Anselm and the Question of God's Existence: Interrogating the Ontological Argument

Nigerian Journal of Theology 31:96-110 (2017)

Damian Ilodigwe
Ss Peter And Paul Major Seminary, Ibadan
St Anselm is one of the major thinkers of the medieval epoch of the history of philosophy. Interest in Anselm usually focuses on his discussion of the problem of the existence of God especially as contained in the Proslogion. Indeed Anselm is mostly known for his attempt to proof the existence of God in the Proslogion. The argument he advances here which goes by the name ontological argument has been a point of reference all through the history of Western philosophy and is usually viewed as his most substantive contributions to philosophy of religion, with Hume and Kant criticizing it in the eighteenth century and thinkers such as Hartshorne, Malcom and Plantinga endorsing it in the Twentieth century. Like Augustine before him and Aquinas after him, Anselm did not see any opposition between faith and reason, or again, between philosophy and theology, as he was concerned with providing rational ground for the doctrines of Christianity which he already accepted as a matter of faith. Indeed as commentators rightly note, Anselm’s thought can be summed up in the Augustinian dictum, “faith seeks understanding”, so that he is arguably one of the early pioneers of Christian theology, so far as he sees certain solidarity between faith and reason, with reason providing the excellent service of rational clarification of what we accept by faith. The inter-play Anselm sees as subsisting between faith and reason is one we must take into account if we must appreciate his contributions to theology and metaphysics, for this consideration permeates the whole of his thought. For him clearly, that there is no divorce between faith and reason means concretely that “I do not seek to understand in other that I may believe, but rather I believe in order that I may understand”.
Keywords Anselm  Aquinas  Ontological Argument  Cosmological arguent  Existence of God  Faith  Reason
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