Friday, July 30, 2010

Barth, Karl - Anselm: Fides Quarens Intellectum: Anselm's Proof in the Context of his Theological Scheme


  1. Preface to the First Edition
    1. Previous scholars, including Thomas and Kant have misunderstood the most important aspects of Anselm's thought in general and the 'ontological proof' in particular
      1. Intellectual insolence that conceals anything vital
    2. Two main questions:
      1. What does 'proving' mean within Anselm's theological scheme? How does that relate to this particular proof?
      2. What does looking at the whole context of Anselm's argument (Chps. 2-4) do to understanding the argument?
    3. The argument has much to say to 20th century readers
      1. Barth admits that he might be reading in, but argues that we can only read with our own eyes, though he does maintain that he does not claim anything that he has not actually read in Anselm
  2. Preface to the Second Edition
    1. This study of Anselm has been done using the same vital key that underlies Barth whole work, especially in his "Church Dogmatics"
  3. Preface to the Reprint Edition (Arthur Cochrane)
    1. 'Theological' proof of the 'existence' of God
    2. In Church Dogmatics Barth claims that he learned the fundamental attitude to the problem of the knowledge and the existence of God from Anselm
    3. The vital key that Barth speaks about is
      1. "the epistemological principle that knowledge of God and man springs from faith in God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ and rests upon the following sequence: revelation, faith, and then 'ut intelligam' (in order to understand) - "faith seeking understanding."
  4. Introduction
    1. The most important part of Anselm's 'ontological argument' comes before the argument itself
    2. It is the key technical component 'that than which a greater cannot be thought'
    3. This is what Anselm sees as the one argument - it is a description of God
    4. It is used both to prove the Existence of God and to the Nature of God
    5. The immense joy that he describes upon discovering the argument applies to when he discovered this description of God
    6. An important issue is that Anselm does not initially describe his goal as proving anything - rather it is intelligre or understanding
      1. Proving comes out of understanding, but understanding his the main goal
  5. The Theological Scheme
    1. The Necessity for Theology
      1. Understanding issues in two results
        1. Proof
        2. Joy
      2. What does 'proving' mean if it results from the same process the results in joy?
        1. The understanding that Anselm is talking about is that which is desired by faith
          1. Thus
            1. Faith
            2. Understanding
            3. Proof
            4. Joy
        2. Faith does not need Understanding, Proof, or Joy
          1. Understanding is wanted because of Faith
        3. The aim of theology is not to lead men to faith or to confirm them in faith or to deliver them from doubt
        4. Understanding has no bearing on the existence of faith
        5. Faith affirms Truth, even if the understanding does not acquire the Truth
        6. It is not the existence of faith, but the nature of faith, that desires understanding. There are four reasons for this inner compulsion:
          1. God is Truth as the Cause of Truth, for him Understanding is identical to Truth. Thus, (?) Faith in him demands knowledge of him.
          2. Faith is a free exercise of the will, but for a rational creature, a movement of the will means choosing which is the basic act of knowledge. Thus, the basic act of the will leads to the basic act of knowledge.
          3. Anthropology: Mans imagio dei allows him to have the potential to receive Faith as gift of grace. Part of this imagio dei is his reason. "Knowledge of God must then come about, like love to God, on the occurrence of faith, because the completeness of man's likeness to God, as restored in Christianity, so requires it." (20)
          4. Eschatology: (?) Understanding leads man right up to the limits of faith. In understanding man comes up on the limitations of humanity, that are transcended by faith
        7. Faith is essentially seeking Understanding - Fides Quarens Intellectum
          1. Because we possess the certainty of faith, we must hunger after the fidei ratio"
    2. The Possibility of Theology
      1. Intellectual fidei and credo ut intellgiam
        1. The reason that this is possible at all is that for Anselm belief is never illogical and irrational
      2. Word of Christ is identical with the Word of those who preach Christ: The Church
        1. It is legitimate represented by particular human words - not entirely transcendent
        2. Holy Scripture, but also those inferences which are consistent with its text
        3. Faith is awareness and assent to what has been revealed
          1. Understanding operates in this area between awareness and assent - not closing the gap between them, that is already done, but tracing the lines between them.
          2. There is thus an absence of crisis in Anselm's theology - not trying to storm heaven, but to trance lines between points that been given and assented to
    3. The Conditions of Theology
      1. Faith both makes and meets the demands of understanding. This gives rise to a number of conditions on theological work:
        1. Theological science must have a positive character in relation to the Credo of the Church
          1. Positive meditation on the object of faith
          2. It is an extension and explication of the Credo of the Church
          3. It cannot deny or question the Faith (the Credo of the Church)
          4. Understanding comes about by reflection on the Credo that has already been spoken and affirmed. (27)
        2. Theology is done in humility, it pushes to a limit and is then silent.
          1. The extension and explication must be a description of the Credo that is already accepted
        3. Every theological statement is an inadequate expression of its object
          1. The Word of Christ is adequate, every attempt on our part to reproduce this Word in thought or speech is inadequate
            1. The Method of Analogy (Thomas) does work here - so inadequate speech can be adequate in some way
        4. Theological statements thus never possess the certainty of faith - they are contested statements - they are challenged by the incomparability of their object
          1. Fallibilism:
            1. "Thus, any statement that is really theological, that is to say not covered by biblical authority, is bound by this rule: such a statement is not final; fundamentally it is an interim-statement, the best that knowledge and conscience can for the present construe; it awaits better instruction from God or man." (31)
        5. Theology, however, is still progressive. We have to move beyond the Church Fathers
          1. "It is certain that the Lord who has promised to be with the Church until the end of the world will not cease to pour out the gifts of his grace in her midst." (31)
            1. Perfectibility of theology is not the result of human advance, but of Divine Grace
        6. Criterion of the theological statements - whether they really are understood
          1. Provisionally - with the author, his readers, and his interlocutors
          2. Ultimately - with God
            1. But we cannot know that
              1. But we do have the Holy Scripture as a canon of admissibility
                1. If it fits directly with the Bible - then it has Biblical authority and is not theological
                2. If it is not ruled out by the Bible - then it is theological and admissible
                3. If it is ruled out by the Bible - then it is inadmissible
        7. Belief in and for itself is also a condition of understanding
          1. Belief in and for itself is simply belief that is a human act of response to what is given by God
          2. Prior to any desire or ability to find theological statements is the faith of the theologian himself
          3. This faith given by grace
        8. Most essential condition is the relationship between prayer and understanding
          1. Right knowledge is conditioned by prevenient and co-operating grace of God
          2. But moreover, ultimate capacity of inellectus fidei "does not belong to human reason acting on its own but has always to be bestowed on human reason as surely as understanding is a voluntaris effectus."
            1. God's bestowing action is involved of every step of the reasoning
            2. Anselm asks for two things from God in his prayer - this shows what is required from God
              1. Actualization of the power to know that was originally created in man
              2. Asks God to see his face, to let him see his very Self (38)
                1. Movement on God's side to remove objective distance between him and the believer
                  1. This is the 'objectivity' of Anselm's search - does not depend on what he thinks, but on how the object - God - reveals himself to him
                  2. Grace
    4. The Manner of Theology
      1. The function of understanding is to reflect on what has already been said in the Credo
      2. Transverse the distance between awareness/recognition and assent, thus allowing truth to be known as truth
      3. Understanding and belief become one, but in such a way that understanding is faithful understanding, and believing is understandingly belief
      4. This understanding does not happen immediately in the post-Fall world - must be sought in prayer and through consistent use of intellectual powers
      5. Reflecting upon - neither going outside the Credo nor just affirming the Credo
      6. Inner and outer text of revelation - in the Post-Adamic world we cannot simply read off the outer text to get out the inner - we need grace and work to get at it
        1. So not just Biblical citation
          1. The Biblical citation - the outer text - might lie in the background of the discussion, might structure it, but what is needed is for it to be considered and understood
      7. In this context we can understand Anselm's claim in theological enquires and demonstrations the rule of sole rationale should be kept
        1. But what does ratio mean for Anselm
          1. Can mean both process (rationalization) and end (rationale)
          2. But Anselm divides it up even further
            1. Noetic ratio - human reasoning
            2. Ontic (Object-ive) ratio - objective reasoning
            3. Ultimate ratio - ratio of God, which is identical with God
          3. Truth is conferred on the ratios, by the ratio above it
            1. Agreement with Objects
            2. Creation of the Object of which it is the ratio
            3. This emphasizes the receptivity that characterizes rationes - ratio vertatis can be nothing other than something bestowed, something revealed
              1. One form of this revelation is understanding
                1. Authority and reason do not mean God vs Man, but just two stages in the process in which man first attains faith, and later attains knowledge on the basis of faith
      8. Necessity and Rationality
        1. Noetic Rationality (comprehending as conforming to law) and Necessity (negation achieved by thought of the non-existence or different existence)
        2. Ontic Rationality (conforming to law) and Necessity (cannot be otherwise or different)
        3. All measured by the summa veritas - "It is in the Truth and by the Truth, in God and by God that the basis is a basis and that rationality possesses rationality." (51)
        4. Necessitas explains what is meant by rational knowledge
          1. When Anselm tries ratione, that is with his reason (by means of the capacity of comprehending existence and a particular existence as conforming to law), to apprehend noetically the rationem fidei, that is the rationality of the object of faith (its power of being understood by a being capable of comprehending existence and a particular existence the conforms to law), what he is trying to do is this: to conceive necessitatem, that is the basis of the object of faith (the impossibility of its not existing or its existing differently) necessitate; to conceive it 'with reason' (conceiving the impossibility of its not existing or of its existing differently). That the object of faith has such a basis that it is impossible for it not to exist or to exist differently is for him given in the revelation and is certain in faith. He is starting point is therefore not to seek 'what can be' but to seek 'what is' and in fact to seek 'what cannot fail to be.' It is precisely as 'what cannot fail to be' that he tries to conceive 'what is.' (53)
          2. This is quoted at length because this is his method in the discussion of the proofs for God
        5. The job of the theologian is not discover points of doctrine, these are already given - rather it is to trace out the connections between points of doctrine; to show how one point follows from others that are assumed. (See importantly 55)
          1. In this inquiry the theologian does not master the object, but rather the object masters him
          2. This is the intellectus fidei
    5. The Aim of Theology (The Proof)
      1. Anselm does want to prove, but it must be understood that his thinking is done in relation to One who he is to address and who stands over against the merely human (59)
      2. The idea of proof should not be understood to mean that Anselm stakes out a neutral territory - he takes as his starting point the assumption that all of the articles of faith are true
      3. Does not think that he can raise the fool from unbelief to belief through pure arguments - what he does his lay out the revelation to him, bringing it before our opponent as something that has been investigated in order that it might speak for itself and might speak directly to him (64)
        1. Unless a transformation occurs in the fool - there always remains a gulf between him and Anselm
        2. But at the same time Anselm does address this fool - this is because at the same time the questions of the believer and the unbeliever are the same - solidarity between the believer and the unbeliever
          1. Will not serve the fool what he would not serve himself
        3. But in the last analysis - does Anselm really think he can convince an unbeliever with his method of drawing out connections?
          1. Dialectic of deception and divine simplicity
            1. Perhaps he sees even the unbeliever standing next to him in the precincts of the Church
            2. Theology as preaching
            3. No other way to speak of the Credo
            4. Must see the unbeliever as an equal
  6. The Proof of the Existence of God
    1. The Presuppositions of the Proof
      1. The Name of God
        1. The Name of God is the presupposition of both main projects of the Proslogion
          1. Proving the Existence of God
          2. Proving the Nature of God
        2. 'Proving' should be understood in the sense discussed above
        3. This presupposition is something that Anselm searched for and suddenly found after he had ceased searching
        4. The Name is: Something beyond which nothing greater can be conceived
          1. That being that stands over against it [conception] it as a fundamentally higher mode of being
          2. The only things that the statement says is something negative:
            1. Nothing greater than it can be imagined; nothing can be imagined in any respect whosoever could or would outdo it; as soon as anyone conceives anything in any respect greater than it; in so far as it can be conceived at all - then he has not yet begun to conceive it or has already ceased
          3. Does not say that God is, nor what he is, but rather in the form of a prohibition that man can understand, who he is
          4. It is a purely conceptual defintion
        5. It itself does not say anything about the Existence or Nature of God
          1. If those are going to be 'proved,' raised to knowledge and proof, there has to be a prior giveness, in the sense of being credible on other grounds, of God's Existence and Nature
            1. This is in keeping with the Anselm's method discussed about - tracing out line between 'given' points
          2. This is one of God's Names, selected here because connections between it and God's Existence and Nature can be drawn
        6. This Name is presupposed theologically - not philosophically - rather an article of faith
          1. Or better a revealed name of God - this fits with the character of the description of Anselm's search for it
            1. Protestant rendering of Anselm
          2. Tracing a line between two previously credible, believed in, aspects of the faith
            1. The Name and the Existence of God
            2. Make something that is believed on the basis of faith endorsed as our own necessary thoughts
        7. Gaunilo casts himself as defending God incomprehensibility, Anselm outdoes him though
          1. Anselm rejects Gaunilo assertion of God's incomprehensibility as 'pure secular gnosis'
          2. Anselm too wants to assert God incomprehensibility, but this on the basis of faith and faith-proposition that itself can be raised to understanding
            1. God's Name posits his incomprehensibility
            2. Understanding the name raises this faith to understanding
            3. Not an understanding of God, rather the name lays down a rule of thought which allows us to endorse statements that say something about God as our own necessary thoughts - among them is God's incomprehensibility
            4. So even God's incomprehensibility is included in 'faith seeking understanding'
              1. Neither simple posit of revelation
              2. Nor pure secular knowledge
        8. Gaunilo thinks that Names of God are just human 'words' that have nothing to do with God's nature
          1. Anselm claims that the Name is a divine revelation in the guise of something conceived by human being
        9. The Name stands as a deterrent of theological overreach
        10. The Name does not say anything about God, it is a rule of thought, but one that squares with God's nature should God exist
        11. Doubt is confronted on its own ground - in thought - but confronted with something of God - God's name
      2. The Question of the Existence of God
        1. Purpose of the Proof of the Existence of God is to show that it is impossible to conceive the object described as God as being only a conception
        2. A major feature of Anselm's discussion is the existence of God is qualitatively distinct from the existence of other ontic objects - God is Truth
          1. Other object's existence is conditioned in relation to truth
          2. God, as truth, is the only One who ultimately really exists
    2. The Development of the Proof: Commentary on Prosl. 2-4
      1. Barth argues that Anselm offers two slightly different renditions of the argument - proving God's existence on two different levels, each presented in a different chapter of the Proslogion
      2. Understanding here means: by presupposing the other articles of faith to perceive the necessity of this article of faith and the sheer impossibility of its denial
      1. The General Existence of God (Ch. 2)
        1. This chapter discusses God existence generally.
          1. God does not exist only in thought, but also outwardly
          2. He exists not only from the human standpoint, but also from the perspective of truth
        2. The statement of the fool is not just contradictory to the statement of the believer, but represents a different mode of human existence
          1. Thus why does Anselm engage with him?
            1. This is because of human solidarity, the objection is not new to Anselm - it is the same objection that is presented in his own job in the context of faith seeking understanding
              1. The objection of the fool reminds the believer of his task: faith seeking understanding
        3. The Name is a prohibition
        4. It is also a revelation - one who hears cannot dispute the existence of God in his consciousness (?)
          1. God reveals himself to us (Protestant reading of Anselm)
          2. At the same time, the existence of the Name of God in consciousness merely introduces the problem of God's objective existence (?)
        5. Then standard run of the proof - Existence Objectively is greater than Existence in Thought
          1. Thus God as that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot exist only in Thought
          2. There is a bit of a leap to the positive statement - that God as that than which a greater cannot be thought must exist in thought and reality - this is because of the nature of Anselm's project
            1. The positive statement is already given from revelation - all he is doing is tracing lines
            2. Both the positive statement and the statement that reduces the antithesis of the positive statement to absurdity come from revelation - they are not deduced independently
        6. This only proves God's general existence - it does not prove God's unique existence
      2. The Special Existence of God (Ch. 3)
        1. This chapter discusses the existence that is unique to God
          1. God does not only exist like other existents, rather he is the Origin and Basis of all that exists apart from him
        2. God exists in such a way (true only of him) that it is impossible for him to be conceived of not existing
          1. No possibility o f his being conceived as not existing
          2. God cannot even be hypothetically thought of as not existing - that would not be God
            1. This is different than ontic existence - it only belongs to God
          3. Now the standard proof is run with laying side by side two beings, both of which exist, but one that can be conceive to not exist, and one who cannot be conceived as not existing
          4. It is not possible for God to be that being that can be conceived as not existing
          5. This is a specially and unique type of existence not shared by God with any ontic beings
          6. In this case to the argument properly on leads to the negative statement - the positive statement is a slight leap - same reason as above
        3. The Fool is either not thinking about God or he is thinking about that whose existence cannot be denied
        4. Chapter closes with the resumption of the direct, prayerful address to God
          1. The object of the inquiry is presupposed in the most positive manner conceivable
          2. Anselm sees his theology as assent to a decision coming from its object
          3. Thinking based on revelation
        5. But how does we know that "that than which a greater cannot be thought' is really God's name?
          1. This is how God has revealed himself to man
          2. We know this because we know that when we stand before God, we don't stand as we do before another being, but as a creature before his Creator
          3. "His thinking can be true only in so far as it is true in the Creature himself. The conception of a 'better' beyond the Creator would imply for the creature an ascent to a point where by nature he cannot stand, a judgment by a standard of truth or value which by nature he cannot possess. Conceiving a greater than the Creator would there mean absurdity - not in the literal sense but the great logical-moral absurdity which just because it is that, cannot be…Should the creature fail to hear this Name of God and the prohibition it contains then that can only mean that he has not et understood the Creator as such nor himself as creature." (153)
      3. The Possibility of Denying the Existence of God (Ch. 4)
        1. Anselm now has to show how the fool is able to say what he says given what Anselm has proved
          1. The fool's error is standing in the level of existence where his statement is possible at all
          2. He must relinquish that standpoint and come to the level of existence that thinks before God -What Anselm is doing
          3. If God is known, then this thought is impossible
          4. The Fool only proves that he does not know him whose Existence he denies
        2. Bene Intelligere - truly know
          1. True Knowledge of God means to know a God that sets limits on knowledge
          2. The Name of God means that in thinking man allows God to be God
            1. Limitation of the thinkers freedom of thought
            2. Bene Intelligere means "finally to realize that it is not possible to think beyond God, not possible to think as a spectator of oneself or of God, that all thinking about God to begin with thinking TO God." (169)
            3. Theology is the science of faith about faith
            4. Exploration of what God has revealed of himself

     

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