A Historical Study of Anselm’s Proslogion

Argument, Devotion and Rhetoric


In A Historical Study of Anselm's Proslogion, Toivo J. Holopainen offers a new overall interpretation of Anselm’s Proslogion by providing a historical explanation for the distinctive combination of argument and devotion that this treatise exhibits. Part 1 clarifies Anselm’s outlook on the central arguments in the treatise by offering a careful analysis of the ‘single argument’, the discovery of which Anselm announces in the preface. Part 2 reassesses the conflicting views about faith and reason in the immediate background of the Proslogion (the Eucharistic controversy, the publication of the Monologion). Part 3 examines the Proslogion from a rhetorical perspective and argues that applying the ‘single argument’ in a devotional setting constitutes a subtle attempt to affect the audience’s ideas about method in theology.

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Toivo J. Holopainen, Th.D. (1995), University of Helsinki, holds the title of Docent at that university. He has published on medieval philosophy and theology, including the book Dialectic and Theology in the Eleventh Century (Brill, 1996).
"The strength of this book lies in Holopainen's analysis of the historical context in which Anselm wrote the Proslogion [...] it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Anselm's intriguing and challenging 'little book'". Richard Campbell, in The Medieval Review, August 2021.
All interested in Anselm’s arguments on God’s existence and properties or his views on faith and reason, and anyone concerned with early medieval theology and intellectual history.