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Ontological Argument
Main Characteristics and Features
Ontological ­ concerned with `being'
A priori ­ based on a definition and the use of
logic alone, no empirical evidence
Necessary existence ­ a being that cannot not
exist (opposite to contingent)
`God exists' becomes an existential analytic
statement…read more

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Classic Form - Anselm
`Nor do I seek to understand so that I can
believe, but rather I believe so that I can
understand." (Anselm, Proslogion ch.1)
Anselm was 11th century Archbishop.
Scholars divided over whether his argument
was intended to convince atheist or to confirm
faith of believer.
Argument presented in two forms.…read more

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Anselm ­ first form
God is `that than which nothing greater can be
conceived'.
If God existed only in the mind (in intellectu), then a
greater being could be imagined to exist in the mind
and in reality (in re).
This being would then be greater than God
Thus God cannot exist only in the mind.
Therefore God exists both in the mind and in reality.…read more

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Anselm ­ second form
It is impossible to conceive of God not existing
­ He must be a necessary being if He is the
greatest being.
It would be a logical contradiction to claim that
a necessary God does not exist.
Only a `fool' (i.e. an atheist) would believe that
God did not exist.
Makes use of reductio ad absurdum…read more

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Supporter - Descartes
Early 17th century, related to `cogito ergo sum'
­ God has all perfections
­ Existence is a perfection
­ Therefore, God exists.
Existence is an essential quality of a supremely
perfect being, just like a triangle has to have 3
angles, or a hill needs a valley.…read more

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