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Institute for St. Anselm Studies

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Abstracts (spring 2008)

Anselm on Free Will and the (Possibly Fortunate) Fall
Katherin A. Rogers
University of Delaware

Anselm of Canterbury is the first Christian philosopher to offer a systematic, libertarian analysis of human freedom, including open options and self-causation. Freedom is valuable for the creature since it enables him to share in the aseity of God. There is a text in Cur Deus Homo which would seem to undermine this claim. Here Anselm says that, had Adam and Eve never sinned, their progeny would have been "confirmed in justice" so that they could never sin. But this seems to deny real freedom to the children of unfallen parents. I offer possible ways to deal with this text. 


Anselm, God, and the Act of Sin: Interpretive Difficulties
W. Matthews Grant
University of St. Thomas

In the writings of Anselm, we find what appear to be conflicting accounts of God's relationship to creaturely acts of sin. In some passages, acts of sin, insofar as they are real, are said to have God as a cause. In other passages, sinful acts are said to be contrary to God's will, with the result that God's causing them appears logically impossible. I consider two solutions for resolving the conflict, arguing that neither solution is entirely successful. 


Free Will, Evil, and Saint Anselm
Siobhan Nash-Marshall
Manhattanville College

In this lecture I concentrate on one of the questions that an adequate definition of freedom must address. The question is one with which many contemporary thinkers are currently concerned: need one have alternate possible courses of action in order to be free? This question admits of many formulations. The specific formulation which I address in this lecture is: must I genuinely be ready to take either one of two possible courses of action-to perform or not to perform a given act-in order for my taking either one of these courses of action to be free? This question is admittedly just a small part of the problem of defining freedom. Nevertheless it is a crucial part of the problem of defining freedom. It is also a part of the problem of freedom about which Saint Anselm had a great deal to say. 


The Metaphysics of Primary Plurality in Achard of Saint Victor
Pascal Massie
Miami University

The conditions for an investigation of Achard of Saint Victor (who died in 1171) have only recently become available. Now the discovery of a very significant turn in the history of twelfth-century thought is open to examination. The author focuses on Achard's claim concerning an ontologically primary plurality. In the very title of Achard's main treatise, De unitate Dei et pluralitate creaturarum, it is the word 'et' that joins together unity and plurality, expressing the core of Achard's ontological insight, whereby a plurality is said to be true if it is grounded in absolute unity. That is to say, this plurality is not derived from unity (as would be assumed in an emanative account of plurality) but rather "coheres" with unity. Unity, likeness, and equality are the three terms that dialectically constitute the primary plurality. In this sense, true plurality is plurality without difference, without alterity and is thus convertible with identity. The essay examines (a) Achard's doctrine of true plurality as multiple unity, (b) its application to the question of the Trinity and (c) its application to the question of the plurality of creatures and the nature of individuation.

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