One Proof, Different Versions?

The central purpose of this book is to look closely at a certain feature of the ontological proof – namely, its tendency to blur the distinction between the human and the divine. The works of Anselm and Hegel, who represent two different developments of the ontological proof, are compared and expertly analyzed.


“The ontological argument continues to be perplexing to both its defenders and detractors…Anselm and Hegel are the two major poles between which Cummings' fine study moves…It is a work whose overall structure is lucid, whose style is clear, engaging and communicable…”
-Prof. William Desmond,
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

“This work is an interesting, credible and informed discussion and certainly makes a significant contribution to the literature in this area. The author’s particular treatment of the subject is a fresh interpretation of the issues.
-Prof. Santiago Sia,
Retired, Loyola Marymount University, USA

Table of Contents

Foreword by William Desmond
1. The Intellectual Background to the Ontological Proof

(1) The Meaning of Greatness
(2) “Greatness” is not “Goodness”
(3) The Hierarchy of Reality
(4) Anselm’s Concept of “Greatness”
(a) What is the Concept of “Greatness”?
(b) Greatness in the Monologion
(c) Reason: Distinguishing Mark or Mark of Distinction?

2. Greatness in Anselm’s Proslogion

(1) Greatness in the Proslogion
(a)Anselm’s View of “Conceiving”
(c)It is greater to exist in reality and the mind than in the mind alone

(2) The Unum Argumentum and the Proslogion
3. The Ontological Proof in Anselm: The Logic of Unity

(1) How does the ontological proof work? (2) Proslogion II & III
(3) Gaunilo and the Lost Island
4. The Ontological Proof and Divine Transcendence: Faith, Reason, and Goodness

(1) Fides Quaerens Intellectum
(2) God’s Goodness and the Appeal of the Ontological Proof
(a) Anselm’s View of Goodness
(b) Goodness and the Ontological Proof

(3)Anselm’s Proof of God’s Transcendence:
From Presence, through Mystery, to Hope
5. Bridging Anselm and Hegel: The impact of Descartes and Kant

(1) The Use of God in Descartes
(2) Kant’s Critique of the Ontological proof
6. Hegel’s Ontological Proof and the Science of Logic

(1) Background to Hegel’s Treatment of the Ontological Proof
(2) Proofs for God and the Science of Logic
(3) Hegel’s Treatment of the Ontological proof
7. Representation and Concept in Hegel

(1)Representation and Concept
(2)Religious Representations and Philosophical concepts
8. Hegel’s Genuine Ontological Proof

(1) Hegel’s Ontological Proof
(2) The Object of the Ontological Proof in Hegel’s Thought
(3) Divine Transcendence in Anselm and Hegel

(1) Anselm’s Praise of Reason
(2) Hegel’s Praise of Reason
Selective Bibliography