The trivium at Bec and its bearing on Anselm’s program of faith seeking understanding, 6

Read part 5 here.

6 Conclusion

Anselm, then, tells us that he is searching for one notion, in contrast to the many of the Monologion, from which the many things believed of God could be derived. Thus, when Anselm prays ‘Therefore, Lord, who grants intellectus to fides, grant that I may understand that you are, as we believe, and that you are what we believe,’[1] he is certainly seeking that his faith be deepened by understanding; but his asking for this is simultaneously, and even primarily, his asking God to unravel the core sense (intellectus) of something making secure (faciens fidem), i.e. the notion ‘that than which a greater cannot be thought.’ For this reason, the Proslogion as a whole is a meditation on the substance of something worthy of belief (ratio fidei). The notion ‘that than which a greater cannot be thought’ itself serves as a medium leading to a fuller notion of God, thereby securing the divine attributes understood through this ratio. It is a consequence of this that the work also exhibits the noetic satisfaction of one holding to this faith – faith seeking understanding in the sense commonly understood. Anselm is searching for a single notion or description that can lead to its ground; he is searching for a title or name of God that can bring him closer to seeing God as he truly is. This role is filled by the notion id quo maius cogitari non potest.

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[1] Pros. 2: ‘Ergo, Domine, qui das fidei intellectum, da mihi, ut … intelligam quia es, sicut credimus, et hoc es, quod credimus.’


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