Anselm's Discovery: A Re-Examination of the Ontological Proof for God's Existence

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

as 'bare nothing'. And very likely that is truly 'the most deficient and imperfect entity in the world'. It also is necessarily unexemplified in actuality, because it is the total denial of actuality, whereas the divine perfection is (in a certain manner) the maximal assertion of it. Classical theism makes this assertion absolute in a sense which runs into totally opaque antinomies; neoclassical theism avoids these by requiring only that the divine actuality be supreme and all-inclusive with respect to whatever is actual and that the divine potentiality account for all that is possible but not actual, by being both the ground of its possibility and that which would fully inherit its richness were it to become actual. Thus all possibility of rivalry with another is made logically impossible. And this exclusion of rivalry, as a great man saw almost nine centuries ago, is the very principle Which justifies worship.


22. Conclusions

We have in Part Two considered or mentioned the responses of some forty-four philosophers to the type of argument that Anselm invented. At least twenty of these, including a dozen modern writers, appear to have known virtually nothing of the structure of the Proof as presented in Prosl. III-IV and the Reply, or in Descartes Replies! About fourteen, half of them modern, have had at least a partial understanding of such a structure, in some cases ( Descartes, Spinoza, Cudworth) probably not derived directly from Anselm; but of the modern thinkers discussed in Part Two, only Malcolm and Hartman pay explicit attention to the remarkable difference between Anselm's two accounts, in Prosl. II and III, and deal with the

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