The non-Christian influence on Anselm’s Proslogion argument

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Abstract

This paper considers Anselm’s Proslogion argument against a background of historical events that include philosophical disputes between Christian and Jewish polemicists. I argue that the Proslogion argument was addressed, in part, to non-Christian theists and that it offered a response to Jewish polemicists who had argued that the Christian conception of God as an instantiated unity was irrational. Anselm is not trying to convince atheists that there really is a God. He is arguing that the Christian conception of God is logically coherent.

Versions of this essay were presented at the annual meeting of the Northern New England Philosophy Association, 2007; at the Anselmian Perfect Being Theology and the Cognitive Science of Religion conference at the University of Birmingham (UK), 2009; and to the Departments of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, 2009.