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Philosophy and Theology

Volume 23, Issue 2, 2011

Clint I. Barrett
Pages 217-230

A Careful Reading of St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument

Although philosophers have long agreed that Anselm’s PROSLOGION contains what is often called the ontological argument (but not by Anselm himself), they do not agree about just what that argument is. In this paper, I do two things: (1) I set out a careful, precise statement of the argument in the PROSLOGION, taking due account of the historical, personal, philosophical, and theological contexts of Anselm’s thought. (2) Having disembarrassed the argument of some common misunderstandings and placed it in its proper setting, I argue that it is more complicated and much stronger than all but a very few philosophers have realized.

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