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Anselm on God, Eternity and Free Will

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor John Marenbon (University of Cambridge) explores Anselm’s response to the problem of prescience. In the first module, we introduce some background to the life and work of Anselm of Canterbury. In the second module, we look at medieval conceptions of time, eternity, and their relation to God. In the third module examine Anselm’s views on divine eternity as presented in the Monologium. In the fourth module we examine the background to Anselm’s solution to the problem of prescience, before going on to explain his solution based on the difference between antecedent and subsequent necessity in the fifth module. In the sixth and final module, we compare and contrast Anselm and Boethius’ ideas about necessity and the reception of these ideas from subsequent philosophers in the medieval period.

About the Lecturer

John Marenbon is a Fellow of the British Academy, Senior Research Fellow of Trinity College, and Honorary Professor of Medieval Philosophy, as well as Visiting Professor at the Philosophy Department of Peking University. His interests cover the whole breadth of philosophy in the Long Middle Ages (c. 200 – c. 1700), in the Latin and Greek Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions. He has written both general books (especially Medieval Philosophy: an historical and philosophical introduction (2007) and (as editor) the Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy (2012), as well as more specialized studies of Boethius and Abelard. His most recent book is Pagans and Philosophers. The Problem of Paganism from Augustine to Leibniz (2015). You can find a CV, List of Publications and copies of many of his recent articles at

He is is one of the leaders of the project 'Immateriality, Thinking and the Self in the Philosophy of the Long Middle Ages', a joint project of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge and the Department of Philosophy, Peking University, financed by the British Academy through an International Partnership and Mobility Grant, March 2015 – February 2016.