Archbishop of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury, also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the Church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. Called the founder of scholasticism, he is famous as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Born into the House of Candia, he entered the Benedictine order at the Abbey of Bec at the age of 27, where he became abbot in 1079.
Although born at Aosta in Alpine Italy and educated in Normandy, Anselm became a Benedictine monk, teacher, and abbot at Bec and continued his ecclesiastical career in England. Having been appointed the second Norman archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, Anselm secured the Westminster Agreement of 1107, guaranteeing the (partial) independence of the church from the civil state.
In a series of short works such as De Libertate Arbitrii (On Free Will), De Casu Diaboli (The Fall of the Devil), and the lengthier dialogue Cur Deus Homo (Why God became Man), Anselm propounded a satisfaction theory of the atonement, upon which the incarnation promises relief from the strict demands of divine justice. He defended a notion of the relation between philosophy and theology that, like Augustine's, emphasized the methodological priority of faith over reason, since truth is to be achieved only through "fides quaerens intellectum" ("faith seeking understanding"). Anselm Anselm's combination of Christianity, neoplatonic metaphysics, and Aristotelean logic in the form of dialectical question-and-answer was an important influence in the development scholasticism during the next several centuries.
As a philosopher, Anselm is most often remembered for his attempts to prove the existence of god: In De Veritate (Of Truth) he argued that all creatures owe their being and value to god as the source of all truth, to whom a life lived well is the highest praise. In the Monologion he described deity as the one most truly good thing, from which all real moral values derive and whose existence is required by the reality of those values.
Most famously, in the Proslogion (Addition), Anselm proposed the famous Ontological Argument, according to which god is understood as "aliquid quod maius non cogitari potest" ("that than which nothing greater can be conceived"). The being so conceived must necessarily exist in reality as well as in thought, he argued, since otherwise it would in fact be possible to conceive something greater—namely, something exactly simliar except that it really does exist. Thus, at least for Anselmian believers guided by a prior faith, god must truly exist as the simple, unified source of all perfections, a reality that excludes corruption, imperfection, and deception of every sort.
Works by St. Anselm
St. Anselm's prayers and meditations are to be read slowly, during times of peace. These devotions are intended to stir up within the reader the feelings of love and fear of God. When given honest consideration, they become a tool for self-examination. St. Anselm's meditations focus on the redemption of mankind. His prayers praise God for His glory and thank the Holy Spirit for His blessing, but they also ask for the strength to love and forgive our enemies during times of weakness. St. Anselm was known for his wisdom, and his commitment as a spiritual guide is evident in the five letters of spiritual counsel included in this volume. These letters contain some of St. Anselm's advice on life after death, religious conversion, sacred pilgrimage, and godly influence in the throne. This volume of St. Anselm's devotions also includes his Proslogion, a treatise concerning the existence of God in which he presents the Ontological argument. When broken into small segments, the Proslogion can be used for meditative purposes as well.
In this compilation of St. Anselm's most important works, St. Anselm uses reason and philosophical argument to defend the Christian faith against non-believers. St. Anselm stresses the importance of our rational nature as humans, encouraging Christians that they should be "always ready to convince anyone who demands of them a reason of that hope which is in us." In his Proslogium, St. Anselm presents the Ontological Argument, an argument for the existence of God in which God is defined as, "a being than which none greater can be conceived." In Behalf of the Fool by Gaunilon, St. Anselm discusses a counterargument offered by his contemporary, Gaunilon, a Benedictine monk who questioned St. Anselm's definition of God. Monologium considers the attributes of God, while Cur Deus Homo (translated, "Why God Became Man") addresses difficult questions about the Incarnation. This collection is a fine example of the intertwining of medieval philosophy and Christian apologetics. St. Anselm's argument for the existence of God influenced many philosophers in the early modern era and continues to influence thinkers today.
St. Anselm's Book of Meditations and Prayers features twenty-one meditations, which focus on several contrasting concepts within the Christian faith. For example, St. Anselm compares the sinner's fears and the sinner's hopes by meditating on the nature of sin, which separates us from God, and the grace of God, which draws sinners back to salvation. St. Anselm also addresses the sinner's past and the sinner's future by meditating on the nature of the wicked soul, which finds a life of misery, and the nature of the good soul, upon which God bestows glory. Finally, St. Anselm explores the paradox of the Incarnation, meditating on the humanity of Christ by which Christ interacts with his people, and the godliness of Christ, by which Christ redeems his people. St. Anselm's deep desire to understand his faith is evidence in this collection of keenly insightful meditations.
Popularity is calculated by comparing this book's number of views to our most commonly read book. Popularity is calculated by comparing this book's number of editions to the book with the largest number of editions.