St. Anselm Journal 6 (2):1-8 (2009)

Michael Barnwell
Niagara University
Although De Casu Diaboli is not a traditional locus for a discussion of faith and reason, it is nonetheless subtly permeated by this topic in two ways. The first concerns Anselm’s general strategy for answering the student’s questions regarding the cause of the devil’s first sin. Anselm ends by claiming the devil willed incorrectly for no other cause than that his will so willed. Anselm thus ultimately calls upon the student to have faith in the mysterious, libertarian selfdetermining power of the created will; explanation must cease and the student must accept that God would only have punished the devil if the devil’s will were freely to blame. This implicit, ultimate appeal to faith appears in stark contrast to the content of the entire treatise—a treatise up to that point filled with explanations of how the devil sinned in terms of the structure of the angels’ wills and intellects. In other words, the purpose of the treatise had been to provide a reason for the devil’s sin. It would seem that such reasons-giving discussions which occupy the first part of the work would be unnecessary if Anselm were ultimately to appeal to the student to rest upon his faith. The first part of the paper accordingly explores and attempts to alleviate this seeming tension. Additionally, Anselm explains that the devil had some compelling reasons to choose the way in which he did given his particular epistemic state. Despite this, the devil was to have faith in God’s prohibition and not follow his reasons for doing otherwise. The second part of the paper, therefore, discusses how the relative priority of faith can be inferred from Anselm’s discussion of the devil’s first sin.
Keywords Anselm  Devil  Fall  Sin  Faith  Reason  will  intellect  ignorance
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