with only in their weakest form. In that way, we "play the confidence game upon ourselves" ( Peirce)--reinforcing our prejudices over and over with never a chance of escaping from them, even when we encounter those who have thought more deeply than we.
Anselm was a great mind beside whom Gaunilo was not an intellectual giant. Barth will, I think, convince any patient reader that Gaunilo made certain blunders. Indeed, a patient reader of Anselm will also be convinced of this. Yet to many authors Gaunilo was the real hero of the ancient debate. Consider the following:
This argument . . . found an opponent worthy of Anselmus in Gaunilo, a monk of Marmoutiers in Touraine. Gaunilo emphasizes the difference between thought and being, and points out the fact that we may conceive and imagine a being, and yet that being may not exist. We have as much right to conclude from our idea of an enchanted island in the middle of the ocean that such an island actually exists. The criticism is just.4
In this summary of Gaunilo's objections, three points are made: the first is compatible with all that Anselm says; the second disagrees with what he says only if it is intended to apply, not to ordinary ideas alone, but to that of God as well, in which case it begs the question; the third is a loose argument by analogy, which will not stand examination. And so the historian, departing from his reasonable schol____________________