Anselm’s Philosophy

Anselm\'s definition of a God starts by saying that God is the greatest being we
can possibly think of. When Anselm states this, it essentially means that it is not possible
to think of a being greater than God. Anselm also states that if God is the greatest thinkable
being, he is referring to the fact that it would be impossible to imagine or to create in ones
mind someone or something being better than God. Therefore, it would be impossible to
say that God only exists in ones mind because it is much greater to exist in reality than it is
to exist only in ones mind. Anselm then suggests that God has many attributes which
describe him. Among these being: self-existent, a necessary being, omnipotent,
omniscient, completely just and timelessly eternal. After reading the Proslogion by
Anselm, it gave me a greater understanding of these attributes listed above. Although, they
are all of equal importance, I feel the most prominent of God=s attributes is the fact that
he is self existent. In essence, that means that God depends on nothing else for his
existence, he is uncaused. Therefore, his existence is timelessly-eternal. This means that
God cannot stop existing. On the other hand, contingent beings (such as ourselves) depend
on something else for their existence. One example of this is, that as a child we utterly
depended on our parents for food, clothing, and shelter. Contingent beings therefore can
begin to be or cease to be at anytime. They can, unlike God, be here today and gone
tomorrow.
Anselm uses the definition of God (the ontological argument), in which I have
described above, to prove God=s existence. As I mentioned, Anselm believes that God is
the greatest being we can possibly think of. He does this by first trying to prove the
opposite of what he really wants to prove. For example, lets suppose God does not exist in
reality. We then could think of something greater, a being that has all the same virtuous
characteristics as we think God as having, but also being able to exist in reality. He then
tries to prove that this supposition leads to a conclusion which cannot possibly be true.
Then the original God would not actually be the greatest thinkable being, this new
something else, that actually exists would be. This new God which actually exists would
then be able to be seen, heard and touched by the individuals who believe he exists as the
greatest thinkable being. Nevertheless, it is obviously impossible that the greatest being we
can think of should not be the greatest being we can think of. Therefore, the conclusion that
God does not exist must be false. Anselm then believes that the opposite of this
supposition must then be true. A perfect God must actually must exist in reality.
Otherwise, God would not be totally perfect. Existence is perfection. AIt is one thing for
something to exist in a persons thought and quite another for the person to think that thing
to [email protected] (Anselm Chapter 2) A modern day example of Anselm=s theory is that if I can
really imagine a perfect girl for me. This girl would actually exist somewhere in the world.
A girl with all of the best qualities that I can possibly imagine someone as having. She
would be everything that I am looking for. According to Anselm=s beliefs, she would most
defiantly exist. AFor if it exists only in the understanding , it can be thought to exist in
reality as well, which is [email protected] (Anselm p.380 Chap.2)
Anselm uses God=s definition to argue that God cannot be thought not to exist.
Anselm does this by stating that God cannot even be thought not to exist, not only is his
existence a fact but his non-existence is completely impossible. He confirms this by
saying AAnd indeed whatever exists except you alone can be thought of as not existing. You
alone of all things most truly exists and thus enjoy existence to the fullest degree of all
things, because nothing else exists so undoubtedly, and thus everything else enjoys being in
a lesser [email protected] (Anselm Chapter 3) The nonexistence of all other beings is possible, but
when it comes to the nonexistence of the