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Anselm of Canterbury and the Desire for the Word

Eileen C. Sweeney

Publication Year: 2012

Sweeney's study offers a comprehensive picture of Anselm's thought and its development, from the early, intimate, monastically based meditations to the later, public, proto-scholastic disputations

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

Research on this work was supported very early on by a grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and a full-year sabbatical grant from Boston College. I wish to thank my sponsor during my Humboldt year at the University of Freiburg, Professor Klaus Jacobi, the members of his seminar...


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pp. xiii

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Notes on the Text

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pp. xv

Full bibliographical information for editions of Anselm’s works cited using abbreviations is available in the bibliography. All translations of Anselm’s works are my own unless otherwise noted, though I have consulted a number of available English translations also listed in the bibliography....

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Introduction. The Problem of Anselm: The Coincidence of Opposites

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pp. 1-12

Anselm is an important and early source of two key themes in western thought and spirituality. First, in his development of rational arguments, expressed in long chains of logical inferences and elaborate linguistic analysis, he appears to be the prototype for the model of pure, neutral...

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1. The Prayers: Persuasion and the Narrative of Longing

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pp. 13-37

Though the basis for the collection of Anselm’s letters as it appears in Schmitt’s critical edition are manuscripts derived from the collection of prayers and meditations Anselm sent to Matilda, Countess of Tuscany, in around 1104, most of the prayers were written between about 1063 and...

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2. The Letters: Physical Separation and Spritual Union

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pp. 38-73

F. S. Schmitt’s critical edition of Anselm’s works contains 475 letters, the vast majority written by Anselm but including some written to Anselm. The letters have been the subject of controversy on several fronts. The first is over whether Anselm himself made a collection of his letters...

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3. Grammar and Logic: Linguistic Analysis, Method, and Pedagogy

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pp. 74-109

There was a time when Anselm’s De grammatico, the Lambeth Fragments, and even De veritate were neglected and disparaged in favor of the famous treatises on God, the Proslogion and Monologion.1 Prantl, the great historian of western logic, complained that Anselm’s short dialogue known as De...

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4. The Monologion and Proslogion: Language Straining toward God

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pp. 110-174

Central to the interpretation of the Monologion and Proslogion and the focus of centuries of controversy about them is their dueling claims to proceed sola ratione and by “faith seeking understanding.” Commentators have tried to understand and reconcile these claims in a variety of...

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5. The Trilogy of Dialogues: Exploring Division and Unity

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pp. 175-244

In the preface to this set of three dialogues (De veritate, De libertate arbitrii, and De casu diaboli), Anselm asks that they be published together in this order. They belong together, first, because all three pertain to sacred scripture and, second, because they are united by subject matter...

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6. Uniting God with Human Being and Human Being with God

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pp. 245-327

Anselm’s trilogy of works on the Incarnation are linked not just by their subject matter but also were linked in Anselm’s thinking. De conceptu virginali, Anselm carefully explains in his preface, was prompted by a thread of argument left untied in Cur Deus homo that he is certain Boso...

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7. The Later Works: From Meditatio to Disputatio

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pp. 328-368

In the last two works of Anselm’s corpus, De processione Spiritus Sancti and De concordia praescientiae et praedestinationis et gratiae Dei cum libero arbitrio, the basic themes of earlier works return: the metaphysics of God, the most specifically Christian (and most difficult) theological problems, and...

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Conclusion. Reason, Desire, and Prayer

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pp. 369-378

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of objections to Anselm’s project, one to its speculative expression—that it is too thoroughly rationalistic, and the other to its spiritual vision—that it is based on a distortedly negative view of the human person as sinful and of God as vengefully demanding...


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pp. 379-394


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pp. 395-403

E-ISBN-13: 9780813219592
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813219585

Page Count: 412
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1