Anselm’s Proslogion: The Desire for the Word

Anselm’s Proslogion: The Desire for the Word

Sweeney, Eileen C. (Boston College)

The Saint Anselm Journal 1.1 (Fall 2003)


The paper confronts an important tension in Anselm’s project in the Proslogion that mirrors a conflict in how the Proslogion has been read. Some readers see the Proslogion as the successful search for necessary and indubitable arguments, while others read the work as expressing pious incapacity to understand God. Historians of philosophy tend to do the first, historians of religion and spirituality, the second. The paper argues that Anselm’s project in the Proslogion, is one that Anselm himself views as both necessary and paradoxical. The paper examines the way in which “faith seeking understanding,” the ontological argument, and the derivation of the divine attributes from the original formula in the Proslogion repeat this pattern of yielding conclusions which are both necessary and paradoxical.

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