Reading Anselm: Context and Criticism

A conference to be held at Boston College, 27-30 July 2015.

For more details go to conference website.
This Blogsite is dedicated to the work and legacy of Anselm of Aosta, Bec and Canterbury, who died in Canterbury on 21 April 1109.

© 2008-2015 Ian Logan. All rights reserved.
To notify me of recent publications, forthcoming events or anything of interest to Anselm scholars, please contact me using the form provided:

Monday, 6 December 2010

Recent Publications - December 2010


G.E.M. Gasper, 'Envy, Jealousy, and the Boundaries of Orthodoxy: Anselm of Canterbury and the Genesis of the Proslogion' in Viator-UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies- 41 (2010) 45-68.


B. Goebel, 'Review of Hansjurgen Verweyen, Anselm von Canterbury 1033-1109. Denker, Beter, Erzbischof' in Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 117 (2010) 351-356.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Details of Anselm conference - 'Anselm and a new Europe'

Here is the progamme for the Anselm Conference to be held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from 25-27 November 2010.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Recent Publications - October 2010 - Updated


Sigurd Baark, 'Anselm: Platonism, language and truth in Proslogion' [sic], Scottish Journal of Theology, 63 (2010) 379-397.
Caveat lector: Appears unaware of the dialectical origins of the argument of the Proslogion.


Matthew Barrett, 'Review of Ian Logan, Reading Anselm's Proslogion: The History of Anselm's Argument and its Significance Today, Ashgate 2009' in Journal of Theological Studies, 2010 (61) 826-829.

Richard Cross, 'Review of Sandra Visser and Thomas Williams, Anselm (Great Medieval Thinkers series), Oxford University Press 2009' in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 61 (2010) 820-821.

Anthony J. Lisska,'Review of Ian Logan, Reading Anselm's Proslogion: The History of Anselm's Argument and its Significance Today, Ashgate 2009' in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 61 (2010) 821-822.

M. Staunton, 'Review of Benedicta Ward, Anselm of Canterbury: His Life and Legacy, SPCK 2009' in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 61 (2010) 820-820.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Anselm and the 'new' Europe

"Anselm's participation in the construction process of the ‘new’ Europe" - a conference organised by the Faculty of Ecclesiastical History and Cultural Patrimony at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome - will take place from the 25th to the 27th November 2010.

For further details contact:

Segreteria Organizzativa Congresso Sant'Anselmo (Lucchesi 215)
Pontificia Università Gregoriana
Facoltà di Storia e Beni Culturali della Chiesa
Piazza della Pilotta 4
00186 Roma - Italy

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Recent Publications - September 2010 - Updated


M.J.S. Bruno, 'The Investiture Contest in Norman England: A Struggle Between St. Anselm of Canterbury and The Norman Kings: Part II' in American Benedictine Review, 61 (2010) 307-324.

Bernd Goebel, 'Anselm's Elusive Argument: Ian Logan Reading the Proslogion' in Saint Anselm Journal, 7:1 (Fall 2009).
Caveat lector: pages in the Saint Anselm Journal no longer run consecutively - each article begins at page 1.

Thomas Gwozdz, 'Anselm's Theory of Freedom' in Saint Anselm Journal, 7:1 (Fall 2009).
Caveat lector: pages in the Saint Anselm Journal no longer run consecutively - each article begins at page 1.

Ian Logan, 'Saint Anselm' in The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2010.
Requires a subscription.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Recent Publications - August 2010 - Updated


Chris Heathwood, 'The relevance of Kant's objection to Anselm's ontological argument' in Religious Studies, forthcoming.
Caveat lector: this paper addresses Plantinga's argument, not Anselm's.


David Hogg, 'Review of Benedicta Ward, Anselm of Canterbury: His Life and Legacy, SPCK 2009' in Speculum, 85 (2010) 750-751.

Ian Logan, 'Review of Sandra Visser and Thomas Williams, Anselm (Great Medieval Thinkers series), Oxford University Press 2009' in New Blackfriars, 91 (2010) 616-618.

Siobhan Nash-Marshall, 'Review of Sandra Visser and Thomas Williams, Anselm (Great Medieval Thinkers series), Oxford University Press 2009' in Speculum, 85 (2010) 748.
Identifies a (serious) problem with the kind of approach taken by Visser and Williams.

Sandra Visser, 'Review of Ian Logan, Reading Anselm's Proslogion: The History of Anselm's Argument and its Significance Today, Ashgate 2009' in Speculum, 85 (2010) 705-706.
I intend to respond to the reviews of my book in this blog when they have all come out. (I'm aware of two yet to be be published.)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Recent Publications - July 2010


Sara L. Uckelman, 'The Ontological Argument and Russell's Antinomy' in Logic and Logical Philosophy, 18 (2010) 309-312.

Abstract. In this short note we respond to the claim made by Christopher Viger that Anselm’s so-called ontological argument falls prey to Russell’s paradox. We show that Viger’s argument is based on a flawed premise and hence does not in fact demonstrate what he claims it demonstrates.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Recent Publications - June 2010 - Updated


M.J.S. Bruno, 'The Investiture Contest in Norman England: A Struggle Between St. Anselm of Canterbury and The Norman Kings: Part I' in American Benedictine Review, 61 (2010) 119-137.

J.R. Fortin, 'Saint Anselm and the Four Last Things' in American Benedictine Review, 61 (2010) 183-203.

P.D. Jones, 'Barth and Anselm: God, Christ and the Atonement' in International Journal of Systematic Theology, 12 (2010) 257-282.

P. Knauer, 'Anselm's Geschöpflichkeitsbeweis' in Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie, 132 (2010) 165-181.


L. Schumacher, Review of I. Logan, Reading Anselm's Proslogion: The History of Anselm's Argument and Its Significance Today in Modern Theology, 26 (2010) 471-473.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Saint Anselm Journal - change

The Saint Anselm Journal has not disappeared, it has changed its URL as the website appears to have been redeveloped.

You can now find it at:

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Additional Publications - May - 2010

The first number of the on-line journal, Philosophical Readings, is dedicated to 'Anselm of Aosta'. (The Aosta designation indicates the journal's Italian origins.) Thanks to Sara Uckelman for letting me know about this.


P. Gilbert, 'Le dialogue interreligieux chez Anselme' in Philosophical Readings, 1 (2009) 47-74.

D. Porello, 'La necessità di un’isola' in Philosophical Readings, 1 (2009) 5-45.

L. Vettorello, 'Riflessioni sulla prova anselmiana' in Philosophical Readings, 1 (2009) 75-84.


F. Siri, Review of Eadmero e Giovanni di Salisbury, Vite di Anselmo di Aosta, ed. by I. Biffi et al., Jaca Book, Milano 2009 and Anselmo d’Aosta, Opere filosofiche, ed. by S. Vanni Rovighi, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2008 in Philosophical Readings, 1 (2009) 85-91.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Recent Publications - May 2010 - Updated


G. Landini, 'Russell and the Ontological Argument' in Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, 29 (2009-10) 101-128.

R.A. Sharpe, 'Early Manuscripts of Anselm: A discussion with five manuscripts' in Gazette du livre medieval, 54 (Printemps 2009) 48-52.

A. Vanderjagt, 'Obedience Simple and True: Anselm of Canterbury on How to Defeat the Devil' in W. Otten, A. Vanderjagt & H. de Vries, How the West Was Won: Essays on Literary Imagination, the Canon and the Christian Middle Ages (Brill's Studies in Intellectual History, 188), Leiden 2010, pp. 393-408.


K. Shuve, Review of B. Ward, Anselm of Canterbury: His Life and Legacy in The Expository Times, 121 (2010) 420.

K.M. Staley, Review of K. Rogers, Anselm on Freedom in International Philosophical Quarterly, 50 (2010) 136-138.

Bertrand Russell Interviews St. Anselm of Canterbury

Entertaining account of Anselm's argument - see if you can disaggregate the errors from the insights!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Anselm's Letters to Women

Thanks to Eric Matthews for sending me this link to an on-line edition of Anselm's letters to women. The Latin text is that of Schmitt's Opera Omnia and the English translation is that of Walter Froehlich.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Recent Publications - April 2010 - Updated


J. Hopkins, 'How Not To Defend Anselm', January 2010.

G.B. Matthews & L.R. Baker, 'The ontological argument simplified' in Analysis, 70 (2010) 210-211.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Virgo mundo mirabilis

Translated by Ian Logan from a prayer of St Anselm to Our Lady in the 'Littlemore Anselm', Bodleian Library Ms. Auct. D.2.6.

Prayer to Saint Mary when the mind is beset with fear

Virgin, to the world, venerable,
Mother, to the human race, loveable,
Woman, to the angels, admirable,
Most holy Mary, by whose blessed virginity all chastity is consecrated,
By whose glorious motherhood all birth-giving is saved,
Great lady, to whom the joyful assembly of the just gives thanks,
To whom the terrified crowd of the guilty flees,
To you, Lady, so powerful and merciful,
I, a troubled sinner and undoubtedly more than a sinner, do fly.

Seeing myself, Lady, before the all powerful justice of a severe judge, and considering the unbearable vehemence of his anger,
I think of the enormity of my sins and of the fearsome nature of the torments that I deserve.
Therefore, most clement Lady, troubled as I am by so much horror, terrified by so much dread,
Whose intervention shall I implore more earnestly than that of her whose womb bore the reconciliation of the world?
From where shall I hope more confidently for assistance in necessity than from there where I know to have come forth atonement for the world?
Or whose intercession will obtain mercy for the guilty more easily, than she who nourished him, who is for all and for each the just punisher and the granter of mercy.
For, most blessed one, just as it is impossible that you should forget these merits, so unique to you, so necessary to us,
So, most gentle one, it is incredible that you would not show mercy to us wretched supplicants.
Indeed the world well knows, nor do we, the sinners of the world, allow it to be concealed in any way, O Lady, which son of man or rather the son of which man came to save what was lost.
Do you, then, my Lady, the mother of my hope, forget, out of hatred for me, what is so mercifully announced, so happily divulged to the world, and so lovingly embraced by it?
That good son of man came willingly to save the lost, so can the mother of God not attend to the cries of one who is lost?
That good son of man came to call the sinner to penitence, and does the mother of God despise the one who prays in penitence?
That good God, that gentle man, that merciful son of God, that tender son of man, came to seek the errant sinner, but do you, his good mother, the powerful mother of God, drive away the wretch whilst he prays?

For behold, O human virgin, the divine man was born of you that sinful man might be saved.
Behold in the presence of your good son and in the presence of his good mother, a sinful man confesses and does penance, sighs and prays.
Therefore, I beseech you, good Lord and good Lady,
I beseech you, tender son and tender mother,
I beseech you, by this very truth, by this unique hope of sinners,
That - just as you truly became her son and you his mother that the sinner might be saved - this sinner too may be absolved and cleansed, healed and saved.
May this your sinner prove in himself that truly you became a son and you a mother for the salvation of sinners,
And experience in himself that he belongs to you both.

For when I sinned against the son, I provoked the mother,
Nor did I offend the mother without injuring the son.
What then will you do, O sinner?
To whom will you fly, O sinner?
For who will reconcile me to the son, when the mother is my enemy?
Who will reconcile the mother to me, when the son is angered?
But even if you are both offended in the same way, are you not also both clement?
The guilty man may fly from the just God to the tender mother of the merciful God.
The guilty man may escape from the offended mother to the tender son of the benign mother.
The guilty man may rush from each to the other.
He may throw himself between the tender son and the tender mother.

Tender Lord, spare your mother’s servant.
Tender Lady, spare your son’s servant.
Good son, reconcile your mother to your servant.
Good mother, reconcile your servant to your son.
May I, who throw myself onto such immense tenderness, not throw myself onto such powerful severity.
Good son, good mother, may it not be in vain that I confess this truth about you,
May I not be ashamed for having hoped for this tenderness in you.
For I love the truth which I confess about you,
And I pray for the tenderness, which I hope for in you.

Say, Lord, judge of the world, whom you will spare,
Say, Lady, reconciler of the world, whom you will reconcile,
If you, Lord, should damn this little man, and you, Lady, should turn him away,
He who confesses your goodness with love, and his evil with grief.
If you, Lord, command, and you, Lady, consent
To the torments which torture the sinner, who hates himself and beseeches you,
If hell should consume the guilty man who accuses himself and prays to you;
If the infernal regions should devour the poor man who despairs of himself and hopes in you,
Then, unique Saviour, say whom you will save,
And mother of salvation, say for whom you will pray,

God, who became the son of a woman out of mercy,
Woman, who became the mother of God out of mercy,
Either have mercy on the wretched - You, Lord, by sparing him and you, Lady, by interceding for him -
Or reveal to whom I may flee, who is more merciful,
And show in whom I may put my trust more certainly.
For if, or rather because, my iniquity is so great and my faith so small, my love so tepid, my prayer so insipid, my satisfaction so imperfect,
That I deserve neither the forgiveness of my offences nor the grace of salvation,
It is for this, it is for this very reason that I pray that,
in so far as you see my merits are not enough,
you will not chose to remove your mercies from me.
So I pray, hear me.
I pray that on account of yourselves not on account of me
Through the tenderness which flows forth from you,
Through the power in which you abound,
That I may escape the deserved sorrows of the damned
And enter into the joy of the blessed,
Praising you, God, who are blessed and above all praise for ever and ever.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The most stupid account of Anselm's argument ever?

I must admit that it has never worried me that Anselm refers to the unbeliever as a fool. However, it clearly bothers Richard Dawkins, who thinks it is a 'cheek', and who in a fit of pique (it certainly wasn't a fit of rationality) has chosen to give us his take on Anselm's argument in his book, The God Delusion. Here is Dawkins' account of Anselm's argument.

'Bet you I can prove God exists.'
'Bet you can't.'
'Right then, imagine the most perfect perfect perfect thing possible.'
'Okay, now what?'
'Now, is that perfect perfect perfect thing real? Does it exist?'
'No, it's only in the mind.'
But if it was real it would be even more perfect, because a really really perfect thing would have to be better than a silly old imaginary thing. So I've proved that God exists. Nur Nurny Nur Nur [sic!]. All atheists are fools.'

In the process of writing my book on the Proslogion, I came across hundreds of accounts of Anselm's argument, some more flawed than others, to the most serious and influential of which I tried to respond. Nothing, however, comes close to Dawkins' account in terms of sheer stupidity.

Dawkins is offended aesthetically by Anselm's 'logomachist trickery'. He tells us that he doesn't like Anselm's argument, but is unable to say what, if anything, is actually wrong with it.

Funnily enough Dawkins inserts a footnote in this discussion in which he attacks Antony Flew. It reveals that Dawkins' approach to philosophical matters is that of a gossip columnist, who constantly commits the fallacy of pseudo-refuting description. (A term coined by Flew, as it happens.)

Involved in Dawkins' account is the implication that Anselm was trying to prove that the atheist is a fool. In fact, the description of the fool as an unbeliever in the psalms (13:1 and 52:1) is the trigger for Anselm's search for a rational argument for God, since, if Scripture says that it is foolish (insipiens) to deny God, then this means for Anselm that God's existence must be rationally demonstrable. If that is the case, then through topical analysis he will be able to discover an argument (a middle term) that delivers such a demonstration. Hence, the Proslogion.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Anselm on Facebook

St Anselm is now on Facebook. You may need a Facebook account to access this.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Shooting round corners

In anticipation of the forthcoming beatification of John Henry Newman, here's a short article (in .pdf format) that I wrote on Newman and Anselm in 1998: Shooting round corners.

Bibliographical reference: I. Logan, 'Shooting round corners: Newman and Anselm' in New Blackfriars, 79 (1998) 544-550.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Recent Publications - February 2010

H.J. McCann, 'God, Sin, and Rogers on Anselm: A Reply' in Faith and Philosophy, 26 (2009) 420-431.

T. Noone, 'Truth, Creation, and Intelligibility in Anselm, Grosseteste, and Bonaventure' in Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, 51 (2010) 102-126.

S.N. Vaughn, 'Saint Anselm and His Students Writing about Love: A Theological Foundation for the Rise of Romantic Love in Europe' in Journal of the History of Sexuality, 19 (2010) 54-73.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)

I was saddened to hear that Ralph McInerny, who had been ill for some time, died yesterday (29 January 2010). He was well-known as a teacher, Thomist philosopher and novelist, but also for his translations of some of Anselm's works in the edition produced by Brian Davies and Gillian Evans, Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. I had the good fortune to meet him when he was a visiting professor at Blackfriars in Hilary term 2008. He is remembered here and here.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Anselm's argument and the 'devil' parody

Yujin Nagasawa has just published an article which attempts to refute two versions of the 'devil' parody of Anselm's argument (those of Millican and Chambers). (See Y. Nagasawa, 'The ontological argument and the devil' in The Philosophical Quarterly, 60 (2010) 72-91.) Nagasawa's conclusion is that such attempted parodies fail as parodies because they are not structurally parallel to Anselm's argument (to which he unhelpfully, but in common with so many others, insists on referring as the ontological argument) or because they make assumptions that a proponent of Anselm's argument does not need to make. If one restructures a parody argument to meet these points, it is no longer a parody argument, but the argument itself (p.91).

One point that Nagasawa does not address is my suggestion that the proof of anti-God is a proof of the non-existence of anything that is nothing. (See Reading Anselm's Proslogion, p. 183). My view is that 'nothing' is a more accurate inversion of 'God' than 'devil'. In this way we can have a parody of Anselm's argument, which is not Anselm's argument, but is formally valid and produces a true conclusion. Of course, this would support the contention that Anselm's argument is sound.

My parody runs thus:

'Anti-God is that than which a lesser cannot be thought.
Anti-God does not exist in the understanding [alone] or it is not anti-God, since it is less great for it not to exist in reality than for it not to exist in the understanding [alone].
Therefore anti-God does not exist in the understanding or in reality, since this is less great than not existing in the understanding [alone].'