Ontological Argument

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  • Anselm
    • Ontological Argument
      • Explores what is meant for something to exist
      • It is a priori argument
        • Knowledge that is gained through deduction, not through empirical evidence. e.g. all bachelors are unmarried.
      • Anselms first argument
        • 1) "God is a being than which nothing greater can be conceived"
        • 2) Something that exists in reality is bound to be greater than something that exists in the mind alone.
        • 3) God must exist in the mind and in reality to be the greatest being.
      • Gaunilo
        • 12th century monk
        • Criticised Anselms ontological argument in his 'behalf of the fool'
        • If you imagine a perfect island, it doesn't make it real
        • Just because a person can conceive of something, it doesn't make it exist
        • Anselms counter argument
          • You cannot possibly compare God with an island
      • Anselms second argument
        • It is greater to be a necessary being than a contingent being
        • if God were a contingent being,he could not be the greatest because we can imagine him not existing
      • Descartes
        • 17th century
        • Developed Anselms Ontological argument in his 'meditations on first philosophy'
        • Believes God is perfect and a predicate of perfect is existence.
        • Existence is a predicate of God
        • Interior angles that add up to180 degrees and 3 sides are a predicate of a triangle
        • Kant's criticisms
          • Argues against Descartes in 'critique of pure reason'
          • existence is not a real predicate
          • saying something simply 'exists' does not add anything to the definition of something.
    • 1033-1109
    • The argument was proposed in his book 'Proslogion'
    • Argument started from a theistic stance
    • The argument is from a faith seeking understanding rather than an attempt to convert and atheist.
    • Was responding to Psalms 14 and 53 which begins 'the fool says to himself "there is no God".
    • Believes God has to exist because he is so perfect he must exist in reality, not just a thought in your mind.


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