Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Two More Notes

* Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Ambrose. Here's Augustine on Ambrose (Confessions, Book 5):

And to Milan I came, unto Ambrose the bishop, known to the whole world as among the best of men, Thy devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did at that time strenuously dispense unto Thy people the flour of Thy wheat, the "gladness" of Thy "oil," and the sober intoxication of Thy "wine." To him was I unknowingly led by Thee, that by him I might knowingly be led to Thee. That man of God received me like a father, and looked with a benevolent and episcopal kindliness on my change of abode. And I began to love him, not at first, indeed, as a teacher of the truth,—which I entirely despaired of in Thy Church,—but as a man friendly to myself. And I studiously hearkened to him preaching to the people, not with the motive I should, but, as it were, trying to discover whether his eloquence came up to the fame thereof, or flowed fuller or lower than was asserted; and I hung on his words intently, but of the matter I was but as a careless and contemptuous spectator; and I was delighted with the pleasantness of his speech, more erudite, yet less cheerful and soothing in manner, than that of Faustus. Of the matter, however, there could be no comparison; for the latter was straying amid Manichaean deceptions, whilst the former was teaching salvation most soundly. But "salvation is far from the wicked," such as I then stood before him; and yet I was drawing nearer gradually and unconsciously.

Ambrose, of course, is probably second only to Monica in importance for Augustine's conversion from Manichaeanism to Christianity. Another feature of Ambrose's life for which he is famous is his fearlessness in standing up to Emperors; the Ancient History Sourcebook has what is perhaps the best known example, as described by Theodoret.

Rebecca recently posted a hymn attributed to Ambrose for the first Sunday in Advent.

* I've gone on record before saying that while I tend to accept something like Gyula Klima's favorable (but qualified) assessment of Anselm's argument, the two most interesting and plausible unfavorable assessments I know are those of Peter King (PDF) and Peter Millican (PDF). (The two objections are very different, although both authors provide good reasons why the common arguments against it are dubious.) At OPP there's recently been posted a paper by Yujin Nagasawa (PDF), which I'm still in the process of reading, arguing that Millican's objection rests on an error of interpretation. One of the reasons for this is an argument, which I don't find at all plausible given the stated purpose of the Proslogion, that Anselm is actually deliberately ambiguous on the interpretation of the argument; but he gives other arguments.

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