Challenges to the Ontological Argument

  • Created by: ZoeRanger
  • Created on: 05-12-18 09:21
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  • Challenges to the Ontological Argument
    • Challenges from Gaunilo
      • Using Anselm's logic, we might go on to say that for such an island to exist in our minds means that this is inferior to any same island existing in reality. If our island is truly the most excellent it cannot be inferior to any other island: it must exist in reality. We cannot bring something into existence just by defining it.
        • Anselm was actually quite impressed with Gaunilo's argument, and even introduced it in later versions of his book, along with his reply
          • Anselm argued that, although Gaunilo was right in the case of an island, his objections didn't work when applied to God, because an island has contingent existence, where as Gods existence is necessary
      • The ontological argument only works when applied to God, nothing else, because of Gods uniqueness and way in which he exists
        • The island imagined doesn't exist, because it is contingent - it relies on lots of things for its existence, God doesnt
      • Claimed that the flaws in Anselm's logic would become obvious if one went through the argument again, but replacing the idea of God with the idea of an island
        • He explained that we could imagine the most excellent lost island; we understand the implications of the term 'the most excellent island' and therefore this notion exists as a concept in our understanding
      • Believed Anselm's argument was not logical and therefore needed to be refused
        • Wrote his objections under the title 'on behalf of the fool'
      • First to object Anselm's idea that God exists by definition
        • Was a Christian
    • Kant's Objections
      • Predicate: a defining Characteristic or attribute
      • If we apply this to the ontological argument then we are thinking of a concept
        • When we describe the concept of God, it is pointless to say that existence is a predicate because it doesn't 'actualise' God
      • Existence doesn't tell us anything about the object
        • When we say that there is an example of something with these characteristic in real life
          • You cant base the existence of God on reason and logic
            • His book: 'The critique of pure reason'
      • It is possible to apply Anselm's logic to Kant's objection saying that Gods existence is necessary
        • Therefore, necessary existence can be a predicate of God - but it can only be predicated of God
          • This isn't a very strong defence because then the argument becomes circular: we have to accept that God exists necessarily in order to come to the conclusion that God exists necessarily


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