A Peculiar “Faith”: On R.G. Collingwood's Use of Saint Anselm's Argument

Saint Anselm Journal 3 (2):32-47 (2006)

Abstract

In this paper, I discuss the role of Anselm’s ontological argument in the philosophy of R.G. Collingwood. Anselm’s argument appears prominently in Collingwood’s Essay on Philosophical Method (1933) and Essay on Metaphysics (1940), as well as in his early work Speculum Mentis (1924). In the proof, Collingwood finds the central expression of the priority of “faith” in the first principles of thought to reason’s activities. For Collingwood, it is Anselm’s proof that clearly expresses this relationship between faith and reason. The two elements of this analysis that must be understood if one is to understand Collingwood’s use of the proof are what he means by “the idea of an object that shall completely satisfy the demands of reason” and the “special case of metaphysical thinking.” I analyze both of these elements and conclude by showing how Anselm’s proof is essential to Collingwood’s historical science of mind

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