existing through itself, is the ground 
of the existence of all other things. And, finally, since what 
exists ‘through itself’ is greater than what exists ‘through 
another’ (or, as we might put it, whatever exists independently 
is greater than what exists dependently), this being is greater 
than all others (‘maxime omnium est’) and hence ‘the best 
and greatest and highest of all things ’. 2 

In the following chapter of the Monologion Anselm sets out 
a further argument (though it is difficult to see whether he 
intends it as an independent proof, or simply as a fuller explica¬ 
tion of the reasoning behind the proof just considered), namely 
that, if diverse things are the same in some respect, they must 
be caused to be the same in that respect by something extrinsic 
to them. When we inspect the things in the world, Anselm says, 
and compare them with each other we see that there are grades 
of excellence among them. For example, a horse is intrinsically 
more excellent than a tree, and a man intrinsically more 
excellent than a horse . 3 We can, then, arrange things in a 

1 iii; 15-16. ‘Omne namque quod est aut est per aliquid aut per nihil. Sed nihil 
est per nihil. Non enim vel cogitari potest, ut sit aliquid non per aliquid. Quidquid 
est igitur, non nisi per aliquid est.* 

2 iii; 16. 

3 iv; 16-17. 



hierarchical series according to their degree of excellence. 
Now, if there were no thing of the highest grade of excellence 
(such that it had nothing higher than it), then the series would 
be infinite; in other words, no grade of excellence would be so 
superior that it itself had no superior. But this would mean that 
there would be an infinity of natural things. But this is absurd. 
Therefore there must necessarily exist a thing of such a superior 
grade of excellence that nothing could be superior to it. The 
conclusion of this proof might suggest that the most excellent 
thing must itself be a member (albeit the highest member) of 
the hierarchical series. However, in a later chapter 1 Anselm 
remarks that relative expressions do not apply properly to the 
supreme being, so that when we say that God is the ‘highest’ of 
all things or ‘greater’ than others, we do not mean ‘highest’ or 
‘greater’ to be taken relatively to other things. As he puts it: 
‘If none of those things existed, in relation to which it (the 
supreme being) is called supreme or greater, it would not be 
conceived as either supreme or greater, yet it would not, there¬ 
fore, be less good or suffer detriment to its essential greatness 
in any degree .’ 1 God, therefore, does not exist as the highest 
member of the hierarchical series, but rather outside the series. 
However, the difficulty for Anselm then is that the positing of a 
thing so superior to all others that it itself has no superior will 
not suffice to stop the series of things going on ad infinitum; for 
the only thing that would stop this would be for the series to 
have a last or highest member within the series. 

One can see in this Monologion argument, with its notion of a 
being so superior to all others that a superior to it cannot 
exist, how close Anselm is to the definition that he exploits in 
the Proslogion , namely, ‘that than which a greater cannot be 
thought’. The Monologion formula, however, is the conclusion of 
the proof and gets its sense and meaning from the proof, whereas 
in the Proslogion the definition is rather assumed as a premiss. 
Again, as we shall see, the Proslogion formula is much more 
sophisticated and subtle than that used in the Monologion. 

These, then, are the arguments which Anselm sets out in 
the Monologion . Interesting as they are, and illuminating as 
they are for the interpretation of the Proslogion arguments, it 
is obvious enough that they are only as valid as the naive 

1 xv; 28. 



Platonic thesis on which they hinge, namely, that if diverse 
things are the same in some respect they must be caused to be 
the same in that respect by something extrinsic to them, which 
latter must have the property in question 'through itself 5 , or in a 
pure form, or to an absolute degree. For St. Anselm, however, 
the only drawback of the arguments is their complexity, in that 
they depend upon a number of premisses which in turn need 
explanation and justification. In themselves, St. Anselm con¬ 
siders, they are quite valid and conclusive . 1 

We may return now to the Proslogion . Anselm goes on to 
describe how he began to speculate on the possibility of a 
single and self-sufficient argument to establish the same con¬ 
clusion as was reached by the more complex Monologion 
arguments . 2 

'Argument 5 ('argumentum 5 ) for St. Anselm can mean both 
a single premiss in a train of reasoning or the train of reasoning 
considered as a whole. However, it seems clear that here St. 
Anselm means it in the latter sense for, as we shall see, the proof 
he develops in the Proslogion is a formal deductive argument 
with a number of premisses. St. Anselm nowhere pretends, as 
is sometimes alleged, that the existence of God is self-evident in 
the strict sense, that is, in the sense that the proposition ‘God 
(that than which nothing greater can be thought) exists 5 , is 
seen immediately to be self-evident in that its denial would be 

Anselm also intimates here that the beauty of his new proof 
is that it serves to prove the attributes of God as well as His 
existence, whereas in the Monologion the attributes had to be 
proved by invoking the additional principle that we must 
attribute to the 'supreme nature 5 whatever it is better to be 
rather than not be . 3 In the Proslogion this principle is seen to be 
a corollary of the definition 'God is that than which nothing 
greater can be thought 5 . 

1 Barth alleges that the Monologion proofs are not meant to be independent 
rational proofs of the existence of God: *My view is then that even in the Mono¬ 
logion we are confronted by a very pronounced rejection of speculation that does 
not respect the incomprehensibility of the reality of the objects of faith; by a 
recognition of the indirectness of all knowledge of God, and also, though more 
clearly than in the Proslogion , by the reference to the Pattern of faith which is the 
basis of everything.* Fides Quaerens IntelUctum , p. 57. 

2 *Unum argumentum, quod nullo alio ad se probandum quam se solo indigeret*: 

Preface, p. 102. 3 Monol. xv; 28. 


Anselm goes on to describe the obsessive hold that his project 
came to have upon his mind. And Eadmer relates that while 
he was reflecting upon the problem he gave up ‘food, drink and 
sleep’ and became so exercised by it that it even began to inter¬ 
fere with his religious duties. Anselm had, indeed, begun to 
wonder if the whole pursuit were not a temptation of the Devil 
when, ‘to his great joy and jubilation’, the solution dawned 
upon him one evening between the night offices. 1 Eadmer also 
tells a curious story that St. Anselm wrote the argument down 
quickly on wax tablets and gave them to one of the monks in 
the monastery to mind for him. The monk, however, lost the 
tablets, but, fortunately, Anselm was able to remember his text 
and to write it down again. Very trustingly he gave the tablets 
again to the same monk, who this time found them broken. 
Anselm then decided, for safety’s sake, to write the argument 
down on parchment. 

The tide of the work, Anselm says, is ‘Faith in Search of 
Understanding’ (‘fides quaerens intellectum’), which is, of 
course, an Augustinian echo. The name ‘Proslogion’, which 
means ‘an allocution’, is merely a short and convenient title. 
Since we have already examined at some length what Anselm 
means by ‘faith in search of understanding’ we need not con¬ 
sider it further here. 

Anselm dedicates the Proslogion to Archbishop Hugh of 
Lyons, a close friend with whom he stayed while he was in 
exile after his quarrel with William Rufus. From what we 
know of Hugh, or Hugh de Die, it appears that he was a rela¬ 
tive of the Duke of Burgundy; he was appointed papal legate in 
1075 and Archbishop of Lyons in 1083. A fervent supporter of 
the Gregorian reforms, he also seems to have been a man of 
extreme rigidity since Gregory VII had to overrule some of his 
decisions. 2 

chapter 1 

St. Anselm begins the Proslogion proper with a prayer-like 
introduction. Written in a heightened oratorical style, 3 it is 

1 Vita , 1. xix; Southern, p. 30. 

2 See A. Fliche, La Riforme Grigorienne , in Histoire de l'£glise , viii, 205-6; Rule in 
his introduction to Eadmer’s De Vita Sancti Anselmi ... has a fanciful account of the 
relations between Hugh and Anselm. 

3 ‘Un style un peu abondant’, as Dom Wilmart says of St. Anselm’s prayers, 
Meditations et prieres de saint Anselme , p. lxi. 



closely modelled upon St. Augustine; indeed, the introduction 
is largely a tesselation of themes from the Psalms and St. 
Augustine. Man seeks to know God, but God is inaccessible to 
him, both because of God’s transcendence, and because the 
human mind has been weakened by the effects of the Fall. We 
must pray to God then, if we are to come to know God. Echoing 
St. Augustine, St. Anselm addresses God: ‘Teach me to seek 
You, and show Yourself to him who seeks You, because I can 
neither seek You ifYou do not teach me how, nor find You unless 
You show Yourself.’ And he ends with the Augustinian formula 
which we have already discussed at some length: ‘I do not seek 
to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may 
understand.’ 1 

As we suggested before, it would be misleading to place too 
much stress upon these Augustinian commonplaces and to 
exaggerate the ‘fideist’ tendency of what Anselm says here. It 
has been alleged, for example, that St. Anselm means that the 
Proslogiort proof, in contrast with the Monologion proofs, is based 
upon faith, or ‘Christian experience’, which presupposes 
God’s grace. 2 However, for Anselm himself the only difference 
between the Monologion proofs and the Proslogion argument is 
that the latter is not as logically complex as the former. Where¬ 
as the Monologion proofs were ‘composed of a chain of many 
arguments’, the Proslogion argument is intended to be ‘one 
single argumnt which for its proof requires no other save itself 5 . 3 
St. Anselm says nothing at all about the Proslogion proof having 
a radically different point de depart from that of the Monologion 


We believe by faith that God exists and that He has a certain 
nature. In other words, we believe, as theists and Christians, 
that God is a being so great that no greater being than He can 
be thought of or conceived. Now, can we show by rational 

1 p. 115. Cf. St. Augustine, De Libero Arbitrio, II. ii; P.L. xxxii. 1242. 

2 ‘This (Proslogion) proof differed from the three of the Monologion in starting 

from faith; and it must be understood as deriving from Christian experience. Its 
validity, from Anselm’s point of view, did not rest upon its verification by objective 
tests, but solely upon the knowledge which came through God’s illumination. . . . 
Such knowledge of God, therefore, presupposes grace.* G. Leff, Medieval Thought, 
p. 101. 3 p. 103. 



means that what we believe by faith can be understood? That 
is to say, can we show by rational means that God, defined as 
'something than which nothing greater can be thought’, really 
exists? There is no doubt that St. Anselm has in mind here 
St. Augustine’s discussion of the existence of God in his De 
Libero Arbitrio , and it will help to illuminate St. Anselm’s 
meaning if we examine what Augustine has to say. 

In the De Libero Arbitrio Augustine is engaged in a discussion 
with Evodius and he asks him whether he is certain that God 
exists. Evodius answers that he does not direcdy know that 
God exists, but rather believe s it, and Augustine remarks: 'If then 
one of those fools of whom Scripture writes, “The fool said in 
his heart: there is no God”, should say this to you, and should 
refuse to believe with you what you believe, but wished to 
know whether your belief is true, would you have nothing to do 
with this man, or would you think he ought to be convinced 
in some way of what you hold firmly—especially if he should 
seriously wish to know it and not obstinately to oppose it?’ 1 
Evodius replies that it is sufficient to appeal to the testimony of 
'all those writers who have testified that they lived with the Son 
of God’. Augustine agrees that, in a sense, we must believe in 
God in order to understand Him, but he then proceeds to 
develop a purely rational and independent proof of the existence 
of God which is apparently meant to be convincing to the 
unbeliever. Reason, he argues, is the supreme element in man, 
but reason apprehends the existence of eternal and unchange¬ 
able truth. Now, if there is anything higher than eternal truth 
it is God; but if there is not, then truth itself is God. Augustine 
concludes his argument by saying to Evodius, 'If I showed 
there was something above our minds, you conceded you would 
confess it to be God, provided there was nothing still higher. 
Accepting your admission I said it was enough that I should 
show this. For if there is something more excellent, it is this 
which is God, but, if there is nothing more excellent, then truth 
itself is God. Whichever is the case, you cannot deny that God 
exists.’ 2 In other words, God is defined as the 'highest’ and 
'most excellent’ thing that we can conceive, so that to prove the 
existence of a highest and most excellent conceivable thing 

1 De Lib . Arbit . n. ii, sec. 5; trans. M. Pontifex, The Problem of Free Choice , 
London, 1955, pp. 77-78. 2 Ibid. 11. xv; Pontifex, p. 120. 


(eternal truth) is precisely to prove the existence of God. 1 
Augustine concludes that, even though we know God only in a 
very tenuous way by rational means, we still do know Him. 
‘God exists, and He exists truly and supremely. We not only 
hold this, I t h ink, by our undoubted faith, but we also attain to 
it by a sure, though very tenuous, kind of knowledge.’* 

St. Augustine, then, clearly admits the possibility of a 
rational justification of belief in God and, since St. Anselm 
professes to follow Augustine so closely, we may conclude that 
his intention in the Proslogion is precisely the same as that of his 
master in the De Libero Arbi trio. In other words Anselm’s 
intention is to prove that God, defined as that than which 
nothing greater can be thought, can be shown by rational 
means (appreciable by the unbeliever) to exist. 

‘We believe’, says St. Anselm addressing God, ‘that you are 
something than which nothing greater can be thought’ (‘aliquid 
quo nihil maius cogitari potest’).* There is no doubt that the 
immediate source of this formula is, as we have just seen, to be 
found in St. Augustine, though of course the general notion of 
God as a being so supremely great that there cannot conceivably 
be a greater than He is part and parcel of Judaeo-Christian 
theism. 4 But, we may ask, what is the basis of this definition of 
God as ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’? 
St. Anselm says that we ‘believe’ that God is definable in this 

1 Pontifex, p. 262, expresses the difference between St. Augustine and St. 
Anselm thus: ‘St. Anselm argues that we can conceive of that than which nothing 
greater can be conceived; that than which nothing greater can be conceived must 
have existence or it would have something still greater than itself, and therefore 
that God must exist. St. Augustine, it is true, agrees that God must be greater 
than anything we can conceive, but he does not argue that therefore God must 
exist: he sets out to show that such a being must exist because we are aware of 
truth/ Again, we might add, St. Augustine’s argument is a causal argument of a 
kind, whereas, as we shall see later, St. Anselm’s argument is non-causal in form. 

2 Ibid. n. xv; Pontifex, p. 120. 

3 Anselm uses several variants of this formula: ‘id quo maius cogitari nequit’; 
‘aliquid quo maius cogitari non valet*, &c. 

4 See St. Augustine, Confessions, vn, c. iv: ‘Neque enim ulla anima. umquam 
potuit poteritve cogitare aliquid, quod sit te melius, qui s ummum et optimum 
bonum es’ (P.L. xxxii. 735), Also see De Moribus Manichaeontm , 1. ii, c. xi, where 
God is defined as a being ‘quo esse aut cogitari melius nihil possit* (P.L. xxxii. 
I355)- For other references see Schmitt, i. p. 102. Schmitt also remarks an interest¬ 
ing anticipation of the formula in Seneca, Naturales quaestiones , 1, Praef. 13: 
‘Quid est deus? mens universi, quod vides totum et quod non vides totum, sic 
demum magnitudo illi sua redditur, qua nihil maius cogitari potest, si solus est 
omnia, si opus suum et intra et extra tenet.’ 


way, but he cannot mean, as it has sometimes been claimed, 
that the definition is only appreciable by one who has faith, 
so that the whole Ptoslogion argument, which of course hinges 
upon the definition, would only be persuasive for those who 
already believed in God. There is, in fact, enough historical 
evidence to show that St. Anselm would have been well aware 
of the position of the philosophical atheist. Thus, as we have 
seen, his English disciple Rodulfus has a dialogue where "Ne- 
sciens’, representing the unbeliever, declares that he refuses to 
believe anything that he cannot see with his eyes. 1 And another 
disciple, Gilbert Crispin, begins one of his works by saying that 
it is aimed at "those who do not believe to exist what they do not 
see to be capable of existing’. 2 

We do, then, believe that God is "that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’ and we can assume that, for the believer, 
this formula is meaningful; but, as Anselm shows later in his 
reply to Gaunilo, a rational or philosophical sense can be given 
to the definition so that it is meaningful also to the unbeliever. 3 
Here, in Chapter II, however, St. Anselm supposes that the 
formula is quasi-self-evident and needs no special justification. 
His argument js indeed d irected at the unbeliever, but at the 
kind of unbeliever who, wM^dnuttog^Aat he knows what it 
would be like for God to exist, denies that God does^m fact 
exist. In other words, Anselm’s argument, at least in Chapter 
Tf of the Ptoslogion , is directed against what we might call the 
j "factual atheist’, rather than against the "logical atheist’ who 
/ argues that the very notion of God, no matter how defined, is a 
/ strictly meaningless one, so that we do not even know what it 
/ would be like for God to exist. 

Anselm comments later 4 that the exact formula "that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’ is important if his 

1 Libelhts primus de nescients et scienie , cited Webb, in MARS, iii, 1954, 59: ‘Sunt 
autem multi homines etiam Christiani moribus et vita fere similes bestiis qui 
edam hoc ipsum utrum deiis sit dubitant, nec aliud quam qui oculis videntur esse 

% Cited by R. W. Southern, ‘St. Anselm and his English Pupils’, in MARS , i, 
1941, 20. Southern comments as follows: ‘It is not without significance that 
Anselm’s pupils were so much concerned with the problem of unbelief.... Gilbert 
Crispin, by the strenuousness and scrupulousness of his discussion, best reveals 
the gravity of the conflict and shows that the enemy was not an imaginar y being 
from whom there was nothing to fear.’ 

* The Author's Reply , p. 187. 

4 Ibid., pp. 179-81. 



argument is to work. ‘That than which nothing greater can be 
thought’, he says, is not equivalent to the notion of the ‘greater 
than all* (‘maius omnibus’), for we cannot show that the 
proposition ‘the greater than all does not exist’ is self-con¬ 
tradictory as evidently as we can with the proposition ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought does not exist’. 
However, reserving a closer examination of the formula until 
later, let us briefly expose the argument which Anselm con¬ 
structs around it. 

The notion of God, defined as ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’, is understandable or meaningful, and 
in this sense it exists ‘in the mind’ (‘in intellectu’). Now, what 
exists in actual reality (‘in re’) is distinct from what merely 
exists in the mind. It is one thing for a picture to be thought of or 
^be in the mind of the painter, and another thing for it actually 
! to exist after the painter has painted it. And, more importantly, 

, what exists in actual reality is ‘greater’ than what exists in the 
j mind alone. God defined as ‘that than which nothing greater 
7 can be thought’ must therefore exist in actual reality, for if He 
\ did not so exist, but merely existed in the mind, He would not 
\ be precisely ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’, 
since it would be possible to think of a greater, namely, some¬ 
thing than which nothing greater can be thought existing in 
(actual reality as well as in the mind. 

It is important to notice that this is an argument or train of 
reasoning involving several premisses and that St. Anselm is 
not pretending that the proposition ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought actually exists! is an analytic proposition 
such that its denial would be immediately self-contradictory. 
The denial of this proposition only becomes self-contradic¬ 
tory on the supposition that what actually exists is greater 
than what merely exists in the mind. Unless we suppose this 
latter premiss there is no self-contradiction involved in the 
proposition ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 
does not actually exist’. 

Aquinas is plainly wrong, then, when he interprets St. 
Anselm as claiming that the proposition ‘God exists’ is self- 
evident (‘per se notum’). 1 It has been claimed that Aquinas was 

1 Sum . Cont. Gent . 1. x. Aquinas refers to those ‘qui asserunt quod Deum esse 
per se notum est, ita quod eius contrarium cogitari non possit, et sic Deum esse 



not considering Anselm’s proof as such but rather later formula¬ 
tions of it. However, Aquinas obviously knew of Anselm’s 
Proslogion argument at first hand and he nowhere bothers to 
distinguish the formulation of it that he rejects from St. Anselm’s 
own formulation. We may suppose, then, that he thought 
that his criticisms of it were fatal to St. Anselm’s proof as such. 1 

If, however, the Proslogion argument is a real argument, there 
is no doubt that for Anselm the premisses of it were so evident 
that it would be impossible not to be convinced by it. If one 
admits that God is definable as that than which nothing 
greater can be thought, and if one admits the obvious premiss 
that what exists in actual reality is greater than what exists in 
the mind alone, then, under pain of self-contradiction, one 
cannot but conclude that God must actually exist. Or, put in 
another way, the proposition ‘ God does not actual ly exist’ 
is seen to be self-contradictory on the assumption that God is 
defined as ‘that tHan ^^cTT noffiing can be thought* - 

and onthe further. asgumptlojnjhat it is greater to exist in 
reality than in the mind alone. Or, again, if the notion of c God’ 
defined as ‘that than 'wlucJriimhing greater can be thought’ 
is a meaningful one then, granted that it is greater to exist in 
reality than to exist in the mind alone, it must be true or in¬ 
stantiated; or, if it is possible that God (‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’) exists, then, granted that it is is greater 
to exist actually than merely possibly, God actually exists. 

This, then, is the extremely elegant and ingenious argument 
that Anselm proposes, and we must now examine more closely 
the elements from which it is composed. What, first of all, is 

demonstrari non potest’, and he goes on to give a summarized version of the 
proofs in Chapters II and III of the Proslogion. Gilson admits that the Proslogion 
argument is not the analytic proposition that Aquinas makes it out to be, but the 
reason he gives for this is that the proof presupposes ‘purification of the heart, 
faith, an appeal to God, illumination of thought by grace’ (Etudes sur le role de la 
pensie midiivale dans la formation du systime carUsien, Paris, 1930, p. 218). This ‘fideist’ 
interpretation of St. Anselm, as we have seen, cannot be maintained. In any case, 
it is principally because the Proslogion argument is formally and logically an 
argument that the proposition ‘God exists’ is not for Anselm ‘per se notum’ or 
analytic or self-evident. 

1 St. Thomas mentions St. Anselm by name in two earlier discussions: De 
Veritate , q. 10, art. 12; Comm, in Sent . 1 . i, disl. 3, q. I, art. 2. For an interesting 
comparison of Anselm’s argument with Aquinas’s ‘five ways’ see E. L. Mascall, 
‘Faith and Reason: Anselm and Aquinas’, in Journal of Theological Studies, xiv, 
i9 6 3> 67-90. 



to be said of the definition of God as 6 that than which no thin g 
greater can be thought’? As we have seen, St. Anselm supposes 
that jweare ab le to c onceive of a being so greatjhat nothing 
greater tHanjtcouldbe conceived. Of course we cannot have 
a determinate or positive conception of such a being, but we 
can, for all that, still form some conception of the greatest con¬ 
ceivable being. 1 Now, what is the sense of ‘greater’ as it is 
used in the Anselmian formula? It is obvious that it is not 
being used in any quantitative sense, but rather as meaning 
‘more perfect’ in the neo-Platonic sense, that is to say, having a 
higher level or ‘degree’ of existence. In his reply to Gaunilo 
Anselm uses ‘greater’ interchangeably with ‘better’; for 
example, supra-temporal things are said to be metaphysically 
‘greater’ and ‘better’ than temporal things. 2 3 And, as we have 
already seen in the Monologion , St. Anselm claims that a horse 
is ‘more perfect’ than a tree and that a man is ‘more perfect’ 
than a horse. For St. Anselm this whole neo-Platonic notion of 
metaphysical ‘perfections’ was so familiar and so seemingly 
self-evident that it needed no justification. However, for the 
modem thinker the notion of a ‘perfection’ is a puzzling one 
and not at all self-evident. We can obviously compare things in 
particular respects ; for example, we can say that in respect of 
strength a horse is greater or more perfect than a man, but that 
in respect of intelligence a man is greater or better or more 
perfect than a horse. But can we say that absolutely speaking a 
man is greater or better or more perfect than a horse, in that he 
has a ‘higher degree’ of being or existence? Of course, if there 
were a relation of causal dependence between the things compared, 
then perhaps it would be possible to give a meaning to the 
notion of ‘greater’ or ‘more perfect’ used in this metaphysical 
sense. For example, if we established that things of finite 

1 The Author’s Reply, p. 189. As Koyr<5 notes, St. Anselm does not suppose, as 

Descartes does, that we have a ‘clear and distinct* idea of the essence of God. ‘It 
is only in seeing the impossibility of denying this existence (of God) that we come 
to posit it. That, in our view, is the great difference between the Anselmian proof 
and that of Descartes* {Uldie de Dieu dans la philosophic de saint Anselme, p. 201). 

3 P- I ® 7 * Wyclif has an interesting variation of Anselm’s argument based upon 
the scholastic doctrine of the ‘convertibility* of being and goodness. Because God 
is ‘summe ens’ He is also ‘summe bonum* (‘since anything has as much goodness as 
it has beingand vice versa*), and since it is ‘more good* to exist ‘in re et in intellectu*, 
than merely ‘in intellectu*, God must, because He is the ‘summe bonum’, exist ‘in re et 
in intellectu*. See Johannes Wyclif: Summa de Ente, ed. Thomson, pp. 78-79. 



temporal duration were causally dependent upon things of 
infinite temporal duration (as in Aristotle’s Physics sub-lunar 
things are dependent upon the movers of the spheres); or that 
temporal things (whether finite or infinite) were dependent 
upon supra-temporal things (as in Aristotle’s universe the 
temporal universe is causally dependent upon the the supra-tem¬ 
poral Prime Mover); or again that contingent existents were 
causally dependent upon a necessary existent—then we could 
perhaps compare these things in an absolute sense and speak 
of one being ‘greater’ or ‘more perfect’ than another. 1 In other 
words, if we had first proved the existence of God as the ultimate 
cause of the existents in the world, then we could certainly say 
that God was the greatest conceivable being. 

The notion of ‘greater’ or ‘more perfect’ may, then, be given 
some sense in the context of causal dependency. However, the 
notion of causal dependency plays no part at all in the Pros- 
logion argument. Indeed, one might even say that St. Anselm’s 
whole intention in the Proslogion was to put forward a non- 
causal proof of the existence of God.* 

The validity of the Proslogion proof depends, then, upon the 
possibility of comparing things as ‘greater’ or ‘better’ or ‘more 
perfect’ in an absolute sense. But, as we have seen, outside the 
context of causal dependency it is difficult to see exactly how 
such absolute comparisons can be made. Within our experience 
we can only make comparisons in particular respects, and it would 
have to be proved or demonstrated in some way that it is possible 
and licit to make absolute comparisons. To put it in another 
way, we can say that, within our experience, no being can ever 
be so great that no greater can be thought. Of course a being 
can be de facto the greatest in some respect; for example, the 

1 Cf. Malcolm, ‘Anselm’s Ontological Arguments’, p. 47. ‘There is a definite 
connection in common language between the notions of dependency and in¬ 
feriority, and independence and superiority. To say that something which was 
dependent on nothing whatever was superior to (“greater than”) anything that was 
dependent in any way upon anything is quite in keeping with the everyday use of 
the terms “superior” and “greater”.’ 

* Cf. Gilson, ‘Le Sens et la nature de 1 ’argument de S. Anselme’, p. 18. See also 
A. Forest, Le mouvement doctrinal du IX 6 au XIV 6 sticlc, in the series Histoire de VlZglise, 
ed. Fliche et Jarry, xxiii, p. 61. ‘The novelty of the argument is emphasized in the 
Proslogion . In effect it cannot be reduced to a proof by way of causality such as is 
found, under very different guises, in St. Augustine and St. Thomas. Its originality 
consists in using the very idea of God within which we can, as it were, read the 
necessity of His existence.’ 



velocity of light is, as a matter of fact, the greatest velocity in 
our universe. But the velocity of light is also a finite velocity 
and we can quite well conceive of a greater velocity; it is not, 
and cannot be, that velocity than which a greater cannot be 
thought. And this, of course, is true of everything else within 
our experience; no thing can ever be so great that a greater 
cannot be thought. It would then have first to be shown that 
the things ‘within our experience’ are not the only kind of 
things, if we are to give a meaning to the notion of a being so 
great that no greater can be thought. We should, that is, first 
have to prove the existence of God before we could give a sense 
to the notion of a being so great that no greater could possibly 
be thought. In other words, we have, in a sense, to prove that 
the notion is meaningful, for it is not immediately evident that 
it is meaningful. Of course, this means that equally it cannot be 
immediately evident that it is meaningless ; for if the notion of a 
being so great that no greater could be thought is only meaning¬ 
ful if it is first shown that the things ‘within our experience’ are 
not the only kind of things, then equally the notion could only 
be meaningless if it were first shown that the things ‘within 
our experience’ were necessarily the only kind of things. In 
short, if we cannot a priori affirm the logical possibility of the 
existence of God, equally we cannot a priori deny the logical 
possibility of the existence of God. 

To conclude our discussion of the formula ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’ we may remark that for St. 
Anselm ‘being thought of’ simply means being logically con¬ 
ceivable. For something to be able to be thought of or conceived 
means that it is logically possible; it does not in any way mean 
that it is imaginable in the sense that we can conjure up an 
image of it, or that it is knowable in a positive sense, as when 
we apprehend something existing in actual reality. ‘Cogitare’ 
for St. Anselm has the connotation of entertaining something in 
thought, rather than the direct knowing of something existing 
in reality. Anselm uses the verb ‘intelligere’ for this latter sense 
of thinking or knowing and, as we shall see later in his reply to 
Gaunilo, the distinction between the two senses of ‘knowing’ is 
of considerable importance to him. 1 

1 See P. Michaud-Quantin, ‘Notes sur le vocabulaire psychologique de saint 
Anselme*, in Spic. Bee pp. 23-30, cf. p. 24: ‘The “cogitare** refers to reality, but it 



We must now examine the second premiss of St. Anselm’s 
argument in Chapter II of the Proslogion , namely, that what 
exists in actual reality is greater than what exists in the mind 
alone. It is this premiss that allows us to infer from the notion 
of ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 to its 
instantiation in actual existence, and it is absolutely essential 
to his argument. As we have already suggested, the objection 
that St. Anselm argues directly from the conceptual or logical 
order to the real order, that is, from the idea of God to the 
actual existence of God, is simply a vulgar travesty of his 

To some extent the observations already made on the term 
‘greater 5 apply here also, although, as we shall see in a moment, 
the sense in which an actual existent is greater than a conceptual 
existent is not precisely the same as that implied in the formula 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 . 

First of all, it is obvious enough that when St. Anselm speaks 
of‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 as existing in 
the mind (‘in intellectu 5 ), he does not mean this to be taken in 
any psychological sense, as though there were existents of two 
distinct kinds, real existents and mental existents. For some¬ 
thing to exist ‘in the mind 5 simply means, for St. Anselm, that 
it is thinkable, or conceivable, or intelligible, or logically 
possible; in other words, we know what it would be like for that 
thing to exist, but we do not know whether it actually exists or 
not. Now in what sense can we compare something in the 
mind—something conceivable or logically possible—with some¬ 
thing existing in reality? And again, assuming that we can 
compare them, in what sense can we say that for something 
actually to exist is greater than for that same thing merely to 
exist in the mind, or to exist conceivably or possibly? 

First, can we really compare something in the mind with that 
something existing in reality; can we, for example, compare 
£1,000 as conceived in the mind and £1,000 actually 
existing in my pocket? There certainly is a difference between 

is a process which is accomplished within the mind itself in an autonomous manner; 
“intelligere” implies a confrontation, a permanent contact between the mind and 
external reality’; p. 25: 4 The argument of the Proslogion could be expressed on the 
psychological level by the formula: a “cogitare” exists such that of itself it consti¬ 
tutes an “intelligere”, that is to say, whose object necessarily implies and includes 
its reality.’ 


thinking of having £1,000 and actually having that £1,000, 
but simply that there is a difference does not mean that they are 
comparable as ‘greater 5 and ‘lesser 5 . 

It could be objected at once that if we were to take this 
principle at its face value we should be led to say that actually 
having cancer (‘in re 5 ) was ‘greater 5 or ‘better 5 or ‘more perfect 5 
{qua having cancer) than merely possibly having cancer or 
thinking about having cancer (‘in intellectu 5 ). Perhaps St. 
Anselm might admit this and say that an actual evil was in fact 
a greater evil than a merely possible evil; however, it would 
surely be paradoxical to speak of it as a ‘more perfect 5 evil. 1 

But apart from this in what sense can we say that actual 
existents are greater absolutely than possible or conceptual 
existents? Of course it may be that something actual is greater 
or better or more perfect in some particular respect ; for me, poor 
and in need of the money, an actual £1,000 is greater than 
£1,000 merely thought of, or rather, an actual £1,000 is 
greater than none at all; but how can we say that in itself the 
actual £1,000 is greater or more perfect? 2 A possible £1,000 is 
the possibility of there being an actual £1,000; it is not some 
queer, ghost-like kind of (actual, real) money. A possible 
£1,000 is not a sum of money, albeit of a peculiar kind; it is 
the possibility of there being a sum of money. And the fact that 
I am aware of the possible £1,000, or the fact of its ‘existing in 
my mind 5 , does not make me any richer than one who is not 
aware of the possibility of this £1,000, or who does not have it 
in his mind; nor does it make me poorer than one who has an 
actual £1,000 in his pocket. 

To put the point in another way, the difference between a 
possible £1,000 and an actual £1,000 is not subject to com¬ 
parison in the sense that the latter has all the properties that 
the former has, plus the additional ‘property 5 of actual existence. 

1 Perhaps, also, the objection is not altogether fair in that it supposes that evils 
are autonomous existents. St. Anselm might argue that evils are ‘privations* 
parasitic upon goods, and that actual evils are greater than possible evils simply 
because actual goods are greater than possible or conceivable goods. 

2 As Malcolm has put it: ‘It makes sense and it is true to say that my future 
house will be a better one if it is insulated than if it is not insulated; but what could 
it mean to say that it will be a better house if it exists than if it does not? My future 
child will be a better man if he is honest than if he is not; but who would under¬ 
stand the saying that he will be a better man if he exists than if he does not?’ 
(‘Anselm’s Ontological Arguments’, p. 43). 


As Kant pointed out, the concept of a possible £1,000 and the 
concept of an actual £1,000 are exactly the same. ‘By whatever 
and by however many predicates we may think a thing, even if 
we completely determine it—we do not make the least addition 
to the thin g when we further declare that this t h i ng is. Other¬ 
wise, it would not be exactly the same thing that exists, but 
something more than we had thought in the concept; and we 
could not, therefore, say that the exact object of my concept 
exists.’ 1 Expressed more generally, existence is not a property 
or attribute on a par with other properties and attributes of 

The principle ‘existence is not a predicate’ is commonly 
thought to be fatal to St. Anselm’s argument and also to the 
form of the ‘ontological argument’ espoused by Descartes and 
Leibniz. 2 However, in the form in which it is usually proposed 
‘existence is not a predicate’ means no more than that ‘exists’ is 
not a predicate of the same kind as other predicates, ‘round’, 
‘red’, ‘six feet tali’, &c., and that it cannot be ‘contained’ 
analytically in the notion of any subject in the same way as, 
say, the notion of ‘plane figure containing two right angles’ is 
contained in the notion of ‘triangle’. In this form of the 
principle it is clear that neither Anselm nor Descartes is touched 
by it, for both admit that it is only in one unique case that 
‘exists’ can be analytically contained within the notion of a 
subject. 3 

However, the principle ‘existence is not a predicate’ may be 
couched in a more rigorous form. Thus it may be said that 
‘exists’ does not function as a true predicate in sentences in 
which it is used, but is rather used to set up or posit or propose 

1 Critique of Pure Reason, ed. N. Kemp Smith, London, 1929, p. 505. 

* Cf. Malcolm, ‘Anselm’s Ontological Arguments’, p. 44: ‘Anselm’s ontological 
proof of Proslogion 2 is fallacious because it rests on the false doctrine that existence 
is a real perfection (and therefore that “existence” is a “real predicate”).* Gassendi 
makes the same point against Descartes: see Haldane and Ross, The Philosophical 
Works of Descartes , ii. 186: ‘Existence is a perfection neither in God nor in anything 
else; it is rather that in the Absence of which there is no perfection . . . .’ 

3 Cf. Descartes, Meditation v: ‘Being accustomed in all other things to make a dis¬ 
tinction between essence and existence I easily persuade myself that existence can 
be separated from the essence of God, and that we can thus conceive God as not 
actually existing. But, nevertheless, when I think of it with more attention, I clearly 
see that existence ran no more be separated from the essence of God than can 
having its three angles equal to two right angles be separated from the essence of 
a triangle.* For Anselm see The Authors Reply , p. 177. 




a logical subject-of-predication. As such it cannot itself be a 
predicate of the subject-of-predication that it sets up. In other 
words, ‘X exists* may be translated as C X can function as a 
logical subject to which predicates may be applied*, so that 
‘exists’ itself cannot be one of the predicates that may be 
applied to X. From this point of view it is all one whether we 
say either that ‘exists’ is not a predicate or that it is a meta¬ 
predicate (that is to say, it predicates something of X, namely, 
that something may be predicated of X). Of course, interpreted 
in this way, existential statements do not say anything about 
anything, but merely tell us that it is possible to say something 
about something. And again, it is obvious that in this sense 
‘exists’ may be used of conceptual or imaginary or fictional 
subjects as well as of really existing subjects. Anything used as 
a subject-of-predication in any ‘realm of discourse’, whether 
conceptual or fictional or real, will, in this sense, be said to 
exist. Mr. Micawber exists in that in a piece of fiction certain 
predicates are applied to him; and the dragon I dreamed of last 
night also exists in that I may apply certain predicates to it. 

This sense of ‘exists’ is, then, a purely formal or ‘logical’ 
one and may be thought to be quite trivial. However, it is 
useful to make it explicit because it helps us to discern another 
function of ‘exists’, namely that of distinguishing conceptual 
and fictional and imaginary subjects-of-predication on the one 
hand from retd subjects-of-predication on the other. Thus 
‘Dragons do not exist’ may be translated as ‘The term “dragons” 
does not function as a subject-of-predication in a real realm of 
discourse’; or, more colloquially, ‘You can’t talk of dragons as 
you do of real things; you can only talk of them in stories or as 
you do of imaginary things.’ Again, ‘Poltergeists exist’ may be 
translated as ‘The term “poltergeist” can function as a subject- 
of-predication in a real realm of discourse, as contrasted with 
fictional or imaginary realms of discourse’; or ‘You can talk 
of poltergeists as you do of real things.’ This way of putting 
matters is, it is obvious, simply a circumlocution, for though we 
have translated talk about real and conceptual things into taik 
about subjects-of-predication in real and conceptual realms of 
discourse , the latter distinction is defined in terms of the former. 
Thus to be a subject-of-predication in a real realm of discourse 
means that we can apply predicates to it, or talk of what it 



refers to, as we do of real things . However, even if in one way 
the circumlocution gets us no further forward, it does all the 
same bring out in what sense ‘exists 5 functions as a predicate 
and in what sense it does not; or, to put it in another way, in 
what sense we can distinguish between real and conceptual 
existence without supposing that existence is a predicate in the 
ordinary sense. 

Now it is clear that St. Anselm and Descartes, in their 
respective ways, might reformulate their arguments in terms of 
this account of existential statements, so as to escape the objec¬ 
tion that they both supposed that ‘exists 5 was a real predicate. 
Thus Anselm might say that his premiss ‘what exists in reality 
is greater than what exists in the mind alone 5 can be translated 
as ‘to function as a subject-of-predication in a real realm of 
discourse is greater than to function as a subject-of-predication 
in a fictional or imaginary or conceptual realm of discourse 5 . 
This translation makes it clear that ‘exists 5 is not being used as 
a predicate in the ordinary sense, but that nevertheless some 
distinction and some comparison is being made between real 
and conceptual existence. 

We may conclude from this, therefore, that the ‘existence is 
not a predicate 5 dogma is not of itself fatal to St. Anselm’s 
argument. However, we are still left with the problem of giving 
a sense to the comparison between real and conceptual existence. 
It is clear from our analysis that ‘exists 5 can function, in certain 
contexts, to distinguish real subjects-of-predication from fictional 
and conceptual subjects-of-predication, but it is also clear that 
it is difficult to give any sense to a comparison between real and 
conceptual existence. 

Indeed, it might be asked whether the very possibility of 
comparison between the two does not presuppose that a real 
existent has some ‘property 5 (namely the ‘property 5 of real 
existence) that the conceptual existent lacks. For, if we admit 
with Kant that existence is not a real predicate, have we not 
thereby admitted that no comparison at all is possible, for the 
very notion of comparison involves, by definition, that two 
similar subjects have different predicates? 

However, Anselm might reply that it is, of course, obvious 
that any comparison between real and conceptual existents 
cannot be the same kind as other comparisons. What are being 



compared here are, to put it roughly, two different kinds of 
existents, and a comparison between different kinds of existents 
cannot be made in die same way as a comparison within the 
respective kinds of existents. We can compare a conceptual £50 
with a conceptual £100 and we can compare a real £50 with a 
real £100 , but we cannot compare in the same way a conceptual 
£50 with a real £ 100. A conceptual £100 is greater than a 
conceptual £50, and a real £100 is greater than a real £50; 
but in Anselm's sense a real £50 is ‘greater’ than a conceptual 
£100. Indeed, a real 5 d is ‘greater’ than a conceptual £50. 
What we are comparing here, Anselm might argue, are real 
and conceptual ‘subjects-of-predication’, and therefore the 
comparison cannot be made in terms of predicates as all other 
comparisons are made. 

By definition, then, the comparison that Anselm is making 
between real and conceptual existents is not like any other 
kind of comparison. But does that therefore mean that no kind 
of comparison at all can be made; does it necessarily exclude 
the possibility of any such comparison? Surely, St. Anselm 
might object, there is a perfectly clear sense in which the real 
and actual is greater than the conceptual and possible. Thus, 
if X really exists, X is both conceivable and real, and is thus 
greater than X as merely conceivable; or, if X is actual, then X 
is both actual and possible and is thus greater than what is 
merely possible. What is real and actual, then, seems to have a 
certain ‘priority’ over what is conceptual and possible. But 
what sort of priority is this? Is it not a purely logical priority? 
Does it not simply mean that if I know that something actually 
exists then I may infer that it is possible (ab esse ad posse valet 
illatio ); but that if I know that something is possible I may not 
infer that it actually exists {ab posse ad esse non valet illatio )? 
From this point of view we may certainly say that to exist 
in reality is (logically) greater than to exist conceptually or 
possibly or ‘in the mind’ alone. But then it is difficult to see that 
this logical sense of ‘greater’ is the same as the metaphysical 
or ontological sense of ‘greater’ (things being greater in respect 
of their ‘degree of being’) implied in the definition of God as 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’. However, 
it might be replied in turn to this that the logical priority of 
real and actual existence over conceptual and possible existence 


reflects an ontological priority. In other words, we may infer 
from real existence to conceptual existence (but not vice versa) 
because real existence is in some way prior to (greater than) con¬ 
ceptual existence. One way of showing this perhaps would be 
to prove that it is self-contradictory to suppose that only 
possible beings should exist, and that it is necessary for at least 
one real and actual being to exist. That is to say, it would have 
to be shown that the proposition ‘All existents are conceptual 
or possible existents 9 (‘Nothing real or actual exists 9 ) is self- 
contradictory, so that ‘Some existents are real and actual 
existents 9 (‘Something real and actual exists 9 ) is a necessary 
proposition. If this could be shown, then we could say that 
real and actual existence was ontologically prior to conceptual 
and possible existence. But this, of course, is precisely what is at 
issue between the theist and atheist, and it is precisely what can 
be proved only by proving or disproving the existence of God. 
Part of the point of the theist 9 s proof of the existence of God is 
to prove eo ipso that ‘Nothing real and actual exists is necessarily 
false, and likewise the point of the atheist’s disproof is to prove 
that ‘Something real and actual exists 9 is not and cannot be a 
necessary proposition. If, then, we had first proved the existence 
of God, we could say that real and actual existence has an 
ontological priority over conceptual and possible existence. 
But, of course, Anselm wants to establish the priority in order to 
prove the existence of God. 

Despite all these considerations, however, St. Anselm’s 
premiss that real and actual existents are ‘greater than con¬ 
ceptual and possible existents seems to be so intuitively self- 
evident and commonsensible that one cannot feel completely 
confident in rejecting it. But we may at least say that the com¬ 
parison between real and conceptual existence is such a different 
kind of comparison from those we ordinarily make that we may 
reasonably place the onus on Anselm to show what sense can 
be given to it. 

To conclude our observations on this section of St. Anselm’s 
argument it may be worth while remarking a curious conse¬ 
quence of Anselm’s principle that actual existence is greater 
than existence in the mind alone. Presumably, if the notion of 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ is meaning¬ 
ful, the notion of ‘that than which nothing less great can be 



thought’ is equally meaningful. If we can conceive of a maxi¬ 
mum we can conceive of a minimum. Now if, as Anselm holds, 
to exist in actual reality is greater than existing in the mind 
alone, then ‘that than which nothing less great can be thought’ 
cannot exist in actual reality, because if it did it would be 
‘greater’ than if it existed in the mind alone and so would not 
be the least great being. The least great being, therefore, must 
exist in the mind alone if it is to be the least great being. 1 How¬ 
ever the ‘least great being’ is to be identified, this curious con¬ 
sequence does at least bring out the oddity of St. Anselm’s 
principle that what exists in actual reality is greater than what 
exists in the mind. 1 

Let us now sum up our discussion of St. Anselm’s argument 
in Chapter II of the Proslogion. First of all we saw that outside 
the context of causal dependence it is difficult to give a sense to 
the notion of ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ 
without assuming that it is possible to compare things as greater 
or more perfect in an absolute respect. Again, we saw the 
difficulties of comparing, as ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’, things ‘in the 
mind’ with things in actual reality. We may object, then, that 
for St. Anselm’s proof to be valid die notion of ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’ would have first to be shown 
to be meaningful, for it cannot be assumed without argument 
that it is meaningful.* As it stands, St. Anselm’s proof will only 

1 This consequence was some years ago remarked by A. A. Cock, ‘The Onto¬ 
logical Argument for the Existence of God*, in Aristotelian Society Proceedings , xviii, 
1917-18, 363-84. Recently G. K. Grant has revived it, and, equating ‘that than 
which nothing less great can be thought* with the Devil (on the supposition that 
the Devil is the contrary of God who is ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought*), has argued that St. Anselm’s proof of the existence of God involves a 
disproof of the actual existence of the Devil: ‘The Ontological Disproof of the 
Devil*, in Analysis, 1957. However, it is obvious that even if God is the greatest 
and metaphysically most perfect being, the Devil is not definable in orthodox 
Christian theology as the metaphysically least perfect being, though he is the morally 
least perfect being. Again, Anselm is aware that ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought* is not itself within the hierarchical series of beings graded accord¬ 
ing to their ‘greatness* or ‘perfection*, so that we cannot think of‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought* and ‘that than which nothing less great can be 
thought* as contraries at opposite ends of a spectrum. 

a Cf. Leibniz, New Essays, Bk. IV, ch. 10, St. Anselm’s argument ‘is not a para¬ 
logism but it is an imperfect demonstration, which assumes something that must 
still be proved in order to render it mathematically evident; that is, it is tacitly 
assumed that this idea of the all-great or all-perfect being is possible, and implies 
no contradiction*. 


7 i 

work for the sort of atheist who understands by the proposition 
‘God does not exist* something like the following: ‘We know 
what it would be like for God to exist but actually He does not 
exist’, or ‘God could possibly exist but actually does not exist’, 
or ‘The concept “God” is meaningful but it is not instantiated’, 
or ‘The proposition “God exists” is meaningful but false’. But 
it will not work against the logical atheist who denies that the 
concept ‘God’ has a meaning, or who maintains that ‘God does 
not exist’ is not logically similar to ‘Unicorns do not exist’, but 
rather to ‘Square circles do not exist’. As against the logical 
atheist Anselm must first show that the notion of ‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’ is a meaningful one. 
Anselm was not unaware of this point for in his reply to Gaunilo 
he claims that it is possible to show that the notion of‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’ is a meaningful one by 
reflecting on the differences between temporal and supra- 
temporal things. We shall discuss later what can be said about 
this proof of the meaningfulness of ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’. 

To say, however, that Anselm must first show that the notion 
of ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ is a mean¬ 
ingful one, implies that the onus of proof is upon him rather 
than upon the atheist. But there is a difficulty here that is worth 
exploring because it helps to bring out the logical peculiarity 
of the propositions ‘God exists’ and ‘God does not exist’. The 
difficulty is this: if St. Anselm has to show that the notion of 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ is meaningful, 
does not the logical atheist have equally to show, from his 
point of view, that it is meaningless? Does not the logical atheist 
have to say not merely that within our experience we do not com¬ 
pare things as absolutely greater or more perfect (while tacitly 
allowing that it might be possible to give a sense to the notion of 
absolute perfection outside our experience), but that necessarily 
it is the case that things are not greater or more perfect in an 
absolute sense? or that it is self-contradictory to suppose that 
things can be compared as absolutely greater or more perfect? 
To put it crudely, is not the logical atheist compelled to say that 
the things within our experience (spatio-temporal and con¬ 
tingent beings which allow only relative comparisons, so that 
no such being is ever such that a greater cannot be conceived 



than it) are necessarily the only things? Then, of course, the 
notion of God, defined as ‘that than which nothing greater can 
be thought’, would be meaningless by definition and the logical 
atheist would be committed to an ‘ontological disproof’ of the 
existence of God. 

If the atheist, St. Anselm might continue, does not wish to 
claim that ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ 
is logically meaningless, then he must allow that it is meaning¬ 
ful (though not in fact instantiated). Now he is in the position of 
the ‘factual atheist’, and of course the Proslogion argument will 
work against him. 

We shall return to this question when we consider St. 
Anselm’s further argument in Chapter III of the Proslogion. 
Meanwhile we may remark that at least these considerations 
show that the categories ‘meaningful/meaningless’ and ‘true/ 
false’ function in an eccentric way when applied to the proposi¬ 
tion ‘God exists’, for one of the morals to be drawn from St. 
Anselm’s discussion is that we cannot both admit that the 
proposition ‘God exists’ is meaningful and yet at the same tim* 
claim that it is false. From another point of view St. Anselm’s 
discussion also shows that the ‘possibility* that the theist claims 
is realized when he affirms that God exists, and the ‘possibility* 
that the atheist denies or excludes when he denies that God 
exists is a very queer kind of possibility indeed. Again it seems 
to follow that the onus of proof or disproof of the existence of 
God lies equally on both sides. 

A final point: we have so far been assuming with St. Anselm 
that the definition of God as ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought’ is a distinctive and adequate one. But is this a 
definition that would serve adequately to distinguish God from 
His creation? Is it not possible to conceive that, even if‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’ actually exists, it might 
nevertheless exist in a contingent way? There is nothing in the 
definition as it stands to exclude this possibility, and to this 
extent it is deficient as a definition of God, for we surely cannot 
allow that God might exist in a contingent way. St. Anselm 
himself seems to have realized this, for in the next chapter of the 
Proslogion he argues that God not only actually exists, but He 
exists in such a way that He cannot be thought not to exist; 
that is. He exists in a necessary or non-contingent way. 




It is not clear whether St. Anselm means the argument in 
this chapter to be a complement to the argument advanced 
in Chapter II, or whether it represents an independent proof 
in its own right. St. Anselm speaks of there being ‘one single 
argument* in the Proslogion , so that he probably regarded the 
argument in Chapter III as a complement to the basic argu¬ 
ment in Chapter II, serving to defend it against the objection we 
have just considered, namely that it does not adequately exclude 
the possibility of God, if defined as ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought*, existing in a contingent way. God, 
argues St. Anselm here, cannot exist in a contingent way, for to 
exist necessarily (i.e. for a thing to exist in such a way that it 
cannot be thought not to exist) is greater than existing con- 
tingendy; so that if ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought* were to exist condngendy it would not be as great as 
it would be if it existed necessarily, and so would not be, 
precisely, that than which nothing greater can be thought . 1 The 
argument in Chapter III shares its main premiss, the definition 
of God as ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought*, 
with the argument in Chapter II; but in place of the minor 
premiss ‘what exists in reality is greater than what exists in the 
mind alone* the argument in Chapter III has the premiss 
‘what cannot be thought not to exist is greater than what can 
be thought not to exist*, or ‘what exists necessarily is greater 
than what exists condngendy *. 2 So, in the minor premiss of the 
Chapter II argument, possible and actual existence are com¬ 
pared, whereas in the Chapter III argument two kinds of 
actual existence, contingent and necessary, are compared. 
However, if we prove that God necessarily exists, we prove eo 
ipso that He actually exists; we do not need to prove first that 
God actually exists before proving that He exists necessarily . We 
cannot infer that because something actually exists it therefore 
necessarily exists; but we can infer that because something 
necessarily exists it actually exists. From this point of view 
the Chapter III proof, whatever St. Ansdm*s intentions about 

1 p. 119* 

1 For St. Anselm ‘necessarily X 9 is equivalent to ‘impossible that not-X 9 (Cur 
Deus Homo , n. xvii; 123), and on occasion, as in Chapter III, this latter is inter¬ 
preted as ‘logically impossible that not-^T*. 


it may have been, is logically independent of the proof in 
Chapter II . 1 In fact it is logically superior to the Chapter II 
proof because it concludes that God, defined as ‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’, both actually and 
necessarily exists. The notion of God to which the Chapter III 
proof leads is therefore a more adequate notion than that of 
Chapter II. In sum, not only does the Chapter III argument 
not presuppose the Chapter II proof but it makes the latter 
redundant . 2 

We must see now if the premiss ‘what cannot be thought not 
to be is greater than what can be thought not to be’ falls foul 
of the objections that we have seen could be urged against the 
premiss of the Chapter II proof, namely that what exists in 
reality is greater than what exists in the mind alone. 

The first objection that might be urged against St. Anselm’s 
position here is that it assumes that the notion of ‘necessary 
existence’ is meaningful. But, if Kant is right, the notion cannot 
be meaningful, for to assert that God is a necessary existent is 
equivalent to asserting that the proposition ‘God exists’ is a 
logically necessary proposition, so that it would be self-con¬ 
tradictory to assert the proposition ‘God does not exist’. But it 
is not self-contradictory to assert this latter proposition, just as 
it is never self-contradictory to deny any existential propositions 
which, in Kant’s terms, are always synthetic . 3 Kant’s criticism 
has been developed by certain modern thinkers and combined 
with the doctrine that all necessity is reducible to logical 
necessity, which in turn, it is claimed, is simply based upon the 

1 Aquinas, Sum. Cont. Gent. i. x, supposes that it is an independent proof. 

2 It is possible to reconstruct the Chapter III proof on Leibnizian lines to make 
it more economical, by doing away with the definition of God as ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’, and more rigorous. Thus, God might be defined 
as ‘that being which cannot be thought not to be*. Now, if that which cannot be 
thought not to be can be thought of, then it must actually be; or, to put it in 
another way, if we can conceive of a necessary existent, then this means that it is 
possible, and, if it is possible, then it must actually be: if what-cannot-not-be can 
be, then it must actually be. Cf. Leibniz, De la demonstration cartisienne de Vexistence 
de Dieuy par le P. Lamy , cited Domet de Vorges, Saint Anselme , Paris, igoi, p. 302: 
‘By saying only that God is a primordial being, or a being existing of itself {de soi), 
that is to say, a being which exists by its own essence, it is easy to conclude that 
such a being, if it is possible, exists.’ But it is very doubtful if St. Anselm would 
accept this reformulation, for it leaves out of account the comparison between 
necessary existence and contingent existence as ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’, which, as we 
have seen, is essential to St. Anselm’s proof. 

3 Critique of Pure Reason , pp. 502, 504. 


conventions of language. From this it follows, so it is alleged, 
that the notion of a necessary existent is a self-contradictory 
one. As one writer has put it: ‘If God is to satisfy religious 
claims and needs, He must be a being in every way inescap¬ 
able, One whose existence and whose possession of certain 
excellences we cannot possibly conceive away.* But, he goes on, 
‘modern views make it self-evidently absurd (if they don’t make 
it ungrammatical) to speak of such a Being and attribute 
existence to Him. It was indeed an ill day for Anselm when he 
hit upon his famous proof. For on that day he not only laid 
bare something that is of the essence of an adequate religious 
object, but also something that entails its necessary non¬ 
existence .’ 1 

Now Anselm might reply both to Kant and to his modem 
followers that their objections prove too much, for they do not 
simply assert that the existence of all the things within our 
experience is contingent (so that all existential propositions 
about things within our immediate experience are synthetic ), 2 
but they go further and claim that it is logically necessary that all 
existential propositions are synthetic. Thus they are led to 
maintain paradoxically that it is logically impossible for the 
proposition ‘God exists’ to be a logically necessary one, and 
they end by espousing an ‘ontological disproof’ of the existence 
of God. 

We may say, then, that if we have no right to assume that 
the notion of ‘necessary existence’ is meaningful, without further 
argument, equally we have no right to assume that it is meaning- 
less, without further argument. Merely logical analysis of the 
notion one way or another cannot decide whether the notion 
is meaningful or not, so that, if there cannot be an a priori 
‘ontological’ proof of the existence of God, equally there 
cannot be an a priori ‘ontological’ disproof. Once again, it is 
difficult to see where the onus of proof lies here . 3 And once 

* J. N. Findlay, ‘Can God’s Existence Be Disproved?* in New Essays in Philo¬ 
sophical Theology , ed. A. Flew and A. MacIntyre, London, 1955, p. 55; see also 
the essays by J. J. C. Smart and I. Crombie in die same volume, and my discussion 
of these views in ‘Religious Language and Language About God*, in International 
Philosophical Quarterly , i, 1961, 139-67. 

2 A fact that St. Anselm admits. Cf. Proslogion , p. 119. ‘Everything there is, 
except You alone [God] can be thought of as not existing.* 

3 Cf. Malcolm, ‘Anselm’s Ontological Arguments’, pp. 55-56: ‘The view 
that logical necessity merely reflects the use of words cannot possibly have the 



again it is difficult to see what kind of possibility the theist 
wishes left open for the notion of ‘necessary existence’, and 
which the atheist wishes to exclude. In any case no purely 
logical considerations will serve to break the deadlock between 
theist and atheist over the meaningfulness of the notion of 
‘necessary existence’—the theist demanding that the atheist 
demonstrate that the notion is self-contradictory, and the 
atheist demanding that the theist demonstrate that the notion 
is not self-contradictory . 1 

It would only be possible to break this deadlock if other 
extra-logical considerations were brought in. Thus, for example, 
the theist might argue that, by reflection upon the contingent 
existents in the world, we are led to ask for an ultimate causal 
explanation of them, and are therefore constrained to postulate 
the existence of a ‘necessary existent’ as cause of the contingent 
existents. Here we do not presuppose that the notion of ‘neces¬ 
sary existence’ has meaning a priori , but rather the argument 
forces us to postulate that the terms ‘necessary’ and ‘existent’ 
may be conjoined and that the notion of ‘necessary existent’ 
is meaningful, though we do not know how the terms ‘necessary’ 
and ‘existent’ are conjoinable (as we do, for instance, with 
‘triangle’ and ‘figure containing two right angles’) nor how the 

implication that every existential proposition must be contingent. That view re¬ 
quires us to look at the use of words and not manufacture a priori theses about it. In 
the Ninetieth Psalm it is said: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever 
Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting 
Thou art God.” Here is expressed the idea of the necessary existence and eternity 
of God, an idea that is essential to the Jewish and Christian religions. In those 
complex systems of thought, those “language-games”, God has the status of a 
necessary being. Who can doubt that? Here we must say with Wittgenstein, “This 
language-game is played.” I believe we may rightly take the existence of those 
religious systems of thought in which God figures as a necessary being to be a 
disproof of the dogma, affirmed by Hume and others, that no existential proposi¬ 
tions can be necessary.’ 

1 Malcolm, ibid. 59-60, claims that there is a presumption that the notion of 
necessary existence is not self-contradictory. ‘With respect to any particular 
reasoning that is offered for holding that the concept of seeing a material thing, 
for example, is self-contradictory, one may try to show the invalidity of the reason¬ 
ing and thus free the concept from the charge of being self-contradictory on that 
ground . But I do not understand what it would mean to demonstrate in general , 
and not in respect to any particular reasoning, that the concept is not self- 
contradictory. So it is with the concept of God. I should think there is no 
more of a presumption that it is self-contradictory than is the concept of seeing 
a material thing. Both concepts have a place in the thinkin g and lives of human 


notion of‘necessary existent* is meaningful . 1 But this, of course, 
is to introduce the notion of causal dependence into the argu¬ 
ment—a notion which, as we have already seen, Anselm leaves 
aside altogether. 

In summary, then, it is difficult to see how St. Anselm’s 
proofs, both in Chapter II and in Chapter III, can be made to 
work unless some kind of causal or ‘cosmological’ argument is 
presupposed, to give meaning both to the definition of God as 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ and to the 
premiss that ‘necessary existence is greater than contingent 
existence’. But then, obviously, if St. Anselm’s proofs presuppose 
a causal argument, this makes them redundant and defeats 
St. Anselm’s whole purpose in the Proslogion. 


St. Anselm, we said before, did not consider that the existence 
of God was self-evident in the strict sense, but he did think that 
the premisses of his argument were so luminously clear and 
unquestionable that only a ‘fool’ could fail to be convinced by it. 
How, then, can the Fool say that God does not exist, Anselm 
asks in this chapter, if he accepts the definition of God as ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought’? It is, says St. 
Anselm, because the Fool does not really think of what he is 
saying; he takes in the words or the verbal formula (‘vox’) ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought’, but he does not 
really understand what the words mean, that is to say, the 
reality (‘res’) they signify . 2 

It is important to notice that for St. Anselm the ‘insipiens’ is 
not just one who denies truths that are strictly self-evident. 
Thus, in the Cur Deus Homo , Anselm says that the ‘insipiens’ is 
one ‘who declares to be impossible something which must 
necessarily be, on the ground that he does not know how 
this is’. And he allows that it may be necessary to prove to 
the ‘insipiens’ that what he declares to be impossible may 

1 As Aquinas says. Sum. Cont. Gent . i. xi, the proposition ‘God does not exist* is 
not, for us, a self-contradictory one. However, this does not imply that God is a 
contingent being, but rather that God’s existence must be proved or demonstrated 
from His effects. The necessity of God’s existence is seen only as the conclusion of a 
demonstration. As Aquinas puts it, ‘God can be thought not to be’ is not a state¬ 
ment about the mode of God’s existence but rather about our deficient way of 
knowing God. 2 P* I21 - 


nevertheless exist . 1 Thus the fact that St. Anselm holds that it is 
‘insipientia’ to deny the existence of God does not mean that he 
therefore holds that the existence of God is self-evident and 
does not need to be argued for or proved. 

The remaining chapters of the Proslogion are taken up mainly 
with a discussion of the various attributes (wisdom, omnipo¬ 
tence, mercifulness, justice, &c.) of God. St. Anselm always sees 
what must be said and what must not be said about the divine 
attributes, and he is clearly aware of the thorny problems that 
the reconciliation of the various attributes raises. But for the 
most part St. Anselm’s discussion is on a fairly general level 
and it does not have anything of the philosophical depth and 
sophistication of Aquinas’s treatment of the divine attributes, 
for example . 2 We shall content ourselves, therefore, with noticing 
a few points of philosophical interest in these chapters. 

chapter v 

Anselm begins his discussion of the divine attributes by 
stating the principle on which we attribute various ‘perfections’ 
to God. If God is that than which nothing greater can be 
thought, He must also be the supreme good or the most perfect 
being, so that no good or perfection can be lacking to Him. 
God must therefore be ‘whatever it is better to be than not to 
be’, and we must predicate of Him all the perfections we find in 
creatures, and deny of Him all the privations and negations 
that we find in creatures. We can, for example, predicate of 
God that He is just, truthful, and happy, and these are not just 
metaphorical descriptions of God. Anselm is here hin ting at 
the theory of analogy which Aquinas was later to develop more 
fully . 3 

1 i. xxv; 95. 

* At the same time we may agree with R. W. Southern’s observation: ‘It is the 
first stage of his argument (occupying only the first three out of twenty-six chapters 
of the treatise) which has given Anselm his place in the history of philosophy; the 
remainder has been, from the point of view of Anselm’s own thought, unduly 
neglected.’ The Life of St. Anselm, p. 29, n. 3. 

3 See also Monol. xv; 38-29, for a fuller discussion. Vaggagini,‘La Hantise des 
“Rationes Necessariae” de saint Anselme . . .’, p. 106, says that St. Anselm’s 
distinction between ‘simple’ and ‘mixed’ perfections was ‘the first clear theoretical 
determination in the history of theodicy of a procedure which was afterwards 
called analogy of proper proportionality—in acknowledged opposition to the 
procedure of mere metaphor—by means of which, in philosophy, we attribute 




St. Anselm here makes the point that God is ‘perceptive’ 
(‘sensibilis’) in the sense that He knows all things, though since 
He is not corporeal He does not know through the senses as 
we do. 


St. Anselm considers the familiar puzzle: if God is omni¬ 
potent and so can do all things, how is it that He cannot be 
corrupted, nor tell lies, nor reverse the past? Are these 
‘inabilities’ limitations upon God’s omnipotence? Anselm 
answers by anticipating Professor Ryle and distinguishing 
two senses of ‘can’ (‘posse’). Thus, in ‘God can foresee all 
things’, ‘can’ is used to signify that God has a certain positive 
power; but in ‘Material things can be corrupted’, ‘can’ is used 
to signify ‘lack of power or impotence’, an ‘ability’ to suffer 
something rather than an ability to do something. Not being 
‘able’ to be corrupted, then, does not signify that God lacks 
some positive power, but rather that He ‘lacks’ a lack of power. 
These ‘inabilities’, therefore, are not really limitations upon 
God’s omnipotence . 1 

Anselm notes that other verbs such as ‘is’ (‘esse’) and ‘is 
doing’ (‘facere’) have the same logical features. For example, 
running is ‘doing’ something, and resting is also ‘doing’ some¬ 
thing, but the one signifies a performance and the other the 
cessation of a performance, and the cessation of a performance 
is not itself a performance . 2 

formally to God, conceived as the most perfect being, every simple perfection such 
as goodness, wisdom, and others, which we discover in the world, after having 
purified them from the imperfections with which they are found in creatures’. 

1 For a fuller analysis of ‘can* and ‘able* see G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind , 
London, p. 126. 

2 St. Anselm seems to have been influenced here by Boethius’ commentary on 
Aristotle’s De Interpretations. In the recently discovered Anselmian treatise (F. S. 
Schmitt, Ein neues unvollendetes Werk des hi. Anselm von Canterbury , 1936) St. Anselm 
engages in a much more sophisticated analysis of ‘facere*. Thus he distinguishes 
between ‘doing’ in the ordinary sense, e.g. killing a man, ‘doing* in the sense of 
enabling another, and ‘doing’ in the sense of allowing something to be done. 
Cf. D. P. Henry, ‘St. Anselm on the Varieties of “Doing”*, in Theoria , xix. 3, 
1953; ‘St. Anselm on Scriptural Analysis’, in Sophia , i. 3, 1962. 

8 o 



In these chapters St. Anselm is concerned with a general dis¬ 
cussion of God’s justice and mercy and his analysis raises no 
points needing special mention. 


This chapter brings out the point that properties are not 
attributed to God in the same way in which they are attributed 
to creatures. When we say ‘God is wise’ we do not mean that 
God is a member of the class of things of which wisdom is a 
property. God rather is identical with the wisdom by which He 
is wise. When we say that God is ‘perfectly wise’ or ‘supremely 
wise’, we may think that this means that God is wise in the 
highest degree. But there is not merely a difference of degree 
between the way in which God is wise and the way in which a 
man is wise; the way in which God is wise differs in kind from 
the way in which any creature is wise. God is not a wise being; 
He is rather wisdom itself. St. Anselm, however, does not con¬ 
sider in detail the difficulties that these divine attributes 
obviously raise. 


St. Anselm discusses in what sense God is limitless and 
eternal. He distinguishes between 

(I) those things that are wholly in one place and can neither 
be elsewhere at the same time nor everywhere (they are, 
of course, material bodies); 

(II) those things that are wholly in one place but can be 
elsewhere at the same time, though not everywhere (these 
are created spirits; for example, the soul is in all the parts 
of the body. When, for instance, I stub my toe or jam my 
finger, it is ‘I* who feel the pain in the different parts of 
my body); and 

(III) those things that are wholly in one place and yet 
exist everywhere (this is true of God alone, for God is 
limited neither by time nor place). 


Spatio-temporal limitation of the kind represented in (I) and 
(II) above is used later by St. Anselm as a criterion of con¬ 
tingency. Thus, in his reply to Gaunilo he argues, 'What did 
not exist yesterday, and today exists, can thus, as it is under¬ 
stood not to have existed yesterday, be supposed not to exist at 
any time. And that which does not exist here in this place, and 
does exist elsewhere can, in the same way as it does not exist 
here, be thought not to exist anywhere / 1 

chapter xv 

Here, in this important discussion, St. Anselm reminds us 
that, even if we understand God to be 'that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’, we do not thereby have a positive or 
determinate knowledge of God. God must be greater than any 
conception we can form of Him, though this does not mean 
that our knowledge of Him as 'that than which nothing greater 
can be thought’ is false. There is a perfectly obvious sense in 
which we can think of something greater than we can think of, 
or know that there is something which we cannot know. As 
St. Anselm says in his Reply: 'Just as nothing prevents one from 
saying “ineffable”, although one cannot specify what is said to 
be ineffable; and just as one can think of the “inconceivable”, 
although one cannot think of what “inconceivable” applies to— 
so also, when “that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought” 
is spoken of, there is no doubt at all that what is heard can be 
thought of and understood, even if the thing itself cannot be 
thought of or understood .’ 2 In the Monologion St. Anselm 
discusses more explicitly the difficulties which attend the use 
of the terms of ordinary language to describe God who is, by 
definition, above and beyond every other thing. He admits 
that we cannot speak of God directly but only 'through some 
similitude or image’. 'We see and speak of God through some 
other; we do not see and speak of Him by what is proper to 
Him .’ 3 However, even if what we say about God is not the full 
truth it is not thereby false. To deal adequately with this whole 
question St. Anselm would of course need a theory of analogical 
predication, such as Aquinas was to develop later. 

1 The Author's Reply, p. 171. 2 Ibid., pp. 187-9. 

3 Monol. lxv; 76. 






The remaining chapters of the Proslogion consider the inac¬ 
cessibility and the goodness of God and the book concludes 
with a very beautiful prayer. *. . . Lord, by Your Son You 
command, or rather, counsel us to ask, and You promise that 
we shall receive, so that our joy may be complete. . . . May I 
receive what You promise through Your truth so that my joy 
may be complete. . . . Let my soul hunger for it, let my flesh 
thirst for it, my whole being desire it until I enter into the joy 
of the Lord, who is God, Three in One, blessed forever .’ 1 

1 PP- * 53 - 5 * 


We now go on to consider the reply written to St. Anselm’s 
Proslogion soon after it appeared, by Gaunilo, a monk of the abbey 
of Marmoutier near Tours. If we accept the account of the great 
eighteenth-century scholar Dom Edmond Martene, 1 Gaunilo 
was the son of Gauthier, viscount of Tours. Gaunilo himself 
had held the title of Count of Montigni, was treasurer of the 
famous Chapter of St. Martin at Tours, and had been married. 
Then, after certain family misfortunes which, Dom Edmond 
says, ‘God made use of to bring home to him the instability of 
the pomps of the world and the benefits of generously despising 
them so as to follow the maxims of the Gospel’, 2 Gaunilo seems 
to have undergone a religious conversion. Abandoning the 
world he first of all founded the priory of St. Hilaire-sur- 
Hiere, and then (his wife presumably having died) he became 
a monk at the monastery of Marmoutier which had been very 
generously favoured by his parents. Marmoutier had had a 
long and illustrious history, tracing its origins to St. Martin of 
Tours in the fourth century and, according to some, having 
St. Patrick of Ireland as one of its early members.3 At the time 
of St. Anselm and Gaunilo the abbey had a considerable reputa¬ 
tion for both monastic piety and scholarship. We know, for 
example, that St. Anselm thought well enough of Marmoutier 
to recommend the knight Cadulus, who had resisted certain 
dramatic persuasions of the Devil, to become a monk there, 4 
and we also know that many monks from Marmoutier were 
involved in the foundation of other monastic communities 

1 See E. Marine, Histoire de Vabbaye de Marmoutier , 2 vols., published and anno¬ 
tated by G. Chevalier in the series Mimoires de la sociiti archtologique de Touraine , 
xxiv, xxv, 1874-5. For Gaunilo see vol. i, pp. 363-7. Marine had finished this 
work in 1707 but it was not published until the edition cited above. According 
to Chevalier, Marine’s history is based entirely upon the monastery records; 
Dom Marine, he says (p. x), ‘made a thorough inventory of the chartulary of 
Marmoutier and copied out in full the most important parts of it. Thanks to these 
rich materials he composed in two folio volumes the Histoire de Vabbaye de Marmoutier 
avec les preuves\ 

2 Ibid., vol. i, p. 364. 

4 Eadmer, Vita , 1, xxv; Southern, pp. 42-43. 

3 Ibid., pp. 88-94. 


in both France and England during the reign of William the 
Conqueror. Again, contemporary with Gaunilo at Marmoutier 
were scholars such as the historian Thiery, Sigo (who knew 
both Greek and Hebrew), and Raoul Mechante-Couronne who 
had studied in both France and Italy and was a celebrated 
student of medicine. 1 Particularly under the famous Abbot 
Albert (1032-62) the monks at Marmoutier appear to have 
given more than usual attention to scholarship. 

Mart&ne estimates that Gaunilo was probably bom in 994 
and it is known that he was still alive in 1083. If this is so then 
it means that Gaunilo was some forty years older than St. 
Anselm and almost eighty-four years of age when, presumably 
in 1078, he wrote his reply to the Proslogion. 

No other writing by Gaunilo is extant, which is a pity since, 
as we shall see, he shows very great philosophical ability. Even 
if his t hinking is not on the same plane as that of St. Anselm, 
Gaunilo clearly knows what a philosophical argument is and 
discerns very acutely where the crucial point of the Proslogion 
argument lies. 2 

[1.] Gaunilo begins by briefly summarizing Anselm’s argument 
in the Proslogion'. (i) the notion of ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought is in the mind; (ii) if it is in the mind 
it must also be postulated to exist in reality, since otherwise it 
would not be that which is greater than everything (‘maius 
omnibus’). Gaunilo’s equation of St. Anselm’s formula ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought’ with ‘that which is 
greater than everything’ is, as we shall see later, contested by 
St. Anselm, who claims that his proof will only work with the 
original formula. 

[2.] Gaunilo now proceeds to the attack. First, in what sense is 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ in the mind? 
In one sense we can ‘think of’ ‘false things’ (‘falsa’); that is to 
say we can have thoughts that have no corresponding objects 
in the extra-mental world. Clearly, then, the notion of ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought’ must exist in the 

* Marttoe, voL i, pp. 353-69. 

2 R-W. Southern, Saint Anselm and His Biographer, p. 65, says of Gaunilo’s reply: 
‘Its existence serves as a warning against underestimating the level of philosophical 
cultivation in co mmunitie s which have left little trace of their intellectual attain¬ 


mind in a different way from these things, for we cannot in 
their case infer from the fact that they exist in the mind or 
can be thought of that they therefore must exist in reality. 
Put in logical terms Gaunilo’s point is that, just because a 
concept is significant or meaningful, it does not mean that it is 
true or instantiated. And, put in this way, it is obvious that 
Gaunilo misses Anselm’s whole point, which is precisely that 
in the case of this one concept alone , the concept ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’, one can legitimately infer 
from the fact that it is meaningful (together with another 
premiss) to the fact that it is true or instantiated. With respect 
to all other concepts or things ‘in the mind’ Anselm would agree 
with Gaunilo that this kind of inference is illicit. 

Gaunilo, however, goes on to claim that if ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’ cannot exist ‘in the mind’ in 
the same way as ‘false things’ do, then it must be ‘in the mind’ 
in such a way that, when it is understood, it is understood also 
to be actually existing. Gaunilo here contrasts ‘being thought 
of* with ‘being understood’, the first (‘cogitare’) having the 
sense of ‘being able to be conceived of or entertained in the 
mind’, without reference to whether there is a real object in 
the world corresponding to what is conceived of, and the second 
(‘intelligere’) having the sense of directly understanding some 
actually existing object. But, Gaunilo argues, ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’ cannot be understood, or 
exist ‘in the mind’, in this latter way, for then there would be 
no distinction between this notion being ‘in the mind’ and its 
being actually instantiated; in other words, God could not be 
thought not to exist. However, St. Anselm has already ad¬ 
mitted that this distinction can be made and that there is a 
sense in which God can be thought not actually to exist. Put 
summarily Gaunilo’s argument comes to this: either there is a 
distinction between existing in the mind and existing in actual 
reality, in which case Anselm has to prove by an ‘unquestionable 
argument’ that the notion of ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought’ is such that, if it is understood or ‘in the mind’, 
we can infer certainly that it exists also in reality; or, there is no 
distinction between existing in the mind and existing in reality, 
in which case whatever can be thought of actually exists, which 
would be absurd. 



[3.] The next section is a little obscure, but the sense of what 
Gaunilo has to say here seems to be as follows. ‘That than 
which nothing greater can be thought’ is not ‘in the mind’ in 
the same definite and determinate way in which the plan or 
preconception of a picture is ‘in the mind’ of the artist. The 
artist has the plan of the picture really in his mind or in his 
soul; he has formed the idea in his mind and he does not merely 
entertain a notion about something. Gaunilo seems here to be 
referring to St. Augustine’s doctrine that I am capable of 
knowing my own soul and its acts of thought and volition in a 
more direct and positive way than the way in which I know 
other things distinct from my soul. And it is precisely in this 
case that, according to Augustine, I can legitimately move 
from the order of thought to the order of reality, in that if I can 
say ‘I think’, or even ‘I am deceived’, I can infer ‘I exist’. 1 In 
the one case I know or understand that by means of which I 
understand (the mind or the soul itself); in the other I know 
something ‘different from the understanding which grasps it’. 
The conclusion seems to be, then, that ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’ is understood, or thought of, or ‘in the 
mind’ only in a weak and imperfect way that will not allow 
any inference to be made as to its actual realization. 

[4.] Gaunilo reinforces this point by arguing that when I hear 
the formula ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ 
I certainly take in the words, but I do not have any kind of 
clear and distinct notion of what has been said. Thus, I do not 
know what is meant or signified by the formula, nor whether 
there is anything corresponding to it in actual reality. If I hear 
someone talking about some individual man who is unknown 
to me, I can nevertheless know something about him, namely 
that he is a man. Even if I do not know anything about him 
individually I can at least know what kind of thing is being 
talked about, or, as Gaunilo puts it, I know him at least by 
‘species and genus’. But even here, of course, I cannot infer 
that the person who is being talked about actually exists, 
because the speaker might be telling a lie or simply making up 
a story about some fictional character. The only way, in fact, 

1 See De Libero Arbitrio , n. iii; Pontifex, p. 80; De Trinitate , xv. xii; P.L. xlii. 


that I can be said to think of ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought* or have it ‘in mind*, is in the trivial sense that 
I take in ‘the sound of the letters or syllables 5 . I do not know 
what they mean, nor indeed whether they have any meaning at 
all, nor, if they do have meaning, whether what they mean 
actually exists in reality. Thus we can distinguish the three 
following cases: (i) I understand the words , in the sense that I 
take them in without understanding what they mean, and, 
a fortiori , without understanding whether what they signify 
actually exists; (ii) I understand the words as meaning something , 
though without understanding whether what they mean actually 
exists; (iii) I understand the words as meaning something that 
actually exists . And Gaunilo’s point is that the formula ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought 5 is ‘understood 5 
not in sense (iii), nor even in sense (ii), but in the trivial 
sense (i). 

[5.] Anselm's argument is that, if ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought 5 is ‘in the mind 5 , it must also exist in 
reality, otherwise it would not be the greatest thing of all. But 
Gaunilo claims to have shown that it is not ‘in the mind 5 in any 
way that would allow us to infer its actual existence. We should 
have to show that ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought 5 meant something, and we should also have to show 
that it did not exist in the mind in the same way as ‘false and 
doubtful things 5 do. But the only way of proving this is precisely 
to prove that there exists something corresponding to the notion 
of ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 . In other 
words, we should have to prove first of all ‘that this greatest of 
all exists in reality somewhere 5 . 1 To sum up: We need to show 
that ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 exists 
‘in the mind 5 in a different way from ‘false and doubtful things 5 , 
for we cannot infer from the fact that these latter exist ‘in the 
mind 5 that they therefore exist in reality. And if we cannot 
show that it exists in the mind in a different way (such that it 
will allow an inference to its actual existence) then it must be 
proved that it exists in actual reality, just as we have to prove 
in the case of our ordinary concepts that they are instantiated 
in actual reality. 

1 p. 163. 


[6.] Gaunilo now produces his celebrated example of the 
‘Lost Island 5 . 1 We can conceive of an island ‘more excellent 
than all other lands 5 , an island than which no more excellent 
can be thought. Now, on St. Anselm’s premisses, this most 
excellent island must actually exist, for if it did not actually 
exist it would not be the most excellent island. But if someone 
argued in this way, says Gaunilo, we should think that either 
he was joking or that he was a complete fool. 

The gist of Gaunilo’s arguments, it will be noticed, is to 
claim that it is never possible to argue from the fact that we can 
conceive of something to the fact that that thing actually 
exists; or, that it is never possible to argue that because a con¬ 
cept is meaningful it is therefore true or instantiated. For every 
concept there is a distinction between its meaningfiilness (its 
existence ‘in the mind 5 ) and its actual instantiation in reality; 
the question of the instantiation of some concept is always a 
farther question and always requires separate proof Gaunilo, 
that is, is anticipating Kant’s argument that existential proposi¬ 
tions are always ‘synthetic 5 , in that ‘exists 5 is not a predicate 
that can be contained analytically in the notion of any subject. 

[7-] Th e same argument, Gaunilo says, a vails against St. 
Anselm’s argument in Chapter III of the Proslogion . If it is 
proved that there is some supreme being then we can say that 
it must exist necessarily, that is, it must exist in such a way that 
it cannot be thought not to exist. But we must first prove the 
existence of this being, and then we can infer ‘everything else 
which necessarily cannot be wanting to what is greater and 
better than everything 5 . 2 

The latter part of this section is rather obscure. The drift of 
Gaunilo’s argument seems to be that, in the weak sense of 
‘thinking 5 (‘cogitare 5 ), it is always possible to think of God as 
not existing, that is to say, ‘God does not exist 5 is not a self- 
contradictory proposition. In this sense of ‘ think ’ I can think of 
God as not existing, just as I can think of myself as not existing. 
And if this is so, then when we say that God is such that He 
‘cannot be thought not to be 5 , the term ‘thought 5 here must have 
a different and stronger sense. St. Anselm, Gaunilo suggests, 
ought to say that God is such that He cannot be ‘understood 5 
1 p. 163. 2 p. 165. See also Aquinas, Sum. Theol. i, Q. ii, a. i. 


(‘intelligere’) not to exist, ‘understood’ having the stronger 
sense of connoting the existence of its object. If this is indeed 
what Gaunilo means here it is a very interesting criticism for it 
brings out the point that the theist is committed to holding both 
that the proposition ‘God exists’ is not in one sense a logically 
necessary one (since it may be denied without self-contradic¬ 
tion) and yet that the conclusion of any proof of the existence 
of God must be that the proposition ‘God exists’ is, in some 
other sense, a logically necessary one (since the inconceivability 
of God’s non-existence is precisely what distinguishes God’s 
existence from the kind of existence that things in the world 

[8.] Gaunilo ends with a charming piece of praise for the 
Proslogion and its author. Even if there are weak points in 
St. Anselm’s arguments, nevertheless the rest of the book is of 
great value and should be accepted ‘with great respect and 
praise’. 1 

« p. 167. 


[I.] St Anselm begins by remarking that he is replying to 
Gaunilo as an orthodox Christian (‘catholicus’); that is, he is 
assuming that Gaunilo is a believer who knows by faith that 
God exists, and that he is not in the same position as the Fool. 
Thus St. Anselm can assume that Gaunilo accepts his major 
premiss, namely, that God is definable as ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’, though, as we shall see later, 
St. Anselm acknowledges that this premiss is also rationally 
justifiable to one who does not believe in God. 

Gaunilo’s main objection was that ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought 5 is ‘in the mind 5 merely in the way in 
which something which cannot be thought of as really existing 
is said to be ‘in the mind 5 ; 1 and further that we cannot infer 
that a thing actually exists from the fact that it exists in the 
mind. Now, says Anselm, if Gaunilo’s first objection is valid, 
it would mean either that the definition of God as ‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought 5 is false, or that we cannot 
form any notion of God at all. But no one believing in God 
could maintain either of these propositions; therefore Gaunilo’s 
objections must be dismissed. This, as we have suggested, is 
an ad hominem argument against Gaunilo in that it assumes that, 
as a believer in God, Gaunilo must admit that the notion of 
God is not a meaningless one and that we must be able to form 
some idea of God. Later, as we have said, Anselm will attempt 
to argue on purely rational grounds that a meaning can be given 
to the notion of ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought 5 . Here, however, Anselm’s point is that he ought not 
to have to prove to a Christian believer that ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought 5 is meaningful or is ‘in the 
mind 5 , for, to use a contemporary Wittgensteinian term, it is 
part and parcel of the Christian ‘language-game 5 . 

St. Anselm now produces a wholly new variation on the 
original proof in Chapters II and III of the Proslogion . God is 

1 p. 169. 


defined once again as ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought\. Now if ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought' had a beginning, then it would be less great than 
it would be if it had no beginning of its existence. ‘That than 
which nothing greater can be thought', then, cannot have a 
beginning of its existence. This, however, is still on the con¬ 
ceptual level; Anselm is simply establishing a formal connexion 
between being ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought' and ‘not having a beginning’, and he has done 
nothing yet to show that the former concept is instantiated in 
reality. Anselm's next move is to establish a connexion between 
‘not having a beginning’ and ‘not being able to be thought of as 
not existing’, that is, to establish that ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’, since it does not have a beginning, 
exists necessarily or non-contingently. But if ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought’ must exist necessarily, then, 
if it can be thought of, or if it possibly exists, it must actually 
exist. 1 

This version seems to be a variation on the proof in Chapter 
III of the Proslogion . Instead of assuming, as he did in Chapter 
III, that to exist necessarily was greater than to exist con¬ 
tingently, St. Anselm here gives a reason for this, namely that 
necessary existents have no ‘beginning’ of their existence 
whereas contingent existents do. One may wonder, however, 
whether the new premiss, ‘whatever has no beginning is 
greater than whatever has a beginning', is any more evident 
than the original premiss in Chapter III of the Proslogion . Does 
‘beginning’ mean temporal beginning or beginning in time, so 
that Anselm’s meaning is that eternal beings, beings that have 
not begun in time, are greater than temporal beings? If this 

1 Anselm seems here to equate necessity defined in terms of having no beginning, 
or, in the next section, in terms of non-spatio-temporality or non-compositeness, 
with necessity defined in logical terms as ‘not being able to be thought of as not 
existing’. However, D. P. Henry, ‘The Proslogion Proofs’, pp. 150-1, notes: 
‘Boethius’ “necessary beings”—the heavenly bodies and the eternal principles of 
things—are not... sufficient for Anselm, since the being which he has in mind must 
be unique.* Anselm wishes ‘to exalt the being of “that than which nothing greater 
can be thought” above the multiplicity of the merely physically necessary, which 
thought can decompose and which hence, while “not possible not to be”, can 
nevertheless be thought not to be.... There is thus only one being that is “not possible 
to-be-thought not to be”, and it is greater than that which is “possible to-be- 
thought not to be”.* 



is what he means, then his equation of eternal beings with 
necessary beings is quite obviously invalid, for it is evident that 
an eternal being can be contingent. Or does ‘beginning’ mean 
‘coming into existence’ in the sense that a thing comes actually 
to exist ‘after’ possibly existing, so that Anselm’s premiss is that 
beings that come to exist are greater than those that do not 
need to come into actual existence? If this is what Anselm 
means, then it is difficult to see that this is any more evident 
than the premiss in Chapter III of the Proslogion, for the ques¬ 
tion remains whether it makes sense to speak of beings which 
do not need to come into existence. 

As we have remarked, St. Anselm is here emphasizing the 
connexion between the notion of ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’ and the notion of ‘necessary existence’. 
Why then, it may be asked, does he not see that he could formu¬ 
late a more economical proof by doing away with the notion of 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ altogether? 
Thus, one could define God straight off as ‘that which cannot 
be thought not to exist’ or ‘that which necessarily exists’. And 
then, if it were admitted that this notion could be thought of, 
that is, that the notion of a necessary existent were possible , it 
would follow, as St. Anselm has already argued, that it must 
actually exist, for if that which cannot be thought not to exist 
can be thought of, then it must be thought to exist; or, if that 
which cannot not-be can be, then it must actually be. Why 
did not St. Anselm develop his argument in this way? As we 
have already suggested, the only answer must be that St. 
Anselm did not think of his proof as a simple conceptual analysis 
of the notion ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’ 
or ‘that which necessarily exists’, but rather as a genuine 
inference or argument in which the premiss ‘what exists in 
reality is greater than what exists in the mind’, or ‘what exists 
necessarily is greater than what exists contingently’, is an 
absolutely indispensable element. 

Anselm now gives another justification of the premiss in 
Chapter III of the Proslogion , this time trying to link contin¬ 
gency with spado-temporality and compositeness; that is to say, 
he argues that whatever exists in space and time, and in such a 
way that it is composed of parts, exists in a contingent way. 
To prove then that ‘that than which nothing greater can be 


thought 5 exists necessarily, is ipso facto to prove that ‘it does not 
exist as a whole in any particular place or at any particular 
time, but it exists as a whole at every time and in every place 5 . 1 

We know then, Anselm concludes, that ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought 5 must, if it exists, exist in such 
a way that it cannot be thought not to exist, and consequendy 
we know that it has not had a beginning of its existence, nor is 
it a spatio-temporal being, nor one composed of parts. How can 
Gaunilo claim then that he cannot think of or understand ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought 5 ? Of course, we do 
not understand it completely or in a determinate way; but even 
to understand it partially or indirecdy is still to understand 
something about it, just as to see daylight is to see the light of 
the sun although we do not see the sun itself direcdy. 2 
[II.] If ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 can 
be understood in this way then, Anselm goes on, it is ‘in the 
mind 5 , for to be understood and to be ‘in the mind 5 are synony¬ 
mous. 3 And, if it is ‘in the mind 5 , then it must exist in reality, 
since to exist in reality is greater than existing in the mind 
alone, so that it would be self-contradictory to say that ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought 5 exists in the min d 
alone (while admitting that to exist in reality is greater than to 
exist in the mind alone). 

[III.] St. Anselm now considers Gaunilo’s example of the 
‘Lost Island 5 , which is meant to show that, from the notion of a 
‘most excellent 5 thing, we cannot infer that it exists in actual 
reality. I concede, says St. Anselm, that from the notion of the 
‘Lost Island 5 , or the notion of anything else, for that matter, we 
cannot infer actual existence. It is only in the one unique case 
that this inference can be made, namely with the notion of 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought 5 . 

Anselm 5 s reply to Gaunilo here, however, needs to be filled 
out in more detail to be satisfactory. Thus, for example, he 
would need to say that the notion of the ‘most excellent* 

1 p. 173- 2 Ibid. 

3 pp. 173-4. St. Anselm’s elaborate demonstration of this fairly obvious point 
affords an amusing illustration of his ‘dialectical* style: ‘Sicut enim quod cogitating 
cogitatione cogitatur, et quod cogitatione cogitatur, sicut cogitatur sic est in 
cogitatione: ita quod intelligitur intellectu intelligitur, et quod intellectu intelli- 
gitur sicut intelligitur ita est in intellectu.* 



island is a notion of merely a relative ‘greatest 5 , for no matter 
how excellent or perfect or ‘great 5 an island may be, it can 
never be so great that we cannot conceive of a greater, and it 
will certainly never be the most excellent or most perfect or 
‘greatest 5 being absolutely speaking . On St. Anselm’s premisses, 
of course, an actually existing island will be greater or more 
perfect than one merely thought of, but this does not imply that 
there is an actually existing island. The case of‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought 5 , however, is different, for here, 
so St. Anselm claims, we have the concept of something which 
is the ‘greatest 5 absolutely speaking , something than which it is 
not possible in any way to think of a greater. And, St. Anselm 
goes on, if we can think of this then we must conclude that it 
exists necessarily; ‘he who thinks of it, thinks of something 
which cannot be thought not to exist 5 . 1 

[IV.] St. Anselm next replies to Gaunilo’s point that we ought 
not to say that God cannot be thought (‘cogitare 5 ) not to exist, 
but rather that He cannot be understood (‘intelligere’) not to 
exist. This, says Anselm, would not help, because, if we use the 
word ‘understand 5 only of direct and immediate knowledge 
of actually existing things, then we should have to say that 
nothing known to exist can be ‘understood 5 not to exist, and 
then it could be said of many things besides God that they were 
such that they could not be understood not to exist, so that this 
(not being able to be understood not to exist) would not be a 
peculiar and distinguishing characteristic of God. Anselm, 
then, prefers to say that we can ‘think 5 of things as not existing, 
even while we know that they do actually exist. Thus, things 
‘which have a beginning or end or which are made up of 
parts and ... all those things which do not exist as a whole in 
a particular place or at a particular time, can be thought as 
not existing 5 . 2 That is to say, spatio-temporal and composite 
things are contingent. And Anselm concludes that God, not 
being a spatio-temporal and composite being, is non-contingent, 
or ‘cannot be thought as not existing 5 . 3 As we have already 
seen, however, this conclusion does not follow, for a non-spatio- 
temporal and non-composite being might still be contingent. 

In what sense, then, do we say that God cannot be thought 

1 p. 177. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 


not to exist? Not just in the sense, Anselm replies, in which we 
‘cannot think of something as not existing while knowing that 
it does exist, since we cannot think of it as existing and not exist¬ 
ing at the same time’, 1 for this applies to things other than God; 
but also in the sense that ‘that than which nothing greater can 
be thought 5 cannot even be conceived not to exist. This latter 
applies to God alone, for with all other things, even though 
they exist they can still be thought of as not existing. But then, 
in what way can the Fool say that God does not exist? St. 
Anselm refers back to Chapter IV of the Proslogion , where the 
possibility of denying that ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought 5 actually exists is admitted and explained by 
saying that he who makes the denial does not really comprehend 
what the formula ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought 5 means. 

St. Anselm’s reply here, however, is not wholly satisfactory 
for if the proposition ‘God exists 5 is not a logically necessary 
one, then it can be denied without self-contradiction. In other 
words, it is possible to think that God does not exist. However, 
it might be argued that only after we have gone through St. 
Anselm’s proof do we see then, as a result of the proof that God 
cannot be thought not to exist, or, that the proposition ‘God 
(that than which nothing greater can be thought) actually 
exists 5 is a logically necessary one. That is, we prove that the 
proposition ‘God exists 5 is a logically necessary one. St. Anselm 
would have to give some such account as this in order to meet 
Gaunilo 5 s objection fully. 

[V.] In his argument Gaunilo used the formula ‘that which is 
greater than everything 5 (‘maius omnibus 5 ), and assumed that 
it was equivalent to Anselm’s ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought 5 . But, Anselm objects, the two formulas are not 
equivalent for the purpose of proving the existence of God. To 
illustrate this Anselm puts forward yet another variation of the 
Proslogion argument. In this version ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought 5 is defined as that which cannot be 
thought of as not existing. Now, ‘what does not exist can 
possibly not exist, and what can not exist can be thought of 
as not existing.’ 2 Therefore ‘that than which nothing greater 
1 P* x 79 * 2 Ibid. 


can be thought’ must actually exist. Indeed, St. Anselm 
concludes, ‘it neither does not exist, nor can not exist, or be 
thought of as not existing.* 1 Now, he goes on, it is not evident 
that ‘that which is greater than everything* (to adopt Gaunilo’s 
formula) cannot be thought not to exist; that is to say, it is not 
immediately evident that, if ‘that which is greater than every- 
thing* did not actually exist, then it would precisely not be 
‘that which is greater than everything*. One would, in fact, 
need to show that ‘that which is greater than everything* was 
identical with ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought*, 
in order to prove that the former could not be said not actually 
to exist without self-contradiction. 

[VI.] St. Anselm goes on to answer Gaunilo’s objection that 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought* may be ‘in the 
mind* merely in the way in which a ‘false thing * is in the mind. 
Anselm replies that this is all that he needs for his argument to 
work, for all that is necessary to his argument is that ‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought* is ‘in the mind*; we do 
not need to know at the outset that there is some being existing 
in reality which corresponds to this thought. All that is needed 
is that the notion ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought* be meaningful, not that it be true. 

[VII.] The argument here is obscure; however, the gist of it 
seems to be that we do not need to understand ‘that than which 
nothing greater can be thought* completely . It is sufficient for 
St. Anselm’s purpose if we understand the notion partially or to 
some extent, for to admit that ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought’ is not a clear and distinct notion is not to say 
that it is without any meaning at all. It may well be, St. 
Anselm concludes, that someone may be completely ignorant 
of what the term ‘God’ means, but no one can plausibly allege 
that he does not understand at all what ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’ means. 

[VIII.] St. An selm now considers the important question of 
how it can be shown that ‘that than which nothing greater can 
be thought is a meaningful notion to one who is not a Christian 

1 p. 181. 


believer. Gaunilo had objected that, since by definition ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be thought 5 signifies a being 
essentially different from any of the things within our ex¬ 
perience, we can therefore have no notion of it at all nor can we 
get an idea of it from other things like it. Anselm replies, how¬ 
ever, that we can form an idea of ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought 5 by reflecting upon the things within our 
experience. Thus, for example, we see that the things we know 
have a be ginnin g and end; we acknowledge also that being 
subject to temporal conditions is a limitation or imperfection, 
and we can infer that if there were a thing which, though it had 
a beginning, did not have an end, it would be better than the 
things which have both beginning and end. And again, on the 
same principle, we can infer that what has neither be ginning 
nor end is better or more perfect or ‘greater 5 than either of the 
former two. Now, cannot we go on to infer that if a being 
existed such that it was not subject to temporal conditions at 
all—‘that which does not lack anything at all nor is forced to 
change or move 5 —it would be better or more perfect or ‘greater 5 
still? This would, in fact, be a being so great that no greater 
could be thought We can thus, by purely rational means 
appreciable by everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, show 
that the notion of ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought 5 is a meaningful one. As St. Anselm puts it, ‘In this 
way, therefore, the Fool, who does not accept the sacred au¬ 
thority [of Revelation] can easily be refuted if he denies that he 
can form an idea from other things of that-than-which-nothing 
greater-can-be-thought / 1 And this, in fact, chimes in with what 
St. Paul says about the possibility of reaching an idea of God 
by reflecting upon His creation (Rom. i. 20). 2 

The reasoning that St. Anselm uses here is very much like 
that used in the Monologion arguments for the existence of God, 
and it may seem, at first sight, that St. Anselm has landed 
himself in the paradoxical position of having to prove the 
existence of a supra-temporal being so great that there cannot 
be a conceivable greater in order to show that the main 

1 p. 187. 

* A text frequently cited by Aquinas later on, to support his view that the 
existence of God is not known self-evidently but only by an 0 posteriori proof based 
on certain frets about the world. 

820610 H 



premiss of the Proslogion arguments is meaningful. However, it 
is clear enough that St. Anselm’s intention is simply to show 
that by a process of abstraction on temporal things, and by 
invoking the principle that being subject to temporal conditions 
is a metaphysical limitation or imperfection, we are enabled to 
see that the notion of a being so great that none greater may be 
conceived is a non-self-contradictory or logically possible or 
meaningful notion. But we still do not know whether this 
notion is realized or instantiated in actual reality; that, pre¬ 
cisely, is the purpose of the Proslogion proof. 

St. Anselm’s reasoning here, as we have already indicated, 
rests upon the neo-Platonic principle that being subject to 
temporal conditions represents a metaphysical limitation or 
imperfection, and also upon the possibility of comparing 
temporal, eternal, and supra-temporal things as more and less 
perfect or great in an absolute sense. For St. Anselm these two 
assumptions were so evident that they needed no proof. In our 
examination of the Proslogion, however, we saw how difficult 
it was to justify them, and we must conclude here that St. 
Anselm does not succeed in giving an acceptable meaning to the 
notion of ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’. 
For all that, St. Anselm was aware, as we have seen, of the 
necessity of showing that ‘that than which nothing greater can 
be thought’ had a rational meaning appreciable by the un¬ 
believer. For him the formula ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought’ is not wholly derived from faith, as Barth and 
others have claimed, so that the Proslogion arguments would be 
conclusive only for those who already believe in God. 

[IX.] In one sense, as Anselm remarked earlier, we cannot 
think of or understand what ‘that than which nothing greater 
can be thought’ means, in that we cannot think of the thing in 
itself signified by this description. But this does not prevent us 
from knowing that ‘that than which nothing greater can be 
thought’ is a meaningful notion. We know, for example, what 
‘ineffable’ means, even though we cannot specify what is 
ineffable; and we know what ‘inconceivable’ means, even 
though we cannot think of the ‘object’ that it means. 

In fact, Anselm continues, one who utters the proposition 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought does not 


exist’ must assume that the notion of ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought’ is meaningful in order to be able to 
deny its existence. This argument, reminiscent of Meinong and 
the early Russell, is obviously invalid for it assumes that ‘God 
does not exist’ is logically similar to ‘Unicorns do not exist’, 
as though the atheist were saying that we know what it would 
be like for God to exist but that in fact He does not exist. But 
the atheist claims rather that ‘God does not exist’ must be 
interpreted in the same way as ‘Square circles do not exist’, 
where we are not denying actual existence of a possibly 
existing subject but rather denying that there can be any such 
subject at all. 

[X.] In the final section St. Anselm indicates that the Proslogion 
proofs were meant not merely to prove the actual existence of 
‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’, but also to 
prove certain of the attributes of God. If God is ‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’, then we must predicate 
of God ‘whatever it can, absolutely speaking, be thought 
better to be than not to be ’. 1 If God is the greatest conceivable 
being, then He must possess his attributes in the greatest con¬ 
ceivable way. For example, if God is defined as ‘that than 
which nothing greater can be thought’, and if it is greater to 
be goodness itself rather than merely to be a particular good 
thing, then God must be goodness itself. In this way, by 
retaining the major premiss of the Proslogion proof, ‘God is that 
than which nothing greater can be thought’, and by varying the 
minor premiss, ‘It is greater to be X than not-JF’, we can prove 
all the attributes of God. 

St. Anselm concludes with a polite bow towards Gaunilo. 
Since Gaunilo praised those parts of the Proslogion that seemed 
acceptable, it is clear that his criticisms were not made in any 
malicious spirit but with complete goodwill. 

1 p* 19*- 







Several minor liberties have been taken in the transla¬ 
tion. The formula ‘that-than-which-nothing-greater- 
can-be-thought* and its variants have been hyphenated 
for the sake of convenience; the Fool of the Psalmist has 
been given a capital letter; italics have been added in a 
few passages to make the meaning dearer; and some 
supplementary words and phrases (enclosed in square 
brackets) have also been interpolated for the same 
purpose. Biblical quotations have been translated 
directly from St. Anselm’s text which differs slightly from 
that of the Latin Vulgate version. References to the 
Psalms follow the Vulgate numbering which differs from 
that of the Hebrew texts followed by most other versions. 


Postquam opusculum quoddam velut exemplum meditandi 
de ratione fidei cogentibus me precibus quorundam fratrum in 
persona alicuius tacite secum ratiocinando qua; nesciat in- 
vestigantis edidi: considerans illud esse multorum concatena- 
tione contextum argumentorum, coepi mecum quserere, si 
forte posset inveniri unum argumentum, quod nullo alio ad se 
probandum quam se solo indigeret, et solum ad astruendum 
quia deus vere est, et quia est summum bonum nullo alio 
indigens, et quo omnia indigent ut sint et ut bene sint, et 
quaecumque de divina credimus substantia, sufficeret. Ad 
quod cum saepe studioseque cogitationem converterem, atque 
aliquando mihi videretur iam posse capi quod quaerebam, 
aliquando mentis aciem omnino fugeret: tandem desperans 
volui cessare velut ab inquisitione rei quam inveniri esset im- 
possibile. Sed cum illam cogitationem, ne mentem meam 
frustra occupando ab aliis in quibus proficere possem im- 
pediret, penitus a me vellem excludere: tunc magis ac magis 
nolenti et defendenti. se coepit cum importunitate quadam 
ingerere. Gum igitur quadam die vehementer eius importuni- 
tati resistendo fatigarer, in ipso cogitationum conflictu sic se 
obtulit quod desperaveram, ut studiose cogitationem ample- 
cterer, quam sollicitus repellebam. 

Aestimans igitur quod me gaudebam invenisse, si scriptum 
esset, alicui legenti placiturum: de hoc ipso et de quibusdam 
aliis sub persona conantis erigere mentem suam ad contem- 
plandum deum et quaerentis intelligere quod credit, subditum 
scripsi opusculum. Et quoniam nec istud nec illud cuius supra 
memini dignum libri nomine aut cui auctoris praeponeretur 
nomen iudicabam, nec tamen eadem sine aliquo titulo, quo 
aliquem in cuius manus venirent quodam modo ad se legendum 


After I had published, at the pressing entreaties of several of 
my brethren, a certain short tract [the Monologion ] as an 
example of meditation on the meaning of faith from the point 
of view of one seeking, through silent reasoning within himself, 
things he knows not—reflecting that this Was made up of a 
a connected chain of many arguments, I began to wonder if 
perhaps it might be possible to find one single argument that 
for its proof required no other save itself, and that by itself 
would suffice to prove that God really exists, that He is the 
supreme good needing no other and is He whom all things have 
need of for their being and well-being, and also to prove what¬ 
ever we believe about the Divine Being. But as often and as 
diligently as I turned my thoughts to this, sometimes it seemed 
to me that I had almost reached what I was seeking, sometimes 
it eluded my acutest thinking completely, so that finally, in 
desperation, I was about to give up what I was looking for as 
something impossible to find. However, when I had decided to 
put aside this idea altogether, lest by uselessly occupying my 
mind it might prevent other ideas with which I could make 
some progress, then, in spite of my unwillingness and my 
resistance to it, it began to force itself upon me more and more 
pressingly. So it was that one day when I was quite worn out 
with resisting its importunacy, there came to me, in the very 
conflict of my thoughts, what I had despaired of finding, so 
that I eagerly grasped the notion which in my distraction I had 
been rejecting. 

Judging, then, that what had given me such joy to discover 
would afford pleasure, if it were written down, to anyone who 
might read it, I have written the following short tract dealing 
with this question as well as several others, from the point of 
view of one trying to raise his mind to contemplate God and 
seeking to understand what he believes. In my opinion, neither 
this tract nor the other I mentioned before deserves to be called 
a book or to carry its author’s name, and yet I did not think they 
should be sent forth without some title (by which, so to speak, they 
might invite those into whose hands they should come, to read 



invitarent, dimittenda putabam: unicuique suum dedi titulum, 
ut prius Exemplum meditandi de ratione Juki, et scqucns Fides 
quaerens intellection diceretur. 

Sed cum iam a pluribus cum his titulis utrumque transcri- 
ptum esset, coegerunt me plures et maxime reverendus archi- 
episcopus Lugdunensis, HUGO nomine, fimgens in Gallia 
legatione Apostolica, qui mihi hoc ex Apostolica praecepit 
auctoritate, ut nomen meum illis praescriberem. Quod ut 
apdus fieret, illud quidem Momlogion, id est soliloquium, istud 
vero Proslogion, id est alloquium, nominavi. 


them); so I have given to each its title, die first being called 
An Example of Meditation on the Meaning of Faith, and the sequel 
Faith in Quest of Understanding. 

However, as both of them, under these titles, had already 
been copied out by several readers, a number of people (above 
all the reverend Archbishop of Lyons, Hugh, apostolic delegate 
to Gaul, who commanded me by his apostolic authority) have 
urged me to put my name to them. For the sake of greater 
convenience I have named the first book Monologion, that is, a 
soliloquy; and the other Proslogim, that is, an allocution. 


I. Excitatio mentis ad contemplandum deum. 

II. Quod vere sit deus. 

III. Quod non possit cogitari non esse. 

IV. Quomodo ‘insipiens dixit in corde’, quod cogitari non 

V. Quod deus sit quidquid melius est esse quam non esse; et 
solus existens per se omnia alia faciat de nihilo. 

VI. Quomodo sit sensibilis, cum non sit corpus. 

VII. Quomodo sit omnipotens, cum multa non possit. 

VIII. Quomodo sit misericors et impassibilis. 

IX. Quomodo totus iustus et summe iustus parcat malis; et 
quod iuste misereatur malis. 

X. Quomodo iuste puniat et iuste parcat malis. 

XI. Quomodo ‘universae viae domini misericordia et veritas 5 , et 
tamen ‘iustus dominus in omnibus viis suis*. 

XII. Quod deus sit ipsa vita qua vivit; et sic de similibus. 

XIII. Quomodo solus sit incircumscriptus et aeternus, cum alii 
spiritus sint incircumscripti et aetemi. 

XIV. Quomodo et cur videtur et non videtur deus a quaerentibus 

XV. Quod maior sit quam cogitari possit. 

XVI. Quod haec sit ‘lux inaccessibilis’, quam ‘inhabitat’. 

XVII. Quod in deo sit harmonia, odor, sapor, lenitas, pulchritudo, 
suo ineffabili modo. 

XVIII. Quod in deo nec in aeternitate eius, quae ipse est, nullae sint 

XIX. Quod non sit in loco aut tempore, sed omnia sint in illo. 

XX. Quod sit ante et ultra omnia etiam aeterna. 

XXI. An hoc sit ‘saeculum saeculi 5 sive ‘saecula saeculorum 5 . 

XXII. Quod solus sit quod est et qui est. 


I. A Rousing of the mind to the contemplation of God. 

II. That God truly exists. 

III. That God cannot be thought not to exist. 

IV. How ‘the Fool said in his heart’ what cannot be thought. 

V. That God is whatever it is better to be than not to be, and 
that existing through Himself alone He makes all other 
beings from nothing. 

VI. How He is perceptive although He is not a body. 

VII. How He is omnipotent although He cannot do many 

VIII. How He is both merciful and impassible. 

IX. How the all-just and supremely just One spares the wicked 
and justly has mercy on the wicked. 

X. How He justly punishes and justly spares the wicked. 

XI. How ‘all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth’, and 
yet how ‘the Lord is just in all His ways’. 

XII. That God is the very life by which He lives and that the 
same holds for like attributes. 

XIII. How He alone is limitless and eternal, although other 
spirits are also limitless and eternal. 

XIV. How and why God is both seen and not seen by those 
seeking Him. 

XV. How He is greater than can be thought. 

XVI. That this is the ‘inaccessible light’ in which He ‘dwells’. 

XVII. That harmony, fragrance, sweetness, softness, and beauty 
are in God according to His own ineffable manner. 

XVIII. That there are no parts in God or in His eternity which 
He is. 

XIX. That He is not in place or time but all things are in Him. ' 

XX. That He is before and beyond even all eternal things. 

XXI. Whether this is the ‘age of the age’ or the ‘ages of the 

XXII. That He alone is what He is and who He is. 


XXIII. Quod hoc bonum sit pariter pater et Alius et spiritus 
sanctus; et hoc sit ‘unum necessarium 9 , quod est omne et 
totum et solum bonum. 

XXIV. Goniectatio quale et quantum sit hoc bonum. 

XXV. Quae et quanta bona sint fruentibus eo. 

XXVI. An hoc sit ‘gaudium plenum 9 quod promittit dominus. 


XXIII. That this good is equally Father and Son and Holy Spirit, 
and that this is the one necessary being which is altogether 
and wholly and solely good. 

XXIV. A speculation as to what kind and how great this good is. 

XXV. Which goods belong to those who enjoy this good and how 
great they are. 

XXVI. Whether this is the 'fulness of joy* which the Lord 



Excitatio mentis ad contemplandum deum 

Eia nunc, homuncio, fuge paululum occupationes tuas, 
absconde te modicum a tumultuosis cogitationibus tuis. Abice 
nunc onerosas curas, et postpone laboriosas distentiones tuas. 
Vaca aliquantulum deo, et requiesce aliquantulum in eo. ‘Intra 
in cubiculum’ mentis tuae, exclude omnia praeter deum et quae te 
iuvent ad quaerendum eum, et ‘clauso ostio’ qu<ere eum. Die 
nunc, totum ‘cor meum’, die nunc deo: ‘Quaero vultum tuum; 
vultum tuum, domine, requiro’. 

Eia nunc ergo tu, domine deus meus, doce cor meum ubi et 
quomodo te quaerat, ubi et quomodo te inveniat. Domine, si 
hie non es, ubi te quaeram absentem? Si autem ubique es, cur 
non video praesentem? Sed certe habitas ‘lucem inaccessibilem’. 
Et ubi est lux inaccessibilis? Aut quomodo accedam ad lucem 
inaccessibilem? Aut quis me ducet et inducet in illam, ut 
videam te in ilia? Deinde quibus signis, qua facie te quaeram? 
Numquam te vidi, domine deus meus, non novi faciem tuam. 
Quid faciet, altissime domine, quid faciet iste tuus longinquus 
exsul? Quid faciet servus tuus anxius amore tui et longe proie- 
ctus ‘a facie tua’ ? Anhelat videre te, et nimis abest illi facies tua. 
Accedere ad te desiderat, et inaccessibilis est habitatio tua. 
Invenire te cupit, et nescit locum tuum. Quaerere te affectat, et 
ignorat vultum tuum. Domine, deus meus es, et dominus meus 
es, et numquam te vidi. Tu me fecisti et refecisti, et omnia mea 
bona tu mihi contulisti, et nondum novi te. Denique ad te 
videndum factus sum, et nondum feci propter quod factus sum. 



A Rousing of the mind to the contemplation of God 

Come now, insignificant man, fly for a moment from your 
affairs, escape for a little while from the tumult of your thoughts. 
Put aside now your weighty cares and leave your wearisome 
toils. Abandon yourself for a little to God and rest for a\ 
little in Him. Enter into the inner chamber of your soul, shut f 
out everything save God and what can be of help in your quest, 
for Him and having locked the door seek Him out [Matt. vi.| 
6]. Speak now, my whole heart, speak now to God: ‘I seek Your J 
countenance, O Lord, Your countenance I seek [Ps. xxvi. 

Come then, Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to 
seek You, where and how to find You. Lord, if You are not 
present here, where, since You are absent, shall I look for 
You? On the other hand, if You are everywhere why then, since 
You are present, do I not see You? But surely You dwell in 
‘light inaccessible’ [x Tim. vi. 16]. And where is this inaccessible 
light, or how can I approach the inaccessible light? Or who 
shall lead me and take me into it that I may see You in it? 
Again, by what signs, under what aspect, shall I seek You? 
Never have I seen You, Lord my God, I do not know Your face. 
What shall he do, most high Lord, what shall this exile do, far 
away from You as he is? What shall Your servant do, tor¬ 
mented by love of You and yet cast off ‘far from Your face’ 
[Ps. i. 13]? He yearns to see You and Your countenance is too 
far away from him. He desires to come close to You, and Your 
dwelling place is inaccessible; he longs to find You and does not 
know where You are; he is eager to seek You out and he does 
not know Your countenance. Lord, You are my God and my 
Lord, and never have I seen You. You have created me and 
re-created me and You have given me all the good things I 
possess, and still I do not know You. In fine, I was made in 
order to see You, and I have not yet accomplished what I was 
made for. 


O misera sors hominis, cum hoc perdidit ad quod foetus est. 
O durus et dims casus ille! Heu, quid perdidit et quid invenit, 
quid abscessit et quid remansit! Perdidit beatitudinem ad quam 
foetus est, et invenit miseriam propter quam foetus non est. 
Abscessit sine quo nihil felix est, et remansit quod per se 
nonnisi miserum est ‘Manducabat’ tunc ‘homo panem ange- 
lorum’ quern nunc esurit, manducat nunc ‘panem dolorum’, 
quem tunc nesciebat. Heu publicus luctus hominum, universalis 
planctus filiorum Adae! Die ructabat saturitate, nos suspiramus 
esurie. Ille abundabat, nos mendicamus. Ille fehdter tenebat 
et misere deseruit, nos infeliciter egemus et miserabiliter 
desideramus, et heu, vacui remanemus. Our non nobis custo~ 
divit cum focile posset, quo tarn graviter careremus? Quare sic 
nobis obseravit lucem, et obduxit nos tenebris? Ut quid nobis 
abstuht vitam, et inflixit mortem? Aerumnosi, unde sumus 
expulsi, quo sumus impulsi! Unde praedpitati, quo obmti! A 
patria in exsilium, a visione dd in caedtatem nostram. A 
iucunditate immortalitatis in amaritudinem et horrorem 
mortis. Misera mutatio! De quanto bono in quantum malum! 
Grave damnum, gravis dolor, grave totum. 

Sed heu me miserum, unum de aliis miseris filiis Eva 
elongatis a deo, quid incepi, quid effed? Quo tendebam, quo 
deveni? Ad quid aspirabam, in quibus suspiro? ‘Quaesivi bona’ 
‘et ecce turbatio’! Tendebam in deum, et offendi in me ipsum. 
Requiem quaerebam in secreto meo, et ‘tribulationem et 
dolorem inveni* in intimis meis. Volebam ridere a gaudio 
mentis meae, et cogor ragire *a gemitu cordis mei’. Sperabatur 
laetitia, et ecce unde densentur suspiria! 

Et o ‘tu, domine, usquequo’? ‘Usquequo, domine, oblivi- 
sceris’ nos, ‘usquequo avertis fedem tuam’ a nobis? Quando 
respides et exaudies nos? Quando illuminabis oculos nostros, et 


How wretched man’s lot is when he has lost that for which he 
was made! Oh how hard and cruel was that Fall! Alas, what 
has man lost and what has he found? What did he lose and what 
remains to him? He lost the blessedness for which he was made, 
and he found the misery for which he was not made. That 
without which nothing is happy has gone from him and that 
which by itself is nothing but misery remains to him. Once 
‘man ate the bread of angels’ [Ps. Ixxvii. 25], for which now he 
hungers; now he eats ‘the bread of sorrow’ [Ps. cxxvi. 2], which 
then he knew nothing of. Alas the common grief of mankind, 
alas the universal lamentation of the children of Adam! He 
groaned with fullness; we sigh with hunger. He was pros¬ 
perous; we go begging. He in his happiness had possessions and 
in his misery abandoned them; we in our unhappiness go 
without and miserably do we yearn and, alas, we remain empty. 
Why, since it was easy for him, did he not keep for us that which 
we lack so much? Why did he deprive us of light and surround 
us with darkness? Why did he take life away from us and 
inflict death upon us? Poor wretches that we are, whence have 
we been expelled and whither are we driven? Whence have 
we been cast down and whither buried? From our homeland 
into exile; from the vision of God into our present blindness; 
from the joy of immortality into the bitterness and horror of 
death. Oh wretched change from so great a good to so great 
an evil! What a grievous loss, a grievous sorrow, utterly 

Alas, unfortunate that I am, one of the miserable children of 
Eve, separated from God. What have I undertaken? What have 
I actually done? Where was I going? Where have I come to? 
To what was I aspiring? For what do I yearn? ‘I sought good¬ 
ness’ [Ps. cxxi. 9] and, lo, ‘there is confusion’ [Jer. xiv. 19]. I 
yearned for God, and I was in my own way. I sought peace 
within myself and ‘I have found tribulation and sadness’ in my 
heart of hearts [Ps. cxiv. 3]. I wished to laugh from out the 
happiness of my soul, and ‘the sobbing of my heart’ [Ps. xxxvii. 
9] makes me cry out. I hoped for gladness and, lo, my sighs 
come thick and fast. 

And You, ‘O Lord, how long’ [Ps. vi. 4]? How long, Lord, 
will You be unmindful of us? ‘How long will You turn Your 
countenance’ from us [Ps. xii. 1]? When will You look upon us 

826810 I 


ostendes nobis ‘faciem tuam’? Quando restitues te nobis? 
Respice, domine, exaudi, illumina nos, ostende nobis teipsum. 
Restitue te nobis, ut bene sit nobis, sine quo tam male est nobis. 
Miserare labores et conatus nostros ad te, qui nihil valemus 
sine te. Invitas nos, ‘adiuva nos’. Obsecro, domine, ne desperem 
suspirando, sed respirem sperando. Obsecro, domine, amari- 
catum est cor meum sua desolatione, indulca illud tua consola- 
tione. Obsecro, domine, esuriens incepi quaerere te, ne desinam 
ieiunus de te. Famelicus accessi, ne recedam impastus. Pauper 
veni ad divitem, miser ad misericordem; ne redeam vacuus et 
contemptus. Et si ‘antequam comedam suspiro’, da vel post 
suspiria quod comedam. Domine, incurvatus non possum nisi 
deorsum aspicere, erige me ut possim sursum intendere. ‘Iniqui- 
tates meae supergressae caput meum’ obvolvunt me, ‘et sicut 
onus grave’ gravant me. Evolve me, exonera me, ne ‘urgeat 
puteus’ earum ‘os suum super me’. Liceat mihi suspicere lucem 
tuam, vel de longe, vel de profundo. Doce me quaerere te, et 
ostende te quaerenti; quia nec quaerere te possum nisi tu 
doceas, nec invenire nisi te ostendas. Quaeram te desiderando, 
desiderem quaerendo. Inveniam amando, amem inveniendo. 

Fateor, domine, et gratias ago, quia creasti in me hanc 
imaginem tuam, ut tui memor te cogitem, te amem. Sed sic 
est abolita attritione vitiorum, sic est offuscata fumo pecca- 
torum, ut non possit facere ad quod facta est, nisi tu renoves et 
reformes earn. Non tento, domine, penetrare altitudinem tuam, 
quia nullatenus comparo illi intellectum meum; sed desidero 
aliquatenus intelligere veritatem tuam, quam credit et amat cor 
meum. Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut 
intelligam. Nam et hoc credo: quia ‘nisi credidero, non in- 


and hear us [Ps. xii. 4]? When will You enlighten our eyes and 
show ‘Your countenance’ to us [Ps. lxxix. 4]? When will You 
give Yourself again to us? Look upon us, Lord; hear us, 
enlighten us, show Yourself to us. Give Yourself to us that it 
may be well with us, for without You it goes so ill for us. Have 
pity upon our efforts and our strivings towards You, for we can 
avail nothing without You. You call to us, ‘so help us’ [Ps. 
lxxviii. 9]. I beseech You, Lord, let me not go sighing hope¬ 
lessly, but make me breathe hopefully again. My heart is 
made bitter by its desolation; I beseech You, Lord, sweeten 
it by Your consolation. I set out hungry to look for You; I 
beseech You, Lord, do not let me depart from You fasting. I 
came to You as one famished; do not let me go without food. 
Poor, I have come to one who is rich. Unfortunate, I have 
come to one who is merciful. Do not let me return scorned and 
empty-handed. And if now I sigh before I eat [Job iii. 4], give 
me to eat after my sighs. Lord, bowed down as I am, I can only 
look downwards; raise me up that I may look upwards. ‘My 
sins are heaped up over my head’; they cover me over and ‘like 
a heavy load’ crush me down [Ps. xxxvii. 5]. Save me, disburden 
me, ‘lest their pit close its mouth over me’ [Ps. lxviii. 16]. Let me 
discern Your light whether it be from afar or from the depths. 
Teach me to seek You, and reveal Yourself to me as I seek, 
because I can neither seek You if You do not teach me how, 
nor find You unless You reveal Yourself. Let me seek You in 
desiring You; let me desire You in seeking You; let me find 
You in loving You; let me love You in finding You. 

I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that You have 
created Your image in me, so that I may remember You, think 
of You, love You. But this image is so effaced and worn away 
by vice, so darkened by the smoke of sin, that it cannot do 
what it was made to do unless You renew it and reform it. I 
do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my 
understanding is in no way equal to it. But I do desire to 
understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart 
believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand so that I 
may believe; but I believe so that I may understand. For I 
believe this also, that ‘unless I believe, I shall not understand’ 
[Is. vii. 9]. 



Quod vere sit deus 

Ergo, domine, qui das fidei intellectum, da mihg ut quantum 
scis expedire intclligam, quia es sicut credimus, et hoc es quod 
credimus. Et quidem credimus te esse aliquid quo nihil maids 
cogitari possit. An ergo non est aliqua talis natura, quia ‘dixit 
insipiens in corde suo: non est deus’? Sed certe ipse idem in¬ 
sipiens, cum audit hoc ipsum quod dico: ‘aliquid quo maius 
nihil cogitari potest*, intelligit quod audit; et quod intelligit in 
intellectu eius est, etiam si non intelligat illud esse. Aliud mim 
est rem esse in intellectu, aliud intelligere rem esse. Nam cum 
pictor pnecogitat quae facturus est, habet quidem in intellectu, 
sed nondum intelligit esse quod nondum fecit. Cum vero iam 
pinxit, et habet in intellectu et intelligit esse quod iam fecit. 
Convincitur ergo etiam insipiens esse vel in intellectu aliquid 
quo nihil maius cogitari potest, quia hoc cum audit intelligit, 
et quidquid intelligitur in intellectu est. Et certe id quo maius 
cogitari nequit, non potest esse in solo intellectu. Si enim vel in 
solo intellectu est, potest cogitari esse et in re, quod maius est. 
Si ergo id quo maius cogitari non potest, est in solo intellectu: 
id ipsum quo maius cogitari non potest, est quo maius cogi tari 
potest. Sed certe hoc esse non potest. Existit ergo procul dubio 
aliquid quo maius cogitari non valet, et in intellectu et in re. 




That God truly exists 

Well then. Lord, You who give understanding to faith, grant 
me that I may understand, as much as You see fit, that You 
exist as we believe You to exist, and that You are what we 
believe You to be. Now we believe that You are something 
than which nothing greater ran be thought- Or can it be 
that a thing of such a nature does not exist, since ‘the Fool 
has said in his heart, there is no God’ [Ps. xiii. i, liL i]? But 
surely, when this same Fool hears what I am speaking 
about, namely, ‘something-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be- 
thought*, he imderstand s w hat he hea rs, and what he under¬ 
stands isJnTus mind^jwenif he l docs it 

actual ly exists. For it is one thing for an object to exist in the 
mind, and another thing to understand that an object actually 
exists. Thus, when a painter plans beforehand what he is going 
to execute, he has [the picture] in his mind, but he does not yet 
think that it actually exists because he has not yet executed it. 
However, when he has actually painted it, then he both has it 
in his mind and understands that it exists because he has now 
made it. Even the Fool, then, is forced to agree that something- 
than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought exists in the mind, 
since he understands this when he hears it, and whatever is 
understood is in the mind. And surely that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought cannot exist in the mind alone. For 
if it exists solely in the mind even, it can be thought to exist in 
reahty afsoTwhicfi is greatCTriTtKeh'fhat-than-which-a-greater- 
cannot be-thought exists in the mind alone, this same that-than- 
which-a-greater-flzniwrt-be-thought is that-than-which-a-greater- 
ttm-be-thought. But this is obviously impossible. Therefore there 
is absolutely no doubt that something-than-which-a-greater- 
cannot-be-thought exists both in the mind and in reality. 




Quod non possit cogitari non esse 

Quod utique sic vere est, ut nec cogitari possit non esse. Nam 
potest cogitari esse aliquid, quod non possit cogitari non esse; 
quod maius est quam quod non esse cogitari potest. Quare si id 
quo maius nequit cogitari, potest cogitari non esse: id ipsum 
quo maius cogitari nequit, non est id quo maius cogitari nequit; 
quod convenire non potest. Sic ergo vere est aliquid quo maius 
cogitari non potest, ut nec cogitari possit non esse. 

Et hoc es tu, domine deus noster. Sic ergo vere es, domine 
deus meus, ut nec cogitari possis non esse. Et merito. Si enim 
aliqua mens posset cogitare aliquid melius te, ascenderet 
creatura super creatorem, et iudicaret de creatore; quod valde 
est absurdum. Et quidem quidquid est aliud praeter te solum, 
potest cogitari non esse. Solus igitur verissime omnium, et ideo 
maxime omnium habes esse: quia quidquid aliud est non sic 
vere, et idcirco minus habet esse. Cur itaque ‘dixit insipiens in 
corde suo: non est deus’, cum tam in promptu sit rationali menti 
te maxime omnium esse? Cur, nisi quia stultus et insipiens? 


Quomodo insipiens dixit in corde , quod cogitari non potest 

Verum quomodo dixit in corde quod cogitare non potuit; aut 
quomodo cogitare non potuit quod dixit in corde, cum idem sit 
dicere in corde et cogitare? Quod si vere, immo quia vere et 
cogitavit quia dixit in corde, et non dixit in corde quia cogitare 
non potuit: non uno tantum modo dicitur aliquid in corde vel 


ll 9 


That God cannot be thought not to exist 

And certainly this being so truly exists that it cannot be even 
thought not to exist. For something canbethoughtto exist 
that cannot be thought not to exist, and this is greater than 
that which can be thought not to exist. Hence, if that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought can be thought not to exist, 
then that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought is not the 
same as that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought, which 
is absurd. Something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought 
exists so truly then, that it cannot be even thought not to exist. 

And You, Lord our God, are this being. You exist so truly. 
Lord my God, that You cannot even be thought not to exist. 
And this is as it should be, for if some intelligence could think 
of something better than You, the creature would be above its 
creator and would judge its creator—and that is completely 
absurd. In fact, everything else there is, except You alone, can 
be thought of as not existing. You alone, then, of all things most 
truly exist and therefore of all things possess existence to the 
highest degree; for anything else does not exist as truly, and so 
possesses existence to a lesser degree. Why then did ‘the Fool 
say in his heart, there is no God* [Ps. xiii. i, lii. i] when it is 
so evident to any rational mind that You of all things exist to 
the highest degree? Why indeed, unless because he was stupid 
and a fool? 


How c the Fool said in his heart ’ what cannot be thought 

How indeed has he ‘said in his heart 5 what he could not 
think; or how could he not think what he ‘said in his heart 5 , 
since to ‘say in one’s heart 5 and to ‘think 5 are the same? But} 
if he really (indeed, since he really) both thought because he / 
‘said in his heart 5 and did not ‘say in his heart 5 because hey 
could not think, there is not only one sense in which something \ 
is ‘said in one’s heart 5 or thought. For in one sense a thing is j 


cogitatur. Aliter enim cogitatur res cum vox earn significans 
cogitatur, aliter cum id ipsum quod res est intelligitur. Illo 
itaque modo potest cogitari deus non esse, isto vero minim a, 
Nullus quippe intelligens id quod deus est, potest cogitare quia 
deus non est, licet haec verba dicat in corde, aut sine ulla aut 
cum aliqua extranea significatione. Deus enim est id quo 
maius cogitari non potest. Quod qui bene intelligit, utique 
intelligit id ipsum sic esse, ut nec cogitatione queat non esse. 
Qui ergo intelligit sic esse deum, nequit eum non esse cogitare. 

Gratias tibi, bone domine, gratias tibi, quia quod prius 
credidi te donante, iam sic intelligo te illuminante, ut si te esse 
nolim credere, non possim non intelligere. 


Quod deus sit quidquid melius est esse quam non esse; et solus 
existens per se omnia alia faciat de nihilo 

Quid igitur es, domine deus, quo nil maius valet cogitari? Sed 
quid es nisi id quod summum omnium solum existens per 
seipsum, omnia alia fecit de nihilo? Quidquid enim hoc non 
est, minus est quam cogitari possit. Sed hoc de te cogitari non 
potest. Quod ergo bonum deest summo bono, per quod est 
omne bonum? Tu es itaque iustus, verax, beatus, et quidquid 
melius est esse quam non esse. Melius namque est esse iustum 
quam non iustum, beatum quam non beatum. 


Quomodo sit sensibilis, cum non sit corpus 

Verum cum melius sit esse sensibilem, omnipotentem, miseri- 
cordem, impassibilem quam non esse: quomodo es sensibilis, 



v ' 

thought when the pvord signifying It is thought!; in another ! ( 
sense when the Very o^ecfwKch the thing is is understood. L 
' In the first sense, then, God can be thought not to exist, but C 
/1 not at all in the second sense. No one, indeed, understanding^ 
what God is can think that God does not exist, even though he 
may say these words in his heart either without any [objective] 
signification or with some peculiar signification. For God 
is that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought. Whoever 
really understands this understands clearly that this same being 
so exists that not even in thought can it not exist. Thus whoever 
understands that God exists in such a way cannot think of Him 
as not existing. 

I give thanks, good Lord, I give thanks to You, since what 
I believed before through Your free gift I now so understand 
through Your illumination, that if I did not want to believe 
that You existed, I should nevertheless be unable not to 
understand it. 


That God is whatever it is better to be than not to be and that , 
existing through Himself alone , He makes all other beings from 


What then are You, Lord God, You than whom nothing 
greater can be thought? But what are You save that supreme 
being, existing through Yourself alone, who made everything 
else from nothing? For whatever is not this is less than that 
which can be thought of; but this cannot be thought about 
You. What goodness, then, could be wanting to the supreme 
good, through which every good exists? Thus You are just, 
truthful, happy, and whatever it is better to be than not to be— 
for it is better to be just rather than unjust, and happy rather 
than unhappy. 


How He is perceptive although He is not a body 

But since it is better to be perceptive, omnipotent, merciful, 
impassible, than not to be so, how are You able to perceive if 



si non es corpus; aut omnipotens, si omnia non potes; aut 
misericors simul et impassibilis? Nam si sola corporea sunt 
sensibilia, quoniam sensus circa corpus et in corpore sunt: 
quomodo es sensibilis, cum non sis corpus sed summus spiritus, 
qui corpore melior est? 

Sed si sentire non nisi cognoscere aut non nisi ad cogno- 
scendum est—qui enim sentit cognoscit secundum sensuum 
proprietatem, ut per visum colores, per gustum sapores—non 
inconvenienter dicitur aliquo modo sentire, quidquid aliquo 
modo cognoscit. Ergo domine, quamvis non sis corpus, vere 
tamen eo modo summe sensibilis es, quo summe omnia cogno- 
scis, non quo animal corporeo sensu cognoscit. 


Quomodo sit omnipotent , cum multa non possit 

Sed et omnipotens quomodo es, si omnia non potes? Aut si non 
potes corrumpi nec mentiri nec facere verum esse falsum, ut 
quod factum est non esse factum, et plura similiter: quomodo 
potes omnia? 

An haec posse non est potentia, sed impotentia? Nam qui 
haec potest, quod sibi non expedit et quod non debet potest. 
Quae quanto magis potest, tanto magis adversitas et perversitas 
possunt in ilium, et ipse minus contra illas. Qui ergo sic potest, 
non potentia potest, sed impotentia. Non enim ideo dicitur 
posse, quia ipse possit, sed quia sua impotentia facit aliud in se 
posse; sive aliquo alio genere loquendi, sicut multa improprie 
dicuntur. Ut cum ponimus ‘esse 5 pro ‘non esse 5 , et ‘facere 5 pro 
eo quod est ‘non facere 5 , aut pro ‘nihil facere 5 . Nam saepe 
dicimus ei qui rem aliquam esse negat: sic est quemadmodum 
dicis esse, cum magis proprie videatur dici: sic non est quemad¬ 
modum dicis non esse. Item dicimus: iste sedet sicut ille facit, 
aut: iste quiescit sicut ille facit, cum ‘sedere 5 sit quiddam non 



You are not a body; or how are You omnipotent if You are not 
able to do everything; or how are You merciful and impassible 
at the same time? For if only corporeal things are capable of 
perception, since the senses are involved with the body and in 
the body, how are You perceptive, since You are not a body 
but the supreme spirit who is better than any body? But if 
to perceive is nothing else than to know, or if it is directed to 
knowing (for he who perceives knows according to the appro¬ 
priate sense, as, for example, colours are known by sight and 
flavours through taste), one can say not inappropriately that 
whatever in any way knows also in some way perceives. So it 
is, Lord, that although You are not a body You are supremely 
perceptive, in the sense that You know supremely all things 
and not in the sense in which an animal knows through a bodily 


How He is omnipotent although He cannot do many things 

Again, how are You omnipotent if You cannot do all things? 
But, how can You do all things if You cannot be corrupted, or 
tell lies, or make the true into the false (such as to undo what 
has been done), and many similar things? Or is the ability to 
do^these things not power but impotence? For he who can do 
these things can do what is not good for himself and what he 
ought not to do. And the more he can do these things, the more 
power adversity and perversity have over him and the less he 
has against them. He, therefore, who can do these things can 
do them not by power but by impotence. It is said, then, that 
he ‘can 5 , not because he himself can do them but because his 
impotence gives another power against him. Or it is said in 
some other manner of speaking, in the sense in which many 
words are used improperly, as, for example, when we use ‘to be 5 
for ‘not to be 5 , and ‘to do 5 for ‘not to do 5 or for ‘to do nothing 5 . 
Thus we often say to someone who denies that some thing exists: 
‘It is as you say it is\ although it would seem much more proper 
to say, ‘It is not as you say it is not\ Again, we say ‘This man is 
sitting 5 , just as we say ‘That man is doing [something] 5 ; or we 
say ‘This man is resting 5 , just as we say ‘That man is doing 



facere et ‘quiescere’ sit nihil facere. Sic itaque cum quis dicitur 
habere potentiam faciendi aut patiendi quod sibi non expedit 
aut quod non debet, impotentia intelligitur per potentiam; 
quia quo plus habet hanc potentiam, eo adversitas et perversi- 
tas in ilium sunt potentiores, et ille contra eas impotentior. 
Ergo domine deus, inde verius es omnipotens, quia nihil potes 
per impotentiam, et nihil potest contra te. 


Qjtomodo sit misericors et impassibilis 

Sed et misericors simul et impassibilis quomodo es? Nam si es 
impassibilis, non compateris; si non compateris, non est tibi 
miserum cor ex compassione miseri, quod est esse misericordem. 
At si non es misericors, unde miseris est tanta consolatio? 

Quomodo ergo es et non es misericors, domine, nisi quia es 
misericors secundum nos, et non es secundum te? Es quippe 
secundum nostrum sensum, et non es secundum tuum. Etenim 
cum tu respicis nos miseros, nos sentimus misericordis effectum, 
tu non sentis affectum. Et misericors es igitur, quia miseros 
salvas et peccatoribus tuis parcis; et misericors non es, quia 
nulla miseriae compassione afficeris. 


Quomodo totus iustus et summe iustus parcat malis; et quod iuste 
misereatur malis 

Verum malis quomodo parcis, si es totus iustus et summe 
iustus? Quomodo enim totus et summe iustus facit aliquid non 
iustum? Aut quae iustitia est merenti mortem aeternam dare 


[something’]. But ‘to sit’ is not to do something, and ‘to rest’ is to 
do nothing. In the same way, then, when someone is said to have 
the ‘power’ of doing or suffering something which is not to his 
advantage or which he ought not to do, then by ‘power’ here 
we mean ‘impotence’, for the more he has this ‘power’, the 
more adversity and perversity have power over him and the 
more is he powerless against them. Therefore, Lord God, You 
are the more truly omnipotent since You can do nothing through 
impotence and nothing can have power against You. 


How He is both merciful and impassible 

But how are You at once both merciful and impassible? For 
if You are impassible You do not have any compassion; and if 
You have no compassion Your heart is not sorrowful from 
compassion with the sorrowful, which is what being merciful is. 
But if You are not merciful whence comes so much consolation 
for the sorrowful? 

How, then, are You merciful and not merciful, O Lord, 
unless it be that You are merciful in relation to us and not in 
relation to Yourself ? In fact, You are [merciful] according to our 
way of looking at things and not according to Your way. For 
when You look upon us in our mi sery it is we who feel the 
effect of Your mercy, but Y ou do not experience the feelingT 
Therefore You are both merciful because You save the sorrow¬ 
ful and pardon sinners against You; and You are not merciful 
because You do not experience any feeling of compassion for 


How the all-just and supremely just One spares the wicked and 
justly has mercy on the wicked 

But how do You spare the wicked if You are all-just and 
supremely just? For how does the all-just and supremely just 
One do something that is unjust? Or what kind of justice is 
it to give everlasting life to him who merits eternal death? 


vitam sempiternam? Unde ergo, bone deus, bone bonis et malis, 
unde tibi salvare malos, si hoc non est iustum, et tu non facis 
aliquid non iustum? 

An quia bonitas tua est incomprehensibilis, latet hoc in luce 
inaccessibili quam inhabitas? Vere in altissimo et secretissimo 
bonitatis tuae latet fons, unde manat fluvius misericordiae tuae. 
Nam cum totus et summe iustus sis, tamen idcirco etiam malis 
benignus es, quia totus summe bonus es. Minus namque bonus 
esses, si nulli malo esses benignus. Melior est enim qui et bonis 
et malis bonus est, quam qui bonis tantum est bonus. Et melior 
est qui malis et puniendo et parcendo est bonus, quam qui 
puniendo tantum. Ideo ergo misericors es, quia totus et summe 
bonus es. Et cum forsitan videatur, cur bonis bona et malis mala 
retribuas, illud certe penitus est mirandum, cur tu totus iustus 
«t nullo cgens malis et reis tuis bona tribuas. O altitudo boni¬ 
tatis tuae, deus! et videtur unde sis misericors, et non pervidetur. 
Cernitur unde flumen manat, et non perspicitur fons unde 
nascatur. Nam et de plenitudine bonitatis est quia peccatoribus 
tuis pius es, et in altitudine bonitatis latet qua ratione hoc 
es. Etenim licet bonis bona et malis mala ex bonitate retribuas, 
ratio tamen iustitiae hoc postulare videtur. Cum vero malis 
bona tribuis: et scitur quia summe bonus hoc facere voluit, et 
mirum est cur summe iustus hoc velle potuit. 

O misericordia, de quam opulenta dulcedine et dulci 
opulentia nobis profluis! O immensitas bonitatis dei, quo 
affectu amanda es peccatoribus! Iustos enim salvas iustitia 
comitante, istos vero liberas iustitia damnante. Illos meritis 
adiuvantibus, istos meritis repugnantibus. Illos bona quae 
dedisti cognoscendo, istos mala quae odisd ignoscendo. O 
immensa bonitas, quae sic omnem intellectum excedis, veniat 



How then, O good God, good to the good and to the wicked, 
how do You save the wicked if this is not just and You do not 
do anything which is not just? Or, since Your goodness is 
beyond comprehension, is this hidden in the inaccessible light 
in which You dwell? Truly in the deepest and most secret 
place of Your goodness is hidden the source whence the stream 
of Your mercy flows. For though You are all-just and supremely 
just You are, however—precisely because You are all-just and 
supremely just—also beneficent even to the wicked. You would, 
in fact, be less good if You were not beneficent to any wicked 
man. For he who is good to both good and wicked is better than 
he who is good only to the good. And he who is good to the 
wicked by both punishing and sparing them is better than he 
who is good to the wicked only by punishing them. You are 
merciful, then, because You are all-good and supremely good. 
And though perhaps it is apparent why You should reward the 
good with good and the bad with bad, what is indeed to be 
wondered at is why You, the all-just One who wants for nothing, 
should bestow good things on Your wicked and guilty creatures. 

O God, how profound is Your goodness! It is apparent 
whence Your mercy comes, and yet it is not clearly seen. Whence 
the stream flows is obvious, and yet the source where it rises is 
not seen directly. For on the one hand it is from plenitude of 
goodness that You are gentle with those who sin against You; 
and on the other hand the reason why You are thus is hidden 
in the depths of Your goodness. For although from Your good¬ 
ness You reward the good with good and the bad with bad, 
yet it seems that the very definition of justice demands this. 
But when You give good things to the wicked, one both under¬ 
stands that the supreme Good has willed to do this and one 
wonders why the supremely just One could have willed it. 

O mercy, from what abundant sweetness and sweet abun¬ 
dance do you flow forth for us! O boundless goodness of God, 
with what feeling should You be loved by sinners! For You 
save the just whom justice commends, but You free sinners 
whom justice condemns. The former [are saved] by the aid of 
their merits; the latter despite their merits. The former [are 
saved] by regarding the good things You have given; the latter 
by disregarding the bad things which You hate. O boundless 
goodness which so surpasses all understanding, let that mercy 


super me misericordia ilia, quae de tanta opulentia tui procedit! 
Influat in me, quae profluit de te! Parce per clementiam, ne 
ulciscaris per iustitiam! Nam etsi difficile sit intelligere, 
quomodo misericordia tua non absit a tua iustitia, necessarium 
tamen est credere, quia nequaquam adversatur iustitiae quod 
exundat ex bonitate, quae nulla est sine iustitia, immo vere 
concordat iustitiae. Nempe si misericors es quia es summe bonus, 
et summe bonus non es nisi quia es summe iustus: vere idcirco es 
misericors, quia summe iustus es. Adiuva me, iuste et misericors 
deus, cuius lucem quaero, adiuva me, ut intelligam quod dico. 
Vere ergo ideo misericors es, quia iustus. 

Ergone misericordia tua nascitur ex iustitia tua? Ergone 
parcis malis ex iustitia? Si sic est, domine, si sic est, doce me 
quomodo est. An quia iustum est te sic esse bonum, ut nequeas 
intelligi melior, et sic potenter operari, ut non possis cogitari 
potentius? Quid enim hoc iustius? Hoc utique non fieret, si 
esses bonus tantum retribuendo et non parcendo, et si faceres 
de non bonis tantum bonos, et non etiam de malis. Hoc itaque 
modo iustum est ut parcas malis, et ut facias bonos de malis. 
Denique quod non iuste fit, non debet fieri; et quod non debet 
fieri, iniuste fit. Si ergo non iuste malis misereris, non debes 
misereri: et si non debes misereri, iniuste misereris. Quod si 
nefas est dicere, fas est credere te iuste misereri malis. 


Quomodo iuste puniat et iuste parcat malis 

Sed et iustum est, ut malos punias. Quid namque iustius, 
quam ut boni bona et mali mala recipiant? Quomodo ergo et 
iustum est ut malos punias, et iustum est ut malis parcas? 



come upon me which proceeds from Your so great abundance! 
Let that which flows forth from You flow into me! Forbear 
through mercy lest You be avenged through justice! For even 
if it be difficult to understand how Your mercy is not apart 
from Your justice, it is, however, necessary to believe that it is 
not in any way opposed to justice, for it derives from goodness 
which is naught apart from justice, which indeed really coin¬ 
cides with justice. Truly, if You are merciful because You are 
supremely good, and if You are supremely good only in so far 
as You are supremely just, truly then You are merciful pre¬ 
cisely because You are supremely just. Help me, just and merci¬ 
ful God, whose light I seek, help me so that I may understand 
what I am saying. Truly, then, you are merciful because You 
are just. 

Is Your mercy not then derived from Your justice? Do You 
not then spare the wicked because of justice? If it is so, Lord, 
if it so, teach me how it is so. Is it because it is just that You are 
so good that You cannot be conceived to be better, and that 
You act with so much power that You cannot be thought to be 
more powerful? For what is more just than this? This, however, 
would not be the case if You were good only by way of retribu¬ 
tion and not by way of forgiveness, and if You made to be good 
only those not yet good, and not also the wicked. In this way, 
then, it is just that You spare the wicked and make good men 
from bad. Finally, what is done unjustly ought not to be done; 
and what ought not to be done is done unjustly. If, then, it is 
unjust that You should have mercy on the wicked, You ought 
not to be merciful; and if You ought not to be merciful it is 
unjust of You to be merciful. But if it is improper to say this, 
then it is proper to believe that it is just of You to have mercy 
on the wicked. 


How He justly punishes and justly spares the wicked 

But it is also just that You punish the wicked. For what is 
more just than that the good should receive good things and the 
bad receive bad things? How then is it just both that You 
punish the wicked and that You spare the wicked? 




An alio modo iuste punis malos, et alio modo iuste parcis 
malis? Cum enim punis malos, iustum est, quia illorum meritis 
convenit; cum vero parcis malis, iustum est, non quia illorum 
meritis, sed quia bonitati tuae condecens est. Nam parcendo 
malis ita iustus es secundum te et non secundum nos, sicut 
misericors es secundum nos et non secundum te. Quoniam 
salvando nos quos iuste perderes, sicut misericors es non quia 
tu sentias affectum, sed quia nos sentimus effectual: ita iustus es 
non quia nobis reddas debitum, sed quia facis quod decet te 
summe bonum. Sic itaque sine repugnantia iuste punis et iuste 


Quomodo 'universe vie domini misericordia et veritas\ et 
tamen ‘iustus dominus in omnibus viis suis ’ 

Sed numquid etiam non est iustum secundum te, domine, ut 
malos punias? Iustum quippe est te sic esse iustum, ut iustior 
nequeas cogitari. Quod nequaquam esses, si tantum bonis bona, 
et non malis mala redderes. Iustior enim est qui et bonis et 
malis, quam qui bonis tantum merita retribuit. Iustum igitur est 
secundum te, iuste et benigne deus, et cum punis et cum parcis. 
Vere igitur ‘universe vise domini misericordia et veritas’, et 
tamen ‘iustus dominus in omnibus viis suis’. Et udque sine 
repugnantia; quia quos vis punire, non est iustum salvari, et 
quibus vis parcere, non est iustum damnari. Nam id solum 
iustum est quod vis, et non iustum quod non vis. Sic ergo 
nascitur de iustitia tua misericordia tua, quia iustum est te sic 
esse bonum, ut et parcendo sis bonus. Et hoc est forsitan, cur 
summe iustus potest velle bona malis. Sed si utcumque capi 
potest, cur malos potes velle salvare: illud certe nulla ratione 
comprehendi potest, cur de similibus malis hos magis salves 



Or do You with justice in one way punish the wicked and 
with justice in another way spare the wicked? For when You 
punish the wicked it is just, since it agrees with their merits; 
however, when You spare the wicked it is just, not because of 
their merits but because it is befitting to Your goodness. For 
in sparing the wicked You are just in relation to Yourself and 
not in relation to us, even as You are merciful in relation to us 
and not in relation to Yourself. Thus it is, as You are merciful 
(in saving us whom You might with justice lose) not because 
You experience any feeling, but because we experience the 
effect of Your mercy, so You are just not because You give us 
our due, but because You do what befits You as the supreme 
good. Thus, then, without inconsistency justly do You punish 
and justly do You pardon. 


How *all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth,’, and yet how 
‘ the Lord is just in all His ways’ 

But is it not also just in relation to Yourself, Lord, that You 
should punish the wicked? It is just inasmuch as You are so 
just that You cannot be thought to be more just. But You 
would in no wise be so if You only returned good to the good 
and did not return bad to the bad. For he is more just who 
rewards the merits of both good and bad than he who rewards 
the merits of the good alone. Therefore it is just in relation to 
You, O just and benevolent God, both when You punish and 
when You pardon. Truly, then, ‘all the ways of the Lord are 
mercy and truth’ [Ps. xxiv. io] and yet ‘the Lord is just in all 
His ways’ [Ps. cxliv. 17]. And [this is so] without any incon¬ 
sistency at all, since it is not just for those to be saved whom You 
will to punish, and it is not just for those to be damned whom 
You will to pardon. For that alone is just which You will, and that 
is not just which You do not will. Thus, then, Your mercy is 
derived from Your justice since it is just that You are so good 
that You are good even in forgiving. And perhaps this is why 
one who is supremely just can will good for the wicked. But if 
it can in some way be grasped why You can will to save the 
wicked, it certainly cannot be understood by any reason why 
from those who are alike in wickedness You save some rather 



quam illos per summam bonitatem, et illos magis damnes quam 
istos per summam iustitiam. 

Sic ergo vere es sensibilis, omnipotens, misericors et impas- 
sibilis, quemadmodum vivens, sapiens, bonus, beatus, aeternus, 
et quidquid melius est esse quam non esse. 


Quod, deus sit ipsa vita qua vivit, et sic de similibus 

Sed certe quidquid es, non per aliud es quam per teipsum. 
Tu es igitur ipsa vita qua vivis, et sapientia qua sapis, et 
bonitas ipsa qua bonis et malis bonus es; et ita de similibus. 


Quomodo solus sit incircumscriptus et ceternus, cum alii spiritus 
sint incircumscripti et aterni 

Sed omne quod clauditur aliquatenus loco aut tempore, minus 
est quam quod nulla lex loci aut temporis coercet. Quoniam 
ergo maius te nihil est, nullus locus aut tempus te cohibet, sed 
ubique et semper es. Quod quia de te solo did potest, tu solus 
incircumscriptus es et aeternus. Quomodo igitur dicuntur et alii 
spiritus incircumscripti et aeterni? 

Et quidem solus es aeternus, quia solus omnium sicut non 
desinis, sic non incipis esse. Sed solus quomodo es indrcum- 
scriptus? An creatus spiritus ad te collatus est circumscriptus, 
ad corpus vero incircumscriptus? Nempe omnino circumscri¬ 
ptum est, quod cum alicubi totum est, non potest simul esse 
alibi; quod de solis corporeis cernitur. Incircumscriptum vero, 
quod simul est ubique totum; quod de te solo intelligitur. 
Circumscriptum autem simul et incircumscriptum est, quod 
cum alicubi sit totum, potest simul esse totum alibi, non tamen 
ubique; quod de creatis spiritibus cognoscitur. Si enim non 
esset anima tota in singulis membris sui corporis, non sentiret 



than others through Your supreme goodness, and damn some 
rather than others through Your supreme justice. 

Thus, then, truly are You perceptive, omnipotent, merciful, 
and impassible, just as You are living, wise, good, blessed, 
eternal, and whatever it is better to be rather than not to be. 


That God is the very life by which He lives and that the same 
holds for like attributes 

But clearly, whatever You are, You are not that through 
another but through Your very self. You are therefore the very 
life by which You live, the wisdom by which You are wise, the 
very goodness by which You are good to both good men and 
wicked, and the same holds for like attributes. 


How He alone is limitless and eternal, although other spirits 
are also limitless and eternal 

All that which is enclosed in any way by place or time is less 
than that which no law of place or time constrains. Since, then, 
nothing is greater than You, no place or time confines You 
but You exist everywhere and always. And because this can be 
said of You alone, You alone are unlimited and eternal. How 
then are other spirits also said to be unlimited and eternal? 

Now, You alone are said to be eternal because, alone of all 
beings, You will not cease to exist just as You have not begun 
to exist. But how are You alone unlimited? Is it that compared 
with You the created spirit is limited, but unlimited with respect 
to a body? Certainly that is absolutely limited which, when it 
is wholly in one place, cannot at the same time be somewhere 
else. This is seen in the case of bodies alone. But that is unlimited 
which is wholly everywhere at once; and this is true only of 
You alone. That, however, is limited and unlimited at the same 
time which, while wholly in one place, can at the same time be 
wholly somewhere else but not everywhere; and this is true of 
created spirits. For if the soul were not wholly in each of the 
parts of its body it would not sense wholly in each of them. 


tota in singulis. Tu ergo, domine, singulariter es incircum- 
scriptus et aetemus, et tamen et alii spiritus sunt incircumscripti 
et aeterni. 


Quomodo et cur videtur et non videtur deus a qumentibus eum 

An invenisti, anima mea, quod quaerebas? Quaerebas deum, et 
invenisti eum esse quiddam summum omnium, quo nihil melius 
cogitari potest; et hoc esse ipsam.vitam, lucem, sapientiam, 
bonitatem, aeternam beatitudinem et beatam aeternitatem; et 
hoc esse ubique et semper. Nam si non invenisti deum tuum: 
quomodo est ille hoc quod invenisti, et quod ilium tarn certa 
veritate et vera certitudine intellexisti? Si vero invenisti: quid 
est, quod non sends quod invenisti? Cur non te sentit, domine 
deus, anima mea, si invenit te? 

An non invenit, quern invenit esse lucem et veritatem? Quo¬ 
modo namque intellexit hoc, nisi videndo lucem et veritatem? 
Aut potuit omnino aliquid intelligere de te, nisi per ‘lucem 
tuam et veritatem tuam’? Si ergo vidit lucem et veritatem, 
vidit te. Si non vidit te, non vidit lucem nec veritatem. An et 
veritas et lux est quod vidit, et tamen nondum te vidit, quia 
vidit te aliquatenus, sed non vidit te sicuti es? 

Domine deus meus, formator et reformator meus, die desi- 
deranti animae me*, quid aliud es, quam quod vidit, ut pure 
videat, quod desiderat. Intendit se ut plus videat, et nihil videt 
ultra hoc quod vidit nisi tenebras; immo non videt tenebras, 
qu* null* sunt in te, sed videt se non plus posse videre propter 
tenebras suas. Cur hoc, domine, cur hoc? Xenebratur oculus 
eius infirmitate sua, aut reverberatur fulgore tuo? Sed certe 
et tenebratur in se, et reverberatur a te. Utique et obscuratur 
sua brevitate, et obruitur tua immensitate. Vere et contrahitur 
angustia sua, et vincitur amplitudine tua. Quanta namque est 
lux ilia, de qua micat omne verum quod rationali menti lucet! 


You then, O Lord, are unlimited and eternal in a unique way 
and yet other spirits are also unlimited and eternal. 


y't -t ! » < 

How and why God is both seen and not seen by those seeking Him 

Have you found, O my soul, what you were seeking? You were 
seeking God, and you found Him to be something which is the 
highest of all, than which a better cannot be thought, and to 
be life itself, light, wisdom, goodness, eternal blessedness and 
blessed eternity, and to exist everywhere and always. If you 
have not found your God, how is He this which you have found, 
and which you have understood with such certain truth and 
true certitude? But if you have found [Him], why is it that 
you do not experience what you have found? Why, O Lord 
God, does my soul not experience You if it has found You? 

Or has it not found that which it has found to be the light 
and the truth? But then, how did it understand this save by 
seeing the light and the truth? Could it understand anything 
at all about You save through ‘Your light and Your truth* 
[Ps. xlii. 3] ? If, then, it saw the light and the truth, it saw You. 
If it did not see You then it did not see the light or the truth. 
Or is it that it saw both the truth and the light, and yet it did 
not see You because it saw You only partially but did not see 
You as You are? 

Lord my God, You who have formed and reformed me, tell 
my desiring soul what You are besides what it has seen so that 
it may see clearly that which it desires. It strives so that it may 
see more, and it sees nothing beyond what it has seen save 
darkness. Or rather it does not see darkness, which is not in 
You in any way; but it sees that it cannot see more because of 
its own darkness. Why is this, Lord, why is this? Is its eye 
darkened by its weakness, or is it dazzled by Your splendour? 
In truth it is both darkened in itself and dazzled by You. It is 
indeed both darkened by its own littleness and overwhelmed 
by Your immensity. It is, in fact, both restricted by its own 
limitedness and overcome by Your fullness. For how great is 
that light from which shines every truth that gives light to the 


Quam ampla est ilia veritas, in qua est omne quod verum est, 
et extra quam non nisi nihil et falsum est! Quam immensa est, 
quae uno intuitu videt quaecumque facta sunt, et a quo et per 
quem et quomodo de nihilo facta sunt! Quid puritatis, quid 
simplicitatis, quid certitudinis et splendoris ibi est! Certe plus 
quam a creatura valeat intelligi. 

Quod maior sit quam cogitari possit 

Ergo domine, non solum es quo maius cogitari nequit, sed es 
quiddam maius quam cogitari possit. Quoniam namque valet 
cogitari esse aliquid huiusmodi: si tu non es hoc ipsum, potest 
cogitari aliquid maius te; quod fieri nequit. 


Quod htsc sit ‘lux inaccessibilis, quam inhabitat' 

Vere, domine, haec est lux inaccessibilis, in qua habitas. Vere 
enim non est aliud quod hanc penetret, ut ibi te pervideat. 
Vere ideo hanc non video, quia nimia mihi est; et tamen quid- 
quid video, per illam video, sicut infirmus oculus quod videt per 
lucem solis videt, quam in ipso sole nequit aspicere. Non potest 
intellectus meus ad illam. Nimis fulget, non capit illam, nec 
suffert oculus animae meae diu intendere in illam. Rever- 
beratur fulgore, vincitur amplitudine, obruitur immensitate, 
confunditur capacitate. O summa et inaccessibilis lux, o tota et 
beata veritas, quam longe es a me, qui tarn prope tibi sum! 
Quam remota es a conspectu meo, qui sic praesens sum con- 
spectui tuo! Ubique es tota praesens, et non te video. In te 
moveor et in te sum, et ad te non possum accedere. Intra me et 
circa me es, et non te sentio. 



understanding! How complete is that truth in which is every¬ 
thing that is true and outside of which nothing exists save 
nothingness and falsity! How boundless is that which in one 
glance sees everything that has been made, and by whom 
and through whom and in what manner it was made from 
nothing! What purity, what simplicity, what certitude and 
splendour is there! Truly it is more than can be understood 
by any creature. 


How He is greater than can be thought 

Therefore, Lord, not only are You that than which a 
greater cannot be thought, but You are also something greater 
than can be thought. For since it is possible to think that there 
is such a one, then, if You are not this same being something 
greater than You could be thought—which cannot be. 


That this is the ‘inaccessible light 5 in which He c dwells 5 

Truly, Lord, this is the inaccessible light in which You 
dwell. For truly there is nothing else which can penetrate 
through it so that it might discover You there. Truly I do not 
see this light since it is too much for me; and yet whatever I see 
I see through it, just as an eye that is weak sees what it sees by 
the light of the sun which it cannot look at in the sun itself. 
My understanding is not able [to attain] to that [light]. It shines" 
too much and [my understanding] does not grasp it nor does 
the eye of my soul allow itself to be turned towards it for too 
long. It is dazzled by its splendour, overcome by its fullness,, 
overwhelmed by its immensity, confused by its extent. O 
supreme and inaccessible light; O whole and blessed truth, 
how far You are from me who am so close to You! How distant 
You are from my sight while I am so present to Your sight! 
You are wholly present everywhere and I do not see You. In 
You I move and in You I have my being and I cannot come 
near to You. You are within me and around me and I do not 
have any experience of You. 



Quod, in deo sit karmonia, odor , sapor, lenitas, pulchritudo , suo 

ineffabili modo 

Adhuc lates, domine, animam meam in luce et beatitudine 
tua, et idcirco versatur ilia adhuc in tenebris et miseria 
sua. Circumspicit enim, et non videt pulchritudinem tuam. 
Auscultat, et non audit harmoniam tuam. Olfacit, et non per- 
cipit odorem tuum. Gustat, et non cognoscit saporem tuum. 
Palpat, et non sentit lenitatem tuam. Habes enim haec, domine 
deus, in te tuo ineffabili modo, qui ea dedisti rebus a te creatis 
suo sensibili modo; sed obriguerunt, sed obstupuerunt, sed 
obstructi sunt sensus animae meae vetusto languore peccati. 


Quod in deo nec in atemitate eius, quae ipse est, nulla sint 


Et iterum ecce turbatio, ecce iterum obviat maeror et luctus 
quaerenti gaudium et laetitiam! Sperabat iam anima mea 
satietatem, et ecce iterum obruitur egestate! Affectabam iam 
comedere, et ecce magis <(inchoo)> esurire! Conabar assurgere ad 
lucem dei, et recidi in tenebras meas. Immo non modo cecidi in 
eas, sed sentio me involutum in eis. Ante cecidi, quam con- 
ciperet ‘me mater mea*. Certe in illis ‘conceptus sum’, et cum 
earum obvolutione natus sum. Olim certe in illo omnes 
cecidimus, ‘in quo omnes’ peccavimus. In illo omnes perdi- 
dimus, qui facile tenebat et male sibi et nobis perdidit, quod 
cum volumus quaerere nescimus, cum quserimus non invenimus, 
cum invenimus non est quod quaerimus. Adiuva me tu ‘propter 
bonitatem tuam, domine’. ‘Quaesivi vultum tuum, vultum 
tuum, domine, requiram; ne avertas faciem tuam a me’. 
Releva me de me ad te. Munda, sana, acue, ‘illumina’ oculum 




That harmony, fragrance, sweetness, softness, and beauty are in 
God according to His own ineffable manner 

Still You hide away, Lord, from my soul in Your light and 
blessedness, and so it still dwells in its darkness and misery. 
For it looks all about, and does not see Your beauty. It listens, 
and does not hear Your harmony. It smells, and does not sense 
Your fragrance. It tastes, and does not recognize Your savour. 
It feels, and does not sense Your softness. For You have in 
Yourself, Lord, in Your own ineffable manner, those [qualities] 
You have given to the things created by You according to 
their own sensible manner. But the senses of my soul, because 
of the ancient weakness of sin, have become hardened and 
dulled and obstructed. 


That there are no parts in God or in His eternity which He is 

Behold, once more confusion, once more sorrow and grief 
stand in my way as I seek joy and happiness! Even now my 
soul hoped for fulfilment, and, lo, once again it is overwhelmed 
by neediness! Even now I sought to have my fill, and, lo, I 
hunger the more! I strove to ascend to God’s light and I have 
fallen back into my own darkness, indeed, not only have I 
fallen back into it, but I feel myself enclosed within it. I fell 
before ‘my mother conceived me’ [Ps. I. 7]. In that darkness 
indeed ‘I was conceived’ [ibid.] and I was born under its 
shadow. We all, in fact, at one time fell in him ‘in whom all of 
us’ sinned [Rom. v. 12]. In him (who easily possessed and 
wickedly lost it for himself and for us), we all lost that which, 
when we wish to look for it, we do not know; that which, when 
we look for it, we do not find; that which, when we find it, is 
not what we are looking for. Help me ‘because of Your good¬ 
ness, Lord’ [Ps. xxiv. 7]. ‘I sought Your countenance, Your 
countenance I will seek, O Lord; do not turn Your face away 
from me’ [Ps. xxvi. 8]. Raise me up from my own self to You. 
Purify, heal, make sharp, ‘illumine’ the eye of my soul so that 
it may see You [Ps. xii. 4]. Let my soul gather its strength 



mentis meat, ut intueatur te. Recolligat vires suas anima mea, 
et toto intellectu iterum intendat in te, domine. 

Quid es, domine, quid es, quid te intelliget cor meum? 
Certe vita es, sapientia es, veritas es, bonitas es, beatitudo es, 
aeternitas es, et omne verum bonum es. Multa sunt haec, non 
potest angustus intellectus meus tot uno simul intuitu videre, ut 
omnibus simul delectetur. Quomodo ergo, domine, es omnia 
haec? An sunt partes tui, aut potius unumquodque horum est 
totum quod es? Nam quidquid partibus est iunctum, non est 
omnino unum, sed quodam modo plura et diversum a seipso, et 
vel actu vel intellectu dissolvi potest; quae aliena sunt a te quo 
nihil melius cogitari potest. Nullae igitur partes sunt in te, 
domine, nec es plura, sed sic es unum quiddam et idem tibi 
ipsi, ut in nullo tibi ipsi sis dissimilis; immo tu es ipsa unitas, 
nullo intellectu divisibilis. Ergo vita et sapientia et reliqua 
non sunt partes tui, sed omnia sunt unum, et unumquodque 
horum est totum quod es, et quod sunt reliqua omnia. Quoniam 
ergo nec tu habes partes nec tua aeternitas quae tu es: nusquam 
et numquam est pars tua aut aeternitatis tuae, sed ubique totus 
es, et aeternitas tua tota est semper. 


Quod, non sit in loco aut tempore, sed omnia sint in illo 

Sed si per aetemitatem tuam fuisti et es et eris, et fuisse non est 
futurum esse, et esse non est fuisse vel futurum esse: quomodo 
aeternitas tua tota est semper? 

An de aeternitate tua nihil praeterit ut iam non sit, nec aliquid 
futurum est quasi nondum sit? Non ergo fuisti heri aut eris eras, 
sed heri et hodie et eras es. Immo nec heri nec hodie nec eras es, 
sed simpliciter es extra omne tempus. Nam nihil aliud est heri 
et hodie et eras quam in tempore; tu autem, licet nihil sit sine te, 


J 4 T 

again and with all its understanding strive once more towards 
You, Lord. 

What are You, Lord, what are You; what shall my heart 
understand You to be? You are, assuredly, life, You are wisdom, 
You are truth, You are goodness, You are blessedness, You are 
eternity, and You are every true good. These are many things, 
and my limited understanding cannot see them all in one 
single glance so as to delight in all at once. How then, Lord, are 
You all these things? Are they parts of You, or rather, is each 
one of these wholly what You are? For whatever is made up 
of parts is not absolutely one, but in a sense many and other 
than itself, and it can be broken up either actually or by the 
mind—all of which things are foreign to You, than whom 
nothing better can be thought. Therefore there are no parts in 
You, Lord; neither are You many, but You are so much one 
and the same with Yourself that in nothing are You dissimilar 
with Yourself. Indeed You are unity itself not divisible by any 
mind. Life and wisdom and the other [attributes], then, are not 
parts of You, but all are one and each one of them is wholly 
what You are and what all the others are. Since, then, neither 
You nor Your eternity which You are have parts, no part of 
You or of Your eternity is anywhere or at any time, but You 
exist as a whole everywhere and Your eternity exists as a whole 


That He is not in place or time but all things are in Him 

But if through Your eternity You have been and are and will 
be, and if to have been is not to be in the future, and to be 
present is not to have been or to be in the future—how does 
Your eternity exist as a whole always? 

Or is there nothing past in Your eternity, so that it is now no 
longer; nor anything future, as though it were not already? 
You were not, therefore, yesterday, nor will You be tomorrow, 
but yesterday and today and tomorrow You are . Indeed You 
exist neither yesterday nor today nor tomorrow but are 
absolutely outside all time. For yesterday and today and to¬ 
morrow are completely in time; however, You, though nothing 


non es tamen in loco aut tempore, sed omnia sunt in te. Nihil 

enim te continet, sed tu contines omnia. 


Quod sit ante et ultra omnia etiam tetema 

Tu ergo imples et complecteris omnia, tu es ante et ultra 
omnia. Et quidem ante omnia es, quia antequam fierent tu es. 
Ultra omnia vero quomodo es? Qualiter enim es ultra ea quae 
finem non habebunt? 

An quia ilia sine te nullatenus esse possunt, tu autem nullo 
modo minus es, etiam si ilia redeunt in nihilum? Sic enim 
quodam modo es ultra ilia. An etiam quia ilia cogitari possunt 
habere finem, tu vero nequaquam? Nam sic ilia quidem habent 
finem quodam modo, tu vero nullo modo. Et certe quod nullo 
modo habet finem, ultra illud est quod aliquo modo finitur. 
An hoc quoque modo transis omnia etiam aetema, quia tua 
et illorum aetemitas tota tibi praesens est, cum ilia nondum 
habeant de sua aeternitate quod venturum est, sicut iam non 
habent quod praeteritum est? Sic quippe semper es ultra ilia, 
cum semper ibi sis praesens, seu cum illud semper sit tibi praesens, 
ad quod ilia nondum pervenerunt. 


An hoc sit *saculum steculV sive ‘sacula saculorum ’ 

An ergo hoc est ‘saeculum saeculi’ sive ‘saecula saeculorum’ ? Sicut 
enim saeculum temporum continet omnia temporalia, sic tua 
aeternitas continet etiam ipsa saecula temporum. Quae saeculum 
quidem est propter indivisibilem unitatem, saecula vero propter 
interminabilem immensitatem. Et quamvis ita sis magnus, 
domine, ut omnia sint te plena et sint in te: sic tamen es sine 
omni spatio, ut nec medium nec dimidium nec ulla pars sit in te. 



can be without You, are nevertheless not in place or time 
but all things are in You. For nothing contains You, but You 
contain all things. 


That He is before and beyond even all eternal things 

You therefore permeate and embrace all things; You are be¬ 
fore and beyond all things. You are before all things of course 
since, before they came to be, You already are . But how are 
You beyond all things? For in what way are You beyond those 
things that will never have an end? 

Is it because these things can in no way exist without You, 
though You do not exist any the less even if they return to 
nothingness? For in this way, in a sense, You are beyond them. 
Or is it also that they can be thought to have an end while You 
cannot in any way? For in this way, in a sense, they do indeed 
have an end, but You do not in any sense. And assuredly that 
which does not have an end in any way at all is beyond that 
which does come to an end in some way. Is it also in this way 
that You surpass even all eternal things, since Your eternity 
and theirs is wholly present to You, though they do not have 
the part of their eternity which is yet to come just as they do 
not now have what is past? In this way, indeed, are You always 
beyond those things, because You are always present at that 
point (or because it is always present to You) which they have 
not yet reached. 


Whether this is the ‘age of the age 5 or the ‘ages of the ages' 

Is this, then, the ‘age of the age 5 or the ‘ages of the ages 5 ? For 
just as an age of time contains all temporal things, so Your 
eternity contains also the very ages of time. Indeed this 
[eternity] is an ‘age 5 because of its indivisible unity, but ‘ages 5 
because of its immensity without limit. And although You are 
so great, Lord, that all things are filled with You and are in 
You, yet You exist without any spatial extension so that there 
is neither a middle nor half nor any part in You. 




Quod solus sit, quod est et qui est 

T u solus ergo, domine, es quod es, et tu es qui es. Nam quod 
aliud est in toto et aliud in partibus, et in quo aliquid est muta- 
bile, non omnino est quod est. Et quod incepit a non esse et 
potest cogitari non esse, et nisi per aliud subsistat redit in non 
esse; et quod habet fuisse quod iam non est, et futurum esse 
quod nondum est: id non est proprie et absolute. Tu vero es 
quod es, quia quidquid aliquando aut aliquo modo es, hoc 
totus et semper es. 

Et tu es qui proprie et simpliciter es, quia nec habes fuisse aut 
futurum esse, sed tantum praesens esse, nec potes cogitari 
aliquando non esse. Et vita es et lux et sapientia et beatitudo et 
aeternitas et multa huiusmodi bona, et tamen non es nisi unum 
et summum bonum, tu tibi omnino sufficiens, nullo indigens, 
quo omnia indigent ut sint, et ut bene sint. 


Quod hoc bonum sit pariter pater et filius et spiritus sanctus; 
et hoc sit unum necessarium, quod est omne et totum et solum 


Hoc bonum es tu, deus pater; hoc est verbum tuum, id est 
filius tuus. Etenim non potest aliud quam quod es, aut aliquid 
maius vel minus te esse in verbo quo te ipsum dicis; quoniam 
verbum tuum sic est verum quomodo tu verax, et idcirco est 
ipsa veritas sicut tu, non alia quam tu; et sic es tu simplex, ut 
de te non possit nasci aliud quam quod tu es. Hoc ipsum est 
amor unus et communis tibi et filio tuo, id est sanctus spiritus 
ab utroque procedens. Nam idem amor non est impar tibi aut 
filio tuo; quia tantum amas te et ilium, et ille te et seipsum. 




That He alone is what He is and who He is 

You alone then, Lord, are what You are and You are who 
You are. For what is one thing as a whole and another as to its 
parts, and has in it something mutable, is not altogether what it 
is. And what began [to exist] from non-existence, and can be 
thought not to exist, and returns to non-existence unless it 
subsists through some other; and what has had a past existence 
but does not now exist, and a future existence but does not yet 
exist—such a thing does not exist in a strict and absolute sense. 
But You are what You are, for whatever You are at any time 
or in any way this You are wholly and forever. 

And You are the being who exists in a strict and absolute 
sense because You have neither past nor future existence but 
only present existence; nor can You be thought not to exist 
at any time. And You are life and light and wisdom and blessed¬ 
ness and eternity and many suchlike good things; and yet 
You are nothing save the one and supreme good, You who are 
completely sufficient unto Yourself, needing nothing, but 
rather He whom all things need in order that they may have 
being and well-being. 


That this good is equally Father and Son and Holy Spirit; and 
that this is the one necessary being which is altogether and wholly 

and solely good 

You are this good, O God the Father; this is Your Word, that 
is to say, Your Son. For there cannot be any other than what 
You are, or any thing greater or lesser than You, in the Word by 
which You utter Yourself. For Your Word is as true as You are 
truthful and is therefore the very truth that You are and that is 
not other than You. And You are so simple that there cannot 
be born of You any other than what You are. This itself is 
the Love, one and common to You and to Your Son, that is the 
Holy Spirit proceeding from both. For this same Love is not 
unequal to You or to Your Son since Your love for Yourself 
and Him, and His love for You and Himself, are as great as You 

826610 L 



quantus cs tu et ille; nec est aliud a te et ab illo quod dispar non 
est tibi et illi; nec de summa simplicitate potest procedere aliud 
quam quod est de quo procedit. Quod autem est singulus 
quisque, hoc est tota trinitas simul, pater et filius et spiritus 
sanctus; quoniam singulus quisque non est aliud quam summe 
simplex unitas et summe una simplicitas, quae nec multiplicari 
nec aliud et aliud esse potest. 

‘Porro unum est necessarium.’ Porro hoc est illud unnm 
necessarium, in quo est omne bonum, immo quod est omne et 
unum et totum et solum bonum. 


Coniectatio , quale et quantum sit hoc bonum 

Excita nunc, anima mea, et erige totum intellectum tuum, et 
cogita quantum potes, quale et quantum sit illud bonum. Si 
enim singula bona delectabilia sunt, cogita intente quam 
delectabile sit illud bonum, quod continet iucunditatem 
omnium bonorum; et non qualem in rebus creatis sumus experti, 
sed tanto differentem quanto differt creator a creatura. Si enim 
bona est vita creata: quam bona est vita creatrix? Si iucunda est 
salus facta: quam iucunda est salus quae facit omnem salutem? 
Si amabilis est sapientia in cognitione rerum conditarum: quam 
amabilis est sapientia quae omnia condidit ex nihilo? Denique si 
multae et magnae delectationes sunt in rebus delectabilibus: 
qualis et quanta delectatio est in illo qui fecit ipsa delectabilia? 


Quae et quanta bona sint fruentibus eo 

O qui hoc bono fruetur: quid illi erit, et quid illi non erit! 
Certe quidquid volet erit, et quod nolet non erit. Ibi quippe 
erunt bona corporis et animae, qualia ‘nec oculus vidit nec 



and He are. Nor is that other than You and than Him which is 
not different from You and Him; nor can there proceed from 
Your supreme simplicity what is other than that from which it 
proceeds. Thus, whatever each is singly, that the whole Trinity 
is altogether, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; since each singly is 
not other than the supremely simple unity and the supremely 
unified simplicity which can be neither multiplied nor dif¬ 

‘Moreover, one thing is necessary’ [Luke x. 42]. This is, 
moreover, that one thing necessary in which is every good, or 
rather, which is wholly and uniquely and completely and solely 


A speculation as to what kind and how great this good is 

Now, my soul, rouse and lift up your whole understanding 
and think as much as you can on what kind and how great this 
good is. For if particular goods are enjoyable, consider care¬ 
fully how enjoyable is that good which contains the joyfulness 
of all goods; not [a joy] such as we have experienced in created 
things, but as different from this as the Creator differs from 
the creature. For if life that is created is good, how good is the 
Life that creates? If the salvation that has been brought about 
is joyful, how joyful is the Salvation that brings about all 
salvation? If wisdom in the knowledge of things that have been 
brought into being is lovable, how lovable is the Wisdom that 
has brought all things into being out of nothing? Finally, if 
there are many great delights in delightful things, of what 
kind and how great is the delight in Him who made these same 
delightful things? 


Which goods belong to those who enjoy this good, and how 

great they are 

Oh he who will enjoy this good, what will be his and what will 
not be his! Whatever he wishes will certainly be his and what¬ 
ever he does not wish will not be his. In fact, all the goods of 
body and soul will be there such that ‘neither eye has seen, nor 



auris audivit nec cor hominis’ cogitavit. Cur ergo per multa 
vagaris, homuncio, quaerendo bona animae tuae et corporis tui? 
Ama unum bonum, in quo sunt omnia bona, et sufficit. 
Desidera simplex bonum, quod est omne bonum, et satis est. 
Quid enim amas, caro mea, quid desideras, anima mea? Ibi est, 
ibi est quidquid amatis, quidquid desideratis. 

Si delectat pulchritudo: ‘fulgebunt iusti sicut sol’. Si velocitas 
aut fortitudo, aut libertas corporis cui nihil obsistere possit: 
‘erunt similes angelis dei’, quia ‘seminatur corpus animale, et 
surget corpus spirituale’, potestate utique non natura. Si longa 
et salubris vita: ibi est sana aeternitas et aeterna sanitas, quia 
‘iusti in perpetuum vivent’ et ‘salus iustorum a domino’. Si 
satietas: satiabuntur ‘cum apparuerit gloria’ dei. Si ebrietas: 
‘inebriabuntur ab ubertate domus’ dei. Si melodia: ibi angelo- 
rum chori concinunt sine fine deo. Si quaelibet non immunda 
sed munda voluptas: ‘torrente voluptatis suae potabit eos’ deus. 
Si sapientia: ipsa dei sapientia ostendet eis seipsam. Si 
amicitia: diligent deum plus quam seipsos, et invicem tamquam 
seipsos, et deus illos plus quam illi seipsos; quia illi ilium et se et 
invicem per ilium, et ille se et illos per seipsum. Si concordia: 
omnibus illis erit una voluntas, quia nulla illis erit nisi sola 
dei voluntas. Si potestas: omnipotentes erunt suae voluntatis ut 
deus suae. Nam sicut poterit deus quod volet per seipsum, ita 
poterunt illi quod volent per ilium; quia sicut illi non aliud 
volent quam quod ille, ita ille volet quidquid illi volent; et 
quod ille volet non poterit non esse. Si honor et divitiae: deus 
suos servos bonos et fideles supra multa constituet, immo 
‘filii dei’ et dii ‘vocabuntur’ et erunt; et ubi erit filius eius, ibi 
erunt et illi, ‘heredes quidem dei, coheredes autem Christi’. Si 



ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived 9 [1 Gor. ii. 9]. Why, 
then, do you wander about so much, O insignificant man, 
seeking the goods of your soul and body? Love the one good in 
which all good things are, and that is sufficient. Desire the simple 
good which contains every good, and that is enough. For what 
do you love, O my flesh, what do you desire, O my soul? 
There it is, there it is, whatever you love, whatever you desire. 
If beauty delights you, ‘the just will shine as the sun 9 [Matt, 
xiii. 43]. If the swiftness or strength or freedom of the body 
that nothing can withstand [delights you], ‘they will be like the 
angels of God 9 [Matt. xxii. 30]; for it is ‘sown as a natural body 
and shall rise as a spiritual body 9 [I Cor. xv. 44] by a super¬ 
natural power. If it is a long and healthy life, a healthy eternity 
and an eternal health is there since ‘the just will live forever 9 
[Wis. v. 16] and ‘the salvation of the just is from the Lord 9 
[Ps. xxxvi. 39]. If it is satisfaction, they will be satisfied ‘when 
the glory of God will appear 9 [Ps. xvi. 15]. If it is quenching 
of thirst, ‘they will be inebriated with the abundance of the 
house of God 9 [Ps. xxxv. 9]. If it is melody, there the choirs 
of angels play unceasingly to God. If it is pleasure of any kind, 
not impure but pure, God ‘will make them drink from the 
torrent of His pleasure 9 [Ps. xxxv. 9]. If it is wisdom, the very 
wisdom of God will show itself to them. If it is friendship, they 
will love God more than themselves and one another as them¬ 
selves, and God will love them more than they love themselves 
because it is through Him that they love Him and themselves 
and one another, and He loves Himself and them through 
Himself. If it is peace, for all of them there will be one will, 
since they will have none save the will of God. If it is power, 
they will be all-powerful with regard to their wills, as God is 
with His. For just as God will be able to do what He wills 
through Himself, so through Him they will be able to do what 
they will; because, just as they will not will anything save what 
He wills, so He will will whatever they will, and what He 
intends to will cannot not be. If it is honours and riches, God 
will set His good and faithful servants over many things [Matt, 
xxv. 21,23]; indeed, they will be called ‘sons of God 9 and ‘Gods 9 
[Matt. v. 9] and will in fact be so; and where the Son will be 
there also they will be, ‘heirs indeed of God and co-heirs of 
Christ 9 [Rom. viii. 17]. If it is real security, they will indeed be 



vera securitas: certe ita certi erunt numquam et nuUatenus ista 
vel potius istud bonum sibi defuturum, sicut certi erunt se non 
sua sponte illud amissuros, nec dilectorem deum illud dile- 
ctoribus suis invitis ablaturum, nec aliquid deo potentius invitos 
deum et illos separaturum. 

Gaudium vero quale aut quantum est, ubi tale ac tantum 
bonum est? Cor humanum, cor indigens, cor expertum aerumnas 
immo obrutum serumnis: quantum gauderes, si his omnibus 
abundares? Interroga intima tua, si capere possint gaudium 
suum de tanta beatitudine sua. Sed certe si quis alius, quem 
omnino sicut teipsum diligeres, eandem beatitudinem haberet, 
duplicaretur gaudium tuum, quia non minus gauderes pro eo 
quam pro teipso. Si vero duo vel tres vel multo plures idipsum 
haberent, tantundem pro singulis quantum pro teipso gauderes, 
si singulos sicut teipsum amares. Ergo in ilia perfecta caritate 
innumerabilium beatorum angelorum et hominum, ubi nullus 
minus diliget alium quam seipsum, non aliter gaudebit quisque 
pro singulis aliis quam pro seipso. Si ergo cor hominis de tanto 
suo bono vix capiet gaudium suum: quomodo capax erit tot et 
tantorum gaudiorum? Et utique quoniam quantum quisque 
diligit aliquem, tantum de bono eius gaudet: sicut in ilia 
perfecta felicitate unusquisque plus amabit sine comparatione 
deum quam se et omnes alios secum, ita plus gaudebit absque 
existimatione de felicitate dei quam de sua et omnium aliorum 
secum. Sed si deum sic diligent toto corde, tota mente, tota 
anima, ut tamen totum cor, tota mens, tota anima non sufficiat 
dignitati dilectionis: profecto sic gaudebunt toto corde, tota 
mente, tota anima, ut totum cor, tota mens, tota anima non 
sufficiat plenitudini gaudii. 


as assured that this same [security], or rather this same good, 
will never in any way fail them, as they will be assured that 
they will not lose it of their own accord, nor that the loving 
God will take it away against their will from those who love 
Him, nor that anything more powerful than God will separate 
God and them against their will. 

What joy there is indeed and how great it is where there 
exists so great a good! O human heart, O needy heart, O 
heart experienced in suffering, indeed overwhelmed by suffer¬ 
ing, how greatly would you rejoice if you abounded in all these 
things! Ask your heart whether it could comprehend its joy in 
its so great blessedness? But surely if someone else whom you 
loved in every respect as yourself possessed that same blessed¬ 
ness, your joy would be doubled for you would rejoice as much 
for him as for yourself. If, then, two or three or many more 
possessed it you would rejoice just as much for each one as for 
yourself, if you loved each one as yourself. Therefore in that 
perfect and pure love of the countless holy angels and holy 
men where no one will love another less than himself, each will 
rejoice for every other as for himself. If, then, the heart of man 
will scarcely be able to comprehend the joy that will belong 
to it from so great a good, how will it comprehend so many and 
such great joys? Indeed, to the degree that each one loves 
some other, so he will rejoice in the good of that other; therefore, 
just as each one in that perfect happiness will love God in¬ 
comparably more than himself and all others with him, so he 
will rejoice immeasurably more over the happiness of God 
than over his own happiness and that of all the others with 
him. But if they love God with their whole heart, their whole 
mind, their whole soul, while yet their whole heart, their whole 
mind, their whole soul, is not equal to the grandeur of this 
love, they will assuredly so rejoice with their whole heart, their 
whole mind, and their whole soul, that their whole heart, their 
whole mind, their whole soul will not be equal to the fullness 
of their joy. 




An hoc sit ‘gaudium plenum ’, quod promittit dominus 

Deus meus et dominus meus, spes mea et gaudium cordis mei, 
die animae meae, si hoc est gaudium de quo nobis dicis per 
filium tuum: ‘petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit 
plenum’. Inveni namque gaudium quoddam plenum, et plus 
quam plenum. Pleno quippe corde, plena mente, plena anima, 
pleno toto homine gaudio illo: adhuc supra modum supererit 
gaudium. Non ergo totum illud gaudium intrabit in gaudentes, 
sed toti gaudentes intrabunt in gaudium. Die, domine, die 
servo tuo intus in corde suo, si hoc est gaudium, in quod intra¬ 
bunt servi tui, qui intrabunt ‘in gaudium domini’ sui. Sed 
gaudium illud certe quo gaudebunt electi tui, ‘nec oculus 
vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit’. Nondum 
ergo dixi aut cogitavi, domine, quantum gaudebunt illi beati tui. 
Utique tantum gaudebunt, quantum amabunt; tantum ama- 
bunt, quantum cognoscent. Quantum te cognoscent, domine, 
tunc, et quantum te amabunt? Certe ‘nec oculus vidit, nec 
auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit’ in hac vita, quantum 
te cognoscent et amabunt in ilia vita. 

Oro, deus, cognoscam te, amem te, ut gaudeam de te. Et si 
non possum in hac vita ad plenum, vel proficiam in dies usque 
dum veniat illud ad plenum. Proficiat hie in me notitia tui, et 
ibi fiat plena; crescat amor tuus, et ibi sit plenus: ut hie 
gaudium meum sit in spe magnum, et ibi sit in re plenum. 
Domine, per filium tuum iubes immo consulis petere et pro- 
mittis accipere, ‘ut gaudium’ nostrum ‘plenum sit’. Peto, 
domine, quod consulis per admirabilem consiliarium nostrum; 
accipiam quod promittis per veritatem tuam, ‘ut gaudium’ 
meum ‘plenum sit’. Deus verax, peto accipiam, ‘ut gaudium’ 
meum ‘plenum sit’. Meditetur interim inde mens mea, loquatur 




Whether this is the ‘fullness of joy* which the Lord 

My God and my Lord, my hope and the joy of my heart, tell 
my soul if this is the joy of which You speak through Your 
Son: ‘Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be complete’ 
[John xvi. 24]. For I have discovered a joy that is complete 
and more than complete. Indeed, when the heart is filled with 
that joy, the mind is filled with it, the soul is filled with it, the 
whole man is filled with it, yet joy beyond measure will remain. 
The whole of that joy, then, will not enter into those who 
rejoice, but those who rejoice will enter wholly into that joy. 
Speak, Lord, tell Your servant within his heart if this is the joy 
into which Your servants will enter who enter ‘into the joy of 
the Lord’ [Matt. xxv. 21]. But surely that joy in which Your 
chosen ones will rejoice is that which ‘neither eye has seen, nor 
ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man’ [1 Cor. 
ii. 9]. I have not yet said or thought, then, Lord, how greatly 
your blessed will rejoice. They will, no doubt, rejoice as much 
as they love, and they will love as much as they know. How 
much will they know You, then, Lord, and how much will 
they love You? In very truth, ‘neither eye has seen, nor ear 
heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man’ [ibid.] in this 
life how much they will know You and love You in that life. 

I pray, O God, that I may know You and love You, so that 
I may rejoice in You. And if I cannot do so fully in this life may 
I progress gradually until it comes to fullness. Let the know¬ 
ledge of You grow in me here, and there [in heaven] be made 
complete; let Your love grow in me here and there be made 
complete, so that here my joy may be great in hope, and there 
be complete in reality. Lord, by Your Son You command, or 
rather, counsel us to ask and you promise that we shall receive 
so that our ‘joy may be complete’ [John xvi. 24]. I ask, Lord, 
as You counsel through our admirable counsellor. May I re¬ 
ceive what You promise through Your truth so that my ‘joy 
may be complete’ [ibid.]. God of truth, I ask that I may receive 
so that my ‘joy may be complete’ [ibid.]. Until then let my 
mind meditate on it, let my tongue speak of it, let my heart love 



inde lingua mea. Amet illud cor meum, sermocinetur os meum. 
Esuriat illud anima mea, sitiat caro mea, desideret tota 
substantia mea, donee intrem ‘in gaudium domini’ mei, ‘qui 
est’ trinus et unus deus ‘benedictus in saecula. Amen’. 



it, let my mouth preach it. Let my soul hunger for it, let my 
flesh thirst for it, my whole being desire it, until I enter into 
the ‘joy of the Lord’ [Matt. xxv. 21], who is God, Three in 
One, ‘blessed forever. Amen’ [1 Rom. i. 25]. 


[i.] Dubitanti utrum sit vel neganti quod sit aliqua talis 
natura, qua nihil maius cogitari possit, cum esse illam hinc 
dicitur primo probari, quod ipse negans vel ambigens de ilia iam 
habeat earn in intellectu, cum audiens illam dici id quod dicitur 
intelligit; deinde quia quod intelligit, necesse est ut non in 
solo intellectu sed etiam in re sit, et hoc ita probatur quia 
maius est esse et in re quam in solo intellectu, et si illud in solo 
est intellectu, maius illo erit quidquid etiam in re fuerit, ac sic 
maius omnibus minus erit aliquo et non erit maius omnibus, 
quod utique repugnat; et ideo necesse est ut maius omnibus, 
quod esse iam probatum est in intellectu, non in solo intellectu 
sed et in re sit, quoniam aliter maius omnibus esse non poterit: 
respondere forsan potest: 

[2.] Quod hoc iam esse dicitur in intellectu meo, non ob 
aliud nisi quia id quod dicitur intelligo: nonne et quaecumque 
falsa ac nullo prorsus modo in seipsis existentia in intellectu 
habere similiter dici possem, cum ea dicente aliquo, quae¬ 
cumque ille diceret, ego inteiligerem? Nisi forte tale illud constat 
esse ut non eo modo quo etiam falsa quaeque vel dubia, haberi 
possit in cogitatione, et ideo non dicor illud auditum cogitare 
vel in cogitatione habere, sed intelligere et in intellectu habere; 
quia scilicet non possim hoc aliter cogitare, nisi intelligendo id 
est scientia comprehendendo re ipsa illud existere. Sed si hoc 



[By gaunilo] 

[i.] To one doubting whether there is, or denying that there 
is, something of such a nature than which nothing greater can be 
thought, it is said here [in the Proslogion ] that its existence is 
proved, first because the very one who denies or doubts it 
already has it in his mind, since when he hears it spoken of he 
understands what is said; and further, because what he under¬ 
stands is necessarily such that it exists not only in the mind but 
also in reality. And this is proved by the fact that it is greater to 
exist both in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone. 
For if this same being exists in the mind alone, anything that 
existed also in reality would be greater than this being, and 
thus that which is greater than everything would be less than 
some thing and would not be greater than everything, which 
is obviously contradictory. Therefore, it is necessarily the case 
that that which is greater than everything, being already proved 
to exist in the mind, should exist not only in the mind but also in 
reality, since otherwise it would not be greater than everything. 

[2.] But he [the Fool] can perhaps reply that this thing is said 
already to exist in the mind only in the sense that I understand 
what is said. For could I not say that all kinds of unreal things, 
not existing in themselves in any way at all, are equally in the 
mind since if anyone speaks about them I understand whatever 
he says? Unless perhaps it is manifest that this being is such 
that it can be entertained in the mind in a different way from 
unreal or doubtfully real things, so that I am not said to think 
of or have in thought what is heard, but to understand and have 
it in mind, in that I cannot really think of this being in any 
other way save by understanding it, that is to say, by grasping 
by certain knowledge that the thing itself actually exists. But 
if this is the case, first, there will be no difference between 
having an object in mind (taken as preceding in time), and 
understanding that the object actually exists (taken as following 

est, primo quidem non hie erit iam aliud idemque tempore 
praecedens habere rem in intellectu, et aliud idque tempore 
sequens intelligere rem esse; ut fit de pictura quae prius est in 
animo pictoris, deinde in opere. Deinde vix umquam poterit 
esse credibile, cum dictum et auditum fuerit istud, non eo modo 
posse cogitari non esse, quo etiam potest non esse deus. Nam si 
non potest: cur contra negantem aut dubitantem quod sit 
aliqua talis natura, tota ista disputatio est assumpta? Postremo 
quod tale sit illud ut non possit nisi mox cogitatum indubitabilis 
existentiae suae certo percipi intellectu, indubio aliquo pro- 
bandum mihi est argumento, non autem isto quod iam sit hoc 
in intellectu meo cum auditum intelligo, in quo similiter esse 
posse quaecumque alia incerta vel etiam falsa ab aliquo cuius 
verba intelligerem dicta adhuc puto; et insuper magis, si ilia 
deceptus ut saepe fit crederem, qui istud nondum credo. 

[3.] Unde nec illud exemplum de pictore picturam quam 
facturus est iam in intellectu habente, satis potest huic argu¬ 
mento congruere. Ilia enim pictura antequam fiat in ipsa 
pictoris arte habetur, et tale quippiam in arte artificis alicuius 
nihil est aliud quam pars quaedam intelligentiae ipsius; quia et 
sicut sanctus Augustinus ait: ‘cum faber arcam facturus in 
opere, prius habet illam in arte; area quae fit in opere non est 
vita, area quae est in arte vita est, quia vivit anima artificis, in 
qua sunt ista omnia, antequam proferantur’. Ut quid enim in 
vivente artificis anima vita sunt ista, nisi quia nil sunt aliud 
quam scientia vel intelligentia animae ipsius? At vero quid- 
quid extra ilia, quae ad ipsam mentis noscuntur pertinere 
naturam aut auditum aut excogitatum intellectu percipitur 
verum: aliud sine dubio est verum illud, aliud intellectus ipse 
quo capitur. Quocirca etiam si verum sit esse aliquid quo 
maius quicquam nequeat cogitari: non tamen hoc auditum et 
intellectum tale est qualis nondum facta pictura in intellectu 


in time), as in the case of the picture which exists first in the 
mind of the painter and then in the completed work. And thus 
it would be scarcely conceivable that, when this object had 
been spoken of and heard, it could not be thought not to exist 
in the same way in which God can [be thought] not to exist. 
For if He cannot, why put forward this whole argument against 
anyone denying or doubting that there is something of this 
kind? Finally, that it is such a thing that, as soon as it is thought 
of, it cannot but be certainly perceived by the mind as in¬ 
dubitably existing, must be proved to me by some indisputable 
argument and not by that proposed, namely, that it must 
already be in my mind when I understand what I hear. For 
this is in my*View like [arguing that] any things doubtfully real 
or even unreal are capable of existing if these things are men¬ 
tioned by someone whose spoken words I might understand, and, 
even more, that [they exist] if, though deceived about them as 
often happens, I should believe them [to exist]—which argu¬ 
ment I still do not believe! 

[3.] Hence, the example of the painter having the picture he 
is about to make already in his mind cannot support this 
argument. For this picture, before it is actually made, is con¬ 
tained in the very art of the painter and such a thing in the 
art of any artist is nothing but a certain part of his very under¬ 
standing, since as St. Augustine says [In Iohannem, tract. 1, 
n. 16], ‘when the artisan is about actually to make a box he has 
it beforehand in his art. The box which is actually made is not 
a living thing, but the box which is in his art is a living thing 
since the soul of the artist, in which these things exist before 
their actual realization, is a living thing’. Now how are these 
things living in the living soul of the artist unless they are 
identical with the knowledge or understanding of the soul 
itself? But, apart from those things which are known to belong 
to the very nature of the mind itself, in the case of any truth 
perceived by the mind by being either heard or understood, 
then it cannot be doubted that this truth is one thing and that 
the understanding which grasps it is another. Therefore even 
if it were true that there was something than which nothing 
greater could be thought, this thing, heard and understood, 
would not, however, be the same as the not-yet-made picture 
is in the mind of the painter. 


[4.] Hue accedit illud, quod praetaxatum est superius, quia 
scilicet illud omnibus quae cogitari possint maius, quod nihil 
aliud posse esse dicitur quam ipse deus, tam ego secundum rem 
vel ex specie mihi vel ex genere notam, cogitare auditum vel in 
intellectu habere non possum, quam nec ipsum deum, quern 
utique ob hoc ipsum etiam non esse cogitare possum. Neque 
enim aut rem ipsam novi aut ex alia possum conicere simili, 
quandoquidem et tu talem asseris illam, ut esse non possit 
simile quicquam. Nam si de homine aliquo mihi prorsus ignoto, 
quern etiam esse nescirem, did tamen aliquid audirem: per 
illam specialem generalemve notitiam qua quid sit homo vel 
homines novi, de illo quoque secundum rem ipsam quae est 
homo cogitare possem. Et tamen fieri posset, ut mentiente illo 
qui diceret, ipse quern cogitarem homo non esset; cum tamen 
ego de illo secundum veram nihilominus rem, non quae esset ille 
homo, sed quae est homo quilibet, cogitarem. Nec sic igitur, ut 
haberem falsum istud in cogitatione vel in intellectu, habere 
possum illud cum audio dici ‘deus 5 aut ‘aliquid omnibus 
maius 5 , cum quando illud secundum rem veram mihique 
notam cogitare possem, istud omnino nequeam nisi tantum 
secundum vocem, secundum quam solam aut vix aut num- 
quam potest ullum cogitari verum; siquidem cum ita cogitatur, 
non tam vox ipsa quae res est utique vera, hoc est litterarum 
sonus vel syllabarum, quam vocis auditae significatio cogitetur; 
sed non ita ut ab illo qui novit, quid ea soleat voce significari, 
a quo scilicet cogitatur secundum rem vel in sola cogitatione 
veram, verum ut ab eo qui illud non novit et solummodo cogitat 
secundum animi motum illius auditu vocis effectum significa- 
tionemque perceptae vocis conantem effingere sibi. Quod 
mirum est, si umquam rei veritate potuerit. Ita ergo nec 
prorsus aliter adhuc in intellectu meo constat illud haberi, cum 
audio intelligoque dicentem esse aliquid maius omnibus quae 


[4.] To this wc may add something that has already been 
mentioned, namely, that upon hearing it spoken of I can so 
little think of or entertain in my mind this being (that which 
is greater than all those others that are able to be thought of, 
and which it is said can be none other than God Himself) 
in terms of an object known to me either by species or genus, 
as I can think of God Himself, whom indeed for this very 
reason I can even think does not exist. For neither do I know 
the reality itself, nor can I form an idea from some other 
things like it since, as you say yourself, it is such that nothing 
could be like it. For if I heard something said about a man who 
was completely unknown to me so that I did not even know 
whether he existed, I could nevertheless think about him in his 
very reality as a man by means of that specific or generic 
notion by which I know what a man is or men are. However, 
it could happen that, because of a falsehood on the part of the 
speaker, the man I thought of did not actually exist, although 
I thought of him nevertheless as a truly existing object not 
this particular man but any man in general. It is not, then, in 
the way that I have this unreal thing in thought or in mind that 
I can have that object in my mind when I hear ‘God’or some¬ 
thing greater than everything’ spoken of. For while I was able 
to think of the former in terms of a truly existing thing which 
was known to me, I know nothing at all of the latter save for the 
verbal formula, and on the basis of this alone one can scarcely 
or never think of any truth. For when one thinks in this way, 
one thinks not so much of the word itself, which is indeed a 
real thing (that is to say, the sound of the letters or syllables), 
as of the meaning of the word which is heard. However, it 
[that which is greater than everything] is not thought of m t e 
way of one who knows what is meant by that expression 
thought of, that is, in terms of the thing [signified] or as true 
in thought alone. It is rather in the way of one who does not 
really know this object but thinks of it in terms of an affection 
of his mind produced by hearing the spoken words, and who 
tries to imagine what the words he has heard might mean. 
However, it would be astonishing if he could ever [attain to] 
the truth of the thing. Therefore, when I hear and understand 
someone saying that there is something greater than everything 
that can be thought of, it is agreed that it is in this latter sense 



162 a REPLY ON BEHALF OF THE FOOL [ 4 ]-[6] 
valeant cogitari. Haec de eo, quod summa ilia natura iam esse 
dicitur in intellectu meo. 

bO Q. u °d autem et in re necessario esse inde mihi probatur, 
quia nisi fuerit, quidquid est in re maius ilia erit, ac per hoc non 
erit illud maius omnibus, quod utique iam esse probatum est in 
intellectu: ad hoc respondeo: Si esse dicendum est in intellectu, 
quod secundum veritatem cuiusquam rei nequit saltern cogitari: 
et hoc in meo sic esse non denego. Sed quia per hoc esse quoque 
in re non potest ullatenus obtinere: illud ei esse adhuc penitus 
non concedo, quousque mihi argumento probetur indubio. 
Quod qui esse dicit hoc quod maius omnibus aliter non erit 
omnibus maius: non satis attendit cui loquatur. Ego enim 
nondum dico, immo etiam nego vel dubito ulla re vera esse 
maius illud, nec aliud ei esse concedo quam illud, si dicendum 
est ‘esse’, cum secundum vocem tantum auditam rem prorsus 
ignotam sibi conatur animus effingere. Quomodo igitur inde 
mihi probatur maius illud rei veritate subsistere, quia constet 
illud maius omnibus esse, cum id ego eo usque negem adhuc 
dubitemve constare, ut ne in intellectu quidem vel cogitatione 
mea eo saltern modo maius ipsum esse dicam, quo dubia etiam 
multa sunt et incerta? Prius enim certum mihi necesse est fiat 
re vera esse alicubi maius ipsum, et turn demum ex eo quod 
maius est omnibus, in seipso quoque subsistere non erit am- 

[6.] Exempli gratia: Aiunt quidam alicubi oceani esse 
insulam, quam ex difficultate vel potius impossibilitate in- 
veniendi quod non est, cognominant aliqui ‘perditam’, quam- 
que fabulantur multo amplius quam de fortunatis insnlis 
fertur, divitiarum deliciarumque omnium inaestimabili uber- 
tate pollere, nulloque possessore aut habitatore universis aliis 


that it is in my mind and not in any other sense. So much for the 
claim that that supreme nature exists already in my mind. 

[5.] That, however, [this nature] necessarily exists in reality is 
demonstrated to me from the fact that, unless it existed, what¬ 
ever exists in reality would be greater than it and conse¬ 
quently it would not be that which is greater than everything 
that undoubtedly had already been proved to exist in the mind. 
To this I reply as follows: if something that cannot even be thought 
in the true and real sense must be said to exist in the mind, then 
I do not deny that this also exists in my mind in the same way. 
But since from this one cannot in any way conclude that it exists 
also in reality, I certainly do not yet concede that it actually 
exists, until this is proved to me by an indubitable argument. 
For he who claims that it actually exists because otherwise 
it would not be that which is greater than everything does not 
consider carefully enough whom he is addressing. For I cer¬ 
tainly do not yet admit this greater [than everything] to be 
any truly existing thing; indeed I doubt or even deny it. And 
I do not concede that it exists in a different way from that— 
if one ought to speak of ‘existence’ here—when the mind tries 
to imagine a completely unknown thing on the basis of the 
spoken words alone. How then can it be proved to me on that 
basis that that which is greater than everything truly exists in 
reality (because it is evident that it is greater than all others) 
if I keep on denying and also doubting that this is evident 
and do not admit that this greater [than everything] is either 
in my mind or thought, not even in the sense in which many 
‘doubtfully real and unreal things are ? 11 must first of all be proved 
to me then that this same greater than everything truly exists 
in reality somewhere, and then only will the fact that it is greater 
than everything make it clear that it also subsists in itself. 

[6.] For example: they say that there is in the ocean some¬ 
where an island which, because of the difficulty (or rather the 
impossibility) of finding that which does not exist, some have 
called the ‘Lost Island’. And the story goes that it is blessed 
with all manner of priceless riches and delights in abundance, 
much more even than the Happy Isles, and, having no owner 
or inhabitant, it is superior everywhere in abundance of riches 
to all those other lands that men inhabit. Now, if anyone tell 

164 A REPLY ON BEHALF OF THE FOOL t 6 ]-[ 7 ] 
quas incolunt homines terris possidcndorum redundantia 
usquequaque praestare. Hoc ita esse dicat mihi quispiam, et ego 
facile dictum in quo nihil est difficultatis intelligam. At si tunc 
velut consequenter adiungat ac dicat: non potes ultra dubitare 
insulam illam terris omnibus praestantiorem vere esse alicubi 
in re, quam et in intellectu tuo non ambigis esse; et quia 
praestantius est, non in intellectu solo sed etiam esse in re; ideo 
sic earn necesse est esse, quia nisi fuerit, quaecumque alia in re 
est terra, praestantior ilia erit, ac sic ipsa iam a te praestantior 
intellecta praestantior non erit;—si inquam per haec ille mihi 
velit astruere de insula ilia quod vere sit ambigendum ultra non 
esse: aut iocari ilium credam, aut nescio quem stultiorem de¬ 
beam reputare, utrum me si ei concedam, an ilium si se putet 
aliqua certitudine insulae illius essentiam astruxisse, nisi prius 
ipsam praestantiam eius solummodo sicut rem vere atque 
indubie existentem nec ullatenus sicut falsum aut incertum 
aliquid in intellectu meo esse docuerit. 

[7.] Haec interim ad obiecta insipiens ille respondent. Cui 
cum deinceps asseritur tale esse maius illud, ut nec sola cogita- 
tione valeat non esse, et hoc rursus non aliunde probatur, quam 
eo ipso quod aliter non erit omnibus maius: idem ipsum possit 
referre responsum et dicere: Quando enim ego rei veritate esse 
tale aliquid, hoc est ‘maius omnibus’, dixi, ut ex hoc mihi 
debeat probari in tantum etiam re ipsa id esse, ut nec possit 
cogitari non esse? Quapropter certissimo primitus aliquo pro- 
bandum est argumento aliquam superiorem, hoc est maiorem ac 
meliorem omnium quae sunt esse naturam, ut ex hoc alia iam 
possimus omnia comprobare, quibus necesse est illud quod 
maius ac melius est omnibus non carere. Cum autem dicitur 
quod summa res ista non esse nequeat cogitari: melius fortasse 
diceretur, quod non esse aut etiam posse non esse non possit 
intelligi. Nam secundum proprietatem verbi istius falsa 
nequeunt intelligi, quae possunt utique eo modo cogitari, quo 


me that it is like this, I shall easily understand what is said, since 
nothing is difficult about it. But if he should then go on to say, 
as though it were a logical consequence of this: You cannot 
any more doubt that this island that is more excellent than all 
other lands truly exists somewhere in reality than you can 
doubt that it is in your mind; and since it is more excellent 
to exist not only in the mind alone but also in reality, there¬ 
fore it must needs be that it exists. For if it did not exist, any 
other land existing in reality would be more excellent than it, 
and so this island, already conceived by you to be more 
excellent than others, will not be more excellent. If, I say, some¬ 
one wishes thus to persuade me that this island really exists 
beyond all doubt, I should either think that he was joking, or 
I should find it hard to decide which of us I ought to judge the 
bigger fool—I, if I agreed with him, or he, if he thought that 
he had proved the existence of this island with any certainty, 
unless he had first convinced me that its very excellence exists 
in my mind precisely as a thing existing truly and indubitably 
and not just as something unreal or doubtfully real. 

[7.] Thus first of all might the Fool reply to objections. And if 
then someone should assert that this greater [than everything] is 
such that it cannot be thought not to exist (again without any 
other proof than that otherwise it would not be greater than 
everything), then he could make this same reply and say: When 
have I said that there truly existed some being that is ‘greater 
than everything’, such that from this it could be proved to me 
that this same being really existed to such a degree that it 
could not be thought not to exist? That is why it must first 
be conclusively proved by argument that there is some higher 
nature, namely that which is greater and better than all the 
things that are, so that from this we can also infer everything 
else which necessarily cannot be wanting to what is greater and 
better than everything. When, however, it is said that this 
supreme being cannot be thought not to exist, it would perhaps 
be better to say that it cannot be understood not to exist nor even 
to be able not to exist. For, strictly speaking, unreal things 
cannot be understood, though certainly they can bzthoughtotin the 
same way as the Fool thought that God does not exist. I know with 

deum non esse insipiens cogitavit. Et me quoque esse certissime 
scio, sed et posse non esse nihilominus scio. Summum vero illud 
quod est, scilicet deus, et esse et non esse non posse indubitanter 
intelligo. Cogitare autem me non esse quamdiu esse certissime 
scio, nescio utrum possim. Sed si possum: cur non et quidquid 
aliud eadem certitudine scio? Si autem non possum: non erit 
iam istud proprium deo. 

[8.] Cetera libelli illius tarn veraciter et tarn praeclare sunt 
magnificeque disserta, tanta denique referta utilitate et pii ac 
sancti affectus intimo quodam odore fragrantia, ut nullo modo 
propter ilia quae in initiis recte quidem sensa, sed minus 
firmiter argumentata sunt, ista sint contemnenda; sed ilia 
potius argumentanda robustius, ac sic omnia cum ingenti 
veneratione et laude suscipienda. 


complete certainty that I exist, but I also know at the same 
time nevertheless that I can not-exist. And I understand without 
any doubt that that which exists to the highest degree, namely 
God, both exists and cannot not exist. I do not know, however, 
whether I can think of myself as not existing while I know with 
absolute certainty that I do exist; but if I can, why cannot [I 
do the same] with regard to anything else I know with the 
same certainty? If however I cannot, this will not be the dis¬ 
tinguishing characteristic of God [namely, to be such that He 
cannot be thought not to exist]. 

[8.] The other parts of this tract are argued so truly, so bril¬ 
liantly and so splendidly, and are also of so much worth and 
instinct with so fragrant a perfume of devout and holy feeling, 
that in no way should they be rejected because of those things 
at the beginning (rightly intuited, but less surely argued out). 
Rather the latter should be demonstrated more firmly and so 
everything received with very great respect and praise. 


Quoniam non me reprehendit in his dictis ille ‘insipiens’ 
contra quem sum locutus in meo opusculo, sed quidam non 
insipiens et catholicus pro insipiente: sufficere mihi potest 
respondere catholico. 

[I.] Dicis quidem quicumque es qui dicis hacc posse dicere 
insipientem: quia non est in intellectu aliquid quo maius 
cogitari non possit, aliter quam quod secundum veritatem 
cuiusquam rei nequit saltern cogitari, et quia non magis con- 
sequitur hoc quod dico ‘quo maius cogitari non possit’ ex eo 
quia est in intellectu esse et in re, quam perditam insulam 
certissime existere ex eo quia cum describitur verbis, audiens 
earn non ambigit in intellectu suo esse. Ego vero dico: Si ‘quo 
maius cogitari non potest’ non intelligitur vel cogitatur nec est 
in intellectu vel cogitatione: profecto deus aut non est quo 
maius cogitari non possit, aut non intelligitur vel cogitatur et 
non est in intellectu vel cogitatione. Quod quam falsum sit, 
fide et conscientia tua pro firmissimo utor argumento. Ergo ‘quo 
maius cogitari non potest’ vere intelligitur et cogitatur et est in 
intellectu et cogitatione. Quare aut vera non sunt quibus contra 
conaris probare, aut ex eis non consequitur quod te conse- 
quenter opinaris concludere. 

Quod autem putas ex eo quia intelligitur aliquid quo 
maius cogitari nequit, non consequi illud esse in intellectu, 
nec si est in intellectu ideo esse in re: certe ego dico: si vel 
cogitari potest esse, necesse est illud esse. Nam ‘quo maius 
cogitari nequit’ non potest cogitari esse nisi sine initio. Quidquid 


Since it is not the Fool, against whom I spoke in my tract, 
who takes me up, but one who, though speaking on the Fool’s 
behalf, is an orthodox Christian and no fool, it will suffice if I 
reply to the Christian. 

[I.] You say then—you, whoever you are, who claim that the 
Fool can say these things—that the being than-which-a-greater- 
cannot-be-thought is not in the mind except as what cannot 
be thought of, in the true sense, at all. And [you claim], more¬ 
over, that what I say does not follow, namely, that ‘that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ exists in reality from the 
fact that it exists in the mind, any more than that the Lost 
Island most certainly exists from the fact that, when it is de¬ 
scribed in words, he who hears it described has no doubt that 
it exists in his mind. I reply as follows: If ‘that-than-which- 
a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ is neither understood nor thought 
of, and is neither in the mind nor in thought, then it is evi¬ 
dent that either God is not that-than-which-a-greater-cannot- 
be-thought or is not understood nor thought of, and is not in 
the mind nor in thought. Now my strongest argument that this 
is false is to appeal to your faith and to your conscience. There¬ 
fore ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ is truly un¬ 
derstood and thought and is in the mind and in thought. For 
this reason, [the arguments] by which you attempt to prove the 
contrary are either not true, or what you believe follows from 
them does not in fact follow. 

Moreover, you maintain that, from the fact that that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought is understood, it does not 
follow that it is in the mind, nor that, if it is in the mind, it 
therefore exists in reality. I insist, however, that simply if it can 
be thought it is necessary that it exists. For ‘that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought’ cannot be thought save as being 
without a beginning. But whatever can be thought as existing 

autem potest cogitari esse et non est, per initium potest cogitari 
esse. Non ergo ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’ cogitari potest esse 
et non est. Si ergo cogitari potest esse, ex necessitate est. 

Amplius. Si utique vel cogitari potest, necesse est illud esse. 
Nullus enim negans aut dubitans esse aliquid quo maius 
cogitari non possit, negat vel dubitat quia si esset, nec actu nec 
intellectu posset non esse. Aliter namque non esset quo maius 
cogitari non posset. Sed quidquid cogitari potest et non est: si 
esset, posset vel actu vel intellectu non esse. Quare si vel cogitari 
potest, non potest non esse ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’. Sed 
ponamus non esse, si vel cogitari valet. At quidquid cogitari 
potest et non est: si esset, non esset ‘quo maius cogitari non 
possit’. Si ergo esset ‘quo maius cogitari non possit’, non esset 
quo maius cogitari non possit; quod nimis est absurdum. 
Falsum est igitur non esse aliquid quo maius cogitari non possit, 
si vel cogitari potest. Multo itaque magis, si intelligi et in 
intellectu esse potest. 

Plus aliquid dicam. Procul dubio quidquid alicubi aut 
aliquando non est: etiam si est alicubi aut aliquando, potest 
tamen cogitari numquam et nusquam esse, sicut non est 
alicubi aut aliquando. Nam quod heri non fuit et hodie est: 
sicut heri non fuisse intelligitur, ita numquam esse subintelligi 
potest. Et quod hie non est et alibi est: sicut non est hie, ita potest 
cogitari nusquam esse. Similiter cuius partes singulae non sunt, 
ubi aut quando sunt aliae partes, eius omnes partes et ideo 
ipsum totum possunt cogitari numquam aut nusquam esse. 
Nam et si dicatur tempus semper esse et mundus ubique, non 
tamen illud totum semper aut iste totus est ubique. Et sicut 


and does not actually exist can be thought as having a begin¬ 
ning of its existence. Consequently, ‘that-than-which-a-greater- 
cannot-be-thought’ cannot be thought as existing and yet not 
actually exist. If, therefore, it can be thought as existing, it 
exists of necessity. 

Further: even if it can be thought of, then certainly it neces¬ 
sarily exists. For no one who denies or doubts that there is 
something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought, denies or 
doubts that, if this being were to exist, it would not be capable 
of not-existing either actually or in the mind—otherwise it 
would not be that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought. 
But, whatever can be thought as existing and does not actually 
exist, could, if it were to exist, possibly not exist either actually 
or in the mind. For this reason, if it can merely be thought, 
c that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ cannot not exist. 
However, let us suppose that it does not exist even though it 
can be thought. Now, whatever can be thought and does not 
actually exist would not be, if it should exist, ‘that-than-which- 
a-greater-cannot-be-thought’. If, therefore, it were ‘that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ it would not be that-than 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought, which is completely 
absurd. It is, then, false that something-than-which-a-greater- 
cannot-be-thought does not exist if it can merely be thought; 
and it is all the more false if it can be understood and be in the 

I will go further: It cannot be doubted that whatever does 
not exist in any one place or at any one time, even though it does 
exist in some place or at some time, can however be thought to 
exist at no place and at no time, just as it does not exist in some 
place or at some time. For what did not exist yesterday and 
today exists can thus, as it is understood not to have existed 
yesterday, be supposed not to exist at any time. And that which 
does not exist here in this place, and does exist elsewhere can, in 
the same way as it does not exist here, be thought not to exist 
anywhere. Similarly with a thing some of whose particular parts 
do not exist in the place and at the time its other parts exist— 
all of its parts, and therefore the whole thing itself, can be 
thought to exist at no time and in no place. For even if it be 
said that time always exists and that the world is everywhere, 
the former does not, however, always exist as a whole, nor is 

singular partes temporis non sunt quando aliae sunt, ita possunt 
numquam esse cogitari. Et singulae mundi partes, sicut non 
sunt, ubi aliae sunt, ita subintelligi possunt nusquam esse. Sed et 
quod partibus coniunctum est, cogitatione dissolvi et non esse 
potest. Quare quidquid alicubi aut aliquando totum non est: 
etiam si est, potest cogitari non esse. At, ‘quo maius nequit 
cogitari’: si est, non potest cogitari non esse. Alioquin si est, 
non est quo maius cogitari non possit; quod non convenit. 
Nullatenus ergo alicubi aut aliquando totum non est, sed 
semper et ubique totum est. 

Putasne adiquatenus posse cogitari vel intelligi aut esse in 
cogitatione vel intellectu, de quo haec intelliguntur? Si enim 
non potest, non de eo possunt haec intelligi. Quod si dicis non 
intelligi et non esse in intellectu quod non penitus intelligitur: 
die quia qui non potest intueri purissimam lucem solis, non 
videt lucem diei, quae non est nisi lux solis. Certe vel hactenus 
intelligitur et est in intellectu ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’, ut 
haec de eo intelligantur. 

[II.] Dixi itaque in argumentatione quam reprehendis quia 
cum insipiens audit proferri ‘quo maius cogitari non potest’, 
intelligit quod audit. Utique qui non intelligit si nota lingua 
dicitur, aut nullum aut nimis obrutum habet intellectum. 

Deinde dixi quia si intelligitur, est in intellectu. An est in 
nullo intellectu, quod necessario in rei veritate esse monstratum 
est? Sed dices quia etsi est in intellectu, non tamen consequitur 
quia intelligitur. Vide quia consequitur esse in intellectu, ex eo 
quia intelligitur. Sicut enim quod cogitatur, cogitatione cogita- 



the other as a whole everywhere; and as certain particular parts 
of tim e do not exist when other parts do exist, therefore they 
can be even thought not to exist at any time. Again, as certain 
partic ular parts of the world do not exist in the same place 
where other parts do exist, they can thus be supposed not to 
exist anywhere. Moreover, what is made up of parts can be 
broken up in thought and can possibly not exist. Thus it is that 
whatever does not exist as a whole at a certain place and time 
ran be thought not to exist, even if it does actually exist. 
But ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ cannot be 
thought not to exist if it does actually exist; otherwise, if it 
exists it is not that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought, 
which is absurd. In no way, then, does this being not exist as 
a whole in any particular place or at any particular time; but 
it exists as a whole at every time and in every place. 

Do you not consider then that that about which we under¬ 
stand these things can to some extent be thought or understood, 
or can exist in thought or in the mind? For if it cannot, we 
could not understand these things about it. And if you say that, 
because it is not completely understood, it cannot be under¬ 
stood at all and cannot be in the mind, then you must say 
[equally] that one who cannot see the purest light of the sun 
directly does not see daylight, which is the same thing as the 
light of the sun. Surely then ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot- 
be-thought’ is understood and is in the mind to the extent that 
we understand these things about it. 

[II.] I said, then, in the argument that you criticize, that when 
the Fool hears ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ 
spoken of he understands what he hears. Obviously if it is spoken 
of in a known language and he does not understand it, then either 
he has no intelligence at all, or a completely obtuse one. 

Next I said that, if it is understood it is in the mind; or does 
what has been proved to exist necessarily in actual reality not 
exist in any mind? But you will say that, even if it is in the mind, 
yet it does not follow that it is understood. Observe then that, 
from the fact that it is understood, it does follow that it is in 
the mind. For, just as what is thought is thought by means of a 
thought, and what is thought by a thought is thus, as thought, 

tur, et quod cogitatione cogitatur, sicut cogitatur sic est in cogita- 
tione: ita quod intelligitur intellectu intelligitur, et quod intel- 
lectu intelligitur, sicut intelligitur ita est in intellectu. Quid hoc 

Postea dixi quia si est vel in solo intellectu, potest cogitari 
esse et in re, quod maius est. Si ergo in solo est intellectu: idip- 
sum scilicet ‘quo maius non potest cogitari’, est quo maius 
cogitari potest. Rogo quid consequentius? An enim si est vel in 
solo' intellectu, non potest cogitari esse et in re? Aut si potest, 
nonne qui hoc cogitat, aliquid cogitat maius eo, si est in solo 
intellectu? Quid igitur consequentius, quam si ‘quo maius 
cogitari nequit’ est in solo intellectu, idem esse quo maius 
cogitari possit? Sed utique ‘quo maius cogitari potest’, in nullo 
intellectu est ‘quo maius cogitari non possit’. An ergo non 
consequitur ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’, si est in ullo intellectu, 
non esse in solo intellectu? Si enim est in solo intellectu, est quo 
maius cogitari potest; quod non convenit. 

[III.] Sed tale est, inquis, ac si aliquis insulam oceani omnes 
terras sua fertilitate vincentem, quae difficultate immo im- 
possibilitate inveniendi quod non est, ‘perdita’ nominatur, 
dicat idcirco non posse dubitari vere esse in re, quia verbis 
descriptam facile quis intelligit. Fidens loquor, quia si quis 
invenerit mihi aut re ipsa aut sola cogitatione existens praeter 
‘quo maius cogitari non possit’, cui aptare valeat conexionem 
huius meae argumentationis: inveniam et dabo illi perditam 
insulam amplius non perdendam. Palam autem iam videtur 
‘quo non valet cogitari maius’ non posse cogitari non esse, quod 
tam certa ratione veritatis existit. Aliter enim nullatenus 
existeret. Denique si quis dicit se cogitare illud non esse, dico 
quia cum hoc cogitat, aut cogitat aliquid quo maius cogitari 
non possit, aut non cogitat. Si non cogitat, non cogitat non 


in thought, so also, what is understood is understood by the 
mind, and what is understood by the mind is thus, as under¬ 
stood, in the mind. What could be more obvious than this? 

I said further that if a thing exists even in the mind alone, 
it can be thought to exist also in reality, which is greater. 
If, then, it (namely, ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought’) exists in the mind alone, it is something than which a 
greater can be thought. What, I ask you, could be more logical? 
For if it exists even in the mind alone, cannot it be thought to 
exist also in reality? And if it can [be so thought], is it not the 
case that he who thinks this thinks of something greater than it, 
if it exists in the mind alone? What, then, could follow more 
logically than that, if ‘that-than-which-a-greater-ranwof-be- 
thought’ exists in the mind alone, it is the same as that-than- 
which-a-greater-can-be-thought ? But surely ‘that-than-which- 
a-greater-ftzrc-be-thought’ is not for any mind [the same as] 
‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannoZ-be-thought’. Does it not fol¬ 
low, then, that ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannof-be-thought’, if 
it exists in anyone’s mind, does not exist in the mind alone? For 
if it exists in the mind alone, it is that-than-which-a-greater-caw- 
be-thought, which is absurd. 

[III.] You claim, however, that this is as though someone 
asserted that it cannot be doubted that a certain island in the 
ocean (which is more fertile than all other lands and which, 
because of the difficulty or even the impossibility of discovering 
what does not exist, is called the ‘Lost Island’) truly exists in 
reality since anyone easily understands it when it is described 
in words. Now, I truly promise that if anyone should discover 
for me something existing either in reality or in the mind alone 
—except ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’—to 
which the logic of my argument would apply, then I shall find 
that Lost Island and give it, never more to be lost, to that 
person. It has already been clearly seen, however, that ‘that- 
than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ cannot be thought 
not to exist, because it exists as a matter of such certain truth. 
Otherwise it would not exist at all. In short, if anyone says that 
he thinks that this being does not exist, I reply that, when he 
thinks of this, either he thinks of something than which a greater 
cannot be thought, or he does not think of it. If he does not think 

esse quod non cogitat. Si vero cogitat, utique cogitat aliquid 
quod nec cogitari possit non esse. Si enim posset cogitari non 
esse, cogitari posset habere principium et finem. Sed hoc non 
potest. Qui ergo illud cogitat, aliquid cogitat quod nec cogitari 
non esse possit. Hoc vero qui cogitat, non cogitat idipsum non 
esse. Alioquin cogitat quod cogitari non potest. Non igitur 
potest cogitari non esse ‘quo maius nequit cogitari’. 

[IV.] Quod autem dicis, quia cum dicitur, quod summa res ista 
non esse nequeat cogitari, melius fortasse diceretur quod non 
esse aut etiam posse non esse non possit intelligi: potius dicen- 
dum fuit non posse cogitari. Si enim dixissem rem ipsam non 
posse intelligi non esse, fortasse tu ipse, qui dicis, quia secun¬ 
dum proprietatem verbi istius falsa nequeunt intelligi, obiceres 
nihil quod est posse intelligi non esse. Falsum est enim non 
esse quod est. Quare non esse proprium deo non posse intelligi 
non esse. Quod si aliquid eorum quae certissime sunt potest 
intelligi non esse, similiter et alia certa non esse posse intelligi. 
Sed hoc utique non potest obici de cogitatione, si bene con- 
sideretur. Nam et si nulla quae sunt possint intelligi non esse, 
omnia tamen possunt cogitari non esse, praeter id quod summe 
est. Ilia quippe omnia et sola possunt cogitari non esse, quae 
ini tinm aut finem aut partium habent coniunctionem, et sicut 
iam dixi, quidquid alicubi aut aliquando totum non est. Illud 
vero solum non potest cogitari non esse, in quo nec initium nec 
finem nec partium coniunctionem, et quod non nisi semper et 
ubique totum ulla invenit cogitatio. 

Scito igitur quia potes cogitare te non esse, quamdiu esse 
certissime scis; quod te miror dixisse nescire. Multa namque 


of it, then he does not think that what he does not think of 
does not exist. If, however, he does think of it, then indeed 
he thinks of something which cannot be even thought not to exist. 
For if it could be thought not to exist, it could be thought to 
have a beginning and an end—but this cannot be. Thus, he 
who thinks of it thinks of something that cannot be thought not 
to exist; indeed, he who thinks of this does not think of it as not 
existing, otherwise he would think what cannot be thought. 
Therefore ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ can¬ 
not be thought not to exist. 

[IV.] You say, moreover, that when it is said that this supreme 
reality cannot be thought not to exist, it would perhaps be 
better to say that it cannot be understood not to exist or even to 
be able not to exist. However, it must rather be said that it 
cannot be thought. For if I had said that the thing in question 
could not be understood not to exist, perhaps you yourself (who 
claim that we cannot understand—if this word is to be taken 
strictly—things that are unreal) would object that nothing 
that exists can be understood not to exist. For it is false [to say 
that] what exists does not exist, so that it is not the distin¬ 
guishing characteristic of God not to be able to be understood 
not to exist. But, if any of those things which exist with absolute 
certainty can be understood not to exist, in the same way other 
things that certainly exist can be understood not to exist. 
But, if the matter is carefully considered, this objection 
cannot be made apropos [the term] ‘thought’. For even if none 
of those things that exist can be understood not to exist, all how¬ 
ever can be thought as not existing, save that which exists to 
a supreme degree. For in fact all those things (and they alone) 
that have a beginning or end or are made up of parts and, 
as I have already said, all those things that do not exist as a 
whole in a particular place or at a particular time can be 
thought as not existing. Only that being in which there is 
neither beginning nor end nor conjunction of parts, and that 
thought does not discern save as a whole in every place and at 
every time, cannot be thought as not existing. 

Know then that you can think of yourself as not existing while 
yet you are absolutely sure that you exist. I am astonished 
that you have said that you do not know this. For we think of 

826010 N 

cogitamus non esse quae scimus esse, et multa esse quae non esse 
scimus; non existimando, sed fingendo ita esse ut cogitamus. 
Et quidem possumus cogitare aliquid non esse, quamdiu scimus 
esse, quia simul et illud possumus et istud scimus. Et non 
possumus cogitare non esse, quamdiu scimus esse, quia non 
possumus cogitare esse simul et non esse. Si quis igitur sic 
distinguat huius prolationis has duas sententias, intelliget nihil, 
quamdiu esse scitur, posse cogitari non esse, et quidquid est 
praeter id quo maius cogitari nequit, etiam cum scitur esse, 
posse non esse cogitari. Sic igitur et proprium est deo non posse 
cogitari non esse, et tamen multa non possunt cogitari, quamdiu 
sunt, non esse. Quomodo tamen dicatur cogitari deus non esse, 
in ipso libello puto sufficienter esse dictum. 

[V.] Qualia vero sint et alia quae mihi obicis pro insipiente, 
facile est deprehendere vel parum sapienti, et ideo id ostendere 
supersedendum existimaveram. Sed quoniam audio quibusdam 
ea legentibus aliquid contra me valere videri, paucis de illis 

Primum, quod saepe repetis me dicere, quia quod est maius 
omnibus est in intellectu, si est in intellectu est et in re— ali tor 
enim omnibus maius non esset omnibus maius—nusquani in 
omnibus dictis meis invenitur talis probatio. Non enim idem 
valet quod dicitur ‘maius omnibus’ et ‘quo maius cogitari 
nequit’, ad probandum quia est in re quod dicitur. Si quis 
enim dicat ‘quo maius cogitari non possit’ non esse aliquid in 
re aut posse non esse aut vel non esse posse cogitari, facile 
refelli potest. Nam quod non est, potest non esse; et quod non 
esse potest, cogitari potest non esse. Quidquid autem cogitari 


many things that we know to exist, as not existing, and [we 
think of] many things that we know not to exist, as existing— 
not judging that it is really as we think but imagining it to be 
so. We can, in fact, think of something as not existing while 
knowing that it does exist, since we can [think of] the one and 
know the other at the same time. And we cannot think of some¬ 
thing as not existing if yet we know that it does exist, since we 
cannot think of it as existing and not existing at the same time. 
He, therefore, who distinguishes these two senses of this 
assertion will understand that [in one sense] nothing can be 
thought as not existing while yet it is known to exist, and that [in 
another sense] whatever exists, save that-than-which-a-greater- 
cannot-be-thought, can be thought of as not existing even when 
we know that it does exist. Thus it is that, on the one hand, 
it is the distinguishing characteristic of God that He cannot be 
thought of as not existing, and that, on the other hand, many 
things, the while they do exist, cannot be thought of as not 
existing. In what sense, however, one can say that God can be 
thought of as not existing I think I have adequately explained 
in my tract. 

[V.] As for the other objections you make against me on 
behalf of the Fool, it is quite easy to meet them, even for one 
weak in the head, and so I considered it a waste of time to show 
this. But since I hear that they appear to certain readers to 
have some force against me, I will deal briefly with them. 

First, you often reiterate that I say that that which is greater 
than everything exists in the mind, and that if it is in the mind, 
it exists also in reality, for otherwise that which is greater than 
everything would not be that which is greater than everything. 
However, nowhere in all that I have said will you find such an 
argument. For ‘that which is greater than everything’ and 

‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ are not equiva¬ 
lent for the purpose of proving the real existence of the thing 
spoken of. Thus, if anyone should say that ‘that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought’ is not something that actually 
exists, or that it can possibly not exist, or even can be thought 
of as not existing, he can easily be refuted. For what does not 
exist can possibly not exist, and what can not exist can be 
thought of as not existing. However, whatever can be thought of 

N 2 


potest non esse: si est, non est quo maius cogitari non possit. 
Quod si non est: utique si esset, non esset quo maius non possit 
cogitari. Sed dici non potest quia ‘quo maius non possit 
cogitari 5 si est, non est quo maius cogitari non possit; aut si 
esset, non esset quo non possit cogitari maius. Patet ergo quia 
nec non est nec potest non esse aut cogitari non esse. Aliter 
enim si est, non est quod dicitur; et si esset, non esset. 

Hoc autem non tam facile probari posse videtur de eo quod 
maius dicitur omnibus. Non enim ita patet quia quod non esse 
cogitari potest non est maius omnibus quae sunt, sicut quia non 
est quo maius cogitari non possit; nec sic est indubitabile quia, 
si est aliquid ‘maius omnibus 5 , non est aliud quam ‘quo maius 
non possit cogitari 5 , aut si esset, non esset similiter aliud, 
quomodo certum est de eo quod dicitur ‘quo maius cogitari 
nequit 5 . Quid enim si quis dicat esse aliquid maius omnibus 
quae sunt, et idipsum tamen posse cogitari non esse, et aliquid 
maius eo etiam si non sit, posse tamen cogitari? An hie sic 
aperte inferri potest: non est ergo maius omnibus quae sunt, 
sicut ibi apertissime diceretur: ergo non est quo maius cogitari 
nequit? Illud namque alio indiget argumento quam hoc quod 
dicitur omnibus maius 5 ; in isto vero non est opus alio quam 
hoc ipso quod sonat ‘quo maius cogitari non possit 5 . Ergo si 
non similiter potest probari de eo quod ‘maius omnibus 5 
dicitur quod de se per seipsum probat ‘quo maius nequit 
cogitari 5 : iniuste me reprehendisti dixisse quod non dixi, cum 
tantum differat ab eo quod dixi. 

Si vero vel post aliud argumentum potest, nec sic me debuisti 
reprehendere dixisse quod probari potest. Utrum autem possit, 


as not existing, if it actually exists, is not that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought. But if it does not exist, indeed even if 
it should exist, itwould not be that-than-which-a-greater-cannot- 
be-thought. But it cannot be asserted that ‘that-than-which-a 
greater-cannot-be-thought’ is not, if it exists, that-than-which 
a-greater-cannot-be-thought, or that, if it should exist, it 
would not be that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought. 
It is evident, then, that it neither does not exist nor can not 
exist or be thought of as not existing. For if it does exist in 
another way it is not what it is said to be, and if it should exist 
[in another way] it would not be [what it was said to be]. 

However it seems that it is not as easy to prove this in respect 
of what is said to be greater than everything. For it is not as 
evident that that which can be thought of as not existing is not 
that which is greater than everything, as that it is not that- 
than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought. And, in the same 
way, neither is it indubitable that, if there is something which is 
‘greater than everything’, it is identical with ‘that-than-which- 
a-greater-cannot-be-thought’; nor, if there were [such a being], 
that no other like it might exist—as this is certain in respect of 
what is said to be ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought’. For what if someone should say that something that 
is greater than everything actually exists, and yet that this 
same being can be thought of as not existing, and that something 
greater than it can be thought, even if this does not exist? 
In this case can it be inferred as evidently that [this being] 
is therefore not that which is greater than everything, as it 
would quite evidently be said in the other case that it is there¬ 
fore not that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought? The 
former [inference] needs, in fact, a premiss in addition to this 
which is said to be ‘greater than everything’; but the latter 
needs nothing save this utterance itself, namely, ‘that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’. Therefore, if what ‘that- 
than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ of itself proves con¬ 
cerning itself cannot be proved in the same way in respect of 
what is said to be ‘greater than everything’, you criticize me 
unjustly for having said what I did not say, since it differs so 
much from what I did say. 

If, however, it can [be proved] by means of another argument, 
you should not have criticized me for having asserted what can 

facile perpendit qui hoc posse ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’ 
cognoscit. Nullatenus enim potest intelligi ‘quo maius cogitari 
non possit’ nisi id quod solum omnibus est maius. Sicut ergo 
‘quo maius cogitari nequit’ intelligitur et est in intellectu, et 
ideo esse in rei veritate asseritur: sic quod maius dicitur omni¬ 
bus intelligi et esse in intellectu, et idcirco re ipsa esse ex 
necessitate concluditur. Vides ergo, quam recte me comparasti 
stulto illi, qui hoc solo quod descripta intelligeretur perditam 
insulam esse vellet asserere? 

[VI.] Quod autem obicis quaelibet falsa vel dubia similiter 
posse intelligi et esse in intellectu quemadmodum- illud quod 
dicebam: miror quid hie sensisd contra me dubium probare 
volentem, cui primum hoc sat erat, ut quolibet modo illud 
intelligi et esse in intellectu ostenderem, quatenus conse- 
quenter consideraretur, utrum esset in solo intellectu, velut 
falsa, an et in re, ut vera. Nam si falsa et dubia hoc modo 
intelliguntur et sunt in intellectu, quia cum dicuntur audiens 
intelligit quid dicens significet, nihil prohibet quod dixi intelligi 
et esse in intellectu. Quomodo autem sibi conveniant, quod 
dicis quia falsa dicente aliquo quaecumque ille diceret intelli- 
geres, et quia illud quod non eo modo quo etiam falsa habetur in 
cogitatione, non diceris auditum cogitare aut in cogitatione 
habere, sed intelligere et in intellectu habere, quia scilicet 
non possis hoc aliter cogitare nisi intelligendo, id est scientia 
comprehendendo re ipsa illud existere; quomodo inquam 
conveniant et falsa intelligi et intelligere esse scientia com- 
prehendere existere aliquid: nil ad me, tu videris. 


be proved. Whether it can [be proved], however, is easily ap¬ 
preciated by one who understands that it can [in respect of] 
‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’. For one cannot 
in any way understand ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought’ without [understanding that it is] that which alone 
is greater than everything. As, therefore, ‘that-than-which-a- 
greater cannot-be-thought’ is understood and is in the mind, 
and is consequently judged to exist in true reality, so also that 
which is greater than everything is said to be understood and 
to exist in the mind, and so is necessarily inferred to exist in 
reality itself. You see, then, how right you were to compare me 
with that stupid person who wished to maintain that the Lost 
Island existed from the sole fact that being described it was 

[VI.] You object, moreover, that any unreal or doubtfully 
real things at all can equally be understood and exist in the 
mind in the same way as the being I was speaking of. I am 
astonished that you urge this [objection] against me, for I was 
concerned to prove something which was in doubt, and for me 
it was sufficient that I should first show that it was understood 
and existed in the mind in some way or other, leaving it to be 
determined subsequently whether it was in the mind alone as 
unreal things are, or in reality also as true things are. For, if 
unreal or doubtfully real things are understood and exist in the 
mind in the sense that, when they are spoken of, he who hears 
them understands what the speaker means, nothing prevents 
what I have spoken of being understood and existing in the 
mind. But how are these [assertions] consistent, that is, when you 
assert that if someone speaks of unreal things you would under¬ 
stand whatever he says, and that, in the case of a thing which is 
not entertained in thought in the same way as even unreal things 
are, you do not say that you think of it or have it in thought 
upon hearing it spoken of, but rather that you understand it and 
have it in mind since, precisely, you cannot think of it save by 
understanding it, that is, knowing certainly that the thing exists in 
reality itself? How, I say, are both [assertions] consistent, 
namely that unreal things are understood, and that c to under¬ 
stand* means knowing with certainty that something actually 
exists? You should have seen that nothing [of this applies] to me. 

Quodsi et falsa aliquo modo intelliguntur, et non omnis sed 
cuiusdam intellectus est haec definitio: non debui reprehendi, 
quia dixi ‘quo maius cogitari non possit’ intelligi et in intel- 
Iectu esse, etiam antequam certum esset re ipsa illud existere. 

[VII.] Deinde quod dicis vix uraquam posse esse credibile, cum 
dictum et auditum fuerit istud, non eo modo posse cogitari non 
esse quo etiam potest cogitari non esse deus: respondeant pro 
me qui vel parvam scientiam disputandi argumentandique 
attigerunt. An enim rationabile est, ut idcirco neget aliquis 
quod intelligit, quia esse dicitur id, quod ideo negat quia non 
intelligit? Aut si aliquando negatur, quod aliquatenus in- 
telligitur et idem est illi quod nullatenus intelligitur: nonne 
facilius probatur quod dubium est de illo quod in aliquo quam 
de eo quod in nullo est intellectu? Quare nec credibile potest 
esse idcirco quemlibet negare ‘quo maius cogitari nequit 5 , quod 
auditum aliquatenus intelligit: quia negat deum, cuius sensum 
nullo modo cogitat. Aut si et illud quia non omnino intelli¬ 
gitur negatur: nonne tamen facilius id quod aliquo modo, 
quam id quod nullo modo intelligitur probatur? Non ergo 
irrationabiliter contra insipientem ad probandum deum esse 
attuli ‘quo maius cogitari non possit’, cum illud nullo modo, 
istud aliquo modo intelligeret. 

[VIII.] Quod vero tarn studiose probas ‘quo maius cogitari 
nequit 5 non tale esse qualis nondum facta pictura in intellectu 
pictoris: sine causa fit. Non enim ad hoc protuli picturam 
praecogitatam, ut tale illud de quo agebatur vellem asserere, 
sed tantum ut aliquid esse in intellectu, quod esse non in- 
telligeretur, possem ostendere. 


But if unreal things are, in a sense, understood (this definition 
applying not to every kind of understanding but to a certain 
kind) then I ought not to be criticized for having said that ‘that- 
than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought 5 is understood and is 
in the mind, even before it was certain that it existed in reality 

[VII.] Next, you say that it can hardly be believed that when 
this [that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought] has been 
spoken of and heard, it cannot be thought not to exist, as even 
it can be thought that God does not exist. Now those who have 
attained even a little expertise in disputation and argument 
could reply to that on my behalf. For is it reasonable that some¬ 
one should therefore deny what he understands because it is 
said to be [the same as] that which he denies since he does not 
understand it? Or if that is denied [to exist] which is under¬ 
stood only to some extent and is the same as what is not under¬ 
stood at all, is not what is in doubt more easily proved from the 
fact that it is in some mind than from the fact that it is in no 
mind at all? For this reason it cannot be believed that anyone 
should deny 'that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought* 
(which, being heard, he understands to some extent), on the 
ground that he denies God whose meaning he does not think of 
in any way at all. On the other hand, if it is denied on the ground 
that it is not understood completely, even so is not that which 
is understood in some way easier to prove than that which is 
not understood in any way? It was therefore not wholly with¬ 
out reason that, to prove against the Fool that God exists, I 
proposed ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’, since 
he would understand this in some way, [whereas] he would 
understand the former [God] in no way at all. 

[VIII.] In fact, your painstaking argument that ‘that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ is not like the not-yet- 
realized painting in the mind of the painter is beside the point. 
For I did not propose [the example] of the foreknown picture 
because I wanted to assert that what was at issue was in the 
same case, but rather that so I could show that something not 
understood as existing exists in the mind. 

Item quod dicis ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’ secundum rem 
vel ex genere tibi vel ex specie notam te cogitare auditum vel in 
intellectu habere non posse, quoniam nec ipsam rem nosti, nec 
earn ex alia simili potes conicere: palam est rem aliter sese 
habere. Quoniam namque omne minus bonum in tantum est 
simile maiori bono inquantum est bonum: patet cuilibet 
rationabili menti, quia de bonis minoribus ad maiora con- 
scendendo ex iis quibus aliquid maius cogitari potest, multum 
possumus conicere illud quo nihil potest maius cogitari. Quis 
enim verbi gratia vel hoc cogitare non potest, etiam si non 
credat in re esse quod cogitat, scilicet si bonum est aliquid quod 
initium et finem habet, multo melius esse bonum, quod licet 
incipiat non tamen desinit; et sicut istud illo melius est, ita isto 
esse melius illud quod nec finem habet nec initium, etiam si 
semper de praeterito per praesens transeat ad futurum; et sive sit 
in re aliquid huiusmodi sive non sit, valde tamen eo melius 
esse id quod nullo modo indiget vel cogitur mutari vel moveri? 
An hoc cogitari non potest, aut aliquid hoc maius cogitari 
potest? Aut non est hoc ex iis quibus maius cogitari valet 
conicere id quo maius cogitari nequit? Est igitur unde possit 
conici ‘quo maius cogitari nequeat’. Sic itaque facile refelli 
potest insipiens qui sacram auctoritatem non recipit, si negat 
‘quo maius cogitari non valet’ ex aliis rebus conici posse. At si 
quis catholicus hoc neget, meminerit quia ‘invisibilia’ dei ‘a 
creatura mundi per ea, quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur, 
sempitema quoque eius virtus et divinitas’. 

[IX.] Sed etsi verum esset non posse cogitari vel intelligi illud 
quo maius nequit cogitari, non tamen falsum esset ‘quo maius 
cogitari nequit’ cogitari posse et intelligi. Sicut enim nil 
prohibet did ‘ineffabile’, licet illud did non possit quod 


Again, you say that upon hearing of ‘that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought’ you cannot think of it as a real 
object known either generically or specifically or have it in 
your mind, on the grounds that you neither know the thing 
itself nor can you form an idea of it from other things similar 
to it. But obviously this is not so. For since everything that is 
less good is similar in so far as it is good to that which is more 
good, it is evident to every rational mind that, mounting from 
the less good to the more good we can from those things than 
which something greater can be thought conjecture a great 
deal about that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought. Who, 
for example, cannot think of this (even if he does not believe that 
what he thinks of actually exists) namely, that if something 
that has a beginning and end is good, that which, although it 
has had a beginning, does not, however, have an end, is much 
better? And just as this latter is better than the former, so also 
that which has neither beginning nor end is better again than 
this, even if it passes always from the past through the present 
to the future. Again, whether something of this kind actually 
exists or not, that which does not lack anything at all, nor is 
forced to change or move, is very much better still. Cannot this 
be thought? Or can we think of something greater than' this? 
Or is not this precisely to form an idea of that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought from those things than which a 
greater can be thought? There is, then, a way by which one 
can form an idea of ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought’. In this way, therefore, the Fool who does not accept 
the sacred authority [of Revelation] can easily be refuted if he 
denies that he can form an idea from other things of ‘that- 
than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’. But if any orthodox 
Christian should deny this let him remember that ‘the invisible 
things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen 
through the things that have been made, even his eternal power 
and Godhead’ [Rom. i. 20]. 

[IX.] But even if it were true that [the object] that-than- 
which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought cannot be thought of nor 
understood, it would not, however, be false that [the for¬ 
mula] ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought’ could be 
thought of and understood. For just as nothing prevents one 

‘ineffabile’ dicitur; et quemadmodum cogitari potest ‘non 
cogitabile’, quamvis illud cogitari non possit cui convenit ‘non 
cogitabile’ dici: ita cum dicitur ‘quo nil maius valet cogitari’, 
procul dubio quod auditur cogitari et intelligi potest, etiam si 
res ilia cogitari non valeat aut intelligi qua maius cogitari 
nequit. Nam etsi quisquam est tarn insipiens, ut dicat non esse 
aliquid quo maius non possit cogitari: non tamen ita erit 
impudens, ut dicat se non posse intelligere aut cogitare quid 
dicat. Aut si quis talis invenitur, non modo sermo eius est 
respuendus, sed et ipse conspuendus. Quisquis igitur negat 
aliquid esse quo maius nequeat cogitari: utique intelligit et 
cogitat negationem quam facit. Quam negationem intelligere 
aut cogitare non potest sine partibus eius. Pars autem eius est 
‘quo maius cogitari non potest’. Quicumque igitur hoc negat, 
intelligit et cogitat ‘quo maius cogitari nequit’. Palam autem 
est quia similiter potest cogitari et intelligi quod non potest non 
esse. Maius vero cogitat qui hoc cogitat quam qui cogitat quod 
possit non esse. Dum ergo cogitatur quo maius non possit 
cogitari: si cogitatur quod possit non esse, non cogitatur quo 
non possit cogitari maius. Sed nequit idem simul cogitari et non 
cogitari. Quare qui cogitat quo maius non possit cogitari: non 
cogitat quod possit sed quod non possit non esse. Quapropter 
necesse est esse quod cogitat, quia quidquid non esse potest 
non est quod cogitat. 

[X.] Puto quia monstravi me non infirma sed satis necessaria 
argumentatione probasse in praefato libello re ipsa existere 
aliquid quo maius cogitari non possit; nec earn alicuius 
obiectionis infirmari firmitate. Tantam enim vim huius pro- 
lationis in se continet significatio, ut hoc ipsum quod dicitur, ex 
necessitate eo ipso quod intelligitur vel cogitatur, et revera 
probetur existere, et id ipsum esse quidquid de divina sub- 


from saying ineffable’ although one cannot specify what is 
said to be ineffable; and just as one can think of the incon¬ 
ceivable—although one cannot think of what ‘inconceivable 5 
applies to—so also, when ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot- 
be-thought 5 is spoken of, there is no doubt at all that what is 
heard can be thought of and understood even if the thing itself 
cannot be thought of and understood. For if someone is so 
witless as to say that there is not something than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought, yet he will not be so shameless as 
to say that he is not able to understand and think of what he 
was speaking about. Or if such a one is to be found, not only 
should his assertion be condemned, but he himself contemned. 
Whoever, then, denies that there is something than-which-a 
greater-cannot-be-thought, at any rate understands and thinks 
of the denial he makes, and this denial cannot be understood and 
thought about apart from its elements. Now, one element [of 
the denial] is ‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought\ 
Whoever, therefore, denies this understands and thinks of 
‘that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought 5 . It is evident, 
moreover, that in the same way one can think of and under¬ 
stand that which cannot not exist. And one who thinks of this 
thinks of something greater than one who thinks of what can 
not exist. When, therefore, one thinks of that-than-which-a- 
greater-cannot-be-thought, if one thinks of what can not exist, 
one does not think of that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought. Now the same thing cannot at the same time be 
thought of and not thought of. For this reason he who thinks 
of that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought does not think 
of something that can not exist but something that cannot not 
exist. Therefore what he thinks of exists necessarily, since what¬ 
ever can not exist is not what he thinks of. 

[X.] I think now that I have shown that I have proved in the 
above tract, not by a weak argumentation but by a sufficiently 
necessary one, that something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought exists in reality itself, and that this proof has not been 
weakened by the force of any objection. For the import of this 
proof is in itself of such force that what is spoken of is proved 
(as a necessary consequence of the fact that it is understood or 
thought of) both to exist in actual reality and to be itself what- 

stantia oportet credere. Credimus namque de divina substantia 
quidquid absolute cogitari potest melius esse quam non esse. 
Verbi gratia: melius est esse sternum quam non sternum, 
bonum quam non bonum, immo bonitatem ipsam quam non 
ipsam bonitatem. Nihil autem huiusmodi non esse potest quo 
maius aliquid cogitari non potest. Necesse igitur est ‘quo maius 
cogitari non potest 5 esse quidquid de divina essentia credi 

Gradas ago benignitad tus et in reprehensione et in laude 
mei opusculi. Cum enim ea qus tibi digna suscepdone videntur 
tanta laude extulisti: satis apparet quia qus tibi iniirma visa 
sunt benevolentia non malevolentia reprehendisti. 


ever must be believed about the Divine Being. For we believe 
of the Divine Being whatever it can, absolutely speaking, be 
thought better to be than not to be. For example, it is better 
to be eternal than not eternal, good than not good, indeed 
goodness-itself than not goodness-itself. However, nothing of 
this kind cannot but be that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be- 
thought. It is, then, necessary that ‘that-than-which-a-greater- 
cannot-be-thought’ should be whatever must be believed about 
the Divine Nature. 

\ I thank you for your kindness both in criticizing and praising 
my tract. For since you praised so fulsomely those parts that 
appeared to you to be worthy of acceptance, it is quite clear 
that you have criticized those parts that seemed to you to be 
^-"tveak, not from any malice but from good will. 


Abelard, Peter, 21. 

Achard of St. Victor, 4 n., 21. 

Alan of Lille, 30 n., 32 n. 

Albert, Abbot of Marmoutier, 84. 

Alexander of Christ Church, 9 n., 20. 

Alexander of Hales, 4. 

Alvemey, M.-Th., 4 n. 

Analogy, 39, 78, 81. 

Anselm, St.: 

Life: early years, 9-10; at Bee, 10-11; 
election to Canterbury, 16-17; 
investiture quarrel, 18-20; first 
exile, 19; relations with Henry I, 
19-20; disciples, 20; death, 21. 

Views: on logic, 14; on investiture, 
18-20; on the ‘State*, 18-19; on 
faith and reason, 22-23, 30-40; on 
the pagans and Muslims, 32 n., 
33 n.; on ‘necessary reasons’, 
34-36; on atheism, 57; on the 
‘Fool*, 77-78; see also Proslogion . 

Work: writings, 11, 20; teaching 
methods, 11,12; influences, 23-26; 
influence of St. Augustine, 23, 
26-30, 55-56; influence of neo¬ 
platonism, 23-24; influence of 
Boethius, 14; influence of ‘dia¬ 
lecticians’, 24-26. 

Cur Deus Homo, 11,12 n., 19,20,23 n., 
25 > 3 °- 4 °, 42 . 

De Casu Diaboli , 11. 

De Conceptu Virginali, 11, 20. 

De Concordia , 11. 

De GrammaticOy 11, 14, 14 n. 

De Jncamatione Verbi, 11, 20, 33 n. 

De Libertate Arbitrii, 11. 

De Potentia et Impotentia, 11, 11 n., 25. 

De Processione Spiritus Sancti , 11, 20. 

De Sacramentis Ecclesiae , 11. 

De Sacrificio Azymi, 11, 33 n. 

De Veritatey 11, 14 n. 

Meditaiio Redemptionis Humanae , 20. 

Monologion , 11, 23, 38, 42, 44, 49, 
49 n., 50-51,52,54,81,97,103,105. 

Proslogion , see below . 

Aosta, 9, 9 n. 

Aquinas, St. Thomas, 5, 5 n., 6 n., 22, 

23, 33 n., 37 > 38 , 39 > 42 , 5 ^ 59 > 

59 n., 61 n., 74 n., 77 n., 78,81,88 n., 

97 n. 

Arguments of fittingness, 35-36. 

‘Argumentum’, 35, 52. 

Aristotle, 5 n., 14, 23, 24, 25, 34, 44, 

61, 79 n. 

Assent, ‘notional’ and ‘real’, 28. 
Atheism, 32, 57,57 n., 69,71,72, 76,99. 
Augustine, St., 14, 22, 23, 24 n., 25, 
26-30, 34,35 n., 37 n., 43, 54,55-56, 
61 n., 86, 159. 

Bainvel, J., 7 n. 

Baldwin, I, 10, 

Baldwin of Toumai, 8, 20. 

Bari, Council of, 19, 43. 

Barth, K., 7, 7 n., 23, 40-46, 52, 98. 
Bee, Abbey of, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15. 
Benedictine Rule, 13. 

Berengar of Tours, g, ion., 25, 26, 
37 - 

Blumenkranz, B., 3 n. 

Boethius, 14, 23, 24, 25, 79 n. 
Bonaventure, St., 4, 5. 

Boso, 20, 31, 32, 33, 36, 42. 

Bossuet, J. B., 37. 

Bouillard, H., 7 n., 45 n. 

Br^hier, E., 37 n. 

Brunet, A., 12 n. 

Cadulus, 83. 

Caen, 10. 

Caesar, Julius, 15. 

Canterbury, 15, 16. 

Cantor, N. F., 8 n., 17 n. 

Cappuyns, M., 7 n., 24 m, 29 m, 
45 n. 

Cassiodorus, 35. 

‘Catholicus’, 42, 90, 168, 187. 

Causal dependency, 60-62, 76-77: 

causal proof, 49, 56 n. 

Cayr6, F., 27 n. 

Chartres, 9, 13. 

Chatillon, J., 4 n,, 5 n. 

Chenu, M.-D., 14 n., 30 n., 38 n., 39 n., 
44 n. 

Church, R. W., 8 n., 20. 

Cicero, 15, 32 n. 

Clement II, Pope, 9. 

Clement of Alexandria, 24. 

Clerval, A., 13 n. 

Cock, A. A., 70 n. 

‘Cogitare’, 62, 62 n., 63 n., 88, 94, 164, 

Congar, Y., 18, 18 n., 24 n., 25, 38. 
Contingency, 72, 73 - 77 * 9 «» 94 - 
Copleston, F., 78 n. 

‘Crede ut inteiligas’, 27-28, 38. 
Crispin, Gilbert, 3, 3 n., 20, 44, 57. 
Crombie, I., 75 n. 



Damian, St. Peter, 25, 25 n., 35, 37, 
Daniels, A., 4 n., 5 n. 

Delhaye, P., 12 n. 

Denys the Areopagite, 23, 24. 
Descartes, R., 5,6,6 n., 60 n., 65,65 n., 
67 - 

Dialectics, 14; ‘dialecticians* and ‘anti- 
dialecticians’, 24-26. 

Eadmer, 8, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 
32 n., 42 n., 53. 

Elmer, 20. 

Emanation, 24. 

Erigena, John Scotus, 23, 24, 29. 
Ermenburga, 9. 

‘Esse’, 79, 122. 

Evil, 64. 

Evodius, 55. 

Exemplarism, 23. 

Existence: not a predicate, 7,50,65-67; 
‘in re’ and ‘in intellectu’, 63-70, 117; 
different senses of, 65-67; necessary 
and contingent, 74-77, 88, 92, 119; 
‘synthetic* propositions about, 74-75, 
88; temporal and supra-temporal, 
9 I- 93 > 133 - 

‘Facere’, 79, 79 n., 122. 

Faith and reason, 18, 19, 22, 23; St. 
Augustine on, 26-30, 55-56; in Cur 
DeusHomo, 30-40; K. Barth on, 40-46. 
Fecamp, 9. 

Feudalism, 17, 18. 

Fideism, 28, 37, 41, 44, 54. 

Filliatre, C., 24 n. 

Finance, J. de, 6 n. 

Findlay, J. N., 75. 

Fishacre, Richard, 4, 4 n. 
Fleury-sur-Loire, 9. 

Fliche, A., 18 n., 53 n. 

‘Fool’, the, 34, 55, 77-78, 90, 95, 97, 
ll 7 > H 9 > l 57 > j 69 , * 73 > *85, 


Forest, A., 7 n., 61 n. 

Freedom of will, 22, 28. 

Fulbert of Chartres, 13, 13 n. 

Gassendi, P., 65 n. 

Gaunilo of Marmoutier, 42, 60; life, 

83- 84; Reply on Behalf of the Fool , 

84- 89,156—66; St. Anselm’s counter¬ 
reply to, 90-99, 168-91. 

Gerbert, 11. 

Ghellinck, J. de, 12 n., 21 n., 26 m, 
29 n., 32 n. 

Gilbert de la Porr6e, 27 n., 29, 30 n. 
Giles of Rome, 5. 

Gilson, E., 5 n., 7, 7 n., 23, 36 n., 45 n., 
59 n., 61 n. 

Gnosticism, 23, 24. 

God, 22; reason and, 26-29; does 
nothing arbitrarily, 35; ineffability ot, 
39 ,81, 137, 139; K. Barth on, 40-46; 
Rodulfus’s proof of, 45; as supremely 
good, 49, 147, 149, 151; proofs of in 
Monologion , 49-51; defined as ‘that 
than which nothing greater can be 
thought’, 51, 54, 61, 72, 97-98, 117; 
St. Augustine on, 55-56; self-evidence 
of, 58-59, 78; logical possibility of, 
62, 72; logical peculiarity of pro¬ 
positions about, 71-72; as existing 
necessarily, 73-77, 88, 92, 167, 171, 
177; ‘ontological’ proof of, 6, 65; 
‘ontological’ disproof of, 72, 75; 
causal proof of, 77; attributes of, 
78-82,99,121; as perceptive, 79,121, 
123; as omnipotent, 79, 123; as just 
and merciful, 80, 125, 127, 129, 131 ; 
as identical with His attributes, 80, 
133; as limitless and eternal, 80,133; 
as inaccessible, 82, in, 135, 137; as 
supra-spatio-temporal, 94, 141, 143, 
I45> l 7 l > 173; as non-composite, 139, 
141, 145; as a Trinity, 145, 147, 155. 

Gonsette, J., 25 n. 

Goodness, degrees of, 49. 

Grammar, 14, 14 n. 

Grant, G. K., 7 n., 70 n. 

Gregory VII, Pope, 17, 53. 

Gregory IX, Pope, 44. 

Gregory the Great, St., 12,14, 29, 29 n. 

Gregorian Reform, 17-18. 

Guibert ofNogent, 11, 12. 

Gundulf, 9. 

Haskins, C. H., 12 n., 15 n. 

Henry I, 8, 16, 19, 20. 

Henry, D. P., 7 m, 14 m, 15 m, 79 m, 
91 n. 

Henry of Ghent, 5. 

Henry of Huntingdon, 21. 

Herluin, 9, 10. 

Holkot, Robert, 5. 

Honorius Augustodunensis, 20. 

Horace, 14. 

Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, 19,53,105. 

Hunt, R. W., 14 n. 

Illumination, theory of, 28. 

Incarnation, doctrine of, 22, 31, 34, 38. 

‘Infideles’, see Unbelievers. 

‘Insipiens*, see ‘Fool*. 

‘Intelligere’, 62, 62 n., 63 n., 89, 94, 
164, 176. 

Investiture, quarrel about, 8,18,19,20. 

Ireland, Hugh, King of, 10. 

Isaiah, 27. 



Jacquin, A. M., 35 n. 

Jews, 32, 33 n., 42. 

John of Beverley, 5. 

John of Cornwall, 21. 

John of Ravenna, 9. 

John of Salisbury, 8. 

Justin, St., 24 n. 

Kant, I., 6, 6 n., 65, 67, 74, 75, 88. 
Knowles, D., 13 n., 15 n., 17 n. 
Koyre, A., 5 n., 6 n., 24 n., 60 n. 

Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
9, 10, ion., 11, 11 n., 13, 15, 16, 17, 
24, 25 n., 26, 43 n. 

Laporte, J., 9 n. 

Law, 15, 15 n. 

Leclercq, Jean, 25 n. 

Leff, G., 37 n. 

Leibniz, G., 5, 6, 65, 70 n., 74 n. 

Leo the Great, Pope, 14. 

‘Liberty of the Church’, 18, 18 n., 

19 - 

Libraries, 15, 15 n. 

Logic, 14, 44. 

‘Lost Island’, the, 88, 93-94, 163, 165, 

Lubac, H. de, 7 n. 

Macdonald, A. J., 10 n., 26 n. 
MacKinney, L. C., 13 n. 

Maitre, L., 15 n. 

Malcolm, N., 7 n., 61 n., 64 n., 65 n., 
7511., 7611. 

Marius Victorinus, 32 n. 

Marmoutier, Abbey of, 83-84. 
Martfcne, E., 83, 83 n., 84. 

Mascall, E. L., 59 n. 

Mason, J. F. A., ion. 

Matilda of Tuscany, 10. 

McIntyre, J., 31 n., 44 n. 

McKeon, R., 37 n. 

Meinong, A., 99. 

Michaud-Quantin, P., 62 n. 

Modal concepts, 14. 

Monte Cassino, Abbey of, 15. 

Muslims, 32 n., 33 n. 

Necessity, 14, 34-35, 73~77; ‘necessary 
existence’, see Existence and God; 
‘necessary reasons’ (‘rationes necess- 
ariae’), 31, 34-36* 38- 
Neo-Platonism, 23, 24, 51-52, 60, 98. 
Newman, J. H., 28. 

Normandy, 9, 16, 17. 

O’Meara, J. J., 28 n. 

‘Ontological’ proof, 6, 65; ‘ontological’ 
disproof, 72, 75. 

Origen, 24 n. 

Orkney, Earl of, 10. 

Ovid, 14. 

Pagans (‘pagani’), 32, 32 n., 33 n., 42. 

Par6, G., 12 n. 

Participation, 23. 

Paschal II, Pope, 19. 

Paul, St., 27, 97, 187. 

Perfection: pure perfection, 5; degrees 
of, 23, 49, 50; notion of in Proslogion , 
60-61; existence as a, 65 n., 68; least 
perfect being, 70; attributed to God, 
78, 78 n. 

‘Per se notum’, 58-59. 

Philip of Bayeux, 15 n. 

Philip the Chancellor, 21. 

Pliny, 15. 

Plotinus, 24 n. 

Pontifex, M., 55 n., 56 n. 

Poole, A. L., 17 n., 20 n. 

Porphyry, 14. 

‘Posse’, 79. 

Possibility, 14, 62, 63. 

Preambles of faith, 27, 28, 36, 37. 

Proclus, 24 n. 

Proslogion : influence, 3-7, 20-21; date, 
11; K. Barth on, 41-43; Gilson et al ., 
on, 45 n.; Anselm’s intention in, 46; 
and Monologion arguments, 51-54; 
circumstances of composition, 52-53, 
104; name, 53, 105; dedication, 53, 
105; and St. Augustine’s De Libero 
Arbitrio , 55-56, 56 n.; notion of causal 
dependency in, 61, 76-77; notion of 
perfection in, 60-61; comparision of 
things ‘in re* and ‘in intellectu* in, 
63-70, 117, 175; comparison of con¬ 
tingent and necessary existents in, 
73-77, 119,171; on attributes of God, 
78-82,121; Gaunilo’s reply to, 84-89, 
156-66; St. Anselm’s defence of, go- 
93, 168-91; ‘that than which nothing 
greater can be thought* formula, see 

‘Quadrivium’, 9, 13. 

Ralph, see Rodulfus. 

Ralph de Diceto, 8 n. 

Raoul M£chante-Couronne, 84. 

Rationalism, 23, 24, 28, 36, 37, 44, 45. 

‘Rationes necessariae’, see Necessary 
reasons s.v. Necessity. 

Raynaud de Lage, G., 30 n., 32 n. 

Redemption, doctrine of, 31. 

R£musat, C. de, 8 n. 

Richard of St. Victor, 36 n. 

Richer, 11. 

Rigg.J. H.,8n. 

Robinson, J. Armitage, 3 n. 



Rodulfus, 3, 3 n., 20, 44, 45, 57, 

Roger of Sicily, Count, 32 n. 

Rome, Easter Council of, 19. 

Roques, R., 31 n., 32 n., 33 n. 
Roscelin, 11, 

Rouen, 9. 

Rule, M., 8 n., 53 n. 

Russell, B., 99. 

Ryle, G., 79 n. 

Savoy, Counts of, 9. 

Scepticism, 32. 

Schmitt, F. S., 11 n., 49 n., 56 n., 79 n. 
‘Scientia’, 39. 

Scotland, King of, 10. 

Scotus, Duns, 5, 5 n., 36 n. 

Secret, B., 9. 

Seneca, 15, 56 m 
Sigo of Marmoutier, 84. 

Simon of Toumai, 27 n., 30, 

Smart, J. C., 75 n, 

‘Sola n. ione', see Faith and reason. 
Soul, 21, 28. 

Southern, R. W., 3 n., 6 n., 8 n., 9 n., 
ion., 22 n., 16n., 20 n.,44m,45 n., 

57 «•» 78.84. 

Stenton, F. M., 17. 

Subjects, logical, 66-68. 

Suppo of Mont St. Michel, 9. 
Syllogism, theory of, 34. 

‘That than which nothing greater can 
be thought’ formula, 3, 311.; and 
Monologion arguments, 51; source of, 
56, 56 n.; not analytic, 58-59; criti¬ 
cism of, 60-63; Gaunilo on, 84-87, 
1 57-63; St. Anselm’s defence of, 90- 



Theology, 14, 22, 24, 25, 29, 30 n., 39, 

4°) 44- 

Thiery, 84. 

Thompson, J. W., 15 n. 

Thomson, S. Harrison, 6 n. 

Thonnard, F. J., 23 n. 

Time, 28; temporal and supra-temporal 
existence, 60--61, 91-92, 97-987 133; 
and God, 141, 143, 145, 171, 173, 

Tremblay, P., 12. 

Trinity, doctrine of, 22, 36 n., 38, 145, 

*47, I 55* 

Trivium , 9, 13. 

Unbelievers (‘infideles’), 31, 32, 42, 57. 
Urban II, Pope, 18, 19, 43. 

Vagaggini, C., 36 n., 78 n. 

Vignaux, P., 49 n. 

Virgil, 14. 

Vorges, Domet de, 74 n. 

Webb, C. C. J., 3 n., 44 n., 57 n. 
William of Auxerre, 4. 

William of Malmesbury, 8 n., 10, 43 n. 
William of Volpiano, 9. 

William of Ware, 5. 

William Rufus, King, 8, 16, 17, 19, 53. 
William the Conqueror, King, 10, 17. 
Williams, G. H., 17. 

Wilmart, A., 16, 53 n. 

Wittgenstein, L., 76 n., 90. 

Wolter, A., 5 n. 

Wyclif, John, 6, 6 n., 60 n. 

A -Lf45-3 

theology library