The Proslogion (Latin: Proslogium, lit. 'Discourse') is a prayer (or meditation), written by the medieval cleric Saint Anselm of Canterbury in 1077–1078, serving to reflect on the attributes of God in order to explain how God can possess seemingly contradictory qualities. This meditation is considered to be the first-known philosophical formulation that sets out the ontological argument for the existence of God.
The original title for this discourse was to be Faith Seeking Understanding.
The Proslogion marked what would be the beginning of Saint Anselm's famous and highly controversial ontological arguments for the existence of God. The first and most famous argument of his can be found at the end of chapter 2, followed by his second argument shortly after. While opinions concerning Anselm's twin ontological arguments widely differ—and have differed since the Proslogion was first conceived—there is a general consensus that the argument is most convincing to Anselm's intended audience, i.e. Christian believers who seek a rational basis for their belief in God.
There are various reconstructions of Anselm's first argument, such as Dr. Scott H. Moore's analyses, for example:
Philosopher Immanuel Kant gave an objection to the argument, although it would be toward ontological arguments in general, rather than at Anselm specifically. In fact, it is actually unclear as to whether Kant had Anselm in mind at all. Kant's objection famously states that "existence is not a predicate." If Kant were considering Anselm's work in his analysis, he certainly left it up to the reader to grasp the applicability of the objection. One possible interpretation is to say that, because existence is not a predicate, a being that exists could not be said to be greater than one that does not exist; they would be equal.
Just as the first, Anselm's second ontological argument can be formulated in numerous ways. William Viney, for instance, renders the second argument as follows:
Original translation, from Latin
|—translated by Sidney Norton Deane, 1903||—translated by David Burr, 1996|
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