1st Edition

Reason, Community and Religious Tradition Anselm's Argument and the Friars

By Scott Matthews Copyright 2001

    This title was first published in 2001: Reason, Community and Religious Tradition examines key questions about the relationship of rationality to its contexts by tracing the early history of the so-called 'ontological' argument. The book follows Anselm's Proslogion from its origins in the private, devotional context of an eleventh-century monastery to its reception in the public and adversarial contexts of the friars' schools in the thirteenth century. Using unpublished manuscript evidence from the Dominican and Franciscan schools at Oxford, Paris and Bologna in the thirteenth century, Matthews argues that the debate over Anselm's argument embodied the broader religious differences between the Franciscan and Dominican communities. By comparing the most famous figures of the period with their lesser-known contemporaries, Matthews argues that the Friars thought as communities and developed as traditions as they developed their arguments. This book will interest anyone concerned with the nature of rationality, and its relationship to communities and traditions, and what this entails for rational debate across cultural divides. In particular, it offers a fresh perspective on traditional approaches to the rationality of religion and religious belief.

    Contents: Preface; Introduction: Arguments, texts and contexts; Anselm and tradition; Encountering God within: Anselm’s argument among the early Franciscans in Paris; Other ways to God: Anselm, the early Dominicans and the friars in Oxford; Bonaventure and the Franciscan community; Thomas Aquinas and the Dominican community; Contested traditions; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    Scott Matthews

    ’Matthews' book on the impact of Anselm's argument on later quarrels among Dominicans and Franciscans is informative and persuasive. He brings to the Proslogion argument the historical contextualizing found in Taylor and MacIntyre, with illuminating effect. Medievalists and philosophers of religion will find Matthews' book a genuine contribution.' Ralph McInerny, University of Notre Dame, USA 'Scott Matthews has provided a contribution spanning both historical and analytical concerns. It is well worth attention for those interested in Anselm scholarship and critiques of rationality.' Modern Theology '... offers more experienced scholars a wealth of insights into the changing perception and reception of a challenging concept in philosophical theology.' Heythrop Journal '... a stimulating study of the way in which the friars made use of Anselm's Proslogion.' Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique