in conceptu, necessary from contingent existence, self-existence from derived existence. Specific distinctions must surely admit of being predicated. That the exclusion of existence--which here means real and necessary existence--from the idea of God does not leave us with an incomplete idea of God, is not a position, I think, which can be maintained . . . the idea becomes either the idea of a nonentity or the idea of an idea, and not the idea of a perfect being at all. Thus, the argument of Anselm is unwarrantably represented as an argument of four terms instead of three. . . .
The second form of the Cartesian argument is, that God cannot be thought of as a perfect Being unless He be also thought of as a necessarily existent Being; and that, therefore, the thought of God implies the existence of God. . . . It is futile to meet this by saying that existence ought not to be included in any mere conception, for it is not existence but necessary existence which is included in the conception reasoned from, and that God can be thought of otherwise than as necessarily existent requires to be proved, not assumed. To affirm that existence cannot be given or reached through thought, but only through sense and sensuous experience can prove nothing except the narrowness of the philosophy on which such a thesis is based.38
Flint overlooks the abstract-concrete paradox, and the consequent need to transcend classical theism. But it was fifty years after his writing the above words, at least, before more than a minute fraction of the philosophical world had anything like so definite and accurate a grasp of what either Anselm or Descartes had meant. It is probably still a small fraction.
Anselm's Proof has seldom played a positive role in Ameri____________________