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Anselm of Canterbury: Nature, Order and the Divine

Durham, 9th-11th July, 2019

Below is the list of speakers, who attended the Conference, with short abstracts of their papers.

Updated 19th September 2019.


Session 1: Truth and Experience


i) Experiencing Truth and Attaining Knowledge in Anselm’s Philosophical Theology

   Sigbjørn Sønnesyn, Durham University, UK


Anselm famously placed great emphasis on the use of reason in attaining truth, even theological truth. He combined this with a sophisticated analysis of the truth of words and propositions. This move became a cornerstone also for his moral theology, which was inextricably bound to his thinking on truth. This paper seeks to study the consequences of this perceived organic unity between moral development and knowledge acquisition for Anselm’s thinking on reason and truth. It will be argued that by framing knowledge acquisition within a moral framework, Anselm relies on a concept of reason that, far from being disembodied, is rooted in experience, bodily and spiritual as well as intellectual.  


ii) Anselm on Truth as Free and Historical

    Montague Brown, St Anselm’s College, USA


Anselm is famous for touting the powers of reason to know the truth about even the most mysterious matters, including the Trinity and the Incarnation. In the introductions to both his Monologion and his Cur Deus Homo, he announces his plan to consider matters related to the divine and to divine-human relations as if he had no knowledge of Scripture and revealed truth. He speaks as if knowledge of the Trinity (why it is necessary that the one God be three persons) and the Incarnation (why it is necessary that God became man) are available to us on the grounds of natural reason alone. However, as Anselm develops his understanding of truth, it becomes clear that his understanding of rational necessity is not, to his mind, at all at odds with the free creation of the world, the freedom of our intelligence and choice, and therefore the freedom of truth. This paper is comprised of four parts. The first presents Anselm’s claims for necessary reasons for the existence of God, the Trinity, and the Incarnation. The second part examines the texts in which Anselm defines truth as rectitude, and how this moves the central focus from reason as primarily theoretical to reason as practical or moral, which only exists as free. The third section considers some texts from his later works, especially De Concordia, in which he makes clear the absolute precedence of grace—the free gifts of creation and salvation—to all our endeavors, and how this underlines his notion of free truth, in contrast to the idea of necessary reasons. The final part points to passages from his earlier works which support this understanding of truth, indicating the ultimate consistency of Anselm’s thought.


iii) Faith as ‘Experience’: Anselm and the Appeal to the Catholicus

     Gianmarco Bisogno, Università degli studi di Salerno, Italy


 In his writings Anselm - although he defined his investigation method as an analysis of reality ‘made up sola ratione’ - never considered that his research could be achieved without the necessary support of faith. This procedure, explicitly recognisable in Anselm's production, is present above all in the first lines of the Responsio to Gaunilo: Anselm - in order to respond to the intelligent criticism about the unum argumentum – focuses his thoughts on the interlocutor’s ‘origin’. In fact, Gaunilo is not an insipiens but a ‘catholicus who plays the role of the insipient’ and therefore - to clarify his proof of the existence of God even more effectively – ‘it may be sufficient to answer to the Catholic’ (sufficere mihi potest respondere catholico). This reversal of perspective has a very precise motivation: Anselm’s reference to the common religion, in fact, is the manifestation of a different prospect that exists between the two thinkers. It is not an innocent return to the background into which both are united but indicates a different interpretation of the concept of faith. Replacing the insipiens, Gaunilo takes on the implications of the statement ‘Non est Deus’ - asserting that the existence of an entity is essentially a sensitive property. Thus, God is only an object of faith because he cannot be perceived. Anselm, on the other hand – ‘expanding’ the concept - believes that ‘existence’ can be ‘real’ even though it is not immediately based on empirical data. But this extension of ‘existence’ is possible if we consider faith as an experience that authorizes us to look at the sensitive datum not as an exhaustive fact of reality. In this contribution we intend to investigate this character of faith as horizon that allows the rethinking of the concept of existence.



Session 2: Natural Causes


i) Anselm, Nature, and Natural Imagery

   Giles E. M. Gasper, Durham University, UK


This paper will explore the range of reference Anselm of Canterbury makes to nature, as reported phenomena and as metaphor and image for other subjects. The mode and context of Anselm's observations, and indications of source material, will be considered. Particular case studies include the image of the bent stick in De concordia, the prevalence of particular animals in stories about Anselm, for example the hare as utlised by Eadmer, and the use of nature in theological reflection notably on creation and the cosmos. These theme open up a different and fresh perspective on Anselm’s writing and sources of inspiration.


ii) On Truth, Sight, and Zoology: Discovering Anselm in Alexander Neckam’s De naturis rerum

    Tim Farrant, University of Oxford, UK


Through comparative reading, this paper demonstrates the presence and significance of Anselmian ideas of ‘truth’ and ‘sight’ in book two of Alexander’s De naturis rerum. Contrary to historiographical suggestions, such a reading emphasises the theological, rather than the scientific, nature of Neckam’s choice of imagery. Specifically, Neckam’s striking expositions on sight and zoology (in the DNR’s section titled De visu) are viewed as extended exercises in biblical exegesis – employed for the informed reader to discover divine mystery. This approach to Neckam’s text has positive implications on modern interpretations of perception and animal imagery in the Middle Ages, and further identifies Neckam’s reliance upon the earlier treatises of Anselm (such as De veritate).


iii) The Death of Anselm

    Barbara Hargreaves, Durham University, UK


Eadmer’s account of the death of Anselm, found in his Life of the Saint, recounts Anselm’s gradual demise, final hours and eventual passing. Eadmer’s narrative is, so he says, an eyewitness account, one that he articulated to his reader through the lens of his contemporary hagiographical expression. This paper will consider Eadmer’s account of Anselm’s death in and of itself, but also in the light of both Lanfranc’s Monastic Constitutions and death narratives from other twelfth-century monastic English saints. It will ask whether Lanfranc’s mandated death ritual, of particular significance in Anselm’s instance since he succeeded Lanfranc to the See of Canterbury, was followed in Anselm’s case, and what might be inferred from any variation. It will also seek to understand Anselm’s death account within the wider context of other monastic deaths of the period, asking questions such as: how did hagiographers use the final illness and death of a saint within the narrative of a Life; what, if anything, can be learnt from both commonalities and variances about Anselm’s death account in particular and more broadly, what can be understood about the hagiographical expression of the death of a man portrayed and positioned as a saint?



Session 3: Models for Treatises


i) Free Will and Divine Grace: Method and Model in Anselm’s De concordia

   Marcia Colish, Yale University, USA


As is often noted, Anselm typically avoids explicit quotations from his authorities and the citation of proof-texts, preferring to weave what he takes from his sources seamlessly into his own arguments. Although observing in the De veritate that prefaces his treatment of free will in De libertate arbitrii and De casu diaboli that their subjects pertain to the study of Holy Scripture, he cites biblical texts quite sparsely in these works. But in the third part of De concordia, his final consideration of that topic, Anselm presents a barrage of conflicting biblical texts on free will and grace. This departure from Anselm’s usual method has been noted in passing but never cogently explained. This paper proposes that Anselm drew on John Cassian as the model for his strategy of argument in De concordia 3. Wrongly accused of Pelagianism by would-be defenders of the late Augustine, Cassian dismisses the charge, in particular in his Collation 13, exploring the Bible’s variegated positions on grace and free will and explaining how they should be understood against what he regards as Augustine’s tendentious and monocular reading of St. Paul. Recommended specifically in the Rule of St. Benedict and cited as a patristic authority in the early Middle Ages, Cassian was no stranger to monastic writers in Anselm’s day. A comparison between Anselm’s De concordia 3 and Cassian’s Collation 13 suggests both Anselm’s appropriation of Cassian’s methodology and his simultaneous dependence on and independence from Cassian’s conclusions in working out his own position vis-à-vis Augustine on grace and free will.


ii) Divine Order – Created Order: The Inapplicability of the Aristotelian Categories to God in the Monologion

    John Demetracopoulos, University of Patras, Greece


Anselm’s treating of the issue of the (in)applicability of Aristotle’s Categories to God, heavily and directly indebted to Augustine’s, Boethius’ and Claudianus Mamertus’ previous discussions, follows the arguments for the existence of God in Monologion 1-4 and their corollaries with regard to God as the Creator and conservator of the world (5-14). Anselm classifies the demonstrata of Monologion 1-14 partly under the ad aliquid (God qua “summus omnium”, “major”, “praestantior omnibus” etc.) and partly to facere (“creator” etc.). This is useful for proving His existence, but inadequate for grasping Him “substantialiter”. This leads him to meticulously address this question: “quid omnium quae de aliquo dici possunt huic admirabili naturae queat convenire substantialiter” (15). “Aliquid dicere de aliquo” is Boethius’ translation of Aristotle’s “legein ti kata tinos” (Categories 1a20), and it refers to the ten Categories. A detailed reconstruction of ch. 15-28 shows that Anselm’s program run as follows. 1st stage (19-24): Categories absolutely inapplicable to God (jacere, affici, habere, quando and ubi); 2nd stage (1-14): Categories which can, in some sense, be applied to God by describing His ad extra aspects (facere; ad aliquid); 3rd stage (15-18; 25-28: “illis quae relative dicuntur omissis…”): Categories referring to God per se or “substantialiter” (quantitas; qualitas; substantia-essentia). Stage 1 is purely negative. No jacere, affici etc. can describe God at all; the divine order radically differs from the bodily substances. Stage 2 is partially “cataphatic” (God is truly “creator”; God recapitulates all time and space) and partially “apophatic” (God’s creative activity is not the core of His being). Stage 3 is radically “apophatic”; it results in establishing Augustine’s identification of God’s qualities and quantities with His very substance and transformation of the Aristotelian substance to the Porphyrean (intelligible) essence. God is, in His core, an absolutely unknown “quid”; the divine order and the created order are fundamentally different.


iii) The Role of Spiritual Senses in the Argument of the Proslogion

   Michael Vendsel, Tarrant County College, USA


The Proslogion opens with a prayer in which Anselm laments his sinfulness and the hiddenness of God. In Proslogion 17 he picks up this theme again, only now his lament is couched in the language of spiritual senses. He says that in an ineffable way God has the qualities of beauty, harmony, fragrance, savor, and softness and that he has ‘given them in their own perceptible way to the things [he] created.’ Yet Anselm finds himself unable to perceive these things because ‘the senses of my soul have been stiffened, dulled, and obstructed by the longstanding weakness of sin.’ This is the only place in the Proslogion where the spiritual senses receive mention. Based on what Anselm says here, however, it seems that some conception of them is operating in the background and guiding the text. In this paper, therefore, I explore Anselm’s understanding of theses senses and the way they shape the Proslogion. In part 1 I look briefly at the nature of spiritual senses in the Christian tradition prior to Anselm, especially in the writings of Augustine. In part 2 I look at what Anselm says about spiritual senses in his other writings and compare that with the earlier tradition. In part 3 I explore how that understanding of the senses might shape our reading of the Proslogion, and especially its argument for the existence of God.



Session 4: Divine Existence


i) An Anselmian Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

   Richard Campbell, The Australian National University, Australia


Anselm’s Proslogion II is standardly interpreted as containing his infamous ‘ontological argument’.  If that were true, the argument would be invalid.  However, the text of chapters II and III can faithfully be read as an interlinked three-stage argument which does validly entail that God exists. This paper demonstrates that the conclusions of all three stages can also be proven by an alternative argument whose premises are indisputable but a posteriori.  It demonstrates how Anselm’s argumentation supports a novel cosmological argument. This alternative argument deduces Anselm’s conclusions in Stages One and Two from the evident fact that something exists contingently.  It requires nothing else than Anselm’s formula, his rules of inference, a definition of ‘Greater Than’, and a minor premise implicit in that definition.  Thereby, it proves that something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought exists so truly that it could not be thought not to exist.  That conclusion, plus one extra premise – “Whatever is other than You can be thought not to exist” – entails Anselm’s Stage Three conclusions: that something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought is ‘You, Lord, our God’; that his God so truly exists that He could not be thought not to exist; and God’s uniqueness.  It has been objected, however, that that extra premise is question-begging and circular.  Not so; it can be justified by three additional premises:

(a)      All of the universe exists contingently;

(b)     Whatever can be thought to exist contingently can be thought to be caused to exist;

(c)      If a Creator of everything else were to exist, the existence of that Creator could not be contingent on anything else.

This alternative Anselmian argument does not involve the fraught issue of intentional objects, nor does it rely upon ‘what is said’.  Rather, it relies on verified facts supported by modern empirical science.  So, it is a valid cosmological argument, even stronger than Anselm’s original.


ii) Denying the Divine: Anselm and Atheism

   Ian Logan, University of Oxford, UK


It is a commonplace, if not a cliché, amongst Anselm’s commentators that his work is directed to Christians and not unbelievers. As Karl Barth says: ‘Certainly not one of Anselm’s writings appeals to us as being addressed directly to those outside that is as “apologetic” in the modern sense.’ (FQI, pp. 62f..) Yet, Anselm is aware of the presence of the unbeliever in society, as evidenced by the writings of his pupils, Ralph of Battle and Gilbert Crispin, and certainly addresses the question of the denial of God in the Proslogion.  The question then must be asked: ‘Why doesn’t Anselm address himself directly to unbelievers?’ Behind this question is another broader question concerning the philosophical, theological and cultural status of unbelief in 11th and 12th century Western Europe. In the context of this paper ‘unbelief’ (as distinct from heresy) refers firstly to the rejection of the Christian message, and only secondly to the rejection of belief in God, whether conceived in a Christian sense or not. The existence of unbelief in the first sense is well documented within and on the peripheries of Europe (in the form of Jews, Muslims and Pagans). However, it is unclear to what extent, if any, there existed people who were unbelievers in the second sense, who in the modern period would be identified as atheists. In this paper, I will address briefly the question of the presence of such atheists in Anselm’s world and look at Anselm’s knowledge of atheism and its sources (written and oral). In conclusion, I will make some suggestions concerning the nature of Anselm’s response to atheism.


iii) Does Anselm Define God?

    Jurgen Scherb, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Germany


A considerable part of philosophy consists of hermeneutic discussions and debates. Their main aim is to clarify arguments and concepts which had been used by renowned authors in classical texts. As a famous example one can mention Saint Anselm’s Proslogion 2-4 arguments and the succeeding debate with Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. If one is prepared to push questions of logical consequence aside for a moment there remains a further often heard epistemological question, indeed a Quaestio disputata et disputanda. Does Anselm define a monotheistic concept of God in his Proslogion? As always in philosophy there are controversial answers. Some of them (e. g. the Kneales 1962, 201) are positive and others negative (e. g. Logan 2009, 18 et 91). Moreover, there exists also a middle way proposal by Richard Heinzmann (PhM 1992, 172), which speaks of a quasi-definition. Following certain remarks of Boethius, Ian Logan describes Anselm’s formula aliquid quo … as a description which plays the role of a middle term in his P-arguments. Despite their contradictory character on the surface my answer is conciliatory: all three readings are possible, but obviously rest on (i) different readings of the Boethian tradition and (ii) on different methodological ideas about definitions. My aim is to analyze the just mentioned proposals from a modern point of view, but without neglecting historical facts. That includes a preliminary answer to the question: What is a good definition? To give a solid answer we have to investigate firstly the Boethian concept of definition and description. Secondly choose between two modern proposals for a theory of definitions. Finally, I shall present my answer which will give room for both if not three sides. It will be based on a comprehensive hermeneutics which includes the quidditative (second) order



Session 5: Anselm, Prayer, and Love


i) ‘Mother of the Life of my Soul’ Anselm’s Three Prayers to St Mary

    Margaret Valerie Douglas, Independent Scholar, Eire


In his 1903 translations of The Devotions of St. Anselm, Clement Webb, a fellow of St. Mary Magdalen College, Cambridge wrote in his introduction, that he had refrained from translating the prayers to St. Mary and other saints, as they ‘would be uncongenial to modern Anglican feeling’. Those sensitivities, however, arose from centuries of doctrine and religious practice, and a Reformation that Anselm could never have imagined. Maybe therefore, it is necessary to consider those devotions, particularly the prayers to St. Mary, within the context of Anselm’s era and the influences that played upon this remarkable man of faith. Anselm’s three prayers to Mary, his emotive, self- deprecating Prayers, seem at first glance to have come from another source. They read as wildly out of control, for a man of such intellect. With florid phrases, they endorse the virgin birth, they venerate the emotional closeness of mother and son and importantly, dwell on her mental torture at witnessing the brutal death of her Son. The last carrying with it, contentious implications of co-redemption. I have chosen three factors that may in some way contextualise Anselm’s excesses; his early background, personality and professional circumstance within church and state, the incidental influence of St Augustine of Hippo and his access to the writings of the Eastern Fathers. It is the interplay of these which, at a millennial distance can, I contest, only enrich his more notable writings, as they reflect his very personal wonder at Cur Deus homo and the womanly instrument of that momentous event.


ii) Anselm and John Gualbert’s Prayers for Enemies

    Hiroko Yamazaki, Bunkyo University, Japan


Anselm and John Gualbert were Benedictines in the 11th century who both wrote Prayers for Enemies. In my presentation the content of Anselm’s Prayer for Enemies is considered by comparing it with that of John Gualbert. John Gualbert prayed God to forgive his enemies by asking the Lord’s indulgence. He prayed for the people who want him to do evil, are enemies of him, are hostile to him and persecute him. He implored to God that he can love both friends and enemies. On the other hand, Anselm prays by using the expression ‘nos (we)’ including enemies. Anselm and his enemies are common in the point that they have the same purpose that they love God. He thinks not only of himself but also his enemies as the subject. Anselm prays Lord’s indulgence for his soul because he has a strong consciousness that he is a sinner and thinks that he is not worthy enough to ask the Lord for indulgence to others. As a result Anselm and John Gualbert have different points of view with respect to whom they pray and for whom they ask the Lord’s indulgence.



iii) The Liturgical Nature of the Prayers and Meditations and Spiritual Leadership

    Tamás Székely, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Budapest, Hungary


Benedicta Ward in her introduction to Anselm’s Prayers and Meditations demonstrates the liturgical and monastic background of these texts. She distinguishes writes three categories of prayer. In the first are the prayers directly connected to the liturgy (e.g. Prayer before Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ; The Prayer to the Cross). In the second are liturgical citations (e.g. the antiphone in The Prayer to St. Peter, in the Prayer to St Mary Magdalene the lines of the Victimae Paschali laudes hymn quoted). In the third category we can find meditations without liturgical connections (e.g. The Prayer for Friends, The Prayer for Enemies). Ward also highlights the aims about of these texts, i.e. to help private devotion of nobles and other monks who by reading these prayers might meditate on them. In Anselm’s time meditating, praying and reading were three ways of the same practise having come from a longstanding tradition.  In my opinion we can see Anselm’s prayers as documents of his spiritual leadership. How can we help busy people to deepen their faith in God? The same problem pastors in 2019 are facing. In Anselm’s correspondence we can detect the strong effect of his prayers and meditations on his readers, and we can see opportunities for dialogue. The first type of dialogue is the one between the author and his readers (e.g. Abbot Durand writes to Anselm in Letter 70 about the tears of Anselm’s contrite heart, and the strong effect this had on him and other monks). The second dialogue is between the reader and the text itself when the reader through reading the prayer feels or thinks something. Finally, the third one is the inner dialogue after the reading, when the reader makes decisions concerning his or her own life. The first type can be detected directly in sentences from the Anselmian correspondence, while the other two types were aimed at by Anselm the letter writer. These three types together are also related to the liturgy, since we can read them as liturgies on their own rights. I would like to demonstrate this approach on the Prayer to St Peter, and on the first meditation with some of his relevant letters.



Session 6: Ontology and Definitions


i) An sit Deus? Some Reflections on the Anselmian undertones of an unedited Quaestio from the circle of St. Bonaventure

   William Crozier, Durham University, UK


Amongst the many manuscript treasures housed in the communal library at Todi, one manuscript in particular holds especial significance for Bonaventurian scholars; namely, MS. 58. Dated to the last quarter of the thirteenth-century, this manuscript contains an extensive set of disputed questions on theology which were edited by the late George Tavard and attributed by him (somewhat controversially) to St. Bonaventure. The manuscript also contains one the earliest known complete transcriptions of the first book of Bonaventure’s Sentence Commentary, as well as a short treatise on the divine transcendence. However, as is less well recognized, Todi 58 also contains a set of two anonymous disputed questions on God. These are placed between the transcription of Bonaventure’s Sentence Commentary and the quaestiones de theologia. Both of these questions remain unedited and unexplored. This paper focuses upon the first of these quaestiones: ‘An sit Deus?’ (Is there a God?) In particular, it explores, how the author of this quaestio – be he Bonaventure or not – appropriates Anselm’s famous ontological argument in his Proslogion. Whilst the paper does not seek to resolve the issue of Bonaventurian authorship, it does seek to show the text’s affinity with the Bonaventurian school, especially the latter’s allegiance to Anselm’s argument as contained in the Proslogion. In particular, attention shall focus upon how the author of the quaestio employs Anselm’s maxim ‘God is that of which nothing greater can be thought’, and how, in turn, he marries the Anselmian argument with other a priori arguments for God’s existence as well as several arguments based on causality, in particular those associated with Thomism.


ii) Anselm’s Ontological Argument and Faith as a Spur, Orientation and Criterion of Reason

Roberto di Ceglie, University of Edinburgh, UK


Anselm’s ontological argument has traditionally been seen as the outcome of an impressively effective rational enterprise. This argument—so it is frequently believed—was intended to be convincing to those who do not accept any supernatural revelation. In effect, Anselm significantly contributed to an increase in reason’s autonomy from faith, which deeply characterized his time. From this, it may seem that Anselm’s high level of rational investigation is to be thought of as due to an abandonment of faith’s presumption to be true even in the presence of contrary evidence. This, however, does not seem to be consistently ascribable to Anselm’s philosophical perspective.  In this paper, I explore the ontological argument as related to Anselm’s conception of how faith needs to be related to reason. On the basis of Anselm’s idea that faith is surer than rational certainty, but cannot participate in the demonstrative process aimed at supporting the believed truths, I intend to make three points. First I argue that Anselm’s rigorous employment of reason seems to be spurred by his firm faith. In other words, for him, faith ‘seeks understanding’ precisely because its firmness—the firmness in holding his faith—encourages rational investigation in any direction, with no fear that what is believed may be proved false. Second, the certainty of faith constitutes the orientation of Anselm ’s rational inquiry, which he develops as further confirmation of the revealed truths and as a mean to clear away objections and criticisms. Third, Anselm takes the truth believed as a criterion of his speculative investigation since it is on the basis of the agreement or disagreement with such truth that he accepts or rejects reason’s conclusions.


iii) The Nature of God: How Does Anselm Obtain the Id Quo Maius Definition of God?

     Luca Vettorello, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy


The Unum Argumentum is based on a particular definition of God, given by Anselm himself in the Proslogion as a premise of his demonstration. This is a very special definition, found only in Seneca before Anselm. How was this definition formulated?  Some authors maintain that it could only be achieved by faith, or by the scriptural Revelation. Other authors sustain that it is a pure and a priori idea present in our mind in an innate way. I offer a new explanation of how Anselm could have formulated this notion of God, in accordance with the arguments of the Monologion and with other Anselmian works. I will propose a new way to understand the concept of ‘something that which nothing greater can be conceived’ (Id quo maius cogitari nequit), that reveals a gnoseological approach to the Unum Argumentum, very different from the traditional approach that considers it with an ontological approach.



Session 7: Court, Society, and Thought


i) Anselm, Eadmer and the Conceptualization of Courtly Society

   Alistair Forbes, Durham University, UK


In the Vita Anselmi, Eadmer quotes a sermon of Anselm’s, in which he details the nature of the courts of secular princes as consisting of three types of milites; those who fight in return for land, those who fight for pay, and those who fight to win back their lost inheritance. The court of God, it is then stated, is divided in the same manner. This paper considers three questions that arise out of this sermon. First, how accurate are Anselm's claims to the nature of princely courts? Second, what does this indicate about Anselm's understanding of monastic views on courtly culture? Third, what does this suggest about the relationship between court and cloister? 


ii) A History of Some Recent Events Concerning Anselm: Eadmer’s vision for the Historia novorum

    Charlie Rozier, Durham University, UK


Eadmer of Canterbury’s Historia novorum in Anglia is one of the best-known sources for the study of Anglo-Norman political, ecclesiastical and cultural history. But while modern scholars have regarded this work as a landmark work in the development of English national historiography, Eadmer showed no desire for his work to be received in this way. In this paper, it will be argued that instead, Eadmer’s Historia was profoundly influenced by his extensive experience in writing the lives and miracles of saints, and by his experiences of living and working alongside his great protagonist, Archbishop Anselm. Conclusions will propose that the Historia novorum occupies a space between history and hagiography, which successfully redeployed Eadmer’s experiences of writing the past through hagiography, in order to produce an innovative and unique example of the genre of medieval history.


iii) Anselm, Rationalistic Theology, and the Papacy

   Samu Niskanen, University of Helsinki, Finland


Anselm’s rationalistic project is a much-explored subject in modern commentary on medieval thought. His relationship with the papacy has likewise been frequently studied by historians and biographers, starting with Eadmer. This paper discusses those two topics in concert. Its underlaying proposition is that Anselm sought to benefit from reference to Rome when publishing and circulating his treatises; he wished to equip them with an aura of apostolic authority. The pertinent works are the Monologion, Proslogion, Epistola de incarnatione verbi, and Cur Deus homo, while relevant is also his exchange with Bishop Walram of Naumburg. The paper reviews epistemological and other statements Anselm made when citing papal parties in prefatory texts, prologues and dedicatory letters. Furthermore, using evidence from manuscripts, it attempts to provide insight into the making and reception of those texts.



Session 8: Motive and Morals


i) ‘Nec plus nec minus’ Paupertas Verborum as a Social Rule in Anselm of Canterbury’s Work 

    Riccardo Fedriga and Roberto Limonta, Università di Bologna, Italy


The topics of language and semantic analysis of the terms have a crucial role in Anselm’s works. The logical-linguistic terms – such as appellatio, significatio, cogitatio vocum and cogitatio rerum – are strictly related to metaphysical, ethical and social principles as monastic silence, rectitudo and particularly paupertas, on which we’ll concentrate in our paper. If we follow the semantic oscillations of the term in Anselm’s works, we can see that it moves on the ridge between the paupertas as penuria nominum, typical of the human language merely capable of producing voces for the usus loquendi, and the Divine Word (Verbum), a ‘poor’ word, where ‘poor’ means unique, simple and pure. The Verbum will be, at the same time, a linguistic and ethical model for the human language to avoid the multiloquium and to properly connect words and things. Reduced to a line that directly moves from the word to his corresponding thing, the linguistic signification thins all his redundant references and becomes right, that is simple. This kind of linguistic paupertas – adopted as a truth value for the philosophical and theological use of the language – aims at the monastic silence of chapter 6 of the Regula Sancti Benedicti and, at the same time, at the theory of language developed in works as De grammatico, Monologion, De veritate and Lambeth Fragments; but it also characterises Anselm’s letters, that show very clearly how the research of linguistic paupertas (the Order of language) cannot be properly understood without referring to the ground of social practices and theological meanings (the Order of Nature).


ii) What Justice owes to Knowledge: A Study on Interactions between Reason, Will, Truth and Justice 

    Christian Brouwer, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium


In De veritate 12, Anselm unites truth’s definition and justice’s definition under the concept of rectitude. As truth is the rectitude perceptible to the sole mind, justice is the rectitude of the will preserved for itself. It is clear that only rational beings can preserve that rectitude, because it is necessary to recognise it in order to preserve it. Nevertheless, the rectitude of intelligence doesn’t constitute the justice, it is only a condition for it and it constitutes the freedom of the choice. Starting from this point, I will first explore in more details how reason contributes to justice, which is the role of reason in the preservation of the rectitude of the will, and which acts of reason are required in order to will justly. In this investigation I will follow two paths. One is founded on the capacity of reason to discern just and unjust, good and evil. The other path will consist in examining the role of reason in knowing the circumstances of the use or of the affection of the will. As described in De concordia 11, the will is either instrument, affection or use. In its affection (or inclination) and in its use, it is often necessary to know well the object and the circumstances of the will. So reason contributes greatly to the justice of the will. But from the point of view of reason, it could be that reason finds its finality in justice. My second point will be, on the other hand, about the signification of the actions (De veritate 5). As reason can know the object and circumstances of the will, it can also learn about truth in deciphering actions. So we would have a double movement, one from action to knowledge and the other one from knowledge to just will.


iii) Simile Deo or Cum Deo Esse? Aristotelian, Kantian, and Augustinian motives in Anselm’s Analysis of Moral Choice

    Christian H. Gobel, Assumption College, USA


I have, in a recent publication (‘Frankfurt and Beyond. Hierarchical Readings Of Anselm’s Analysis Of Moral Choice, With A New Test Case For His Concept Of Freedom’, Saint Anselm Journal 14 (2018), 33-91), defended a modified hierarchical reading of Anselm’s account of moral choice by distinguishing between two forms (one immanent, one transcendent) of fulfilling the “desire for happiness” which, according to Anselm’s De casu diaboli, rational creatures are naturally endowed with: being with God (cum Deo esse) and being like God (simile Deo esse). Confusing or conflating these two forms of happiness leads to evil choices. The distinction marks the difference between a ‘purely’ Aristotelian and a properly Christian virtue ethics account of happiness. Anselm is not so much an Aristotelian eudaemonist but an Augustinian ‘beatitudinist.’ In this paper, I will apply this distinction to the controversy about Aristotelian vs. Kantian readings of Anselm’s account of moral choice (cf. K. Rogers) and show that the two are not really opposites. Rogers argues that Anselm’s hierarchical account of the will is superior to Kant’s understanding of moral choice because Anselm does not ‘pit duty against natural inclination.’ However, the fact that Rogers ‘pits’ Kant against Aristotle may actually be the problem, a revision of Kant needed. Such a revision emphasizes the Augustinian background Kant shares with Anselm. Thus, more traditional interpretations which see Anselm as a ‘prefiguring Kant’ may still hold true, although in a slightly different sense, since both Anselm’s and Kant’s ethics can be seen as forms of Augustinian virtue ethics.



Session 9: Cur Deus homo


i) Cur mundi renovatio: Anselm’s Cur Deus homo revisited

   Maria Leonor Xavier, University of Lisbon, Portugal


In this paper we revisit Anselm’s Cur Deus homo, where we can find a peculiar development (I, chap.16-18) on the question cur homo in connection with the idea of a world’s renovation (mundi renovatio). The question cur homo remounts to Gregorius Magnus and to his allegoric exegesis of Lk. 15, 8; before it became quite discussed in the XIIth century, it received a deep philosophical approach by Anselm: why was man created and why must be saved? This Anselmian and medieval question became also quite compressing nowadays, when we discuss the destination of mankind. How can we be indifferent to the question: cur homo? We have but to update the question. In Anselm’s approach, the question concerns not only humans individually, but also the human nature and the entire body of the world (mundi molis corporea). The salvation of man is inseparable from a renovation of the world: why? For the sake of humanity? Anselm is vigilant against anthropocentrism. Rather for the sake of divine perfection of creation, requiring universal congratulation. This is the Anselmian doctrine of Cur Deus homo that we would like to keep as an inspiring idea for us to think the destination of humans on earth and within the universe. 


ii) The Performance of Satisfaction in the Cur Deus homo 

   David Whidden, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University, USA

Anselm’s theory of atonement by the satisfaction of Christ has often been treated by discussing the formal argument that Anselm offers for the necessity of the Incarnation.  This paper, however, will look at his argument from a performative perspective, with the central thesis being that in the Cur Deus homo Anselm not only discusses satisfaction, his argument also engages in the performance of satisfaction with respect to his relationship to Boso.  From the very beginning, Anselm’s language in CDh 1.1 points to the satisfying nature of his argument through his suggestion that his logic satisfies his audiences and through his programmatic selection of 1 Peter 3:15 (‘parati semper ad satisfactionem omni poscenti’).  What follows is a dialogue where Boso is constantly demanding that Anselm satisfy his objections and that Anselm work in a supererogatory manner to offer more than Boso originally asked.  The paper will explore these interactions and the Benedictine context of obedience and order that makes them comprehensible.  The goal will be to use Anselm’s performance of satisfaction to illuminate his overall theory of satisfaction in the CDh.


iii) Did Anselm also compose the Cur Deus homo with invisible Muslim Interlocutors in Mind?

   Emery de Gaal, University of St Mary on the Lake


In September 2018 I was privileged to deliver a paper in Fulda, Germany paralleling events in Christian-Muslim relations and Anselm’s life in a general way. This lecture is the cause for me now to probe whether one of Anselm’s major works was touched by Moslem criticism of Christianity. This time I would like to investigate in detail the possibility that Anselm also, if not particularly, had a Moslem audience in mind when composing the Cur Deus homo. Following factors make this hypothesis plausible: not only did a shower of meteorites strike western Europe in 1095, thus producing an ominous atmosphere. 1) In the same year Pope Urban II called at the Council of Clermont Ferrand for a crusade against the Arab occupiers of the Holy Land. 2) A trusted friend of Anselm, Boso (1065/6 – 1136) attended this council. And 3) It stands to reason that as much as the Pope intended to evict the Muslim forces from Palestine, he also may have had in mind demonstrating the intellectual superiority of the Christian faith. Could anyone be more destined for this task than Anselm? His irenic position was well-known. In 1099 Jerusalem is conquered. Christian soteriology was completely revolting to Jews and Arabs alike. To Moslem thought God is both Al Azis (almighty) and Al-Qawi (all-powerful). Thus, His incarnation is completely unimaginable. Famously, Anselm departs on this point from Augustine and recasts soteriology. May this have been also caused by Moslem reservations? Under all account, it seems Anselm sets out to write the Cur Deus homo after the conclusion of the Council of Clermont Ferrand and completes this book in 1098, just as Christians capture Antioch. From this perspective I should like to investigate the Cur Deus homo afresh.


Session 10: Sources and Authorities


i) Anselm and the Romans on Nature, Reason, and Justice: Roman Sources for Cur Deus homo

    Bernard J. D. van Vreeswijk, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


IIn this paper I would like to look for the influence of some Roman literature on Anselm and inquire how this influence can clarify the meaning of Cur Deus homo. Anselm’s master Lanfranc was educated in Northern-Italy in the first part of the eleventh century. Some (pseudo-) Ciceronian works were the most important lesson books of that time. Besides that, it was a time of revival for the Codex Justinianus. There are no signs until this moment that the mentioned books were available in the monastery of Bec. It is however striking that some important notions, such as the role of natural reason with respect to law, the existence of a kind of natural justice, the way how reason works and some juridical definitions from these works are resembling these notions in the works of Anselm. Besides that, there are similarities between the way of arguing taught in the (pseudo-)Ciceronian works and the way how Anselm proceeds in Cur Deus homo. In this paper we will explore these similarities, try to explain them and show how they elucidate the content of Cur Deus homo. Above all, we would like to argue that the project of Cur Deus homo can be seen as a Christian appropriation of the Justinian and Ciceronian notion of natural reasoning with respect to juridical matters and that Anselm’s way of defining satisfaction is a Ciceronian approach for rhetorical aims. 


ii) Image and Necessity in the Trinitarian Grammar of Anselm and Augustine

    Reginald Lynch OP, University of Notre Dame, USA


This paper will study the way in which both Anselm and Augustine connect the teleology of love and desire with the concepts of foolishness and necessity in the context of Trinitarian image. For Augustine, the fool is the one who does not make use of the faculties of memory, intellect and will to love God as Trinity, and itself as Trinitarian image (De Trin. 14.15); Anselm, invoking this same Augustinian approach to the intellectual faculties as Trinitarian image, emphasizes that the teleology of desire must necessarily lead the soul out of itself and into the objective reality of God’s existence. (Proslog. 1, et al). Although Anselm does not always reveal his source material, at the outset of the Monologion Anselm explicitly acknowledges his debt to Augustine’s De Trinitate, asking that his work be judged against the standard of Augustine’s text. In particular, Augustine’s closing remarks in book fifteen of De Trinitate seem to have exercised a profound influence on Anselm—recently, F. Asiedu has argued that this final book of De Trinitate is in fact programmatic for Anselm’s Monologion. Building on Asiedu’s insights, this paper will argue that in the Monologion, Augustine’s fool is the one who refused to acknowledge that the teleology of desire and love that springs from the Trinitarian image within the person terminates in its exemplar. In the Proslogion, however, it will be argued that Anselm has reframed this same insight, emphasizing the necessity of this teleology as a proof of the exemplar’s existence.



Session 11: Angelic Places


i) Conversatio angelorum: the Monk’s Angelic Vocation and the Order of Redemption

    Rachel Cresswell, University of Oxford, UK


Anselm’s famous satisfaction account of the logic of atonement is not the only argument found in his Cur Deus homo. Anselm’s other explanation centres on the perfect number of angels, whose ranks human beings are destined to complete. This other rationale, puzzling as it seems, has attracted much less attention, seemingly testifying to a rigid concept of cosmic order which subordinates human destinies to the demands of numerical symmetry. Anselm’s Benedictine context, however, furnished a rich tradition of the monk’s ‘angelic’ vocation. Hints from Anselm’s other writings suggest that the notion of humans filling up the angelic ranks was a specifically monastic possibility. This paper examines the Cur Deus homo’s other argument in the light of Anselm’s belief in the ‘potential angelicity’ of monks, thereby revealing not only a crucial counterpart to his satisfaction argument, but also a dynamic, rather than static, conception of redemptive order.


ii) Place (Locus) in Anselm’s Metaphysics and the Multilocality of Angels

     Alisa Kunitz-Dick, Cambridge, UK


This paper examines the novel definition of place (locus) that Anselm employs in his writings, and its critical role within his metaphysics, especially how it relates to substances. In Monologion 20 - 21, while investigating how it is that the highest nature can exist everywhere and always, Anselm asks whether it can be whole simultaneously at different times.  He explains that if the highest nature were put into many different places, there would be as many highest natures as there are places. He adds that a whole cannot be simultaneously in two places at once, because then it would be two separate wholes.  From this information, we can deduce that Anselm conceives of place as an active entity that is separate from substances and individuates them.  In 22, when describing how the highest nature is not confined by place and time, even though he is present in them, Anselm explains the functions of place: it contains and limits the quantity of a substance.  In 22 – 23, Anselm explains that the highest nature is with place, rather than confined by it, and is in all things by penetrating them.  This information allows Anselm to conclude in Proslogion 13 that angels are only partially confined by place, so that they can be in multiple places at once, but not everywhere.  While John Damascene in De Fide Orthodoxa 1.13 writes that angels could move from one place to another swiftly, Anselm is alone in proposing that angels can be multilocal. While a number of recent scholars (Logan 2016, Sweeney 2016, Visser/Williams 2009, Leftow 2004, Kapriev 1998) have produced analysis of these passages, they have not considered at length the definition of place that Anselm is employing. This paper will conclude by comparing Anselm’s unique theory with his sources, such as Augustine’s Confessions.


iii) Anselm the Art Critic

    Michael Dickson, University of South Carolina, USA

In Cur Deus homo, Anselm (the dialogic character, not the saint) initially demurs from discussing the incarnation, for fear of discussing ‘such a beautiful subject in unworthy and inelegant language’ (I.1). Of course, eventually he relents. As Williams notices (Modern Schoolman 89:181-188), at that point, the language takes on the character of rational deliberation, rather than the more adorned language that otherwise appears mainly in prayers and meditations. The shift is significant, because it follows Anselm’s apparent acceptance of Boso’s admonition that prior to the employment of beauty, ‘one must first demonstrate the rational solidity of the truth’ (I.4). As normally understood, the rational argumentation is then given, with the apparent aim of showing what is ‘reasonable and necessary’ (e.g., I.10). Only once the matter has been settled rationally does Anselm dare to return and allow that now they may ‘paint, not on an insubstantial fiction, but on the solid truth’ (II.8). Why does Anselm turn from beauty as a means of persuasion, to rational argument? Williams (ibid.) suggests that the experience of beauty is ‘an incommunicable experience, and hence not the right sort of thing to serve as a means of persuasion’, and, further, that belief precedes the appreciation of beauty, not vice versa. In this talk, I will suggest that although Anselm does set aside beautiful language, he does not dismiss beauty as the central concern. The rational argumentation that proceeds is best viewed not as an argument for the doctrine of the incarnation, but as an analysis of the beauty of the incarnation. Anselm takes on the role of art critic, explaining to the unperceptive why the painting is, in fact, beautiful. I argue, further, that this understanding of the middle parts of Cur Deus homo comports with Anselm’s view of Divine freedom.



Session 12: History and its Theological Inheritance


i) Anselm’s Platonic View of the Natural Order and His Consequent Conception of History

   Sally N. Vaughn, University of Houston, USA


Anselm’s view of the world’s and reality’s natural order was Platonic. The Monologion asks: How is God Three in One? Father, Son and Holy Spirit reflect Essence, To Be, and Being-- suggesting God's Nature, God's Actions, and Products of God’s Actions co-exist as elements of God’s unity. Nothing is created without a model, and the universe’s existed as a thought in God’s mind ‘what, of what sort, and how it should be.’ Anselm’s Prayers mirror this Platonic view. Those to the Virgin represent three successive steps of logical reasoning. From traditional stories of Christ’s conception - how God became human - he concludes that at this moment, Mary’s humanity infused God, simultaneously recreating the entire universe, now infused with Mary’s and God’s humanity; all men became brothers to each other and Christ; Mary became mother to all humans. She becomes an ideal for all mothers, palely reflected in Anselm’s own mother. In his Prayer to St. Paul, calling Jesus a mother, and Paul - the first Christian missionary - a foster-mother, nurse, and teacher, Paul’s students/foster-children gained a second birth as Christians - as Anselm posited that the universe - was reborn at the moment of Christ’s conception. Christ and Paul share fatherly and motherly qualities inherited from Mary and God. In several letters, Anselm sees emulations of this ideal form in contemporary mothers - including himself; he is a mother hen over his Bec monks, and Queen Edith-Matilda is a mother hen over England’s churches. Herein lies a Platonic view of Universe, Reality, and History: Mary is the ideal Mother in God’s mind, and her multiple imperfect reflections co-exist timelessly. Likewise, Anselm himself relives particular examples - Job, St. Martin, St. Peter, and even Christ himself - the ultimate ideal. Platonic Reality, Anselm’s Natural Order, is timeless and ahistorical. His students, too, expressed this concept in their historical works.


ii) The Autographs of Eadmer of Canterbury's Historia novorum in Anglia - New Findings and Future Perspectives

   Benjamin Pohl, University of Bristol, UK


Today, Eadmer of Canterbury’s Historia novorum in Anglia is widely recognised as one of the most important and influential pieces of Latin historical writing produced in post-Conquest England. This paper will discuss the main results of a comprehensive codicological study and re-assessment of the Historia novorum’s surviving autographs conducted by the speaker in 2018/19. The original findings presented here through a combination of material and digital methodologies generate new and important insights that urge us to revisit and revise our understanding of the Historia novorum’s composition, codification and transmission in manuscript form, at the same time as providing a critical corrective to the canonical studies by Richard Southern, whose arguments still (in)form the communis opiniono in present-day scholarship.


iii) Cum bene pugnabis: Usk Translating Anselm in the Fourteenth Century

    Margaret Healy-Varley, Providence College, USA


Reading with care and attention the longest translation of Anselmian theological work into the English vernacular, Thomas Usk’s Testament of Love, does not, for the most part, make for better comprehension of the text or its author. The most immediate difficulty in understanding the Testament is its form as a whole: the first two books are an ambiguously autobiographical translation of Boethius’s Consolation, at least partially plagiarised from Chaucer’s Boece; the third and final book ends with a thump of dense argumentation on the nature of free will composed from a series of translated excerpts from Anselm’s De concordia, in which Usk freely translates all the key words as ‘love’. These books sit next to each other unevenly, as if their sequential appearance in the Testament were more by contingency rather than meaningful design: ‘Surely, this is nothing but book-making, and the art of it does not seem to be difficult,’ said Skeat. This paper will argue that it is precisely Usk the clerk's knowledge of bookmaking and the London book market that brought his sources together, his awareness of how and when Boethius and Anselm were being read together, in which contexts, which kinds of books and by whom, that indicated to him a waiting market for his Testament of Love.