chapter  7
4 Pages


ByScott Matthews

The case of Anselm's argument serves to illustrate that one can only understand philosophical issues by looking at them in their historical contexts. To understand 'reason' and 'rationality' in the context of religion is to look beyond the text-book approach to the rationality of religious belief, and to enquire how reason operates within living contexts. Practical beliefs, relationships and commitments within a religious context are formed in dialogue not only with the authorities of the religious tradition, but also within a community of interpreters. The history of Anselm's argument shows that it is precisely by looking at those features of an argument which are most particular, most tied to time and place that we gain a greater understanding of what an argument is being used for. In this context, Anselm's argument contributed to an enquiry not so much about the foundations of religious belief, but about the aims or ends of religious life.