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Anselm of Canterbury on Freedom and Truth

Anselm of Canterbury on Freedom and Truth

Anselm of on Freedom and

Katherin Rogers University of Delaware

A text that Anselm is a libertarian on free is his point in De libertati arbitrii that it is logically impossible that should cause the act of , since that would involve the contradiction of God willing that the created agent should will what He wills that the agent not will. Those, like Aquinas, who hold that God does will the act of sin often argue that, while sin is against the antecedent will of God, it is in accord with His consequent will. Anselm does not consider this possibility, in part, I suggest, because it would entail that God deceives His created agents; a thing which God would not do since He is perfect Truth. In the paper I work through Anselm’s De Veritate to see if his understanding of truth in general and divine Truth in particular might allow that God could deceive regarding His commandments. I conclude that, although Anselm’s understanding of truth is surprisingly broad and complex, it would not allow the possibility that God, the standard of Truth, could antecedently issue commands which He consequently causes His created agents to disobey.

Scholars debate concerning ’s analysis of . In the present paper I discuss Anselm’s view of truth in his De Veritate, as part of a defense of my interpretation that he is a libertarian. The first is to say a little about why the understanding of truth is so important for interpreting Anselm on free will. Elsewhere I have argued that Anselm attempts a developed and systematic analysis of the workings of a libertarian free . Probably he is the first to do so. The term “libertarian” is anachronistic, but that should not blind us to the fact that Anselm’s description of what created free will involves shows his view to be what we, today, would label libertarian. The heart of freedom, according to Anselm, is , the able to choose a se, from oneself.1 But for a created agent this is possible only when the agent confronts genuinely open options such that, having chosen one, it is the case that he could have chosen the other. (This, at any rate, is the case for the unfallen created will. Things are a little trickier after the fall. But for the will in its pristine condition . . .) It is the opting for one option over the other that is absolutely up to the created agent. Anselm, of course, subscribes to the medieval vision of God as creator omnium, but he holds that, though God is the cause of all that exists, He is not the cause of all that happens. Elsewhere I have tried to spell out this Anselmian account of libertarian freedom, in which a choice is not a “thing” with ontological status.2

1 For Anselm, perfect freedom consists in effortlessly conforming one’s will to the will of God, but in order to achieve this one have been able to choose a se. 2 K. A. Rogers, Anselm on Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) 117-121; K. A. Rogers, “Anselm on the Ontological Status of Choice,” International Philosophical Quarterly, 52 (2012), 183-197. Regarding the point that a choice is not a “thing,” this second work is an improvement over the discussion in Anselm on Freedom. In the book I had called the will of the created agent a “primary cause,” but that suggests that the created agent brings something into being. A more careful read of Anselm allows the interpretation that the choice per se has no ontological status.

The Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 1

Some scholars take it to be close to impossible that Anselm’s position is as I have described it. The historical criticism is that it sets Anselm at odds with his chief source, St. Augustine, and also conflicts with the view of his greatest successor, St. . Augustine, at least in his later work, is clearly what might be termed a theist compatibilist, that is, he holds that we are free and responsible, although God causes our . Augustine does not say that God causes since evil is nothing and so, presumably, nobody causes it. But God does cause our choices.3 Aquinas is very clear that, while God does not cause the nothingness which is the evil of a wicked choice, in that the act of sin is a thing, it must be caused by God.4

The philosophical impediment to my interpretation is that, in the view of many, including Augustine and Aquinas, ascribing anything akin to libertarian free agency to created agents radically diminishes divine sovereignty. It introduces a cause to the universe other than God, a cause that is capable of determining how some things in the universe will go. It means that things happen that God truly did not want to have happen. It entails that God “learns” about our free choices from us, that is from our actually making the choices. Surely—some will say—Anselm didn’t want to say that! The only way to avoid these unpalatable consequences is to hold that God does indeed cause everything that exists and everything that happens.

I offer the Anselmian response—with textual backing—that the that God couldn’t or wouldn’t create libertarian free agents diminishes God even more than the thought that He could and did. Only creatures who are robustly free can reflect, however dimly, the aseity of God and hence be the splendid imagines dei that Anselm takes us to be (or at least he takes it that that is what God intended us to be).5 And, in any case, created agents choose to sin, and God does not cause that choice. In Chapter 8 of De libertate arbitrii Anselm argues that God cannot possibly remove from someone, or, to put it another way, it is impossible for God to make someone sin. It is logically impossible. To sin is to will other than what God wills you to will. God cannot will that you should will other than He wills you to will. But if God does not cause the choice to sin, and sin happens, then it must be up to the created agent himself. In De casu diaboli (13-14) Anselm explains how this aseity depends upon open options.

The opponent of my interpretation will claim that this is too fast. There is a move to be made which can grant that to sin is to will other than God wills that you should will, and yet that God wills all that happens. Augustine hints at it, and Thomas spells it out—there are two wills in God, an antecedent and a consequent will.6 The former captures what would be the good for creatures considered in abstraction from their existing actually in the universe God has chosen to create. For example, committing adultery is the sort of thing that is harmful to human individuals and their , and so in willing human God wills that human should not

3 Rogers (2008), 31-52. Augustine’s De gratia et libero arbitrio provides a good proof text for the later Augustine’s position. 4 Thomas Aquinas, contra gentiles I, Ch. 85 and Summa theologiae I, q.83. 5 Rogers (2008), 58-60. 6 For Augustine see, De gratia et libero arbitrio 20.41-42; Enchiridion (26.100). For Aquinas see Summa theologiae I, q.19.

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 2 commit adultery. The commandment, “Thou Shalt not commit adultery” is an expression of this antecedent will. But on Aquinas’ God must be the cause of all that happens, and there is another divine will by which God wills what actually happens. This is the consequent will, which can be thought of as an “all things considered” sort of will. All things considered, it is good that certain wicked choices happen because they are part of God’s chosen plan.

So, when someone, Bill let’s say, chooses to commit adultery, Bill, through an act of will, makes the choice as a secondary cause, and God causes the choice as a primary cause. Of course God has not done anything wrong. God is guiding the universe so that it unfolds in a good, orderly, and purposive way following the divine plan. If Bill commits adultery, then it is the case that Bill’s adultery is a part of the plan. God’s consequent will is what guides the actual universe. So Thomas can hold that when Bill commits adultery he is willing to will what God wills that he not will—antecedently—and yet, when Bill commits adultery he is willing what God wills that he will—consequently. I will refer to this as the of the double will (though note that Aquinas says that the does not apply to the divine will itself, but to the things willed.) Some suppose that this must have been Anselm’s view as well. Otherwise the unwholesome consequences already mentioned will follow. Hugh McCann, with whom I have been debating this issue in the pages of and for over a decade now, is of this school of thought.7

In response I have noted that, as far as I know, Anselm does not make anything like this distinction between an antecedent and a consequent divine will anywhere at all. Where Augustine suggests the double will at work in the example of Pharoah and his hard heart, Anselm argues that the locution of God hardening someone ought to be understood as His simply not softening them.8 Moreover, in his Prayers and he evinces such a horror and at his own sin that I think someone reading these works should find it difficult to suppose that Anselm that God is the cause of those acts of sin as a part of the divine plan. Furthermore, Anselm’s description of a free choice really does sound robustly libertarian in the most it-was-up-to-the-agent-alone kind of way. And in addition, Anselm is at pains to distinguish what, in a choice, he takes to be from God as opposed to what is up to the agent alone.9 All of this I think ought to convince the opponent that Anselm does not adopt the doctrine of the double will. And he bites the bullet on the claim that God is not the cause of all that happens.10

That is the gist of my response, but from to time, as a final, parting shot, I have added that the thought of the divine deception involved in commanding created agents to behave

7 My latest entry is “Anselm Against McCann on God and Sin: Further Discussion,” Faith and Philosophy 28 (2011), 397-415. 8 De Concordia 2.2. Anselm has to see God’s permitting and God’s causing as robustly different, but this is not implausible. There is an important distinction between acting to bring something about and not acting such that something happens. 9 Rogers (2008), 117-123. 10 For example, he makes it clear in De Concordia that God’s foreknowledge of our future actions depends upon our doing those future actions. Rogers (2008), 169-176.

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 3 one way and then causing them to disobey the commandment—in effect expressing both X and ~X—would be unbearable for Anselm for whom God is Truth with a capital T.11 And, after the manner of parting shots, I’ve left it at that. But I am forced to admit that this brief point is insufficient, even by the standards of parting shots. Augustine and Aquinas both say that God is Truth with a capital T, and yet the former suggests, and the latter elaborates on, the two wills. So in the present paper I would like to have a look at some of what Anselm says about truth in his On Truth and see if there are points which support my libertarian interpretation or undermine it. What I’ll be looking for is some “flexibility” in Anselm’s understanding of truth such that someone might “express” both X and ~X at the same time, where X is not equivocal, without that involving some violation of the truth.

First, though, I should justify my claim that it would be deceitful for God to command his created agent to do X and then cause that agent to do ~X. Or, to pose it in the most vivid way, it would be deceitful for God to forbid some agent to do X and then cause the agent to do X. (I set aside, as a separate issue, the point that it seems unjust for God to blame a created agent for what He Himself has made that agent do.) As I said, Anselm, to my , never addresses the question of the double will, so my point here about deceit and the double will is a general one, not drawn from Anselm.

It might be proposed that, since a command, per se, is not a statement of fact, uttering a command cannot constitute deception. But obviously we can deceive in many ways besides making false statements of fact. Certainly Anselm, following Augustine, takes it that one can deceive through actions, as well as through statements. If we take uttering a command to be an action which signifies, then a command (ceteris paribus—that is, it’s not uttered in jest, on the stage, etc.), a serious command, includes in its that the one commanding wants the command to be obeyed and believes it is possible for the one being commanded to obey. Someone who utters a serious command to a given agent while not actually wanting it to be obeyed by that agent and/or while knowing it is not possible for that agent to obey has uttered a deceitful command. Augustine himself suggests as much in De mendacio.12

Suppose Bill, our adulterer, is a Christian. Then he supposes that God has forbidden adultery for everyone for whom adultery is a live option, including Bill. Bill ought to hold, then, that God does not want him to commit adultery—at all, not just in some general way that doesn’t actually apply. And Bill ought to hold that it is possible—absolutely possible—for him to refrain

11 Rogers (2011), 409. 12 Augustine gives as an example of an instance that someone might take to be God telling a the passage where tells his disciples not to make provision for the morrow, and then Himself takes thought for how He and they will buy what they need (De mendacio 29). The it is not a lie, says Augustine, is that the meaning of the command is clearly that we should not do our work out of for earthly things or fear of want. But the example shows that Augustine holds that a command can be a lie of sorts. Abelard goes a step further and holds that God can issue commands which He simply does not want to have obeyed. He makes the surprising claim that even if one knows God has commanded you not to do X, reason may teach that God can’t really have meant it, so it’s okay for you to do X (Scito teipsum 60-66). There is no hint of such a view in Anselm.

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 4 from committing adultery. On Aquinas’ account Bill is wrong. True, antecedently God wants him not to commit adultery, but consequently God wants him to commit adultery and knows it is impossible for him to refrain. Isn’t God uttering a deceitful command? Aquinas might say “No”, and go on to characterize my argument as presupposing a naively anthropomorphic view of God. He could invoke his doctrine of and argue that, though it might be deceitful for a human agent to utter a serious command that he did not want to have obeyed and knew to be impossible to obey, God’s commanding is different. My argument presupposes that we can appeal to the nature of commanding in general and apply it to man and God, but since—Thomas might say— our of commanding, and indeed our notion of truth, apply analogously to God, we can allow that God might utter a command which He does not—all things considered—want to be obeyed and which He knows cannot be obeyed, without concluding that God has deceived.

The down side of this move, of course, is that it threatens to remove God so far from the circles of this world that we can barely speak or think meaningfully about Him at all . . . that at any rate is what those of us who are suspicious of all that new-fangled may say. In any case, Anselm will not make this move as he explicitly rejects the doctrine of analogy. In De Veritate (12) when he is working on the definition of “justice” and in De libertate arbitrii (1) when he is trying to define “free will,” he insists that the definitions must apply to God as well as creatures. Use of the same word requires an underlying sameness, even though the subjects are radically different.13 So I think it is fair to say at least this; if Anselm would agree to the plausible claim that it is deceitful for a human being to issue a command that he does not want to be obeyed and which he knows cannot be obeyed, then Anselm would hold that, were someone to say that God had done such a thing, that one would be attributing deceit to God.

Note that Augustine, in De mendacio, makes much of when it comes to discerning what constitutes a lie. The liar must intend to deceive. But that point cannot be employed to undermine my suggestion that Thomas’ double-willed God is deceitful—or would be if we could use language of God and creation with some underlying univocity. In that the vast majority of those who take divine commands seriously suppose that God wants them to be obeyed simpliciter and believe that God holds that they can be obeyed, on Thomas’ account such folk are deceived. Of course, on Thomas’ account, it is God causing them to be deceived, since God is the cause of all. The point is that Thomas’ God cannot be exonerated of deceit on the grounds that He does not intend to deceive. Obviously He does . . . albeit in some analogous way that does not undermine in the least His perfect (analogous) goodness.

13 In De libertatii arbitrii he writes, “Although the free choice of men is different from the free choice of God and the good , nevertheless the definition of this freedom ought to be the same for both in accordance with the name. Just as, though one animal is different from another, whether substantially or accidentally, nevertheless the definition is the same for all animals according to the name of ‘animal.’” I translate from the Schmitt edition of Anselm’s Opera Omnia giving volume, page, and lines of text: Anselm, Opera Omnia, 6 vols., ed. Franciscus Salesius Schmitt, O.S.B. (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd., 1938-1961), reprinted in 2 vols. (Stuttgart-Bad: Cannstatt, 1968).

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So my question is, is there anything that Anselm says about truth that would suggest enough wiggle room to allow that God might command someone not to do X, but then cause them to do X.14 The beginning of De Veritate might lead one to suppose that Anselm is a great deal more flexible on the notion of truth than one would have assumed prima facie. In Chapter 2 he discusses the truth of propositions and says that a false proposition can have a sort of truth. If a proposition states what is the case, it is true, but if it is meaningful at all then it has a kind of truth. And moreover, the signification embodies the natural and immutable truth of the proposition, while its stating what is the case constitutes its mutable and accidental truth. So even someone who , if he is uttering a meaningful sentence, is uttering a sort of truth.

Clearly we have at work here an understanding of “truth” which is, shall we say, multi- dimensional. But, though Anselm’s use of “true” and “truth” is broader than usual, his meaning is not difficult. A thing . . . anything . . . is “true” when it is as it ought to be and does what it ought to do. Propositions are meant to signify, and so when a proposition signifies—as opposed to being a mere nonsense jumble of words—then it is doing its most fundamental job, without which it could not do the job of stating what is the case.15 When it states what is the case, it’s doubly true. This discussion about the truth of propositions alerts the reader to be cautious in assessing Anselm’s analysis of truth, but in itself it does not give aid and comfort to the proponent of the double will in God. There is nothing here to hint that God might utter a half- untruth, and say something meaningful but false by commanding ~X when He really wants X.

And as Anselm moves on in Chapters 3-6, the suggestion of these two , such that something false can have a kind of truth, does not crop up. Opinion is true when it opines that what is the case is the case. The will is true when it wills as it ought. Actions can be true; even the actions of inanimate things. Fire, when it warms, can be said to “do truth and rightness (rectitudinem) because it does what it ought.” 16 Similarly, the senses, when they do their jobs, report truthfully and rightly. If the perceiver makes a mistake, it wasn’t some falsehood perpetrated by the senses (Chapter 6). There is no mention of a possible “true falsehood” in all of this.

But when he gets to Chapters 7 and 8, Anselm introduces a discussion that might seem to support the thought that there are two wills in God. The of things are true in that they exist in the “highest truth.” Indeed, all that exists exists in the highest truth. But then everything

14 Or, of course, command them to do X and then cause them not to do X. The most striking possible case from scripture would be the story of and . To my knowledge Anselm does not address it. If he had, I suspect he would say something like, “We sometimes say ‘do’ when we mean, ‘prepare to do unless and until you hear otherwise from me.’” 15 One might ask, “meant by whom”. The answer, as we see at the end of De Veritate, is God. I take the suggestion to be that God, although His knowledge is direct and not just propositional, nonetheless knows in His omniscience all the possible meaningful propositions. Like everything else, they are the fragmented participations in His Being which is Highest Truth. Presumably God also knows all the possible meaningless jumbles of words, but no particular jumble is meant to do a job . . . unless perhaps it is a charming or funny jumble, and then He must intend the charm and the humor. 16 Anselm, De veritate 5 (S I,182, 4-5)

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 6 that is, is rightly. Igitur omne quod est, recte est.17 The student interlocutor can’t quite stomach that! How can we say that whatever is ought to be, when there are lots of bad deeds that certainly shouldn’t be? The teacher, Anselm, responds—and the student has to agree—that whatever God does or permits is done wisely and well. And then Anselm introduces a new ambivalence—deeds can be good in one way and bad in another. This is especially true because in many deeds there is both an agent and a “patient” to be considered. For example, Christ, being innocent, ought not to have suffered death. Those who inflicted it upon Him should not have done so. And yet He “ought” to have suffered, because He willed it wisely and benignly and usefully.18 It may be just that someone who deserves a beating be beaten, yet wrong that some unauthorized person deliver it. A deed can have various “parts”—as in this example, there is the beater, the beaten, and the beating—and so be considered from various angles, which allows us to say that even wicked deeds, in some sense, ought to exist.19 So the fact that we consider some deed to be wicked is consistent with the claim that God permits it, and indeed causes what is actually existent in it.

One who hoped to find the two divine wills in the work of Anselm might take this to mean that God causes sin—the sinful act of choice—in order to bring about some good step in the progress of His sovereign plan. But interestingly, the discussion does not say that God causes sin or that sin is in some way good. Sin is a mental act of will, a choice, and the discussion here is not about choices. It is about the overt deeds which follow from the choices. What the teacher asks is this; “Tell me whether you think that the effect of a bad will ought to exist [my italics]?”20 He goes on to say that what God permits is for those who will badly to do badly. In a later work, De Concordia, Anselm will explain that whatever exists in connection with a choice or a deed comes from God, but the choice itself—the ultimate opting for this over that—is absolutely up to the created agent. As I noted at the beginning, a powerful case can be made that Anselm does not take the actual choice itself to be a thing with ontological status at all. Thus he can hold that God merely permits the choice. And it’s good that God do so in the of sustaining created freedom. But He does not cause it in any way at all.

In response to the point about how God permits those who will badly to do badly, the student exclaims, “If only He wouldn’t permit it so often!” Anselm doesn’t explain, in De Veritate, why God must permit the bad deeds, but in De Concordia (1.3), he says that God has set things up so that our chosen overt deeds necessarily follow upon our internal choices to do them. That is the way the will works. Were God to step in between the choice and the deed, and prevent the deed, then the nature of the will would be destroyed. It is right and true that things act in accordance with their , and God does not act against the natures of things.21 Immediately after the example of the beating in De Veritate, elaborating on how there can be good and bad in a single act, Anselm does make the point about the importance of allowing

17 Anselm, De veritate, 7, S I, 185, l.30. 18 Anselm, De veritate, 8, S I, 186-187 ll.29-2. 19 Anselm, De veritate, 8, S I, 187, ll.3-.17. 20 Anselm, De veritate, 8, S I, 186, l. 24. 21 In the were taken to be unexpected divine interventions, but were not said to be “contrary to the natures of things”.

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 7 things to follow their natures. He says, “What if you consider it according to the natures of things, as when the iron nails were driven into the body of the Lord; would you say that the fragile flesh ought not to have been penetrated, or that, being penetrated by the sharp iron, it ought not to have felt pain?” And the student responds, “I would say that that was against nature.”22 The teacher sums up that it is proper to hold that sometimes an action or ought to happen in accordance with the nature of things, but nevertheless ought not to happen from the perspective of one doing the action or experiencing its effects.

I take the point to be that it is good that God permit the wicked deeds that follow from sinful choices. And, in that those deeds involve substances and that have ontological status, God is the cause of all that exists in those deeds. To fail to maintain the causally necessitating link between the choice and the deed would mean the destruction of the will, and God does not destroy what He has made.23 Here is closest we come to any sort of double will in God. God willingly permits sinful free choices, and willingly permits and ontologically sustains the subsequent deeds that follow from them. So, in a sense, we could say that God wills you to do—by permission—what He wills you not to do. But this is not the antecedent/consequent distinction found in Aquinas.

Anselm does not say that the wicked choices themselves are good and caused by God. Certainly God can incorporate the wicked choices and the ensuing deeds into a plan that brings about overwhelming good. But nothing in the discussion suggests that God causes the choices as an inevitable, or even a useful, part of bringing about His plan. Anselm makes it clear in De casu diaboli (25) that God does not need a wicked choice to bring about what He intends. He says that it happens that the good angels learned the consequences of sin from the fall of the devil, but had the devil not fallen, they would have learned it some other way. If God needed the evil choices to effect what He to achieve He would be weak, according to Anselm.

So, contrary to first appearances, this discussion in De Veritate does not support the thesis of the double will in God. And it is immediately followed, in Chapter 9, by more analysis of the truth of actions, in which Anselm clearly expresses the thought that actions speak louder than words. If someone says one thing, but does another, then his deeds give the lie to his words. If someone tells you in words that certain herbs are good to eat, while others are poisonous, but

22 Anselm, De veritate, 8, S I, 187 l.33 – 188 l.1. 23 A key premise in the Cur Homo argument to explain why, instead of just starting over with new human beings, God goes through all the strange biological rigamarole of the , is that He will not abandon ’s reproductive nature. The issue of God preventing the deeds which follow upon the wicked choices comes up now and again in the current debate over the . Some have said that the free will defense fails because God could allow the will to freely choose, and yet He could step in and prevent the evil chosen deeds from occurring. But surely Anselm is right. Another way to put it is that if we found that whenever we chose badly we could not succeed in doing what we had chosen to do, then we would soon be unable to entertain morally significant options, and hence unable to make morally significant choices.

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 8 then proceeds, himself, to eat the ones that he had told you were poisonous, he is telling you more powerfully, through his deed, that his words were false.24

Suppose at this point that the student interlocutor had asked Anselm whether God might command you not to choose X, but then cause you to choose it. Both the commanding and the causing would constitute divine expressions concerning what ought to be done. Here the question is about a choice which, unlike an overt deed, does not have parts. There are conflicting motives involved in the lead up to a choice, but the opting for this over that is a simple act, so it cannot be the case that part of a choice is bad and part is good. Certainly God uses to produce good. For example, from one perspective we could hold that it is good for us that Judas chose to betray Christ. However, had Judas not so chosen, Christ’s salvific passion would have been precipitated in some other way. Nowhere in his work does Anselm say anything to undermine the view that a sinful choice, considered in itself, is simply wicked. Though it is good that God permits it, since to do otherwise would be shutting down free will, that sin ought not to happen. I think Anselm would find it inconceivable that God might “say,” through His command, that you should not choose X and, through His causing it, that you should choose X. One or the other “utterance” must be false, and as Anselm says in (II.17): “. . . it is necessary that God always speak the truth, and it is necessary that he never lie. . . .”25

Anselm moves on in Chapter 10 to state the obvious, that the highest truth is rightness and the cause of all rightness. Then in Chapter 11 he proposes a definition of truth. And here he mentions a point which is rather striking and odd, but which, I think supports my contention that there is no double will in God. The teacher asks whether truth is anything more than rightness. From early in the dialogue the teacher and student have been discussing truth as “rightness”. Anselm’s term rectitudo is often translated as “rectitude,” but in modern English that term often bears a moral connotation, which is clearly not what Anselm is after. Anything which is as it ought to be and does as it ought to do has rightness. The “ought” here meaning that it is and does what God made it to be and do. The signifying proposition, the warming fire, and the falling rock have rightness. The horse that wants to go graze even has rightness of will.26 So obviously rightness here is not limited to rational or virtuous choices. The rightness of truth is conformity to the will of God.

But the student notes that we should not say simply that “Truth is rightness” since there is a rightness which we observe in corporeal things, such as the rightness—we would probably say “straightness”—of a stick. In that Anselm takes this point to be worth mentioning, and in that he defends the univocity of meanings when the same term is used of different things, I take it that

24 Anselm, De veritate, 9. S I, 189, ll.10-16. 25 Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, II.17, S II, 123 ll.31-32. Anselm, like Augustine, seems to hold that lying is always and everywhere wrong. His example of a choice which demonstrates the power of the will, since it can resist sin even if it is difficult to do so, is someone who is threatened with death unless he or she tell a lie. His view is that that person should not lie, and would have no trouble at all in telling the truth if he or she were shown the beauties of heaven that await the truthful (De libertati arbitrii 9). 26 Anselm, De Veritate 12, S I, 192 ll.22-24

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 9 he sees some real similarity between the straightness of a corporeal thing and the rightness of a true thing. The teacher asks what the difference is between the two, and the student responds that the former can be observed with the eyes, while the latter must be grasped through rational contemplation. But the teacher notes that corporeal straightness can also be understood rationally. He says, “What if there is doubt concerning whether or not a line (linea) of some absent body is straight (recta), and it can be shown that it does not bend at all, wouldn’t reason conclude that it is straight as a of necessity?”27 The student amends the definition of truth to hold that it is rightness perceptible to the alone.

What I am interested in for my purposes is that point that the rightness of the line consists in its not bending at all. The meaning of corporeal rightness is just that it is not flexible. There can be no wiggle room in conforming to it. The line of a body either conforms to straightness or it doesn’t. Two sticks, one of which is bent, cannot both be straight, somehow. (In the 12th century space was not curved.) There is only one way to be straight. If we are to take the univocity of rightness seriously at all, then I propose that Anselm’s mention of corporeal straightness suggests that conformity to the Highest Truth does not admit of contraries. If Highest Truth is the ultimate straight edge, it cannot be straight on one side and wavy on the other. The wavy side would not have rightness and that cannot be said of God. Since God’s will is the measure of rightness, the thought that He might have a double will is incoherent.28 It is true that Anselm never explicitly denies that there are two wills in God such that God antecedently wills you not to do X and consequently wills and causes that you do X. But what Anselm says points to the conclusion that he doesn’t deny it because he never even entertains such a thought.

27 Anselm, De Veritate, 11, S I, 191 ll.13-16. 28 There is another text, from Cur Deus Homo (II.17), which I take to support the “single-mindedness” of God. Here Anselm is talking about necessity as it applies to God. He holds that even God cannot change the past. But this arises out of His will for He Himself is Truth. That is, the absolute fixity of the past is based on the will of God. If Anselm believed that God could will contrary things, then he ought not assume that the past cannot be made other than it was.

The Saint Anselm Journal 10.1 (Fall 2014) 10