Analogical Reasoning in Saint Anselm's De Concordia: Grace, Free Will, and Cooperation

Abstract

St. Anselm is a master of philosophical prose. His writings on God, truth, and free will are models of clarity born of unflagging concern for argumentative precision. He is especially adept at using analogies to cinch his readers' understanding of these recondite matters. Who could forget the light shed upon the concept of existence by the Painter Analogy in the Ontological Argument or how his River Analogy illumines the unification of the Holy Trinity? Such intellectual insights could only be gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification of the Holy Mother Church. I shall discuss here the three splendid analogies that St. Anselm draws in De Concordia in order to reconcile grace and free will, fostering an understanding of co-operation according to which divine assistance must accentuate, rather than nullify, exercises of human freedom. Central to my discussion is The Father of Scholasticism's four-fold distinction between a power, its exercises, the effects of those exercises, and opportunities to bring about those effects.

Author's Profile

Robert Allen
Wayne County Community College District

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