Ontological argument

my notes on the ontological argument :)

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  • Created by: Chantal
  • Created on: 16-02-13 11:21
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Ontological Argument:
Written by theists for theists
Apriori- Through reason
Aims to prove the existence of God via reason and logic alone
Deductive argument- moves from premise to conclusion
Anselm's First Form-
Began by defining God as `a being than which nothing greater can be conceived'
If it is the greatest it must exist more than in peoples thoughts
Must exist separate from peoples thoughts
As a formal deductive argument it is:
God is the greatest possible being (nothing greater can be conceived)
If God exists in the mind alone (only as an idea), then a greater being could be
imagined to exist both in the mind and in reality
This being would then be greater than God
Thus God cannot exist only as an idea in the mind
Therefore God exists both in the mind (as an idea)and in reality
Therefor God exists both in the mind (as an idea) and in reality
It is self-contradictory to be able to conceive of something than which nothing greater
can be thought and yet to deny that that something exists
Anselm's second Form-
Developed this argument to demonstrate it was impossible to conceive of God as not
existing
Idea that God is eternal and always has been
Not limited by or in time
God has necessary existence: he could not not be
Greater than a being whom comes in and out of existence
As a deductive argument it is:
God is the greatest possible being (nothing greater can be conceived)
It is greater to be a necessary being (cannot not be) than a contingent being (can
cease to exist)
If God exists only as a contingent being can therefore be imagined not to exist,
then a greater being could be imagined that cannot be conceived not to exist
This being would then be greater than God
God is therefore a necessary being
Therefore God must exist in reality
He is a necessary being so cannot not exist
Gaunilo's Criticism-
Discovered flaw in Anselm's argument
Believed no one actually understands the nature of God
We can have many ideas of unreal objects in our mind
Gaunilo uses a philosophical device known as `reductio ad absurdum'
His argument is:
Consider the idea of a perfect island- the greatest possible island (nothing
greater can be conceived)

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If the greatest possible island exists in the mind alone (only as an idea), then a
greater island could be imagined to exist both in the mind and in reality
This island would then be greater than the best possible island
Thus the best possible island cannot exist only as an idea in the mind
Therefore the best possible island exists both in the mind (as an idea)and in
reality
Concluded if you can prove the existence of anything with this argument there must be…read more

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He thinks when philosophers say `God is a necessary being' or `God has to exist' they are
making an analytic statements, they are talking about what words mean not whether
God exists or not
Kant backs up his argument with his killer point:
Once upon a time there was a boy
The boy kicks the ball
He makes a cup of tea
He dances for 28 hours without stopping
He exists
Kant asks `something unusual about the last one?'
Kant says existence is not a…read more

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