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Anselm


Jürgen Ludwig Scherb


Pages 45 - 48



Saint Anselm was born in 1033 in Aosta, which at that time was part of Burgundy. In 1056, after the death of his mother and quarrels with his father, he left home and wandered around in Burgundy and France until 1059, when he came to Le Bec in Normandy. A year later he joined the Benedictine order and became the assistant of Lanfranc of Pavia. After Lanfranc had been appointed abbot of Caen, Anselm became prior at Le Bec. His literary career probably started with the Monologion (M) in 1076. Dissatisfied with this concatenatio argumentorum he published the more concise Proslogion (P) in 1078. Probably due to his so-called ontological arguments in chapters 2-4 of P and the appended disputation with a certain Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, Anselm’s achievements were increasingly and critically acknowledged. In the same year he became abbot of Le Bec. Later in the 1080s he wrote De Veritate (DV), De Libertate Arbitrii (DLA), De Casu Diaboli (DCD) and probably – according to Franciscus Salesius Schmitt – De Grammatico (DG). Sir Richard Southern suggests an earlier date between 1060 and 1063 for its first draft. In 1093 Anselm became Archbishop of Canterbury. Soon afterwards – in 1094 – he finished his Epistola de Incarnatione Verbi (EDIV), a demanding refutation of an attack launched by Roscelin of Compiègne on the exclusive incarnation of the second person of the Trinity in Jesus Christ. In 1098 he completed Cur Deus Homo (CDH) in exile. In 1099 he wrote De Conceptu Virginali (DCV). In 1101/2 he finished De Processione Spiritus Sancti (DPSS). Due to disagreements on investitures with Henry I, Anselm had to leave England for his second exile 1103-1106. The Epistola de Sacrificio Azymi et Fermentati (EDSA) and De Sacramentis Ecclesiae (DSE) were written between 1106 and 1107. From 1107-8 he wrote De Concordia (DC). His Philosophical Fragments (PF) also date from his late period. Anselm died on the 21st of April 1109.




1Department of Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians University at Munich



1 Campbell, R., (1976), From Belief to Understanding, Canberra: ANU.

2 Knuuttilla, S., (1993), Modalities in Medieval Philosophy, London: Routledge.

3 Knuuttilla, S., (2004), “Anselm on Modality”, in: Davies, B. and Leftow, B. (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, Cambridge UP, 111-131.

4 Leftow, B., (2004), “Introduction” (with Brian Davies), in Davies, B. and Leftow, B. (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, Cambridge UP, 1-4.

5 Reinmuth, F.; Siegwart, G.; Tapp, C. (eds.), (2014), Theory and Practice of Logical Reconstruction: Anselm as a Model Case, Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 17, Muenster: Mentis.

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