Anselm after the proof (c. 5-9)

After concluding that there exists some being than which nothing greater can be thought, Anselm discusses its attributes, concluding that God must be “whatever is better to be than not be”. He raises three problems to this: it is better to be sentient than not, but God does not have sense organs; it is better to be able to do all things, but God cannot lie or err; and it is both better to be compassionate and unbending in ones resolve, or merciful and just. The problems advance in difficulty, and each is representative of a distinct sort of problem in harmonizing the divine attributes. On the first level, we have a difficulty from being unable to transcend the imagination; on the second level there is a problem in transcending intellectual existence so far as it is imperfect (and so can fail either intellectually or morally) and on the third level there is a difficulty in reconciling attributes which each have an infinite perfection in themselves.



  1. Hans said,

    January 30, 2012 at 5:16 am

    With regard to the Ontological proof, there is a Cartesian philosopher by the name of Jean Luc Marion who argues that “God precedes the question of being”. I stopped for a while to think of it and came to the conclusion that despite the fact that God is the being whom ‘Ipse Actus Essendi subsistens’, He is still the subject of the question of Being because He is. Am I wrong in stating this?

    • January 31, 2012 at 11:20 am

      What you mean by “being” is most of all verified in God, but we don’t start of knowing what we most of all mean by being. The more we look into what we mean by being, the less and less it seems appropriate to say of the things we find around us. I wrote a post about this today.

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