Objections to the Ontological Argument

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Objections to the Ontological Argument

Guanilo's Objection

  • If I think of the perfect island it does not mean it exists.
  • You cannot think things into existence.
  • Anselm replies with-God is a special case-there can only be one thing which can be that than which nothing greater can be conceived. 

A more devastating objection

  • Existence is not a predicate.
  • The cat is black-black is a predicate because it adds something to the cat.
  • "God exists" does not add anything to the concept of God.
  • "A hundred real thalers do not contain the least coin more than a hundred possible thalers"
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The Ontological Argument

  • It is an a priori argument, it is based on innate knowledge and logic.
  • It attempts to prove the existence of God from the meaning of the word "God"
  • If you accept the definition of God then logically you have to accept the conclusion that he exists.
  • Things that exist both in your mind and in reality are greater than things that only exist in the imagination.
  • When we hear the words "that than which nothing greater can be conceieved" we understand what the words mean.
  • So this being (God) exists in our thoughts.
  • This then exists either only in our mind or in both mind and reality.

God cannot only exist in the mind

  • If it existed only in the mind then we could think of something greater than it, because we could think of something that exists in both the mind and in reality.
  • It is a contradiction to suppose we could think of something greater than that than which nothing greater can be conceived.
  • So that than which nothing greater can be conceived has to exists both in the mind and in reality.
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David Hume's objection to the Ontological Argument

  • It is not possible to take an idea in ones mind, apply pure logic to it, and reach a conclusion absed entirely in the external, observable universe.
  • Existence cannot be treated as a preficate which something can have or not have or whihc can be added to or subtracted from something.
  • Existence cannot be something that can be added to the definition and actually change something.
  • "Whatever we conceive, we conceive it to be existent"
  • To think of God in the mind and then to think of God in reality is exactly the same thing. 
  • All we are doing is thinking about God and not providin grounds for his existence. 
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David Hume's objection to the Ontological Argument

  • It is not possible to take an idea in ones mind, apply pure logic to it, and reach a conclusion absed entirely in the external, observable universe.
  • Existence cannot be treated as a preficate which something can have or not have or whihc can be added to or subtracted from something.
  • Existence cannot be something that can be added to the definition and actually change something.
  • "Whatever we conceive, we conceive it to be existent"
  • To think of God in the mind and then to think of God in reality is exactly the same thing. 
  • All we are doing is thinking about God and not providin grounds for his existence. 
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