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Anselm Of Canterbury

Updated May 17, 2019

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.. more merited grace from God because they remained standing while the others fell than because they preserved rationality, which they were unable to lose.” The teacher seems the think that it is not appropriate that God give grace to the angels that did not fall if falling was not a possibility. If their uprightness was guaranteed then there was never a possibility that they could fall, which would imply that the good angels took no part in their remaining upright. Yet it seems unwarranted, in this case, that God should give them grace. To deserve Gods grace, it must be the case that the angels chose to remain upright, which entails that they are upright because of their own ability.

So in any given case where the intellect presents to the will ideas that are clear and distinct, it may be that we choose between means that which will make us happy, or between means that are just. And we may also face having to choose between what makes us happy or what is just. In either case we have the ability to choose, and so we have freedom of will. It is clear, Anselm seems to think, that Satan sinned because he deserted justice. An objection might be made that since Satan no longer possesses justice he only possesses the will for happiness.

If he only has the will for happiness, then he cant be responsible for his sins since he would only be acting then in accordance with the only will he has. Therefore, he no longer has free will, as in the Aristotelian model. Anselm disagrees, and in chapter 13 he describes the one-willed creature that would not be subject to free will. This creature will not be able to will anything other than happiness since the will for happiness is the only will he has. Furthermore, he will will to a further degree that which he thinks will bring the greatest happiness.

It follows that since this is the only will he has, he cant stop willing happiness because he would have to will to stop, and that will is distinct from the will for happiness which has already been postulated as being the only will. God is the greatest happiness, but this creature cant be God so he will will any lesser benefits he is able to attain. Anselm writes, T. When he willed unclean and very base benefits in which irrational animals take pleasure, wouldnt this same will be unjust and blameworthy? S.

How would it be unjust and blameworthy, for it would will what it had received not to be able to keep from willing? T. However, it is evident that this will is the work of God, whether when it wills the loftiest benefits or when it wills the basest ones. And it is evident that neither justice nor injustice is in this will. Therefore, insofar as [this will] is a being, it is something good. But as far as justice or injustice is concerned, [this will] is neither good nor evil.

Since this creature is operating under the only will it has, the justice or injustice of its actions are irrelevant. In essence, this creature is not acting freely. The Devil is given both the will for happiness and justice. Unlike the one-willed creature, the Devil is free to choose.

Anselm writes in chapter 14, “Thus possessing a just will-for-happiness he could and should be happy. And by not willing what he ought no to will, although able [to will it], he would merit never to be able to will what he ought not to will. And by always keeping justice by means of a tempered will, he would in no way experience need.” It happens to be, however, that the Devil realizes that what would make him happy is to be like God insofar as having an autonomous will. That is to say, doing things because he wants to do them.

But this would require that he abandon justice, which is to do what God wants him to do because God wants him to do it. Nevertheless, he believes that although he must abandon justice he will increase his happiness, and so he chooses to do so. The Devils situation having deserted justice is different from the situation of the one-willed creature. In chapter 16, Anselm explains, T. Before that will received this justice, was it under obligation to will and not to will in accordance with justice? S. No, it was not under an obligation with respect to what it had not received and therefore did not have.

T. However, you do not doubt that it was under an obligation after it received [justice] unless it were to lose [justice] as the result of some overpowering force? S. I think that the will is always bound to this obligation whether it keeps what it has received or whether it willingly deserts it. The thought is that though having deserted justice it would appear that the Devil is no longer subject to justice, he ought to have justice and since he no longer has justice then he is deemed unjust.

The one-willed creature was not unjust because it was not the case the justice should be there, whereas the Devil has deserted justice and in so doing created a void. In this case, since one cant be happy without being just, the Devil has made a big mistake and now he is neither just nor happy. Nevertheless, despite the fact the Devil is operating solely under the will for happiness, he still has a free will. He realizes that he is mistaken and he wants to regain justice.

But he can never regain justice because that requires that he do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. The Devil wants to do the right thing because he wants to be happy. That is to say that he knows he cant be happy without doing the right thing. Therefore he will never be able to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. So he will never regain justice and will always be operating under the will-for happiness.

But this is not to say that he is not operating with a free will, like the one-willed creature.

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Anselm Of Canterbury. (2019, May 17). Retrieved from