Abstract

In this paper, my aim is to present and explain the interpretational approach which I am currently employing in my reading of St Anselm’s works. My guiding hypothesis is that Anselm is relying on and to some extent exploring a specific form of teleology. I will call this kind of teleology ‘transactive teleology’, since it is based on the idea that the ends that structure reality or the natural world are in essence debts resulting from transactions of gifts. On this approach, we may use findings and insights from anthropology about the norms surrounding ancient and medieval gift practices to clarify the distinctive sort of teleology in question. Further, with such a teleology in place, we are in a position to assess the question to which extent Anselm is engaged in an ethical project as opposed to dealing with theological issues.