Ontological Argument Revision Notes

You've worked hard? Well now how about a nice, easy topic - this one's simple. The argument is ridiculously flawed, but there's still enough to write a decent essay on it - what more could we want? Enjoy!

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Ontological Argument
Introduction
o Unlike Design and Cosmological arguments, this is not based on
experience
o A purely rational argument ­ a priori
Independent of experience ­ a strength, since our experiences
differ (otherwise we would either all believe in God or none of
us would)
o Ontological means "talking about being"
o It argues from the concept of God to the existence of God
Analytic and Synthetic Statements
o Analytic ­ triangles have three sides and three angles
o Synthetic ­ triangles are the most common shape used in geometry
o Analytic statements are true by definition ­ it cannot be any other way
o Synthetic statements are opinions ­ require evidence
o God exists ­ synthetic or analytic? For this argument to work, "God
exists" has to be seen as an analytic statement
St. Anselm
o Before Aquinas
o Archbishop of Canterbury
o Wrote a book called Proslogion (bloody Latin)
o Wanted to join faith and reason
People believe in God, have faith in God
But he wanted people to see how to reason their way to God
Thus combining the two
o "God is that than which no greater can be conceived"
o As it is greater for something to exist in reality and mind than just the
mind, God must exist in the real world too
If God existed only in the mind
But chocolate exists in both
Which would make chocolate better
So God must exist in the real world
o The `fool' (or unbeliever) accepts that God is that than which no
greater being can be conceived but is a fool as does not accept that
the concept of God must include existence
Descartes
o We cannot conceive of a triangle without three sides and three
angles. A triangle by definition has three sides and three angles
o God ­ by definition God's essence is to exist. God is a necessary
being. Noncontingent
Criticisms
o Gaunilo
Contemporary of Anselm
Wrote "On behalf of the fool" ­ a reply to Anselm

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Imagine the most perfect possible island
If this has all perfections then this must include existence and
therefore the island must exist
But (Descartes) only God has all the perfections and only God
had to exist necessarily
o Hume
Whatever is thought to exist could also be claimed not to exist
Take X
Can we analyse X into existence?
Can we analyse X into nonexistence?
Any matter of faith (such as God or heaven) cannot really be
argued about ­ no evidence for or against,…read more

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Allows for multiple faiths and religions
Responded to Russell's Santa analogy:
o Santa exists for anyone who believes in him
o Doesn't matter if he doesn't exist, he still does
o Norman Malcolm reformulated the ontological argument using prime
numbers
Before we learnt about prime numbers, they did not exist for us
Then we learnt about them
They now exist within us
God is the same ­ when you understand the concept of God,
he exists within you and for you
Kind of similar to…read more

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