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Selected Bibliography on the History of the Ontological Argument from Anselm of Canterbury to Duns Scotus

Legenda: P = Pro (accept the proof); C = Contra (rejected the proof); I = indifferent (take no position on the proof); ca. = circa; fl = flourished; d. died.

References are to the most important works where ontological argument is discussed.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Texts and translations

The standard critical edition of Anselm's works is the Opera omnia prepared by Fr. F. S. Schmitt: S. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi opera omnia, ad fidem codicum recensuit, 6 vols [the first printed at Seckau, 1938, the second at Rome in 1940, all reset for the Nelson edition], (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1946-1961).

Reprinted with new editorial material as: S. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi opera omnia, ad fidem codicum recensuit, 2 vols. (Stuttgart-Bad-Cannstatt: Frommann, 1968-1984)

  1. Anselm, of Canterbury. 1938. Proslogion. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

    Written in 1077-1078.

    Critical edition of Latin text in the first volume of: Sancti Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia ad fides codicum recensuit Franciscus Salesius Schmitt, OSB - 6 voll. (1938-1961); reprinted in two volumes, Stuttgart (Bad Cannstatt) Friedrich Frommann Verlag 1968 with an introducition by Schmitt drawing together his articles on Anselm.

    Proslogion vol. I pp. 93-122.

  2. ———. 1938. Responsio Anselmi (Quid Ad Haec Respondeat Editor Ipsius Libelli). Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

    Reply to Gaunilo written in 1078.

    Critical edition of Latin text in the first volume of: Sancti Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia, vol. I pp. 130-139.

  3. ———. 1986. A New, Interpretive Translation of St. Anselm's Monologion and Proslogion. Minneapolis: Arthur J. Banning Press.

    Translated by Jasper Hopkins

  4. ———. 2000. Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury. Minneapolis: Arthur J. Banning Press.

    Translated by Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson.

    Proslogion pp. 88-112.

  5. ———. 2001. Proslogion, with the Replies of Gaunilo and Anselm. Indianapolis: Hackett.

    Translated, with Introduction, by Thomas Williams.


  1. Adams, Robert Merrihew. 1971. "The Logical Structure of Anselm's Argument." Philosophical Review no. 80:28-54.

    Reprinted in: R. M. Adams - The virtue of faith and other essays in philosophical theology - New York, Oxford University Press, 1987 pp. 221-242.

    "In this essay I offer a formal analysis of Anselm's arguments for the existence of God in the Proslogion and in his reply to Gaunilo. I do not attempt to show here that the arguments are compelling, or that they are not. What I try to do is discover in each argument, so far as possible, a valid logical form, to exhibit the relations of the arguments to each other, and to show how they depend on certain doctrines in logic or the philosophy of logic. Anselm's arguments are far from dead, and in this paper I hope to provide a logical map, so to speak, of some ground that is still very much fought over.

    The first two sections of the paper are concerned with the most famous of Anselm's arguments, the argument of Chapter 2 of the Proslogion. In Section I, I formulate a version of the argument in modern logical symbolism, and state the assumptions about existence and predication on which the argument seems to me to depend. Gaunilo's criticism of Anselm was directed very largely against the ontological presuppositions of the Proslogion 2 argument; and in Section II I try to show how Gaunilo's famous "lost island" counterexample proves that the assumptions stated in Section I must be modified, if not rejected. In his reply to Gaunilo Anselm introduced two new arguments for the existence of God, which do not depend on assumptions about predication.

    I discuss one of these arguments in Section III; it seems to me to be at least a better argument than the argument of Proslogion 2. Analysis of this argument from the reply to Gaunilo leads to the conclusion that the crucial question about logically necessary divine existence is whether it is possible. Section IV is devoted to an analysis of Anselm's argument in the third chapter of the Proslogion and its relation to the other arguments."

  2. Anscombe, Gertrude Elizabeth. 1985. "Why Anselm's Proof in the Proslogion Is Not an Ontological Argument." Thoreau Quarterly no. 17:32-40.

  3. Armour, Leslie. 1999. "Anselm's Proof and Some Problems of Meaning and Reference." In God and Argument, edited by Sweet, William, 97-113. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press.

    "In Proslogion IV, Anselm addresses the peculiar referring power of the expression "God". In the light of the idea of determinates and determinables (used by W.E. Johnson and others) one can read what Anselm says here, supplemented perhaps by De Grammatico, as making a case for the belief that "God" refers not to a thing in the world but to the highest member of the system of determinates and determinables, and that this hierarchy is essential to meaning. The highest order determinable can plausibly be identified with God. Denying that God exists, therefore, is denying the possibility of meaningfulness."

  4. Bäck, Allan. 1981. "Existential Import in Anselm's Ontological Argument." Franciscan Studies no. 41:97-109.

    "The ontological argument of Saint Anselm has attracted a great deal of attention. There has been considerable discussion of whether the argument begs the question, by assuming the existence of God in the premises of the argument. But, although the theological, Augustinian context of Anselm's argument has been dealt with, and although the argument has been extensively treated in modern logical terms, little attention has been paid to how the argument fares in terms of traditional logic. In this article I shall analyze the argument of Proslogion 2 in traditional terms. I shall then argue that to a great extent the debate between Anselm and Gaunilon can be viewed as depending on attitudes toward the Aristotelian syllogistic.1 In short, the standard for the validity and soundness of arguments in medieval philosophy was the syllogistic. It was apparently assumed that all terms used in the syllogistic have existential import. So Anselm's argument is suspect in that it employs a term, 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived,' which cannot be assumed to have existential import. I then shall offer a solution of this difficulty. I shall argue that the success of the argument of Proslogion 2 depends on the modal character of 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived.' That modal character suggests that the argument of Proslogion 2 is modal as well. I shall show that there are grounds in theology and in the Aristotelian modal syllogistic for rejecting the existential import assumption, and shall suggest that Anselm does not make such an assumption, at least in the ontological argument. Rather, despite its assertoric appearance, the argument in Proslogion 2 is modal."

  5. ———. 1983. "Anselm on Perfect Islands." Franciscan Studies no. 43:188-204.

  6. Bencivenga, Ermanno. 1993. Logic and Other Nonsense. The Case of Anselm and His God. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  7. Boutin, Maurice. 1990. "L'argument D'anselme Et La Règle De Foi Selon Rudolf Bultmann." Archivio di Filosofia:471-481.

  8. Brecher, Robert. 1974. "Greatness in Anselm's Ontological Argument." Philosophical Quarterly no. 24:97-105.

    "Examination of Anselm's Proslogion shows that he carefully distinguishes 'greater' from 'better' or 'more perfect'. He says that God 'most truly exists', that he exists 'in the highest degree'; the Neo-platonist metaphysical framework suggested by this is confirmed by examining Anselm's Augustinian background, and the Monologion. 'Greatness' is an ontological concept. This both makes good sense of Anselm's argument, and justifies his refutation of the 'Lost Island' objection: it is nonsense to say of any island, or dollar, that it is ontologically superior to another, or to anything else."

  9. ———. 1983. "Gremlins and Parodies." Philosophical Studies (Ireland) no. 29:48-54.

    "The paper aims to show that parody-based critiques of Anselm's ontological argument fail to do damage because there is a crucial disanalogy between 'God' and for example, Gaunilean 'Islands'. the basis of the disanalogy is God's alleged uniqueness in terms of necessary existence. It is this rather than the structure of Anselm's argument which constitutes the real problem in attempting to assert that there is a God."

  10. ———. 1985. Anselm's Argument. The Logic of Divine Existence. Aldershot: Gower.

  11. Brunner, Fernad. 1976. "Questions Sur L'interprétation Du "Proslogion" Par Jules Vuillemin." In Saint Anselme Ses Précurseurs Et Ses Contemporains, edited by Kohlenberger, Helmut, 65-83. Frankfurt: Minerva.

  12. Campbell, Richard James. 1976. From Belief to Understanding. A Study of Anselm's Proslogion Argument on the Existence of God. Canberra: Australian National University.

    Contents: Acknowledgments VII; 1. Introduction 1; 2. The Text 6; 3. The Structure of the Argument 10; 4. The First Stage 30; 5. The Second Stage 92; 6. The Third Stage 126; 7. A Formalisation of the Argument 151; 8. The Force of the Argument 172; 9. The Relevance of the Argument 208; Index 228-229.

  13. Cappuyns, Maieul D. 1934. "L'argument De Saint Anselme." Recherches de Théologie ancienne et médiévale no. 6:313-330.

  14. Cattin, Yves. 1986. La Preuve De Dieu. Introduction À La Lecture Du Proslogion D'anselme De Canterbury. Paris: Vrin.

  15. Chambers, Timothy. 2000. "On Behalf of the Devil: A Parody of Anselm Revisited." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society no. 100:93-113.

    "This paper treats a question which first arose in these Proceedings: Can Anselm's ontological argument be inverted so as to yield parallel proofs for the existence (or nonexistence) of a least (or worst conceivable being? Such "devil parodies" strike some commentators as innocuous curiosities, or redundant challenges which are no more troubling than other parodies found in the literature (e.g., Gaunilo's Island). I take issue with both of these allegations; devil parodies, I argue, have the potential to pose substantive, and novel, challenges to Anselm's ontological argument."

  16. Chandler, Hugh S. 1993. "Some Ontological Arguments." Faith and Philosophy no. 10:18-32.

    "The principal arguments considered are in some ways similar to those offered in Anselm's Proslogium, Chapters II and III. In addition, two quick' versions of the ontological argument are examined. Finally, I worry a bit about the ineffable One. The general line of attack is similar to a procedure employed by David Lewis in discussing Proslogium II. My approach to Proslogium III is based upon the idea that the appropriate modal logic for these matters is much weaker than the standard S5. The hope is that this alternative perspective reveals features worthy of notice."

  17. Corbin, Michel. 1983. "Cela Dont Plus Grand Ne Puisse Être Pensé." Anselm Studies.An Occasional Journal no. 1:59-83.

  18. ———. 1988. ""Nul N'a Plus Grand Amour Que De Donner Sa Vie Pour Ses Amis (Jn 15,13)". La Signification De L'unum Argumentum Du Proslogion." Anselm Studies.An Occasional Journal no. 2:201a-228.

  19. Davies, Brian. 2004. "Anselm and the Ontological Argument." In The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, edited by Davies, Brian and Leftow, Brian, 157-178. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  20. Delgado, Antolin Salvador. 1988. El Argumento Anselmiano. Sevilla: Publicaciones de la Universidad.

  21. Devine, Philip. 1977. "'Exists' and Saint Anselm's Argument." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 3:59-70.

    "This paper examines interpretations of the doctrine that "exists" is not a predicate (existence is not a property). None, it is concluded, is both true and a refutation of st Anselm's "ontological" argument for the existence of God."

  22. Dicker, Georges. 1988. "A Refutation of Rowe's Critique of Anselm's Ontological Argument." Faith and Philosophy no. 5:193-202.

  23. D'Onofrio, Giulo. 1990. "Chi È L' " Insipiens"? L'argomento Di Anselmo E La Dialettica Dell'alto Medioevo." In L'argomento Ontologico / the Ontological Argument / L'argument Ontologique / Der Ontologische Gottesbeweis, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 95-109. Padova: CEDAM.

  24. Evans, Gillian Rosemary. 1978. Anselm and Talking About God. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  25. Evdokimov, Paul. 1959. "L'aspect Apophatique De L'argument De Saint Anselme." In Spicilegium Beccense (Vol. I), 233-258. Paris.

  26. Forest, Aimé. 1972. "Remarques Sur L'argument Du Proslogion." In Scritti in Onore Di Carlo Giacon, 147-172. Padova.

  27. Galvan, Sergio. 1989. "Una Variante Deontica Dell'argomento Modale Di S. Anselmo." Epistemologia no. 12:135-144.

  28. ———. 1993. "Aspetti Problematici Dell'argomento Modale Di Anselmo." Rivista di Storia della Filosofia:587-609.

  29. Ghisalberti, Alessandro. 1990. "Per Una Rilettura Dell'argomento Ontologico Di Anselmo D'Aosta." Vita e Pensiero (7-8):543-549.

  30. Gilbert, Paul. 1990. "Unum Argumentum Et Unum Necessarium." In L'argomento Ontologico / the Ontological Argument / L'argument Ontologique / Der Ontologische Gottesbeweis, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 81-94. Padova: Cedam.

  31. ———. 1990. Le Proslogion De S. Anselme. Silence De Dieu Et Joie De L'homme. Roma: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana.

    Bibliographie Anselmienne: pp. 249-279. Sur l'argument ontologique: livres pp. 253-255, articles pp. 267-273.

  32. Gilson, Etienne. 1934. "Sens Et Nature De L'argument De Saint Anselme." Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age no. 9:5-51.

  33. Gogacz, Mieczyslaw. 1970. "La "Ratio Anselmi" En Face Du Problème Des Relations Entre Métaphysique Et Mystique." Analecta Anselmiana no. 2:169-185.

  34. Gombocz, Wolfgang. 1974. Uber E! Zur Semantik Der Existenzprädikates Und Des Ontologischen Arguments Für Gottes Existenz Von Anselm Von Canterbury. Wien: Verband der Wissenschaflliche Gesellschaft.

    Unpublished Dissertation (University of Graz).

  35. ———. 1976. "Zur Zwei-Argument-Hypotese Bezüglich Anselms Prosologion." In Saint Anselme Ses Précurseurs Et Ses Contemporains, edited by Kohlenberger, Helmut, 85-98. Frankfurt: Minerva.

  36. Grappone, Arturo Graziano. 1999. "Anselm's Ontological Proof: Consequences in System Theory." Metalogicon no. 12:33-40.

  37. Hartman, Robert S. 1961. "Prolegomena to a Meta-Anselmian Axiomatic." Review of Metaphysics no. 14:637-675.

    "The author argues that Anselm's proof of God in the Proslogion is the first and so far the last example of an entirely new philosophical method which is neither categorial not analytic but axiomatic and synthetic: the method of mathematics validly applied to the highest possible subject of human thought. With particular reference to Karl Barth's 1958 study, Fides quaerens intellectum, he first reconstructs Anselm's theological program. He then discusses Anselm's notions of rationality and proof and presents his axiomatic concept of the name of God. Finally, the author examines the argument between Anselm and Gaunilon step by step."

  38. Hendley, Brian. 1981. "Anselm's "Proslogion" Argument." In Sprache Und Erkenntnis in Mittelalter (Vol. Ii), 838-846. Berlin, New York.

  39. Henry, Desmond Paul. 1969. "Proslogion Chapter Iii." In Analecta Anselmiana (Vol. I), 101a-105.

  40. ———. 1993. " Aliquid Quo Nihil Maius Cogitari Possit Counterpart of Homo Mortuus." Rivista di Storia della Filosofia:513-525.

  41. Herrera, Robert A. 1979. Anselm's Proslogion: An Introduction. Washington: University Press of America.

  42. ———. 1984. "The "Proslogion Argument" Viewed from the Perspective of "De Casu Diaboli"." In Spicilegium Beccense (Vol Ii), 623-629.

  43. Hochberg, Herbert. 1959. "Anselm's Ontological Argument and Russell's Theory of Descriptions." New Scholasticism:319-330.

  44. Holopainen, Toivo. 2007. "Anselm's Argumentum and the Early Medieval Theory of Argument." Vivarium no. 47:1-29.

    "The article aims at elucidating the argumentation in Anselm's Proslogion by relating some aspects of it to the early medieval theory of argument. The focus of the analysis is on the "single argument" ( unum argumentum), the discovery of which Anselm announces in the Preface to the Proslogion. Part 1 of the article offers a preliminary description of the single argument by describing the reductio ad absurdum technique based on the notion "that than which a greater cannot be thought". Part 2 discusses the ideas about arguments and argumentation that Boethius presents in Book One of his In Ciceronis Topica. Part 3 draws attention to some early medieval sources (Abelard, Lanfranc, Anselm) that are witness to the importance of the Boethian ideas in Anselm's time. Finally, Part 4 argues that Anselm looked at his single argument in the Boethian framework and that the term "that than which a greater cannot be thought" should be identified as his single argument."

  45. Hopkins, Jasper. 1972. A Companion to the Study of St. Anselm. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Chapter III. Ontological Argument 67-89.

  46. ———. 1978. "On Understanding and Preunderstanding St. Anselm." New Scholasticism no. 52:243-284.

  47. Huber, Carlo. 1990. "Considerazioni Semantiche E Logiche Sul Cosiddetto Argomento Ontologico Di Anselmo D'Aosta Nel Proslogium." In L'attualità Filosofica Di Anselmo D'Aosta, edited by Hoegen, Maternus, 11-23. Roma.

  48. Jarmuzek, Tomasz, Nowicki, Maciej, and Pietruszczak, Andrzej. 2006. "An Outline of the Anselmian Theory of God." In Essays in Logic and Ontology, edited by Malinowski, Jacek and Pietruszczak, Andrzej, 317-330. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

    "The article presents a formalization of Anselm's so-called 'ontological arguments' from Proslogion. The main idea of our research is to stay to the original text as close as is possible. We show, against some common opinions, that (i) the logic necessary for the formalization must be neither a purely sentential modal calculus, nor just non-modal first-order logic, but a modal first-order theory; (ii) such logic cannot contain logical axiom A right arrow implies that A is possible; (iii) none of Anselm's reasoning requires the assumptions that God is a consistent object or that existence of God is possible; (iv) no such thing as the so-called Anselm's principle is involved in any of the proofs; (v) Anselm's claims (that God exists in reality and that God necessarily exists in reality) can be obtained independently, hence, there is no need for presenting them in an opposite order than Anselm did."

  49. Kelly, Charles J. 1994. "Circularity and Amphiboly in Some Anselmian Ontological Proofs: A Syllogistic Inquiry." Noûs no. 28:482-504.

  50. Kenny, Anthony Patrick. 1990. "Anselm on the Conceivability of God." In L'argomento Ontologico, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 71-79. Padova.

  51. Kienzler, Klaus. 1993. "Das Proslogion-Argument. Anselm's Und Die Confessiones Des Augustinus." In The European Dimension of St. Anselm's Thinking, 137-161.

  52. ———. 1999. International Bibliography - Anselm of Canterbury. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press.

    In cooperation with Eduardo Brinacesco, Walter Fröhlich, Helmut Kohleberger, Frederick Van Flaten, Coloman Viola.

    Contains 3.784 references up to 1996.

    Contents: I. Text and editions 12 (items 1-441); II. Alpahbetical Table 33 (items 442-3784); III. Systematic Table 158-201.

    Introduction: "With this International Bibliography of Anselm of Canterbury we intend to lay out a comprehensive list of works and sources of Anselm of Canterbury as well as the relevant research literature. The systematic presentation takes into consideration the time period from the first manuscripts until 1996. The bibliography includes all together three thousand, seven hundred, and eighty four individual citations.

    Part I: For a manual of this kind, not only a presentation of secondary literature, but also a presentation of texts, manuscripts, omnia opera, editions, and translations, ordered according to the most important languages, should be useful. This latter collection is presented in the first part of the bibliography, entitled 'Texts and Editions'. We have undertaken no new studies of sources and manuscripts, but have taken the references of F. S. Schmitt's Omnia Opera and F. S. Schmitt's and R. Southern's Memorial, and have reprinted the most important bibliographical information.

    Part Il: The 'Alphabetical Table' presents alphabetically all the relevant secondary literature in detail. This second section is the heart of the bibliography. It serves as the foundation for Part III. The systematic presentation of the literature extends to the year 1996. The final references were to the contributions in the collection of D. E. Luscombe and G. R. Evans, Aosta, Bec, and Canterbury. Papers in Commemoration of the Nine-hundreth Anniversary of Anselm's Enthronement as Archbishop, 25 September 1093 (1996). After that, particular titles appear only sporadically.

    Part III: The 'Systematic Table' is conceived as an aid for research into the works of Anselm of Canterbury. In a systematic reference word table, developed especially for this purpose, relevant research contributions are presented in short form. It should be possible quickly to find citations in the 'Alphabetical Table' through the presentation of references of Author (Year) in the 'Systematic Table'."

  53. King, Peter. 1984. "Anselm's Intentional Argument." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 1:147-166.

    "Anselm's Ontological Argument is an ad hominem argument against the Foole, part of which is a reductio ad absurdum, designed to prove the existence of God. The actual argument offered by St. Anselm has seventeen premisses; the heart of the argument is a careful distinction among intentional objects-and the Ontological Argument cannot be formalized by modal logic. It is not a modal argument at all, but rather relies on certain intuitive principles of intentional logic, which Anselm applies throughout the Proslogion. The Ontological Argument is valid, if one accepts these principles; insofar as an ad hominem argument may be sound, it is sound as well. It is not a demonstration, for the key premiss granted by the Foole is highly implausible. Those who agree with the Foole, however, may justifiably assert God's existence.

    These claims only apply to Anselm's actual argument, not to other Ontological Arguments, no matter how distinguished the pedigree, no matter how careful the formalization. Other Ontological Arguments only interest me insofar as they shed light on, or claim to accurately represent, Anselm's Ontological Argument. Other Ontological Arguments must be judged on their own merits. Anselm's actual argument, unlike most versions, is an exercise in intentional logic, a fact that has eluded commentators from the time of Gaunilon. That Ontological Argument is the subject of this article, and henceforth I shall call it the Ontological Argument."

  54. Klima, Gyula. 2000. "Saint Anselm's Proof: A Problem of Reference, Intentional Identity and Mutual Understanding." In Medieval Philosophy and Modern Times, edited by Holmström-Hintikka, Ghita, 69-87. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  55. ———. 2003. "Conceptual Closure in Anselm's Proof: Reply to Professor Roark." History and Philosophy of Logic no. 24:131-134.

    "This paper provides replies to the objections Tony Roark presented (Roark, T. 2003. 'Conceptual closure in Anselm's proof', History and Philosophy of Logic 24) to my reconstruction of Anselm's famous argument in the Proslogion (Klima, G. 2000. 'Saint Anselm's Proof: A Problem of Reference, Intentional Identity and Mutual Understanding', in G. Holmström-Hintikka, Medieval Philosophy and Modern Times, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 69-87). The replies argue that Roark's objections actually strengthen the general conclusion of my original paper concerning the different attitudes one can take toward Anselm's argument, depending on whether one refers to that than which nothing greater can be thought 'constitutively' or 'parasitically'. In agreement with Roark, however, at the end of the paper I also indicate some of the broader implications of this distinction worthy of further exploration."

  56. Kopper, Joachim. 1962. Reflexion Und Raisonnement Im Ontologischen Gottesbeweis. Köln: Universitätsverlag.

  57. Koyré, Alexandre. 1923. L'idée De Dieu Dans La Philosophie De St. Anselme. Paris.

  58. La Croix, Richard R. 1972. Proslogion Ii and Iii. A Third Interpretation of Anselm's Argument. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

  59. Losoncy, Thomas. 1982. "Anselm's Response to Gaunilo's Dilemma. An Insight into the Notion of 'Being' Operative in the Proslogion." New Scholasticism no. 56:207-216.

  60. ———. 1994. "Chapter 1 of St. Anselm's Proslogion: Its Preliminaries to Proving God's Existence as Paradigmatic for Subsequent Proofs of God's Existence." In Greek and Medieval Studies in Honor of Leo Sweeney, S.J., edited by Carroll, William J. and Furlong, John J., 171-180. New York: Peter Lang.

  61. ———. 2008. "Language and Saint Anselm's Proslogion Argument." In Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Bononiensis, edited by Schoeck, Richard J. Binghantom: State University of New York Press.

    Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies: Bologna, 26 August to 1 September 1979.

    "In the over nine hundred years since Saint Anselm wrote the Proslogion steadfast disagreement over what he meant, and sometimes over what he said, functions as an unbroken principle of interpretation among its readers and commentators alike. How to explain this phenomenon has proven equally controversial. However, two explanations of the long embattled history of the Proslogion are feasible.

    One is that access to the complete Proslogion was impossible for many of Anselm's successors, including such renowned reviewers of the work as Aquinas, Scotus, and the noted modern critic of the ontological argument, Immanuel Kant. A second, applying more to recent times, appears to be a failure to exercise due regard for the language of the work. (1) This is further evidenced by a tendency to concentrate only on part of the Proslogion, principally chapters two-four."

    (1) Two recent discussions of the Proslogion deserve notice in this regard. Professor G. R. Evans, Anselm and Talking about God (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), devotes more time to talking about the interpretation a large tradition has placed upon the Proslogion argument than to an analysis of the argument's language as such. See, especially, chapters two and three, pp. 39-75. On the other hand, Professor Gregory Schufreider's study, "The Identity of Anselm's Argument," The Modern Schoolman, LIV (1977), pp. 345-61, breaks genuinely new ground in its search for the argument in Anselm's Proslogion instead of a new search for confirmation of an old rendition. In arguing that Saint Anselm has a single argument in the Proslogion Schufreider provides a careful analysis of Anselm's use of "vere esse" in chapter eleven's heading and chapter three's text (pp. 349-52); of "absolute" in chapters twenty-two and twenty-eight of the Monologion (pp. 353-58) and the modal quality of the Proslogion's "vere esse" (p. 360). The conclusion Schufreider reaches reinforces the argument of this paper from a different perspective.

  62. Makin, Stephen. 1988. "The Ontological Argument." Philosophy no. 63:83-91.

    "I offer a defence of the ontological argument. I argue for the principle that if Fis a necessarily exemplified concept and G is not, then Fs are a greater kind of thing than Gs. This principle is defended on the basis of two other principles concerning such attitudes as total reliance, which it is appropriate to take to Fs if f is a necessarily exemplified concept."

  63. ———. 1992. "The Ontological Argument Defended." Philosophy no. 67:247-255.

  64. Mann, William E. 1972. "The Ontological Presuppositions of the Ontological Argument." Review of Metaphysics:260-277.

    "I present a semi-formal analysis of St. Anselm's version of the ontological argument from Proslogion II, with two purposes in mind. First, I show that some contemporary analyses of the argument, in terms of the apparatus of modal logic, neglect the conceptual framework within which Anselm worked. I then display three ingredients of that framework: the distinction between beings 'in intellectu' and beings 'in re', the distinction between one's conceiving of a thing and one's conceiving it to exist, and the doctrine that existence is a property of things. Second, I argue that even if Anselm is granted all three of these presuppositions, he still cannot produce a convincing argument for the existence of God."

  65. Marenbon, John. 2006. "Anselm Rewrites His Argument Proslogion 2 and the Response to Gaunilo." In Écriture Et Réecriture Des Textes Philosophiques Mèdiévaux. Volume D'hommage Offert À Colette Sirat, edited by Hamesse, Jacqueline and Weijers, Olga, 347-365. Turnhout: Brepols.

  66. Matthews, Scott. 1999. "Arguments, Texts, and Contexts: Anselm's Argument and the Friars." Medieval Philosophy and Theology no. 8:83-104.

    "The contrast between the reception of Anselm's Proslogion in the work of Bonaventure and in the work of Thomas Aquinas is often held up as a classic example of their competing intellectual assumptions. Some have located the intellectual prerequisites for the acceptance or rejection of Anselm's argument in the prior acceptance of univocal or analogical accounts of being. (1) P. A. Daniels argued that the prerequisites for Bonaventure's acceptance of the argument were not his "ontological" mode of thought, or a doctrine of the innate idea of God within the soul, but in his acceptance of examplar causality.(2) Half a century later, Jean Chattillon, following Étienne Gilson, affirmed the more common view of the issue, that the acceptance or rejection of Anselm's argument among the first scholastics of the thirteenth century depended upon their allegiance to Augustinian or Aristotelian traditions.(3) Anton Pegis did the same when he insisted that recovery of the Anselmian argument in its original form involved stripping away the Aristotelian framework in terms of which the Proslogion has been read since Thomas. (4)"

    (1) In general terms, the interpretation of Bonaventure as leader of an Augustinian tradition, and of Thomas as representative of Aristotelianism, can be found in the work of E. Gilson, A History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (London, 1978). On Bonaventure's refinement of Anselm in the context of the Augustinian tradition, see H. R. Klocker, S.J. " Bonaventure's Refinement of the Ontological Argument," Mediaevilla 4 (1978): 209-23. On analogical and univocal accounts of being as factors determining attitudes to Anselm's argument, see H. J. Johnson, "Contra Anselm But Contra Gentiles: Aquinas's Rejection of the Ontological Argument," Schede Medievali 13 (1986): 18-27.

    (2) P. A. Daniels, Quellenbeiträge und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Gottesbeweise im Dreizehnten Jahrhundert (Münster, 1909), pp. 131, 156.

    (3) Jean Chattillon, " De Guillaume d'Auxerre à Saint Thomas d'Aquin: L'Argument de Saint Anselme Chez Les Premiers Scolastiques du XIIIe Siècle," Spicilegium Beccense 1 (1959): 209-31.

    (4) Anton C. Pegis, " St. Anselm and the Argument of the "Proslogion"," Mediaeval Studies 28 (1966): 228-67.

  67. McEvoy, James. 1994. "La Preuve Anselmienne De L'existence De Dieu Est-Elle Un Argument "Ontologique"? A Propos De Trois Interprétations Récentes." Revue Philosophique de Louvain no. 92:167-183.

  68. McGrath, P.J. 1988. "The Ontological Argument Revisited." Philosophy no. 63:529-533.

  69. ———. 1990. "The Refutation of the Ontological Argument." Philosophical Quarterly no. 40:195-212.

  70. ———. 1994. "Does the Ontological Argument Beg the Question?" Religious Studies no. 30:305-310.

    "In his paper Has the Ontological Argument Been Refuted?' (Religious Studies, 29 (1993), 97-110) William F. Vallicella argues that my attempt to show that the Ontological Argument begs the question is unsuccessful. I believe he is wrong about this, but before endeavouring to vindicate my position I must first make clear what precisely is the point at issue between us. The Ontological Argument is not a single argument, but a family of arguments. Newly devised formulations of the argument are frequently put forward by philosophers in an effort to avoid difficulties that have been pointed out in previous versions. As a consequence there is no possibility of a conclusive proof that every form of the argument embodies the same fallacy. Nevertheless, one can, I believe, prove that all the standard versions of the argument embody a certain fallacy and that, given the nature of the argument, it is therefore unlikely that the argument can be formulated in such a way as to avoid this difficulty. What I tried to show in my paper is that the six best-known versions of the argument (the non-model versions of Anselm, Descartes and Leibniz and the modal versions of Malcolm, Hartshorne and Plantinga) all beg the question and that they do so at the same point in the argument, namely when it is asserted that it is possible,that an absolutely perfect being exists. It is difficult to see how an ontological argument could be formulated without, including this claim as one of its premises, since the distinguishing badge of the argument is the inference from the possibility of an absolutely perfect being to its actuality. It must be unlikely then, if my criticism of these six versions is correct, that there is any way of formulating the argument that avoids this fallacy."

  71. Millican, Peter. 2004. "The One Fatal Flaw in Anselm's Argument." Mind (113):437-476.

    "Anselm's Ontological Argument fails, but not for any of the various reasons commonly adduced. In particular, its failure has nothing to do with violating deep Kantian principles by treating 'exists' as a predicate or making reference to 'Meinongian' entities. Its one fatal flaw, so far from being metaphysically deep, is in fact logically shallow, deriving from a subtle scope ambiguity in Anselm's key phrase. If we avoid this ambiguity, and the indeterminacy of reference to which it gives rise, then his argument is blocked even if his supposed Meinongian extravagances are permitted. Moreover it is blocked in a way which is straightforward and compelling (by contrast with the Kantian objections), and which generalizes easily to other versions of the Ontological Argument. A significant moral follows. Fear of Anselm's argument has been hugely influential in motivating ontological fastidiousness and widespread reluctance to countenance talk of potentially non-existing entities. But if this paper is correct, then the Ontological Argument cannot properly provide any such motivation. Some of the most influential contributions to ontology, from Kant to Russell and beyond, rest on a mistake."

  72. Moreau, Joseph. 1967. Pour Ou Contre L'insensé? Essai Sur La Preuve Anselmienne. Paris.

  73. ———. 1983. "Inintelligible Et Impensable (Anselm, Liber Apologeticus, Iv)." Anselm Studies.An Occasional Journal no. 1:85-93.

  74. Morscher, Edgar. 1997. "Anselm's Argument -- Once Again." Logique et Analyse no. 158:175-188.

    "The kernel of Anselm's famous argument in chapter II of his Proslogion consists of a few lines. Thousands of pages have been written about them, but nevertheless they have resisted final clarification, though the literature about them still grows.

    Most of what has allegedly been written about Anselm's argument is concerned more with phantasies than with Anselm's original text. In fact most authors take Anselm's argument as an excuse for doing quite different things and developing their own ideas.

    Anselm's brilliant text does not deserve such a treatment. Accordingly I will focus on Anselm's own words and will display the ingenuity of his argument as well as where it fails."

  75. Müller, Jörn. 2011. "Ontologischer Gottesbeweis? Zur Bedeutung Und Funktion Des Unum Argumentum in Anselm Von Canterburys Proslogion." In Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). Philosophical Theology and Ethics, edited by Pich, Roberto Hofmeister, 37-71. Porto: Fédération Internationale des Institutd d'Études Mèdiévales.

  76. Nef, Frédéric. 2002. "Perfection Divine Et Propriétés Positives. L' argumentum Unicum D'anselme Et La Preuve Ontologique De Leibniz À La Lumière De La Preuve Gödelienne De L'existence De Dieu." In Analyse Et Théologie. Croyances Religieuses Et Rationalité, edited by Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha, Gnassounou, Bruno and Pouivet, Roger, 95-124. Paris: Vrin.

  77. Pearl, Leon. 1990. "A Puzzle About Necessary Being." Philosophy no. 65:229-231.

    "I argue contrary to Stephen Makin's "The Ontological Argument" (Philosophy 63, No. 243) that one can't show that necessary being is a meaningful concept by the use of modal notions involving the exemplification of concepts. For conceptual coherence provides, at best, a necessary condition for necessary exemplification, not a sufficient one. What then could there possibly be about a concept beyond its coherence that would necessitate its exemplification. I suspect there is none."

  78. Pegis, Anton Charles. 1966. "St. Anselm and the Argument of the Prosologion." Mediaeval Studies no. 28:228-267.

    "This study is a reexamination of the Proslogion, aiming, in the light of the interpretations of K. Barth, E. Gilson and especially H. Bouillard, to determine the nature of its argument for God as a rational construction. St. Anselm believes that the believing reason is both believing in itself and rationally visible to an unbeliever. The argument in chapters 2-4 is not from thought to existence, but from God as designated by and in things to God as posited in his transcendence. There is no reason for thinking that the so-called ontological argument originates in the Proslogion."

  79. Pich, Roberto Hofmeister. 2011. "Amselm's "Idea" and Anselm's Argument." In Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). Philosophical Theology and Ethics, edited by Pich, Roberto Hofmeister, 73-110. Porto: Fédération Internationale des Institutd d'Études Mèdiévales.

  80. Priest, Stephen. 2000. "Reality and Existence in Anselm." Heythrop Journal.A Bimonthly Review of Philosophy and Theology no. 41:461-462.

    "Although 'exists' has the superficial appearance of a predicate in the Proslogion, Anselm does not rely on the premise that 'exists' is a logical predicate (or that existing is a property) in the ontological proof. Anselm argues that God exists not only as a mental object ( in intellectu) but also exists in extramental reality ( in re). Whether 'exists' is a predicate is irrelevant to this inference. It follows that many putative refutations of the argument fail."

  81. Read, Stephen. 1981. "Reflections on Anselm and Gaunilo." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 21:437-438.

    "In Anselm's ontological argument, the phrase 'to exist (only) in the understanding' needs explanation; so also does the claim that something which exists only in the understanding, and so does not exist, is less great than something that does exist. What this means is that, if it were to exist, it would be less great than the other. But it could not then be less great than itself. So Anselm's argument collapses."

  82. Roark, Tony. 2003. "Tarski and Klima: Conceptual Closure in Anselm's Proof." History and Philosophy of Logic no. 24:1-14.

    "Gyula Klima maintains that Anselm's ontological argument is best understood in terms of a theory of reference that was made fully explicit only by later medievals. I accept the interpretative claim but offer here two objections to the argument so interpreted. The first points up a certain ambiguity in Klima's formulation of the argument, the correction of which requires a substantive revision of the argument's conclusion. The second exploits the notion of semantic closure introduced by Tarski. Klima offers the atheist an 'out' by drawing a distinction between constitutive and parasitic reference. I argue that using Klima's preferred description ('the thought object than which no thought object can be thought to be greater') to refer constitutively to God results in conceptual closure, a condition analogous to semantic closure that renders the instant conceptual scheme inconsistent and subject to paradox. Although the proof ultimately fails, Klima's development of the notions of constitutive and parasitic reference has important and far-reaching implications."

  83. Sagal, Paul. 1973. "Anselm's Refutation of Anselm's Ontological Argument." Franciscan Studies no. 33:285-291.

  84. Schmitt, Franciscus Salesius. 1933. "Der Ontologische Gottesbeweis Anselms." Theologische Revue no. 32:217-223.

  85. Schnepf, Robert. 1998. "Sein Als Ereignis: Zu Einigen Voraussetzungen Des Gottesbeweises Bei Anselm Von Canterbury." Patristica et Mediaevalia no. 19:3-22.

    "In recent discussions on Anselm's ontological argument, the assumption is made, that Anselm holds "existence" to be a first order predicate.

    However, there is no explicit statement in Anselm's texts that confirms this interpretation. In Thomas Aquinas and his predecessors, the logic of subject and predicate is applied on Anselm's argument.

    Anselm himself has no logic of "existence". The exact meaning and function of the expression "existence" is, therefore, to be investigated by an interpretation of its actual use in the argument

    itself. I propose, that Anselm views existence to be an event, and that the term "maius" can best be interpreted as a relation between different kinds of events."

  86. Schufreider, Gregory. 1977. "The Identity of Anselm's Argument." Modern Schoolman no. 54:345-361.

  87. ———. 1978. An Introduction to Anselm's Argument. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

  88. ———. 1992. "A Classical Misunderstanding of Anselm's Argument." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 66 (4):489-499.

  89. Tichy, Pavel. 1979. "Existence and God." Journal of Philosophy no. 76:403-420.

    "The article presents an analysis of Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God, based on Transparent Intensional Logic. Section I consists of general considerations on denotation and existence. In section II, two fallacies flawing Descartes's proof are exposed. Anselm's argument is reconstructed and assessed in section III, it is found logically sound, but doubt is cast on one of its premises."

  90. Vallicella, William. 1993. "Has the Ontological Argument Been Refuted?" Religious Studies no. 29:97-110.

    "Suppose we say that a deductive argument is probative just in case it is (i) valid in point of logical form, (ii) possesses true premises, and (iii) is free of informal fallacy. We can then say that an argument is normatively persuasive for a person if and only if it is both probative and has premises that can be accepted, without any breach of epistemic propriety, by the person in question. If the premises of a probative argument would be accepted by any reasonable person, I will call such an argument demonstrative.

    Now it seems that a reasonable position to take with respect to the Ontological Argument for the existence of God (hereafter, OA) is that none of its versions is demonstrative, though some of the versions are normatively persuasive. If so, the OA in at least one version is a 'good' argument although not a successful piece of natural theology'. To show that the OA is 'bad' in all versions one would have to show, for each version, either that it is not probative, by showing that it is either invalid, or possessed of one or more false premises, or guilty of informal fallacy, or such that its premises are more rationally rejected than accepted by the person who considers the argument. To show a version 'bad', then, it does not suffice to show that it fails to establish its conclusion in some incontrovertible manner. Precious few philosophical arguments get the length of that." (Notes omitted).

  91. Varisco, Novella. 1998. "La 'Ratio Anselmi' Nell'interpretazione Di Alcuni Pensatori Medievali." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 90:5-27.

  92. Viola, Coloman E. 1992. "Origine Et Portée Du Principe Dialectique Du 'Proslogion' De Saint Anselme. De L' 'Argument Ontologique' À L' 'Argument Mégalogique'." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 83:339-384.

  93. ———. 1996. "Saint Anselme Est-Il Le 'Père De L'argument Ontologique'? Le Proslogion Confronté À Kant." In Saint Anselm - Thinker for Yesterday and Today. Anselm's Thought Viewed by Our Contemporaries, edited by Viola, Coloman E. and Van Fleteren, Frederick. Evanston: Edwin Mellen Press.

  94. Vuillemin, Jules. 1971. Le Dieu D'anselme Et Les Apparences De La Raison. Paris: Aubier.

  95. Wood, Rega. 2006. "Richard Rufus' Response to Saint Anselm." In Anselm and Abelard. Investigations and Juxtapositions, edited by Gasper, Giles and Kohlenberger, Helmut, 87-102. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Gaunilo of Marmoutiers (fl. XI century)

Texts and translations

  1. Gaunilo, of Marmoutiers. 1938. Liber Pro Insipiente (Quid Ad Haec Respondeat Quidam Pro Insipiente). Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

    Written in 1078.

    Printed in the Opera Omnia by Anselm of Canterbury, edited by Franciscus Salesius Schmitt - Vol. I pp. 123-129.

    For the translations, see the editions of Anselm's Proslogion.


  1. Bencivenga, Ermanno. 2007. "A Note on Gaunilo's Lost Island." Dialogue.Canadian Philosophical Review no. 46:583-587.

    "Gaunilo's "Lost Island" argument is his most famous objection to Anselm's ontological proof, and Anselm is known to provide quite an unsatisfactory response to it. So someone sympathetic to Anselm might ask: is there something that Anselm is not saying, some point he has perhaps made elsewhere and he might be implicitly appealing to which would give substance to his disappointing statement? I believe there is, and this paper provides my answer."

  2. Burgess-Jackson, Keith. 1994. "Anselm, Gaunilo, and Lost Island." Philosophy and Theology no. 8:243-249.

    "The received view is that Gaunilo's attempted refutation of Anselm's ontological argument fails. But those who believe this do not agree as to why it fails. The aim of this essay is to show that "whether" the attempted refutation succeeds depends crucially on how one formulates the so-called greatmaking principle on which Anselm's argument rests. This principle has largely been ignored by contemporary philosophers, who have chosen to focus on other aspects of the argument. I sketch two analyses of metaphysical greatness and suggest that on one of them, which Anselm may have held, his argument avoids Gaunilo's criticism."

  3. Davis, Stephen T. 1975. "Anselm and Gaunilo on the Lost Island." Southern Journal of Philosophy no. 13:435-448.

  4. Hopkins, Jasper. 1976. "Anselm's Debate with Gaunilo." In Saint Anselme Ses Précurseurs Et Ses Contemporains, edited by Kohlenberger, Helmut, 25-33. Frankfurt: Minerva.

    "Gaunilo, monk of Marmoutier, is known almost exclusively for his attempted refutation of Anselm's ontological argument around 1079. Indeed, both his counterexample about the alleged island which is more excellent than all others and Anselm's rebuttal thereof have nowadays become standard items for courses in medieval philosophy. Over the past decade or so, which has witnessed a revival of interest in the ontological argument, Gaunilo has been either lauded for his brilliancy or disparaged for his mediocrity. Thus, R. W. Southern judges that, "in words which are as trenchant as, and in some details strikingly similar to, those of Kant", Gaunilo pointed out the main difficulty in accepting Anselm's argument. (1) By contrast, the most Charles Hartshorne can say on Gaunilo's behalf is that he is "a clever, but essentially commonplace mind". (2) Those who praise Gaunilo tend to do so because he "wisely" discerned the illegitimacy of inferring a factual statement from an a priori description. Those who speak derogatorily of his achievement tend to side with Anselm's two criticisms: (I) that he misunderstood the phrase aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari potest - replacing it by maius omnibus - and (II) that his definition of "understanding" is inconsistent with his having maintained that what is unreal can be understood. (3) Now, if Gaunilo did commit himself to two blatantly inconsistent statements within a few lines of each other, as the second criticism maintains, then to call him a clever mind would itself be an overstatement.

    In this paper I want to cleat up several misinterpretations both within and about the debate between Anselm and Gaunilo. At the same time, I want to articulate the reformulations of the ontological argument as they occur in Reply to Gaunilo 1. I shall not take up the issue of whether or not any of these reformulations presents a sound argument for the existence of God, though in my judgment none does. Nor shall I worry about the respective degrees of brilliancy attributable to our two opponents, though on the present interpretation Gaunilo will fare better than Hartshorne supposes but not as well as Southern fancies." (pp. 25-26)

    (1) The Life of St Anselm by Eadmer, ed., introd., and trans. by R. W. Southern (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962), 31 n.

    (2) Charles Hartshorne, Anselm's Discovery: A Re-examination of the Ontological Proof for God's Existence (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1965), 20. See also p. 151.

    (3) Hartshorne complains that Gaunilo, and others like him, neglected the principle of Proslogion 3 that to exist without conceivable alternative of not existing is better than to exist with such alternative. Anselm's Discovery, 88 (verbatim).

  5. Imbrisevic, Miroslav. 2007. "Gaunilo's Cogito Argument." Saint Anselm Journal no. 5:50-56.

    "Gaunilo presents Anselm with a dilemma in section 7 of his Responsio: I know most certainly that I exist. But If I cannot think my non-existence at the same time, then Anselm's claim in Proslogion 3 (that my inability to think God's non-existence, while knowing most certainly that He exists, is a unique property of God) would be false. If I can do so, however, then I should also be able to know most certainly that God exists and, at the same time, think his non-existence. I will show that Anselm's response to Gaunilo's attack is not adequate because it does not address the issue of certainty, which is at the heart of Gaunilo's objection."

  6. Losoncy, Thomas. 1996. "The Anselm-Gaunilo Dispute About Man's Knowledge of God's Existence: An Examination." In Twenty-Five Years (1969-1994) of Anselm Studies, edited by Fleteren, Frederick van and Schnaubelt, Joseph C., 161-181. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press.

    "The existence of major disagreement between Saint Anselm and Gaunilo concerning reason's ability (unaided by faith) to attain any knowledge of God's hence is easily recognized by reading their famous exchanges. What has received minimal notice is the extent of this disagreement and its significance for interpreting Anselm's argument in the Proslogion. This study will seek to establish to what extent knowledge of God's existence is / is not attainable and what said knowledge includes according to these two thinkers. The method for conducting this endeavor will be to examine the kinds, range, and origins of human knowledge of existence as variously held and disputed by Anselm and Gaunilo. Such a survey should help to place this aspect of the two protagonists' thought in sharper relief. Moreover, expanding the parameters of our consideration of Anselm's argument in this fashion will free us from the, for many, enslaving fascination of Anselm's logic in Proslogion II-IV and allow a clearer insight into the metaphysics at work in these three chapters and the work as a whole. Additionally, such freedom of inquiry will permit a due recognition of chapter one's role in posing the problematic according to Anselm.

    Finally, the metaphysical notions stated obliquely in Proslogion II-IV, and especially in III, will be better heard by examining their elaboration in later chapters of Proslogion and the subsequent exchanges between Anselm and Gaunilo.

    It is necessary, then, to turn to the originals to see if, indeed, such insights are forthcoming."

William of Auxerre (ca. 1140-1231)


  1. William, of Auxerre. 1980. Summa Aurea. Paris: Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique.

    Written ca. 1215-1229.

    Magistri Guillelmi Altissiodorensis Summa aurea - Cura et studio Jean Ribaillier - Grottaferrata, Romae: Editiones Collegii S. Bonaventurae ad Claras Aquas, 1980-1987 (4 v. in 6) + 1 volume titled: Introduction générale.

    Prologue 15-23;

    Daniels (1909) pp. 25-27: Liber I. Quid sit fides et propter quid ad probationem fidei adducantur rationes naturales.

  2. Solère, Jean-Luc. 2008. "Présentation, Traduction Et Annotation De Guillaume D'Auxerre, Summa Aurea, I, Traité Xi (Extraits)." In La Puissance Et Son Ombre. De Pierre Lombard À Luther, edited by Boulnois, Oliver, 99-127. Paris: Aubier.


  1. Ottaviano, Carmelo. 1929. Guglielmo D'Auxerre (+1231). La Vita, Le Opere, Il Pensiero. Roma: L'universale Tipografia Poliglotta.

  2. Principe, Walter Henry. 1963. William of Auxerre's Theology of the Hypostatic Union. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Alexander of Hales (1185-1245)


  1. Alexander, of Hales. 1924. Summa Theologica Seu Sic Ab Origine Dicta 'Summa Fratris Alexandri. Quaracchi: Editiones Collegii s. Bonaventurae ad Claras Aquas.

    Written after 1245.

    Studio et cura PP. Collegii s. Bonaventurae ad fidem codicum edita (reprinted 1979)

    The Summa Alexandri, attributed to Alexander, is a compilation put together by his students after his death.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 28-35): Pars I Quaestio III. De essentialitate divinae Substantie Membrum. I, II et III.


  1. Gál, Gideon. 1998. "Alexander of Hales." In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Craig, Edward, 176-178. New York: Routledge.

    Vol. I.

Richard Fishacre (ca. 1205-1248)


  1. Richard, Fishacre. 1240. Commentarias Super I-Iv Sententiam.

    Written ca. 1240, this work, the first Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard written at Oxford, is unpublished; a critical edition is in preparation.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 21-24: Liber I, Distinctio III.

  2. ———. 2003. In Tertium Librum Sententiarum. München: Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

    Vol. II Dist. 23-40.


  1. Long, Raymond James. 1987. "Richard Fishacre's Way to God." In A Straight Path. Studies in Medieval Philosophy and Culture. Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman, edited by Link-Salinger, Ruth, Hackett, Jeremiah, Manekin, C.H., Long, Raymond James and Hyman, M.S., 174-182. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.

  2. ———. 1999. The Life and Works of Richard Fishacre Op. Prolegomena to the Edition of His Commentary on the Sentences. München: Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

  3. ———. 2002. "The Significance of Richard Fishacre's Sentences-Commentary." Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch fur Antike und Mittelalter no. 6:214-216.

Richard Rufus of Cornwall (fl. 1231-1256)


  1. Richard, Rufus of Cornwall. 1250. Sententia Oxoniensis I-Iii.

    Ca. 1250, available in only one manuscript: Oxford, Balliol College (B62 cols. 57-59), partially edited by Gedeon Gal in Viae ad existentiam Dei probandum in doctrina Richardi Rufi OFM, Franziskanische Studien 1956, 38 pp. 187-202.


  1. Gál, Gideon. 1956. "Viae Ad Exsistentiam Dei Probandum in Doctrina Richardi Rufi OFM." Franziskanische Studien no. 38:177-202.

    "Publishes substantial excerpts from Rufus' Oxford theology lectures and brief excerpts from Assisi 138. Shows that Rufus anticipated both Thomas' criticism of Anselm's Proslogion proof for God's existence and Scotus' modal proof for the existence of God." Rega Wood - The Richard Rufus of Cornwall Project.

  2. Long, Raymond James, and DeWitt, Richard. 2007. "Richard Rufus's Reformulations of Anselm's Proslogion Argument." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 47:329-340.

  3. Raedts, Peter. 1987. Richard Rufus of Cornwall and the Tradition of Oxford Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Wood, Rega. 2003. "Richard Rufus of Cornwall." In A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages, edited by Gracia, Jorge J.E. and Noone, Timothy B., 579-587. Malden: Blackwell.

  5. ———. 2006. "Richard Rufus' Response to Saint Anselm." In Anselm and Abelard. Investigations and Juxtapositions, edited by Gasper, Giles and Kohlenberger, Helmut, 87-102. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

    "In previous articles, Fr. Gedeon Gàl and I have shown that after rejecting Anselm's argument in its original form, Rufus, like John Duns Scotus, and like the modern American analytical philosopher, Norman Malcolm, proposed another ontological argument in its place. To oversimplify: either as a gloss on Anselm or as a substitute for his argument, they claimed that God's existence, or rather the existence of a per se being, could be inferred by modus tollens: a per se being is necessary if possible, a variety of arguments show that a per se being is possible, therefore a per se being is necessary. (3) Here, I want to look at Rufus' criticism and very briefly at another proposed substitute argument for God's existence." p. 88

    (3) G. Gàl, 'Viae ad exsistentiam Dei probandum in doctrina Richardi' Franziskanische Studien, 38 (1956), 183-186, 194-196. R. Wood, 'Scotus's Argument for the Existence of God,' Franciscan Studies, 47 (1987), 270-274 and an unpublished paper, Scotus' Ontological Argument'.

    In Appendix (pp. 99-102) is given the Latin text of Rufus ( Sententia Oxoniensis 1.2, B62.20ra-va).

Bonaventure of Bagnorea (1221-1274)

Texts and translations

  1. Bonaventure, of Bagnorea. 1882. Commentarium in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum. Claras Aquas (Quaracchi): Typographia Collegii S.Bonaventurae.

    Written in 1251-1253.

    Edita studio et cura PP. Collegii a S. Bonaventura.

    See also the Editio Minor Quaracchi, Firenze, Ex typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae (1934).

    Daniels (1909) pp. 38-39: Liber I, Distinctio VIII, Pars I. De veritate et immutabilitate Dei. Articulus I. De veritate Dei.

  2. ———. 1953. The Minds Road to God. New York: Macmillan.

    Translated with an Introduction by George Boas.

  3. ———. 1979. Disputed Questions on the Mystery of Trinity. St. Bonaventure: Franciscan Institute.

    Works of Saint Bonaventure Vol. III.

    Introduction and translation by Zachary Hayes (reprinted 2000).

  4. ———. 1993. Quaestionum Disputatarum. De Mysterio Trinitatis. Roma: Città Nuova.

    Written in 1254-1255.

    Sancti Bonaventurae Opuscola theologica (Opera V/1) - Latin text and Italian translation.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 39-40: Quaestio I, Articulo I. Utrum Deum esse sit verum.

  5. ———. 2003. Itinerarium Mentis in Deum. Saint Bonaventure NY: Francsican Institute.

    Written in 1259.

    Latin text and English translation by Zachary Hayes; Introduction and commentary by Philotheus Boehner.


  1. Rivera de Ventosa, Enrique. 1974. "Supuestos Filosofico-Religiosos De La Pruebas De La Existencia De Dios En San Bonaventura." In S. Bonaventura 1274-1974, edited by Bougerol, Jacques, 201a-258. Grottaferrata: Collegio S. Bonaventura.

  2. Bougerol, Jacques. 1972. "Saint Bonaventure and Saint Anselme." Antonianum no. 47:333-361.

  3. Doyle, John Patrick. 1974. "Saint Bonaventure and the Ontological Argument." Modern Schoolman no. 52:27-48.

    " For St Bonaventure the self-evident truth of God's existence can be shown forth by 'intellectual exercises' like that of st Anselm. Such exercises are not simple-minded transits from the ideal to the real order. Rather they are based upon a sophisticated metaphysics. They involve the experience of common intelligibility. With Plato, they accept the 'really real' character of that intelligibility. implicitly, they also accept a plurality and a one-way hierarchy of intelligibles leading up to a 'First'. Turning then precisely upon the unprincipiated nature of this 'First', they spread before us its absolute necessity both in reality and for thought."

  4. Mathias, Thomas. 1976. "Bonaventurian Ways to God through Reason (First Part)." Franciscan Studies no. 36:192-232.

  5. ———. 1977. "Bonaventurian Ways to God through Reason (Second Part)." Franciscan Studies no. 37:153-206.

  6. Oeing-Hanhoff, Ludger. 1973. "Note Sur L'argument Ontologique Chez Descartes Et Bonaventure." Archives de Philosophie no. 36:643-655.

  7. ———. 1975. "Der Sogennante Ontologische Gottesbeweis Bei Descartes Und Bonaventura." In Analecta Anselmiana. Frankfurt.

    Vol. 4/1.

  8. Pegis, Anton Charles. 1967. "The Bonaventurean Way to God." Mediaeval Studies no. 29:206-242.

  9. Platzek, E.W. 1975. "Die Verwendung Der 'Via Anselmiana' Bei Bonaventura." In Analecta Anselmiana. Frankfurt.

    Vol. 4/1.

  10. Seifert, Josef. 1992. " Si Deus Est, Deus Est. Reflections on St. Bonaventure's Interpretation of St. Anselm's Ontological Argument." Franciscan Studies no. 52:215-231.

    "The formula (if God is God, God exists) is the shortest summary of the ontological argument. The article tries to demonstrate that this argument, as interpreted by Bonaventure, in no way is guilty of the logical mistakes with which one reproaches it. It proceeds not from a subjective idea or concept but from an intrinsically necessary and supremely intelligible divine nature and therefore applies to no other being but to the divine being. Bonaventure's basic thesis is that the inner truth (necessity) of the divine nature imposes itself on the mind and contains objectively the real existence of God. Only someone who does not understand this inner necessary truth can deny God's existence."

Albert the Great (ca. 1200-1280)

Texts and translations

  1. Albert, the Great. 1978. Summa Theologiae, Sive De Mirabili Scientia Dei. Monasterii Westfalorum: Aschendorff.

    Written ca. 1270-1280

    Edidit Dionysius Siedler, collaborantibus Wilhelmo Kübel et Henrico Georgio Vogels.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 36-37: Pars I. Tractatus III, Quaestio XVII; Tractatus IV, Quaestio XIX, Membrum II.


Thomas Aquinas (1225/6-1274)

Texts and translations

  1. Thomas, Aquinas. 1961. Summa Contra Gentiles. Torino: Marietti.

    Written ca. 1257-1273.

    S. Thomae Aquinatis doctoris angelici Liber de veritate catholicae fidei contra errores infidelium, qui dicitur Summa contra Gentiles, cura et studio Petri Marc, coadiuvantur Ceslao Pera, et Petro Caramello (3 vols. I: Introductio; II-III: Textus Leoninus diligenter recognitus, 1961-1967).

    Texts selected by Daniels (1909) pp. 64-67:

    1) In librum Boethii de Trinitate Expositio: Quaestio I Articulus III: Utrum Deus sit primum quad a mente cognoscitur.

    2) Sententiarum Liber I Distinctio III Quaestio I Articulus II Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum.

    3) Summa Contra Gentiles Liber I Capitulo X et Capitulo XI.

    4) De Veritate Queastio X Articulus XII. Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum menti humnae sicut prima principia demonstrationis quae non possunt cogitari non esse.

    5) Summa Theologica Pars I. Quaestio II Articulus I. Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum.

  2. ———. 1962. Summa Theologiae. Torino: Marietti.

    Written ca. 1266-1273.

    S. Thomae Aquinatis doctoris angelici Summa theologiae, cura et studio Petri Caramello, cum textu ex recensione leonina.

    (3 vols. I: Pars prima et Prima secundae; II: Pars Secunda secundae; III: Tertia pars et Supplementum, 1962-1963).


  1. Bassler, Wolfgang. 1970. Die Kritik Des Thomas Von Aquin Am Ontologischen Gottesbeweis. Köln: Walter Kleikamp.

  2. Cosgrove, Matthew R. 1974. "Thomas Aquinas on Anselm's Argument." Review of Metaphysics no. 27:513-530.

  3. Matthews, Gareth B. 1963. "Aquinas on Saying That God Doesn't Exist." Monist.An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry:472-477.

    "The article discusses inadequacies in Aquinas' criticism of Anselm's ontological argument. Aquinas is commonly credited with criticizing Anselm by distinguishing two kinds of self-evidence, a distinction which for the purpose of criticizing Anselm, is not very helpful, and instead of an effective rebuttal of Anselm, Aquinas provides mostly a mere denial that his argument is cogent. The article attempts to show how Anselm's ontological argument can be defeated."

  4. Rikhof, Herwi. 1990. "Aquinas and the "Ratio Anselmi". A Theo-Logical Analysis of Aquinas' Criticism." In L'argomento Ontologico, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 137-202. Padova: CEDAM.

  5. Wippel, John. 1992. "Thomas Aquinas on What Philosophers Can Know About God." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 66 (3):279-297.

Peter of Tarentaise (1225-1276)


  1. Peter, of Tarentaise. 1259. Innocentii Quinti in Iv Libros Sententiarum Commentaria.

    Written ca 1259.

    The last printed edition is that of Toulouse: Vol. I. (1652); Vol. II (1649); Vol. III. (1652); Vol. IV. (1651).

    Daniels (1909): Sententiarum I Distinctio III. Quaestio I. De cognitine Dei. Articulus I. An Deus a creatura sit cognoscibilis. Articulus Ii. Qualiter possit cognosci et probari Deum esse (pp. 68-71).


John Peckham (ca. 1230-1292)


  1. john, Peckham. 1260. Commentariius in Iv Libros Sententiarum.

    Unpublished; a manuscript of Book I (written ca. 1260-1270): Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze Conv. G. 854.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 41-50: Liber I Distinctio II, Quaestio I. Quaesitum primum. Circa primum quaeritur an Deus sit, et ostenditur.


Henry of Ghent (ca. 1217-1293)

Texts and translations

  1. Henry, of Ghent. 2005. Henry of Ghent's Summa. The Questions on God's Existence and Essence (Articles 21-24). Leuven: Peeters.

    Written 1280-1293.

    Latin text, Introduction, and notes by Roland J. Teske; translation by Jos Decorte and Roland J. Teske.

    N.B. Daniels (1909) edition of: Summae Quaestionum Ordianrium Tous I. Articulus XXI. De Deo an sit in se absolute. Quaestio I. Utrum Deus habest esse. Articulus XXII. De Deo an sit in comparatione ad nostram notitiam. Questio II. Utrum Deum esse sit homini notum naturaliter per se (pp. 79-81) is now supersed by the new edtion by R. J. Teske.

  2. ———. 2006. Henry of Ghent's Summa. The Questions on God's Unity and Simplicity (Articles 25-30). Leuven: Peeters.

    Written 1280-1293.

    Latin text, Introduction, translation and notes by Roland J. Teske.


  1. Latzer, Michael. 1997. "The Proofs for the Existence of God: Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus as Precursors of Leibniz." Modern Schoolman no. 74:143-160.

  2. Paulus, Jean. 1936. "Henri De Gand Et L'argument Ontologique." Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age no. 10-11:265-323.

  3. Pegis, Anton Charles. 1968. "Toward a New Way to God: Henry of Ghent." Mediaeval Studies no. 30:226-247.

  4. ———. 1969. "A New Way to God: Henry of Ghent (Ii)." Mediaeval Studies no. 31:93-116.

  5. ———. 1970. "Four Medieval Ways to God." Monist.An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry no. 54:317-358.

    "St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas and Henry of Ghent represent three medieval philosophical traditions in proving the existence of God, namely, the Platonic, the Aristotelian and the Avicennian. Platonic hierarchy and participation, leading to a supreme term, govern the proof of God in St. Bonaventure and St. Anselm. St. Thomas, beginning with data in nature (e.g. motion), reaches God as the cause of these data before reaching him as he is in his own absoluteness. St. Thomas' argumentation and method are Aristotelian. The proofs of God in St. Anselm (specifically, in the Proslogion), in St. Bonaventure and in St. Thomas are all empirical and "a posteriori". but the proof of God in Henry of Ghent, Avicennian in origin, is "a priori" and seeks to reach God in his unity as the necessary being. Henry's proof is the model and perhaps the origin of the ontological argument."

  6. ———. 1971. "A New Way to God: Henry of Ghent (Iii)." Mediaeval Studies no. 33:158-179.

  7. Teske, Roland J. 2005. "Henry of Ghent's Metaphysical Argument for the Existence of God." Modern Schoolman no. 83:19-38.

Nicolaus of Ockham (fl. XII century)


  1. Nicolaus, of Ockham. 1260. Commentaria in Sententiarum.

    Unpublished manuscript (ca. 1260-1270) - Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze Conv. G5, 858.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 82-83: Sententiarum Libro I Distinctio III. Quaestio II. Quaeritur secundo an Deum esse sit per se notum.


Matthew of Aquasparta (ca. 1240-1302)


  1. Matthew, of Acquasparta. 1280. Commentarius in Primum, Secondum Et Quartum Librum Sententiarum.

    Written ca. 1271-1280; unpublished.

    See the Introduction by Victorin Doucet to Fr. Matthaei ab Aquasparta, O.F.M. ... Quaestiones disputatae de gratia ... cum Introductione critica de magisterio et scriptis eiusdem doctoris, Quaracchi, Florence, 1935, pp. LVIII-CLV (on the Commentatius see pp.LXXI-CVI. Daniels (1909) pp. 51-63: Liber I Distinctio II Articulus Primus. De Unitate divina. Quaestio I: Utrum Deum esse sit verum; Quaestio III: Utrum Deum esse sit verum indubitabile.


Giles of Rome (ca. 1243-1316)


  1. Giles, of Rome. 1492. Super Librum I Sententiarum (Reportatio).

    Written ca. 1280-1290; last printed edition: Venezia (1492).

    Daniels (1909) pp. 72-78: Sententiarum Liber I Distinctio III. Quaestio I. De cognitione Dei in se. Articulus I. Utrum Deum possium cognoscere in vita ist (*); Articulus II. Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum. Articulus III. Utrum Deum esse possit demonstrari.

  2. Luna Concetta, "Fragments d'une reportation du commentaire de Gilles de Rome sur le premier livre des Sentences. Les extraits des mss. Clm. 8005 et Paris, B. N. Lat. 15819 (First Part)," Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques 74: 205-254 (1990).

  3. Luna Concetta, "Fragments d'une reportation du commentaire de Gilles de Rome sur le premier livre des Sentences. Les extraits des mss. Clm. 8005 et Paris, B. N. Lat. 15819 (Second Part)," Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques 74: 437-456 (1990).


Richard of Middletown (1249-1308)


  1. Richard, of Middleton. 1591. Super Quatuor Libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi Quaestiones Subtilissimae.

    Written ca. 1290-1300; last printed edition Bussels, 1591.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 84-88: Sententiarum I. Distinctio III. Articulus I. De cognitione Dei a creatura. Quaestio II. Utrum Deum esse sit nobis per se notum. Quaestio III: Utrum Deum esse possit demonstrari.


William of Ware (fl. 1290-1305)


  1. William, of Ware. 1424. Quaestiones Super Libros Sententiarum.

    Written ca. 1290-1300; available only in manuscript.

    Daniels (1909) pp. 89-104: Quaestio XIV. Quaeritur utrum Deus sit. Questio XXI. Quaeritur utrum Deum esse per se sit notum.


John Duns Scotus (1265/6-1308)

Texts and translations

  1. John, Duns Scotus. 1960. Lectura in Librum Primum Sententiarum. Civitas Vaticana: Typis Poliglottis Vaticanis.

    Written 1298-1299.

    Opera Omnia. ("The Vatican edition"), vol. XVI: Librum I Distinctio II, Quaestio I, nn. 38-135.

  2. ———. 1982. A Treatise on God as First Principle. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press.

    Written in 1308.

    A Latin text and English translation of the De Primo Principio. Second edition, revised, with a commentary by Allan B. Wolter.

    Firs edition 1966.

  3. ———. 2003. Opus Oxoniense.

    Written 1300-1306.

    Opera Omnia. ("The Vatican edition") Civitas Vaticana: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1950-.

    Vol. I Librum I, Distinctio II, Quaestio I, nn. 39-190.


  1. Bonansea, Bernardino. 1967. "Duns Scotus and St. Anselm's Ontological Argument." Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy no. 4:128-141.

  2. Doyle, John Patrick. 1979. "Some Thoughts on Duns Scotus and the Ontological Argument." New Scholasticism no. 53:234-241.

    "Duns Scotus has substituted the notion of a "highest thinkable" for Anselm's "that than which a greater cannot be thought." For Scotus, the touchstone of "thinkability" is non-contradiction. He resumes the non-contradictory and therefore the thinkable character of God. He then shows God's existence in two steps: (1) from thinkability to essential reality, and (2) from essence to existence. The first step involves Scotus in some inconsistency and also comes close to making man's mind the very rule of reality. The second step entails a confusion of internal possibility with total possibility, which ordinarily, beyond internal possibility, includes an external potency."

  3. Grabs, t Harmut. 1997. "Johannes Duns Scotus' Rezeption Des Anselmianischen Arguments." Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch fur Antike und Mittelalter no. 2:105-125.

    "In his "Ordinatio", Scotus disregards the constitutive function of thinking inherent to Anselm's "ratio". Scotus's representation of the argument in "Ordinatio" I d. 2 p. 1 q. 2, which lays no claim to "coloratio", eliminates this constitutive function, proving instead by means of a syllogism containing the terms "being", "non-being" and "the highest" the existence of the highest. In the "coloratio" ("Ord." I d. 2 p. 1 q. 1), then, Scotus replaces Anselm's expression "that than which nothing greater can be thought" with the concept "the highest thinkable", by which he means an infinite being. The Introduction of an infinite being taken as the highest thinkable, however, destroys the structure of Anselm's argument with its innate coherence. In fact, Scotus proves the existence of the highest thinkable not by means of this argumentative structure, but instead on the basis of his own analysis of certain ontological structures. This proof has no real connection in content to Anselm's argument and does not foster its comprehension; instead, Scotus merely couches his argument in Anselm's terms, so that it is more appropriate to talk about a "coloration rationum Scoti". "

  4. Kielkopf, Charles. 1978. "Duns Scotus's Rejection of 'Necessarily Exists' as a Predicate." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 16:13-21.

    "The paper begins with a reconstruction of Scotus's argument in chapter three (3.23) of his Treatise about the first principle that there can be at most one necessary being. This argument is shown to presuppose that 'necessarily exists' is not a predicate. Scotus' argument is modified to show that he also has to accept that 'exists' is not a predicate. The remaining problem is, then, to explain how Scotus can still accept a "colored" ontological argument. This problem is met by suggesting that the nature of an existing being has more perfections than any nature of a non-existing being but that, still, existence is not one of the features -l et alone anything which can be called a perfection -- making up the nature."

  5. Martinich, Aloysius P. 1977. "Scotus and Anselm on the Existence of God." Franciscan Studies no. 37:139-152.

  6. Wolter, Allan, and Adams, McCord Marilyn. 1982. "Duns Scotus Parisian Proof for the Existence of God." Franciscan Studies no. 42:248-321.

  7. Wood, Rega. 1987. "Scotus Argument for the Existence of God." Franciscan Studies no. 47:259-277.


  1. Audet, Thomas-André. 1949. Une Source Augustinienne De L'argument De S. Anselme. In Rencontres. Étienne Gilson, philosophe de la Chrétienté.

  2. Baldassarri, Mariano. 1971. "Lo Stoicismo Antico E L'argomento Ontologico." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 63:391-418.

  3. Beckaert, A. 1959. "Une Justification Platonicienne De L'argument a Priori." In Spicilegium Beccense I. Congrés International Du Ix Centenaire De L'arrivée D'anselme Au Bec, 185-190. Paris: Vrin.

    Translated in English as: A Platonic justification for the argument a priori in: J. Hick and A. C. McGill (eds.), The many-faced argument. Recent studies on the ontological argument for the existence of God, London: Macmillan 1967, pp. 111-118.

  4. Brunschwig, Jacques. 1994. "Did Diogenes of Babylon Invent the Ontological Argument?" In Papers in Hellenistic Philosophy, 170-189. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Translated by Janet Lloyd

  5. Burrell, David. 1986. Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

  6. Davidson, Herbert Alan. 1979. "Avicenna's Proof of the Existence of God as a Necessarily Existent Being." In Islamic Philosophical Theology, edited by Morewedge, Parviz, 165-187. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    "The first philosopher known to use the concept of necessary existence in order to construct a proof of the existence of God was Avicenna. Avicenna's proof, it will appear, neither is, nor inevitably reduces itself to, an ontological proof. It is rather a certain kind of cosmological proof.

    The concept of necessary existence is used by Avicenna to prove the existence of God in two works, at length in the Najat, briefly and somewhat obscurely in the Isharat. The concept is also discussed fully in two other works, the Shifa and Danesh Namesh, but there Avicenna employs it only to define the nature of God, not, as far as I can see, to establish His existence."

  7. ———. 1987. Proofs for Eternity, Creation and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.

  8. Dumont, Jean-Paul. 1982. "Diogène De Babylone Et La Preuve Ontologique." Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Étranger:391-395.

  9. Faggiotto, Pietro. 1954. "La Fonte Platonica Dell'argomento Ontologico Di Anselmo D'Aosta." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 46:495-497.

  10. Fakhry, Majid. 1968. "The Ontological Argument in the Arabic Tradition: The Case of Alfarabi." Studia Islamica no. 64:5-17.

  11. Gelinas, Luke. 2006. "The Stoic Argument Ex Gradibus Entium." Phronesis no. 51:49-73.

    "In this paper I offer an interpretation of the Stoic argumentum ex gradibus entium as it appears in Book II of Cicero's De Natura Deorum. In addition to displaying certain similarities to later formulations of the so-called "ontological argument," particularly Anselm's, I argue that the argument ex gradibus entium was a versatile feature of Stoic philosophical theology, capable of employment in relation to two distinct topics: the existence of god and the identification of god's essential nature with the world. I claim that the instance of the argument ex gradibus entium at ND II 18-21 is a token of this latter type, and show that there are no textual reasons precluding this interpretation. In light of the fact that the argument can be analyzed more effectively in this role, I suggest that this particular instance of the argument is best thought of as an attempt on the part of the Stoics to identify the world with god rather than as a strict proof for god's bare existence. I end with some reflections on the general type of the Stoic argument qua precursor to two of Anselm's ontological proofs. Although I think it is a mistake to call the Stoic argument "ontological" in a strict sense, it may, I suggest, have shared a similar conceptual underpinning with at least one of Anselm's famous formulations."

  12. Gerogiorgakis, Stamatios. 2005. "Wenn Die Möglichkeit in Notwendigkeit Umschlägt. Ein Beitrag Zur Vorgeschichte Modaler Ontologischer Beweise." Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch für Antike und Mittelalter no. 10:21-36.

    "Aristotle produced several arguments to vindicate the futura contingentia and to refute the conception of modalities which do not allow incidental facts. This conception was coined mainly by

    Diodorus Cronus and implied the view that whatever may happen, is to happen necessarily. Although Aristotle condemned this view and refuted the theology which it implies, Diodorean modalities were employed by the Scholastics (at least since Abelard, as Leibniz pointed out) to support their theology. Abelard's Diodorean formula reads: God wishes no more and no less than what He is able to do -- i.e., God's ability to do something implies necessity. In the Summa theologiae, Thomas Aquinas employed Diodorean modalities along with this result of Abelard's. Leibniz himself confessed his debt to Diodorean modalities as well as to the work of Abelard in formulating his own ontological proof. For the Greek-speaking scholars of the Middle Ages, however, Aristotelian influences were stronger than Diodorean as regards theory building on modalities. The absence of Leibnilike modal ontological proofs in the Greek tradition seems more plausible under these circumstances."

  13. Halfwassen, Jens. 2002. "Sein Als Uneingeschränkte Fülle. Zur Vorgeschichte Des Ontologischen Gottesbeweises Im Antiken Platonismus." Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung no. 56.

  14. Held, Klaus. 1983. "Zur Vorgeschichte Des Ontologischen Gottesbeweis. Anselm Und Parmenides." Perspektiven der Philosophie no. 9:217-234.

  15. Johnson, J.Prescott. 1953. "The Ontological Argument in Plato." Personalist no. 44:24-34.

  16. Mayer, Tony. 2001. "Ibn Sina's 'Burhan Al-Siddiqin'." Journal of Islamic Studies no. 12:18-39.

    "Ibn Sina (d.429/1037) gave a distinctive argument for the existence of God in his works. Scholars disagree on the exact structure and character of his argument (admittedly, Ibn Sina gives it in more than one form). This paper tries to determine the argument's precise shape and classify it in relation to other such proofs. It attempts this through a detailed analysis of one of the best known presentations of the proof, in Ibn Sina's Isharat, which is cross-checked with other versions and the commentaries. The argument is found to build on the proposition that existence occurs in the mind dichotomically, as either necessary or contingent. Ibn Sina claims that an extramental Necessary Existent follows from both modes. In the first case, it is contradictory to posit 'necessary existence' in the mind and deny it outside the mind. In the second case 'contingent existence' is such that it could not be self-explanatory. Most space in Ibn Sina's argument is taken up with showing that contingent existence, even if temporally infinite, ultimately implies necessary existence. On these grounds, it is concluded that Ibn Sina's proof must be classified as both ontological and cosmological, without paradox. It is ontological insofar as 'necessary existence' in intellect is the first basis for arguing for a Necessary Existent in re. It is, however, also cosmological insofar as most of it is taken up with arguing that contingent existents cannot stand alone and must end up in a Necessary Existent."

  17. Moreau, Joseph. 1947. "L'argument Ontologique Dans Le Phédon." Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Étranger no. 137:320-343.

  18. Morewedge, Parviz. 1979. "A Third Version of the Ontological Argument in the Ibn Sinian Metaphysics." In Islamic Philosophical Theology, edited by Morewedge, Parviz, 182-222. New York: State University of New York Press.

    Reprinted in: P. Morewedge, The mystical philosophy of Avicenna, Binghamton: Global Publications, 2001 pp. 117-163.

  19. Papazian, Micharl. 2007. "The Ontological Argument of Diogenes of Babylon." Phronesis no. 52:188-209.

    "An argument for the existence of gods given by the Stoic Diogenes of Babylon and reported by Sextus Empiricus appears to be an ancient version of the ontological argument. In this paper I present a new reconstruction of Diogenes' argument that differs in certain important respects from the reconstruction presented by Jacques Brunschwig. I argue that my reconstruction makes better sense of how Diogenes' argument emerged as a response to an attack on an earlier Stoic argument presented by Zeno of Citium. Diogenes' argument as reconstructed here is an example of a modal ontological argument that makes use of the concept of being of such a nature as to exist. I argue that this concept is a modal concept that is based on the Philonian definition of possibility, and thus that Diogenes' argument is a source of important evidence about the use of non-Stoic modalities in the post-Chrysippean Stoa. I conclude by arguing that the objections made against considering Diogenes' argument as ontological are unfounded and that Diogenes' argument clearly resembles modern versions of modal ontological arguments."

  20. Vergnes, Jules. 1924. "Les Sources De L'argument De Saint Anselme." Revue des Sciences Religeuses no. 4:576-579.


  1. Bettoni, Efrem. 1950. Il Problema Della Conoscibilità Di Dio Nella Scuola Francescana. Padova: Cedam.

  2. Bonansea, Bernardino. 1973. "The Ontological Argument: Proponents and Opponents." Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy no. 6:135-192.

    "This study is a follow-up to my previous article, Duns Scotus and St Anselm's ontological argument, and traces the history of the controversy about the Anselmian proof from the time when it was first proposed up to the present day. The argument found its strongest opponents in Gaunilo, Aquinas, and Kant, who objected to it on more or less the same ground but from a different perspective, while Bonaventure, Descartes, Leibniz, and Barth came to its support. Between these two opposite positions there is the view of Malcolm and Hartshorne, who see in the "ratio Anselmi" two distinct pieces of reasoning and claim that only one is valid. Koyré and Gilson view the argument within the context of the whole Proslogion and other Anselmian works. Each position is carefully analyzed and evaluated."

  3. ———. 1979. "The Ontological Argument." In God and Atheism. A Philosophical Approach to the Problem of God, 107-170. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.

    This chapter is a combination, with some minor changes, of two essays which appeared in Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, ed. John K. Ryan (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press), i.e., "Duns Scotus and St. Anselm's Ontological Argument," vol. IV (1969), pp. 128-41, and "The Ontological Argument: Proponents and Opponents," vol. VI (1973), pp. 135-92.

    "St. Anselm's ontological argument is one of the most provocative and fascinating topics in the field of philosophy. Although the subject of endless discussion, the argument continues to draw the attention of philosophers of different persuasions. New interpretations have superseded those of the past and new insights into the controversy have been revealed which point out, among other things, the difficulty and complexity of the issue.

    It has been customary to dismiss the Anselmian argument for the existence of God on the ground that it involves a transition from the ideal to the real order, from a concept in our mind to the existence of the being so conceived. This transition, it is asserted, is never permissible, not even in the case of the greatest conceivable being, as the argument seems to imply. The fact that many great thinkers, such as Aquinas and Kant, have felt a need to refute the argument is a further proof, so it is claimed, that the ratio Anselmi has little more than a historical value. St. Anselm would have fallen victim to an illusion, and no dialectical effort could ever rescue his argument from the attacks of its critics, even though no serious scholar would subscribe today to Schopenhauer's view that the ratio Anselmi is merely a charming joke.

    Yet, despite the many attacks and "refutations", the argument has a peculiar power of survival. There is a growing realization, even among those whose philosophical background is very different from St. Anselm's way of thinking, that the argument is not as simple as it first appears to be and that much of the criticism directed against it is due to a superficial knowledge of its context and the general framework of Anselm's thought. As a contemporary author points out, "If Anselm is to be refuted, it should be for what he said, taken in something like the context which he provided, and not for something someone else said he said, or a fragment of what he said, torn wholly out of context.'' (1) The Anselmian argument, which has been called "one of the boldest creations of man's reason and a credit not only to its inventor, but to human reason itself," (2) is not to be treated lightly, nor are some of its later formulations.

    An objective study of the Anselmian argument in its actual context and historical development may reveal that, while undue credit has been given to certain modern and contemporary thinkers for their role in the controversy about it, the actual contribution of philosophers who long preceded them in the academic arena has often been neglected or even completely ignored. Yet it is perhaps in the writings of these forgotten masters, who both historically and intellectually are closer to the "father of scholasticism" than their later contenders, that one may find a clue to a better appreciation of the celebrated argument.

    To avoid misunderstanding, a distinction must be made at the very outset between two different issues: first, the nature and scope of the argument in the mind of its author, and second, the validity of the argument as an attempt to prove the existence of God. The first issue must be solved in terms of the argument's original text as contained in the Proslogion and set in relation to Anselm's other writings where his philosophical, and especially his epistemological, doctrines are more clearly stated. The solution of the second issue rests to a great extent on the critic's conviction as regards the possibility, ways, and means of attaining to any knowledge of a Supreme Being by unaided reason. The failure to make such a distinction has contributed to much of the confusion in appraisals of the Anselmian proof.

    The purpose of this chapter is to present the essential features of the ontological argument as stated in the Proslogion and follow the history of the controversy it has generated from Anselm's first debate with his fellow-monk Gaunilo down to the present day. The presentation will be followed by a critical evaluation of the argument itself and of the argument's interpretations by succeeding philosophers and commentators." pp. 107-108

    (1) Charles Hartshorne, Introduction to the Second Edition of Saint Anselm: Basic Writings, trans. by S. W. Deane (La Salle, Ill.: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1962), p. 2.

    (2) Richard Taylor, Introduction to The Ontological Argument from St. Anselm to Contemporary Philosophers, ed. by Alvin Plantinga (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday "Anchor Books, 1965), p. XVIII.

  4. De Boni, Luis Alberto. 2011. "Saint Anselm and Duns Ascotus." In Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). Philosophical Theology and Ethics, edited by Pich, Roberto Hofmeister, 169-195. Porto: Fédération Internationale des Institutd d'Études Mèdiévales.

  5. Gómez Caffarena, José. 1963. "Review Of: Die Ontologische Gottesbeweis by Dieter Henrich." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 3:617-624.

  6. Javelet, Robert. 1984. "L'argument Dit Ontologique Et La Speculatio." In Spicilegium Beccense (Vol. Ii), 501a-510. Paris.

  7. Johnson, H.J. 1981. "The Ontological Argument and the Languages of "Being"." In Sprache Und Erkenntnis Im Mittelalter (Vol. Ii), 724-737. Berlin, New York.

  8. Pegis, Anton. 1970. "Four Medieval Ways to God." Monist no. 54:317-358.

    About St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas amd Henry of Ghent

  9. Streveler, Paul. 1976. "Two "New" Critiques of the Ontological Argument." In Saint Anselme Ses Précurseurs Et Ses Contemporains, edited by Kohlenberger, Helmut, 55-64. Frankfurt: Minerva.

    "We need only look back upon the history of medieval philosophy to become immediately aware that it was not only Gaunilon who saw reason to criticise Anselm's famous argument. I would like to examine here, in a rather sketchy manner, two medieval critiques of Anselm's argument which, to my mind, are quite unique and which, in many ways, far surpass in cogency and relevancy the common criticisms found in textbooks. The first I gather from certain remarks of William of Occam which, are not directed precisely at Anselm's argument, but which are naturally applicable to it. The second is the critique of Gregory of Rimini.

    Occam's critique, it will be seen, rests upon a very subtle logical point, which is somewhat unique in medieval philosophy and which anticipates views in modern symbolic logic. Occam was recognized even in his own day as somewhat of an innovator, although we have since learned that there were others of his contemporaries of even more radical stature.

    The second critique I gather from Gregory of Rimini, a younger contemporary of Occam, whose thought evinces certain affinities to that of the latter. Rimini's fame among logicians of modern symbolic logic who attempt to see anticipations of later more sophisticated developments in medieval philosophy, rests upon his doctrine of the cornplexe significabile which seems to be a subtle anticipation of our modern notion of a proposition, or at least of the Fregean notion of the "object" of thought.

    It should be remarked also, by way of Introduction, that a great deal of the ideas and interpretations as well as of the scholarly references utilized in this paper came to me through discussions with my former teacher and friend of happy memory, the late, Julius R. Weinberg." pp. 55-56.

Related pages

Pages about the History of the Ontological Proof:

History of the Ontological Argument. Introductory Remarks

Bibliography of General and Introductory Studies

The Medieval Period from Anselm of Canterbury to Duns Scotus

Bibliography on Medieval Authors

The Modern Period from Suárez to Frege

Bibliography on Modern Authors

The Contemporary Period from Barth to the Present Time

Bibliography on Contemporary Authors

A Selection of Text of Primary Authors