Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/615

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549

ANSELM


549


ANSELM


lie li:is been declared a Doctor of the Church by Cleiiioiit XI, 1720, and in the office read on his feast <l:iy (21 April) it is said that his works are a pattern for all theologians. Yet it may be doubted whether liis position is generally appreciated by students of divinity. In some degree his work has been hidden by the fabric reared on his fountlations. His books were not adopted, like tliose of Peter Lombard and St. Thomas, as the usual text of commentators and lecturers in tlicologj', nor was he constantly cited as an authority, like St. -Augustine. This was nat- ural enough, since in the next century new methods came in with the rise of the Arabic and Aristotelean pliilosophy; the "Books of Sentences" were in some ways more fit for regular theological reading; .\nselm was yet too near to have the venerable authority of the early Fathers. For these rea.sons it may be said that his writings were not properly appreciated till time had brought in other changes in the schools, and men were led to study the history of theology. lUit though his works are not cast in the systematic form of t he " Summa " of St. Thomas, they cover the whole field of Catholic doctrine. There an? few pages of our theology that have not been illustrated by the labours of .A.nselm. His treatise on the procc.s.sion of the Holy Spirit has helped to guide scholastic speculations on the Trinity, his "Cur Dcus Homo" throws a flood of light on the theology of the .Vtonement. and one of his works anticipates much of the later controversies on Free Will and Predestination. In the seventeenth cen- tury, a Spanish Benedictine, Cardinal d'Aguirre, made the writings of Anselm the gromulwork of a course of theology, " S. .\nsclmi Thcologia " (Sala- manca, 1678-81). Unfortunately the work never got beyond the first three folio \olumes, containing the commentaries on the " .Monologium ". In re- cent years Dom .\nselm Ocs<"nyi, O.S.B. has accom- plished the task on a more modest scale in a little Latin volume on the theology of St. Anselm, "De Tlicologia S. Anselmi" (Briinn, 1884).

Besides being one of the fathers of schola.stic the- ology, .A.nsclm fills an important place in the his- torj' of pliilosophic speculation. Coming in the first phase of the controversy on Universals, he had to meet the extreme Nominalism of Roscelin; partly from this fact, partly from his native Platoni.sm, his Realism took what may be considered a somewhat extreme form. It was too soon to find the golden mean of moderate Realism, accepted by later phi- losophers. His position was a stage in the process, and it is significant that one of his biographers, John of Salisbury, was among the first to find the true solution (Stockl, History of Media;val Philosophy, I. 4-.'5).

.\nselm's chief achievement in philosophy was the ontological argument for the existence of God put forth in his " Proslogium". Starting from the notion that God is " that than which nothing greater can be thought", he argues that what exists in reality is greater than that which is only in the mind; wherefore, .since "God is that than which nothing greater can be thought ", He exists in reality. The validity of the argument was disputed at the outset by a monk namcil Gaunilo, who wrote a criticism on it to which .\n.selni replied. Eadmer tells a curious storj' about St. .\nselm's anxiety while he was trying to work out this argument. He couKl think of nothing else for days together. And when at last he saw it clearly. heWas filled with joy, and made haste to commit it to writing. The waxen tablets were given in charge to one of the monks, but when thev were wanted they were missing. .\n- selm managed to recall the argument; it was written on fresh tablets and given into safer keeping. But when it was wanted it was found that the wax wius broken to pieces. Anselm with some difficulty put


the fragments together and had the whole copied on parchment for greater security. The story sounds like an allegory of the fate which awaited this famous argument, which was lost and found again, pulled to pieces and restored in the course of controversy. Rejected by St. Thomas and his f()llf>wers, it was revived in another form by Des- cartes. After being a.ssailed by Kant, it was de- fended by Hegel, for whom it had a peculiar fascina- tion; he recurs to it in many parts of his writings. In one place he says that it is generally used by later philosopliei's, "yet always along with the other proofs, although it alone is the true one" (German Works, XII, 547). As.sailants of this argument should remember that all minds are not cast in one mould, and it is easy to understand how some can feel the force of arguments that are not felt by others. But if this proof were indeed, as some consider it, an absurd fallacy, how could it appeal to such minds as those of Anselm, Descartes, and Hegel? It may be well to a<ld th:it the argument was not rejected by all the groat SiIiohIimcm. It was accepted by Alexander of Hales (.Sununa, Pt. I, Q. iii, memb. 1, 2), and supported by Scotus. (In I, Dist. ii, Q. ii.) In modern times it is accepted by Mohler, who quotes Hegel's defence with ap- proval.

It is not often that a Catholic saint wins the ad- miration of German philosophers and English historians. But Anselm lias this singular distinction. Hegel's appreciation of his mental ])owers may be matched by Freeman's warm words of praise for the great Archbishop of Canterbury. "Stranger as he was, he has won his place among the noblest worthies of our island. It was something to be the model of all ecclesiastical perfection; it was something to be the creator of the theologj" of Christendom; but it was something higher still to be the very embodi- ment of righteousness and mercy, to be handed down in the annals of humanity as the man who saved the hunted hare and stood up for the holiness of JE\- fheah" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 444).

Collections of the works of St. Anselm were issued soon after the invention of printing. Ocsdnyi men- tions nine earlier than the sixteenth century. The first attempt at a critical edition was that of Th. Raynaud, S.J. (Lyons, Ifi.'iO), which rejects many spurious works, e. g. the Commentaries on St. Paul. The best editions are those of Dom Gcrberon, O.S.B. (Paris, 1G75, 1721; Venice 1744; Migne, 184.5). Most of the more important works have also been issued separately; thus the " Monologium " is included in Hurter's "Opuscula S.S. Patrum" and published with the "Proslogium" by Haas (Tubingen). There are numerous separate editions of the "Cur Dcus Homo" and of Anselm's "Prayers and Medi- tations"; these last were done into English by Archbi-shop Laud (1038), and there are French and German versions of the "Meditations" and the "Monologium". "Cur Deus Homo" has also been traiLslated into English and German; -see also the translations by Deano (Chicago, 1903). For An- selm's views on education, see Bec, Abbey of.

Tlie chief sources for Anselm's life are his own letters and the two biographical works of his friend, disciple, and serretar.v. Eadmer, monl< of Canterbury, and Bishop-elect of .St. Andrews. Kaomkr's Uistoria X tvoriim may be called the "Life and Times of St. Anselm"; his Vita S. Antclmi gives the inner


of the works of St. Anselm. The second work of Eadmer has been many times reprinted: an edition wa-s published by Nutt (London. ISSIJ), together with Cur Drut Homo. Both have been e<lited in the Rolla SrrUs by Martin Rui.k. Besides, there is a brief account of the miracles of St. Anselm which is also ascribed to Eadmer. but its authorship is doubtful. Pbnr. l{\r.r.y, in his valuable French monograph on Eadmer, ha-s vindicated the veracity of the medieval chronicler, whose methods have much in common with those of the best modern biographers. Other early writers on Anselm. such as John or Sai.isbchy. add some new details, but their account of the