Slides in this set
The Ontological Argument was devised by St.
Anselm in his Proslogion 2-4. It is an a priori
argument. It is deductive as it draws it's
argument purely from a set of premises. It makes
no claims to truth, only logic.
The Ontological Argument works from these
1. God is "that than which no greater can be
2. Both believers and non-believers accept this,
even `the fool' from Psalm 14.
3. It is possible to exist either just in the mind, or
in both the mind and reality.
4. It is better to exist in both the mind and in
"That than which no greater can be conceived"
must exist in the mind AND in reality, being the
best of all things i.e. God exists.…read more
He then goes on to say that...
That which we cannot conceive as not
existing must be greater than what we can
conceive of not existing.
It would be absurd to say that "that which no
greater can be conceived" does not exist,
because that would mean a greater entity
would exist in reality (because, according to
Anselm, that which exists in reality is greater
than that which exists only in the mind)…read more
Malcolm resurrected the Ontological argument in
the 1960s. His version went like so:
1. If God came into existence now, he would not be
2. If God does not existence now his existence is
impossible (as he is eternal).
3. Therefore God's existence is either necessary or
4. His existence would be impossible if it were
contradictory or illogical.
5. It is not, so God's existence is necessary.
6. In the same way, God is necessarily omniscient
and omnipotent.…read more
According to Malcolm his argument would
only be accepted by believers. He viewed it
as Euclid's deduction of prime numbers; once
you understand prime numbers, you must
accept Euclid's deduction. In the same way,
only believer's who have grasped necessary
existence will accept his argument.
The problem with this is, it makes the
argument seem fruitless; why prove
something to those who are already
convinced? Also, Anselm's idea of the
Ontological Argument involved even `the
fool' accepting his idea of God.…read more
A monk named Gaunilo replied on behalf of `the
fool', saying "I can conceive of a most real and
It is better to exist in mind and reality.
Therefore this island must exist.
The idea of a perfect island is absurd, as is
An island is contingent; as with all contingent
things it can be conceived as not existing.
Anselm claimed that "that than which no greater
can be conceived" cannot not exist and the two
are not comparable. He concluded that God's
existence is necessary.
Also, an island has no intrinsic maximum. It can
always be bettered; trees can be added etc.,
whereas God cannot be bettered.…read more