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Saint Anselm of Canterbury - Quotes

God often works more by the life of the illiterate seeking the things that are God's, than by the ability of the learned seeking the things that are their own.
Reported by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers. (p.123) 1895.

As for his claim, then, that the three persons are three things: he wants it to be interpreted either in accordance with three relations (i.e., in accordance with the fact that God is spoken of as the Father and the Son and the spirit who proceeds from the Father and from the Son) or else in accordance with that which is called God [i.e., in accordance with God's deity]. Now, if he is saying that the three relations are three things, he is saying it superf luously.
Anselm of Canterbury. Two Letters Concerning Roscellin. Letter (129) 1091/92.

For these three persons have their will or power not in accordance with their relations but in accordance with the fact that each of the persons is God.
Anselm of Canterbury. Two Letters Concerning Roscellin. (Letter 129) 1091/92.

No created being has anything from itself. For how could a thing which does not exist from itself have anything from itself? Moreover, if there is not anything except the one who has created and the things created by Him, it is clear that nothing at all can exist except the one who has created and what He has created.
Anselm of Canterbury. De Casu Diaboli I. 1085-90.

But if you consider existing things: when they pass to not-being, God does not cause them not to be. For not only does no other being exist except by His creating, but also a being cannot at all remain what it was made except by His conserving. Therefore, when He ceases to conserve what He has created, then that thing which existed returns to not-being, not because He causes it not to be but because He ceases to cause it to be.
Anselm of Canterbury. De Casu Diaboli I. 1085-90.

[The Devil] freely lost the will which he had. And just as he received the possession of it for as long as he had it, so he was able to receive the permanent keeping of what he deserted. But because he deserted, he did not receive. Therefore, that which he did not receive to keep because he deserted it, he did not receive not because God did not give it, but, rather, God did not give it because he did not receive it.
Anselm of Canterbury. De Casu Diaboli III. 1085-90.

Then, since [Satan] cannot be called just or unjust merely because he wills happiness or merely because he wills what is fitting (for he would will these of necessity), and since he neither can nor ought to be happy unless he wills to be happy and wills justly, it is necessary for God to make both wills so agree in him that he wills to be happy and wills justly..
Anselm of Canterbury. De Casu Diaboli XIV. 1085-90.

Since we believe that God is truth,2 and since we say that truth is in many other things, I would like to know whether in whatever things it is said to be we ought to affirm that truth is God. For in your Monologion, by appealing to the truth of a statement, you too demonstrate that the Supreme Truth has no beginning and no end: […]
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate I. 1080-86.

Because nothing is true except by participating in truth; and so, the truth of something true is in that true thing. But the thing stated is not in the true statement, and thus must not be called its truth; rather, it must be called the cause of the statement's truth. Therefore, it seems to me that the truth of the statement must be sought only in the statement itself..
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate II. 1080-86.

T. Moreover, when it signifies that what-is is, its signification is true.
S. Yes, its signification is both correct and true when it signifies that what-is is.
T. So for an affirmation to be correct is the same as for it to be true, namely, for it to signify that what-is is.
S. Yes, these are the same.
T. Therefore, the affirmation's truth is simply its rightness, or correctness (rectitudo).
S. I now see clearly that truth is this rightness.

Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate II. 1080-86.

Therefore, a statement has one correctness and truth because it signifies what it is designed to signify; and it has another correctness and truth because it signifies what it has received the capability of signifying. The first of these correctnesses, or truths, belongs variably to the statement; but the second belongs to it invariably.
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate II. 1080-86.

Thus, whoever thinks that what-is is thinks what he ought to; and so, his thinking is correct. Accordingly, if our thought is correct and true simply because we think that what-is is, or that what-is-not is not, then the truth of thought is simply its rightness, or correctness.
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate III. 1080-86.

Now, what you say about glass happens the way it does because when sight passes through a body which has the color of air, it is no more prevented from receiving the likeness of the color it sees beyond the glass than when it passes through the air. [And this is always the case] except insofar as the body it passes through is denser or darker than air.
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate VI. 1080-86.

by whose evil will it is committed (concipitur), it ought not to be. In this way, then, the Lord Jesus ought not to have undergone death because He alone [among men] was innocent; and no one ought to have inf licted death upon Him; nevertheless, He ought to have undergone death because He wisely and graciously and usefully willed to undergo it.
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate VIII. 1080-86.

But (3) when a sinner is beaten by one whose prerogative it is not, then a beating both ought and ought not to be, since the sinner ought to get a beating but the other man ought not to give a beating; and so the action cannot be denied to be both right and not right.
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate VIII. 1080-86.

Let us see, then, how extensive the truth of signification is. For there is a true or a false signification not only in those things which we ordinarily call signs but also in all the other things which we have discussed. For since someone should do only what he ought to do, then by the very fact that someone does something, he says and signifies that he ought to do it. Now, if [morally speaking] he ought to do what he does, he speaks the truth. But if [morally speaking] he ought not [to do what he does], he speaks a lie.
Anselm of Canterbury. DeVeritate IX. 1080-86.

0 Lord: my heart is made bitter by its own desolation; sweeten it by Your consolation. I beseech You, 0 Lord, that having begun in hunger to seek You, I may not finish without partaking of You. I set out famished; let me not return still unfed.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, I. 1077/78.

To what was I aspiring?, for what do I sigh? I sought after good things1 and, behold, [here is] turmoil. I was striving unto God but collided with myself.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, I. 1077/78.

So even the Fool is convinced that something than which nothing greater can be thought is at least in his understanding; for when he hears of this [being], he understands [what he hears], and whatever is understood is in the understanding. But surely that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot be only in the understanding. For if it were only in the understanding, it could be thought to exist also in reality.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, II. 1077/78.

Hence, something than which a greater cannot be thought exists so truly that it cannot even be thought not to exist. And You are this [being], 0 Lord our God. Therefore, 0 Lord my God, You exist so truly that You cannot even be thought not to exist. And this is rightly the case. For if any mind could think of something better than You, the creature would rise above the Creator and would sit in judgment over the Creator—something which is utterly absurd. Indeed, except for You alone, whatever else exists can be thought not to exist. Therefore, You alone exist most truly of all and thus most greatly of all; for whatever else exists does not exist as truly [as do You] and thus exists less greatly [than do You]. Since, then, it is so readily clear to a rational mind that You exist most greatly of all, why did the Fool say in his heart that God does not exist?1—why [indeed] except because [he is] foolish and a fool!
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, III. 1077/78

Yet, it is also just that You punish those who are evil. For what is more just than for those who are good to receive good things and for those who are evil to receive bad things? But, then, how is it just for You to punish those who are evil and likewise just for You to spare them? Do You justly punish them in one respect and justly spare them in another? For when You punish those who are evil, it is just [for You to do so] because [punishment] besuits their merits. But when You spare them, it is just [for You to do so], not because [sparing them] besuits their merits but because it befits Your goodness. For in sparing them, You are just in Yourself but are not just from our viewpoint, even as You are merciful from our viewpoint but are not merciful in Yourself. For in saving us whom You could justly damn, You are just not because You requite us as we deserve but because You do what befits You as supremely good, even as You are merciful not because You experience any emotion but because we experience the effect [of Your mercy]. So, then, without inconsistency, You both punish justly and spare justly.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, X. 1077/78.

How vast that Truth is in which resides everything that is true and outside of which there is only nothing and what is false! How immense [that Truth] is which beholds in one spectrum all created things and beholds by whom, through whom, and in what manner [all things] were created from nothing! What purity, what simplicity, what assurance and splendor are present there! Surely, [these] surpass what can be understood by any creature.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, XIV. 1077/78.

Amidst Your blessedness and light, 0 Lord, You are still hidden from my soul. Therefore, my soul still dwells in darkness and in its own unhappiness. For it looks in all directions but does not see Your beauty. It listens but does not hear Your harmony. It fills its nostrils but does not smell Your fragrance. It tastes but does not savor Your succulence. It feels but does not detect Your softness. For in Your ineffable manner, 0 Lord God, You have these [features] within You; and You have bestowed them, in their own perceptible manner, upon the things created by You. But the senses of my soul have been stiffened and deadened and impaired by the oldtime infirmity of sin.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, XVII. 1077/78.

What are You? What shall my heart understand You to be? Surely, You are life, wisdom, truth, goodness, blessedness, eternity— You are every true good.
Anselm of Canterbury. Prologion, XVIII. 1077/78.

Therefore, since it is certain that if compared with one another all good things are either equally or unequally good, it is necessary that all [good] things are good through something which is understood to be identical in [these] different goods—although at times, ostensibly, some things are said to be good through something else.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter one. 1075/76.

There may be someone who, as a result of not hearing or of not believing, is ignorant of the one Nature, highest of all existing things, alone sufficient unto itself in its eternal beatitude, through its own omnipotent goodness granting and causing all other things to be something and in some respect to fare well. And he may also be ignorant of the many other things which we necessarily believe about God and His creatures. If so, then I think that in great part he can persuade himself of these matters merely by reason alone— if he is of even average intelligence. Although he can do this in many ways, I shall propose one [way] which I regard as the most accessible for him.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter one. 1075/76.

Just as something has been found to be supremely good inasmuch as all good things are good through some one thing which is good through itself, so it follows necessarily that something is supremely great inasmuch as whatever things are great are great through some one thing which is great through itself. I do not mean great in size, as is a material object; but [I mean great in the sense] that the greater [anything is] the better or more excellent it is—as in the case of wisdom. Now, since only what is supremely good can be supremely great, it is necessary that something be the greatest and the best, i.e., the highest, of all existing th
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter two. 1075/76.

Therefore, since the truth altogether excludes [the possibility of] there being a plurality through which all things exist, it must be the case that that through which all existing things exist is one thing..
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter three. 1075/76.

> inferior. But this nature which is thus superior is singular—or else there is more than one nature of this kind, and they are equal. Assume that they are many and equal. Since they cannot be equal through different things but [only] through the same thing, this one thing through which they are equally so great either is the same thing which they are (i.e., is their essence) or else is something other than what they are. Now, if it is nothing other than their essence, then just as their essences are one rather than many, so too the natures are one rather than many. For here I am taking the nature to be identical with the essence. On the other hand, if that through which these many natures are equally great is something other than what they are, surely they are less than that through which they are great. For whatever is great through something other [than itself] is less than that [other] through which it is great. Therefore, they would not be so great that nothing else is greater than they.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter four. 1075/76.

Since, then, what has been ascertained commends itself, it is agreeable to investigate whether this Nature and all that is something exist only from this Nature, even as they exist only through this Nature. Clearly, we can say that what exists from a thing exists also through it and that what exists through a thing exists also from it. For example, what exists from a material and through a craftsman can also be said to exist through a material and from a craftsman. For through both and from both (i.e., by both) it has its existence, even though it exists through a material and from a material in a way other than [the way it exists] through a craftsman and from a craftsman. As a logical consequence, then: just as through the Supreme Nature all existing things are what they are (and, thus, this Nature exists through itself, whereas [all] other things exist through something other [than themselves]), so all existing things exist from the Supreme Nature (and, thus, this Nature exists from itself, whereas [all] other things exist from something other [than themselves]).
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter five. 1075/76.

Therefore, since it is evident that through itself this [Nature] is whatever it is and that through it all other things are what they are, in what manner does this [Nature] exist through itself ? For what is said to exist through something seems to exist either through something efficient or through a material or through some other aid, as through an instrument. But whatever exists in any of these three modes exists through something other [than itself] and is later, and somehow less, than this other through which it has its existence.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter six. 1075/76.

it was not. What [shall I say] then? For that which does not exist by anything's making or from any material, or that which did not come to exist by any assisting [factors] seems either to be nothing or, if it is something, to exist through nothing (per nihil) and from nothing (ex nihilo).
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter six. 1075/76.

Thus, we must carefully give heed to something which, though very uncommon in the case of created things, is seen to hold true of the Supreme Spirit and its Word. Assuredly, whatever they are essentially and whatever they are in relation to creatures is present to each individually and to both together in such way that it is wholly in each of the two without being more than one.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter thirty-eight. 1075/76.

But to question whether or not [the rational soul] will enjoy Supreme Beatitude endlessly would be very foolish. For while enjoying this Beatitude [the soul] cannot be tormented by fear or deceived by a false security. Nor having experienced the need of this Beatitude can [the soul] keep from loving it. Nor will Supreme Beatitude forsake [a soul] which loves it. Nor will there be anything more powerful which will separate it and the soul against their wills. Therefore, any soul which once begins to enjoy Supreme Beatitude will be eternally happy.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter seventy. 1075/76.

[And, most clearly, this Spirit is the one] from whom alone good fortune is to be hoped for, to whom alone f light from adversity is to be taken, and of whom alone supplication is to be made for anything whatsoever. Truly, then, this Spirit not only is God but is the only God—ineffably three and one.
Anselm of Canterbury. Monologion, Chapter eighty. 1075/76.

Teacher. First tell me why you are in doubt.
S. Because, apparently, both alternatives—viz., that it is and is not [the one or the other]—can be proved by compelling reasons.
T. Prove them, then.
S. Do not be quick to contradict what I am going to say; but allow me to bring my speech to its conclusion, and then either approve it or improve it.
T. As you wish.
S. The premises
(i) Every/Everything expert-in-grammar is a man,
(ii) Every man is a substance,
suffice to prove that (an) expert-in-grammar is a substance.

Anselm of Canterbury. De Grammatico 1. 1059/60.

S. Assuredly, an animal is nothing other than a living-substancecapable- of-perception, and a living-substance-capable-of-perception is nothing other than an animal.
T. This is true. But tell me, as well, whether whatever is nothing other than a living-substance-capable-of-perception can be conceived without conceiving of rationality, and whether it need not be rational.
S. I cannot deny it.
T. Therefore, any animal can be conceived without conceiving of rationality, and no animal is necessarily rational.
S. I cannot say that it does not follow from the premises I have conceded—although I especially dread what I suspect you are aiming at..

Anselm of Canterbury. De Grammatico III. 1059/60.

S. “Any man can be conceived without conceiving of expertisein- grammar."
T. What do you say that a man can be conceived as without conceiving of expertise-in-grammar?
S. [He can be conceived as] a man.
T. Therefore, in this premise, say what you mean.
S. Any man can be conceived as a man without conceiving of expertise -in-grammar.
T. I grant it. Add the minor premise.

Anselm of Canterbury. De Grammatico IV. 1059/60.

[…] as if I were to say “Lightning is a brilliant-f lash" or “Lightning is not a brilliant-f lash"—i.e., that lightning is (or that it is not) the very same thing as a brilliant-f lash.
Anselm of Canterbury. De Grammatico VI. 1059/60.

And so—since the conclusion of your syllogism (viz., that a stone is in no respect a man) is certain—you seem to me earlier to have obscured by your clever explanations the conclusion of my syllogism (a syllogism which is in every respect similar to yours). Hence, I now understand why you said that I have correctly understood but have not paid careful attention. For I correctly understood what you meant when you spoke to me, but I did not pay careful attention to the point you were making, because I did not realize how [what you said] was misleading me.
Anselm of Canterbury. De Grammatico VII. 1059/60.

Although I tacitly admonished you to pay attention to what you hear, nevertheless I did not, it appears, do so in vain. For although you prove sophistically that no/nothing expert-in-grammar is a man—doing so by means of the consideration that being (an) expert-in-grammar is not identical with being a man—nevertheless this proof will be profitable to you when you will behold exposed in its fallaciousness the sophism which is deceiving you under the guise of correct reasoning.
Anselm of Canterbury. De Grammatico VIII. 1059/60.