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Institute for St. Anselm Studies

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Abstracts (spring 2006)

Anselm on Eternity as the Fifth Dimension
Katherin A. Rogers
University of Delaware

Among the various arguments for the contemporary rejection of the view that God is eternal is the claim that a timeless God could not be omniscient in that He could not know what time it actually is right now, and the complaint that invoking divine eternity fails to solve the dilemma of freedom and foreknowledge. I argue that Anselm's doctrine of divine eternity avoids these criticisms by adopting what I call the "four-dimensionalist" theory of time; all times, what we call past, present, and future exist equally and are all immediately present to divine eternity.


Omniscience, Time, and Eternity: Is Aquinas Inconsistent?
Kevin M. Staley
Saint Anselm College

Thomas Aquinas holds that as far as temporal things are concerned, only present things exist. He also holds that God knows immediately, all at once, in a single act the past, present, and future. Critics contend his holding both positions is incoherent. . In this essay, I examine the arguments against Aquinas by both his direct and indirect accusers, and I consider two recent replies offered on Aquinas' behalf. Having indicated certain weaknesses in the case for the defense, I conclude by offering a simple defense of my own, which I believe to be effective and textually grounded.


Time and Contingency in Duns Scotus
Pascal Massie
Miami University Ohio

Scotus' teaching on time presents two difficulties: one concerns the elucidation of the intricate texts in which the issue is raised, the other concerns the evolution of Scotus, who seems to have held different views at different stages of his career. The goals of this paper are to locate Scotus' views on time within the inquiry into the relation of time and eternity which itself stands at the core of the foreknowledge and future contingents debate and to demonstrate that the question concerning the ontological status of time is related to Scotus' teaching on contingency and possibility. Taking a departure from recent interpretations, the author argues that Scotus' discussion is not properly understood if we project upon it the twentieth-century debate between an indexical conception of time and a presentist one.


A Peculiar "Faith": On R.G. Collingwood's Use of Saint Anselm's Argument
Michael J. O'Neill
Providence College

In this paper, I discuss the role of Anselm's ontological argument in the philosophy of R.G. Collingwood. Anselm's argument appears prominently in Collingwood's Essay on Philosophical Method (1933) and Essay on Metaphysics (1940), as well as in his early work Speculum Mentis (1924). In the proof, Collingwood finds the central expression of the priority of "faith" in the first principles of thought to reason's activities. For Collingwood, it is Anselm's proof that clearly expresses this relationship between faith and reason. The two elements of this analysis that must be understood if one is to understand Collingwood's use of the proof are what he means by "the idea of an object that shall completely satisfy the demands of reason" and the "special case of metaphysical thinking." I analyze both of these elements and conclude by showing how Anselm's proof is essential to Collingwood's historical science of mind.


Saint Anselm and the Development of the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: Historical and Theological Perspectives
John Janaro
Christendom College

This paper outlines Saint Anselm's contribution to the development of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Although Anselm himself did not teach that Mary was immaculately conceived, his analysis of original sin contains two theological insights that are crucial for the subsequent affirmation and articulation of this unique Marian privilege. The first, in "Proslogion"-like fashion, states that "it was fitting that this virgin should shine with a degree of purity than which no greater can be imagined apart from God." The second and more subtle insight, however, is Anselm's emphasis on the objective character of the transmission of original sin in Adam, which went against the attitude that the immediate sinful lust of the parents in the conjugal act was the cause of original sin. This opened the door for Western theologians in the Middle Ages to acknowledge that it could be fitting for God to preserve the Blessed Virgin from original sin, even though she herself was conceived within a normal conjugal union.

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