pations of the Proof (see Bibliography), considers a number of pre-Anselmian proofs and rightly dismisses them as not proofs from the more idea of God. Esser ignores Philo and the most relevant passages in Plato and Aristotle; but I incline to agree with him that before Anselm there was no Ontological Proof.
Anselm's formula for deity is perhaps less novel. Collingwood mentions some precedents in Boëthius, and he should have mentioned Philo and Augustine. (See Sec. 15, p. 250.) Nevertheless, here, too, Anselm remains distinctive. He alone puts sufficient emphasis upon the difference between greatest, or unsurpassed, in fact and not conceivably surpassable.
No one before Anselm gave so neat a formula for the divine excellence. Correctly interpreted, as to be sure he did not interpret it, it remains without a flaw, precisely as he stated it. I hold that this definition, and the deduction of noncontingency therefrom, constitutes the greatest single step forward in constructive metaphysics taken after Philo and prior to Leibniz. It is also the least understood, the most carelessly treated, by scholars.
The history of discussions concerning the ontological argument might have been that of a collective inquiry into the validity of the reasoning of Prosl. II-IV, with reasonable account taken of later passages. This inquiry might also, after a few centuries perhaps, have led to the discovery of the abstract-concrete paradox as inherent, not in the Argument as such, but in classical theism, yet made more apparent by the Argument. All this might conceivably have happened.