"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Feast of St. Anselm

Today is the feast of one of the greatest figures in Catholic history: St. Anselm, an Italian (Piedmontese) who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death in 1109 and previously abbot of the great monastery of Bec in Normandy. What's great about him is not so much his sanctity, which was not as spectacular as that of many other canonized saints. It was his range of gifts. He was an exemplar of monastic, political, and above all intellectual life, and grew to prominence in two countries other than his native one. A more versatile and talented servant of God can hardly be imagined.

While best-known among philosophers for his argument for God's existence—which in my opinion is wrongly considered an "ontological" argument—his treatment of the freedom of the will in De Casu Diaboli and De Libertate Arbitrii is stellar, indeed the most illuminating I have ever read. You can find a good English translation of his extant philosophical works here.
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