A Divine Loquacity

Anselm’s Theology of the Possible, part 10

As I’ve suggested, Anselm’s theory of the divine utterance establishes a far deeper parallel between divine and human making than that afforded in Augustine’s exemplarism. One implication of Anselm’s metaphysical actualism, touched on previously, after all, is that if the divine utterance excludes (because it denies the very existence of) merely possible beings and includes only those things God actually creates, then the content of God’s utterance, at least where creation is concerned, is directly tied to God’s creative intention and action. Thus, while the divine utterance is still very much prior to the creation that God speaks through that utterance, the directedness or focus of his creational speech—i.e. the fact that what God utters relative to a “possible” creation is none other than what he actually does create—commends a much stronger affinity, not to the Augustinian “knowing-then-making,” but to what Miner describes as the characteristically human artist’s “knowing-through-making.” And while Anselm is unequivocal in his denial of an external source from which God might have “collected” or “assembled” the forms of creation, we might nonetheless wonder if isn’t something like a divine “collecting” and “assembling” by which God fashions these created forms, only from a thesaurus wholly internal to the divine being, namely the divine utterance. Substituting Augustine’s exemplarist voluntarism for his own model of the divine loquacity, therefore, Anselm is able to conceive of God creating this world through an internal utterance that, while derived from nothing outside of God, nevertheless speaks specifically to and for that which comes to exist outside of God. For Anselm, in short, God knows what he knows of creation together with, and in some sense even because of, his determination to make what he makes.

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