Anselm and Russell

Maciej Nowicki



In his paper “St. Anselm’s ontological argument succumbs to Russell’s paradox” Christopher Viger presents a critique of Anselm’s Argument from the second chapter of Proslogion. Viger claims there that he manages to show that the greater than relation that Anselm used in his proof leads to inconsistency. I argue firstly, that Viger does not show what he maintains to show, secondly, that the flaw is not in the nature of Anselm’s reasoning but in Viger’s (mis)understanding of Anselm as well as in Viger’s (mis)application of some set-theoretical notions. I also describe some features of Anselmian greater than relation, which indeed plays a crucial role in his Ontological Argument. Last but not least, I present the Argument itself.


ontological argument; St. Anselm, Russell’s paradox; ontology

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Anselm of Canterbury, Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury, J. Hopkins, H. Richardson (transl.), The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, Minn., 2000.

Jasper Hopkins, “On Translating Anselm’s Complete Treatises”, in: Anselm of Cantebury. Volume Four: Hermeneutical and Textual Problems in the Complete Treatises of St. Anselm, The Edwin Meller Press, Toronto and New York, 1976, pp. 1–12.

Tomasz Jarmużek, Maciej Nowicki, Andrzej Pietruszczak, “An Outline of the Anselmian Theory of God”, in: J. Malinowski, A. Pietruszczak (eds.), Essays in Logic and Ontology (Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 91), Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2006, pp. 317–330.

Graham Priest, Beyond the Limits of Thought, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2002.

Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1972.

Bertrand Russell, “On Denoting”, in: B. Russell, Logic and Knowledge. Essays 1901-1950, R.C. Marsh (ed.), George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1956, pp. 39–56.

Christopher Viger, “St. Anselm’s ontological argument succumbs to Russell’s paradox”, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 52 (2002), 123–128.

ISSN: 1425-3305 (print version)

ISSN: 2300-9802 (electronic version)

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