Review Of "Logic And Other Nonsense: The Case Of Anselm And His God" By E. Bencivenga

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Is there anything new to be said about Anselm's Proslogion? Bencivenga (Univ. of California at Irvine) has done so in this provocative essay in postmodern philosophy. Instead of concentrating on the ontological argument (which he treats in an appendix), Bencivenga focuses on Anselm's stated project, "faith seeking understanding." In the process of exploring what this project meant to Anselm, as revealed in his discussions of it in his several works, and the many difficulties that beset Anselm as he sought to carry it out, Bencivenga makes clear that Anselm's problems in using reason to explicate and ground faith have their parallels today. At various levels of analysis, reason behaves paradoxically. It supports belief and yet undermines it. It simultaneously instructs and mystifies, provides solutions and dissolves them. In short, reason is both subtle and tortuous as it constructs and destructs. Initially, we are led to the conclusion that logical argumentation is just a game. But again reason surprises us. Though reason's task can never be completed, its pursuit is far from futile. We are, says Bencivenga, enlarged by it. Like Whitehead's description of religion, rationality is "the ultimate ideal and the hopeless quest." This book will find an enduring place among the many Anselm commentaries. Advanced undergraduate; graduate; faculty.


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