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:

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Recent Publications - October 2011 - Updated


C.I. Barrett, 'A Careful Reading of St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument' in Philosophy and Theology, 23 (2011) 217-230.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Recent Publications - September 2011


C. Heathwood, 'The relevance of Kant's objection to Anselm's ontological argument' in Religious Studies, 47 (2011) 345-357.
Ian Logan comments: Oops! This paper shifts from (i) Kant's objection undermines Anselm's argument (btw Kant had not read Anselm), to (ii) a plausible reading of Kant's objection undermines Anselm's argument to (iii) a plausible reading of Kant's objection is relevant to at least one popular and defensible reading of Anselm's argument. In fact, as a reading of Anselm it is not defensible (whether or not it is a defensible ontological argument is a different matter). From the very beginning of this article, the author goes astray - misled as are many non-Latinists by the appalling translation of S.N. Deane, so beloved of American philosophers of religion. The motto is 'Read Anselm before you write about him!' Another suggestion is that before you start taking too seriously the notion that 'existence is not a predicate' (or a first order concept/predicate, etc.) you really ought to read Colin McGinn's Logical Properties, in particular the chapter on 'Existence'.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Recent Publications - August 2011 - Updated


Y. Nagasawa, 'Anselmian Theism' in Philosophy Compass, 6 (2011) 564-571.
Ian Logan comments: In this defense of what Nagasawa refers to as 'Anselmian Theism', he writes: "Anselm deļ¬nes God as ‘something than which no greater can be thought (conceived)’." Well, Anselm didn't think he had defined God. For the dialectical tradition in which Anselm operated, if God could be defined, He would be the differentiated species of a genus and therefore would not be God. The key feature of Anselmian theism (if there were such a thing) would be the notion that God is greater than whatever we can think about Him. In fact, He must be greater than can be thought, if He is that than which a greater cannot be thought, since otherwise we could think of something greater than Him, i.e. something that is so great it is greater than can be thought. If we are going to discuss Anselm then we need to take account of such points. Otherwise, I'm not sure what the term 'Anselmian' should be taken to mean.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Recent Publications - August 2011


T.A. Heslop, 'St Anselm, Church Reform, and the Politics of Art' in Anglo-Norman Studies, 33 (2011) 103-126.
On 'the politically charged glazing scheme that Archbishop Anselm installed at Canterbury cathedral'.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

'AC Grayling's private university is odious'

An excellent polemic against Grayling's private 'atheist seminary' by Terry Eagleton : AC Grayling's private university is odious.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Recent Publications - June 2011


J. Whitman, 'The Other Side of Omnipotence: Anselm on the Dialectics of Divine Power' in Harvard Theological Review, 104 (2011) 129-146.


P. Madigan, 'Review of Benedicta Ward, Anselm of Canterbury: his Life and Legacy' in Heythrop Journal, 52 (2011) 473.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Will there be a place for Anselm...

... in the curriculum of London's new atheist seminary? If so, let's hope it is free of the idiotic treatment of Anselm by one of the seminary's founders, R. Dawkins. See my previous post: The most stupid account of Anselm's argument ever?

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Just as I was beginning to think...

... that the internet was a valuable tool for spreading philosophical understanding, I came across this drivel What do you think of this argument? on 'Yahoo Answers'. It's enough to make a rational man weep.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Recent Publications - May 2011 - Updated


Bruce Marshall, 'Anselm, Debt, and the Cross' in Nova et Vetera (English edition), 9 (2011) 163-181.


Jonathan Sanford, 'Review of Ian Logan, Reading Anselm's Proslogion: The History of Anselm's Argument and its Significance Today' in International Philosophical Quarterly, 51 (2011) 113-115.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Gareth Matthews 1929-2011

The philosopher, Gareth Matthews, died in Boston, USA, on 17 April. An obituary can be found here. May he rest in peace.

He wrote on Anselm over many years. Here are some articles that I am aware of.

'On conceivability in Anselm and Malcolm' in Philosophical Review, 70 (1961) 110-111

'Aquinas on Saying That God Doesn't Exist' in The Monist, 47 (1962/3) 472-477.
Ian Logan comments: Matthews presents a brief but interesting critique of Aquinas on Anselm and an equally brief and interesting critique of Anselm's argument as a proof that there is a contradiction involved in saying that God does not exist. Matthews argues that since there is no contradiction in saying 'For any given thing, a greater thing can always be conceived' and 'There is nothing than which a greater cannot be conceived', Anselm's argument, as proof of such a contradiction, fails. The problem with Matthews' objection is that it overlooks the uniqueness of 'that than which a greater cannot be thought', which for Anselm is so great that 'definitionally' nothing greater than it can be thought. Thus, talk about something than which a greater can be thought is talk about something other than 'that than which a greater cannot be thought'. The contradiction occurs when the atheist talks not about something else (as they do in the examples Matthews cites) but when they talk about that 'than which a greater cannot be thought', i.e. God.

'Anselm, Augustine and Platonism' in B. Davies & B. Leftow, eds, The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, CUP, Cambridge 2004, 61-83.

'Anselm's argument reconsidered' in The Review of Metaphysics 64 (2010) 31–54 (with L.R. Baker).

Recently Matthews and Baker were engaged in an exchange with Graham Oppy.

Matthew and Baker, 'The ontological argument simplified' in Analysis, 70 (2010) 210-212.

Oppy, 'Objection to a simplified ontological argument' in Analysis, 71 (2011) 105-106

Matthews and Baker, 'Reply to Oppy's fool' in Analysis, 71 (2011) 303-303.

Oppy, 'On behalf of the fool' in Analysis, 71 (2011) 304-306.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Recent Publications - March 2011


Special issue of International Journal for Philosophy of Religion with four papers relating to Anselm from the conference entitled ‘The Concept of God and the Cognitive Science of Religion’, held at the University of Birmingham, UK, 14-16 June 2009.

N. Kendrick, 'The non-Christian influence on Anselm's Proslogion argument' in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 69 (2011) 73-89.

B. Leftow, 'Why perfect being theology?' in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 69 (2011) 103-118.

G. Oppy, 'Perfection, near-perfection, maximality, and Anselmian Theism' in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 69 (2011) 119-138.

E. Wierenga, 'Augustinian perfect being theology and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob' in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 69 (2011) 139-151.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Recent Publications - February 2011 - Updated


L. Mackey, Faith in Order: Natural Theology in the Augustinian Tradition, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto 2011.
Publisher's blurb: From its first statement by Augustine, through its confirmation by Anselm and its spiritualization by Bonaventure, to its final and fundamental formulation by Duns Scotus, the Augustinian idea of order is clearly discernible in the characteristic proofs of God’s existence offered by these philosopher-theologians. Not without reason, since for all of them the being of God is the guarantor – origin, measure, and end – of the order of the cosmos. It is, moreover, the distinctive manner in which each of them defines the problem of theistic proof that reveals most perspicuously the way he conceives the idea of order that informs it. Their several proofs are their individual ways of appropriating their common heritage.
In this posthumous work, Louis Mackey sketches the adventures of the idea of order in the Augustinian tradition. Beginning with the proposition that not all who prove the existence of God are proving the same thing, nor do they understand the proof in the same way, Mackey shows how, even within the bounds of the Augustinian tradition, modes of proof and conceptions of what is to be proven can vary when questioned from within, as by Anselm’s fool, or challenged from without by the philosophy of Aristotle.


C.H. Conn, 'Anselmian Spacetime: Omnipresence and the Created Order' in Heythrop Journal, 52 (2011) 260-270.
Abstract: For Anselm, the attribute of omnipresence is not merely concerned with where God exists, but with where and when God exists. His account of this attribute thus precipitates a discourse on the nature of space and time: how they are related to God, to one another, and to the rest of the created order. In the course of this analysis Anselm articulates a number of positions which are generally thought to be the sole possession of modernity. In Part One of what follows I argue, first, that Anselm provides us with an analysis of objects which have both spatial and temporal parts, and second, that he provides us with a clear distinction between those objects which persist by enduring through time in their entirety and those which persist by being temporally extended. In Part Two I argue that Anselm's analysis of omnipresence is consciously informed by a conception of spacetime, according to which space and time form a single, four-dimensional manifold in which objects both persist and move.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Recent Publications - January 2011


L. Schumacher, 'The lost legacy of Anselm's argument: re-thinking the purpose of proofs for the existence of God' in Modern Theology, 27 (2011) 87-101.
Ian Logan comments: Schumacher stresses Anselm's Augustinianism leading her to depart somewhat from Anselm's text, which is why, I suspect, she has to say that 'Anselm implicitly concludes' in introducing a key step in her argument. She should perhaps have addressed what Anselm says in Ep. 136 to Fulk. He argues that rational arguments should be used against the impious so that they can see how irrational their rejection is, whilst Christians should accept on faith and progress to understanding. Schumacher's account addresses the Christian element of Anselm's Proslogion argument, but ignores the role of the unbeliever. The fool of the Proslogion is an unbeliever, and that is not irrelevant to what Anselm is doing in his argument.


T.J. Holopainen, 'Review of Ian Logan, Reading Anselm's Proslogion: The History of Anselm's Argument and its Significance Today' in Heythrop Journal, 52 (2011) 129-130.
Ian Logan comments: Holopainen too fails to understand the significance of the role of the unbeliever in the Proslogion.