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Earliest ontological argument

Claims God as 'aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari porit' (that than which nothing greater can be concieved/thought). States even a fool who denied God's existence would accept this defintion of him; it is, as Anslem see's it, greater to exist than not!!!


He further argues that God is 'than that which cannot be concieved to not exist'; It is possible to exist either just in the mind or in mind and reality! God is the greatest thing then he must exist both in the mind and in reality, as this is the greatest thing to be thought of.

Anselm's consideration of the idea of God concludes him to understand his existence, both in reality and in the mind.

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On behalf of the 'fool', 'I can conceive of a most perfect and real island' (premise one),

In response to Anselm's fourth premise- it is better to exist in the mind and in reality. Would lead to the fool to the conclusion that this island must exist!

Gaunilo's third premise was that the notion of a real and perfect island is absurd so he said that by association, so must be Anselm's argument.

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His reply to Gaunilo:

States island is CONTINGENT, and that any contingent being can be conceived as NOT-EXISTING.

Contrast to this: A being 'than which no greater can be conceived' CANNOT NOT-EXIST.


The notion of an island has no intrinsic maximum. Can always be bettered, so the two are not comparable.

However: no basis as there is no agreed definition of God. 

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God's essence was his existence!

    • I can conceive of a perfect being that has all the perfections.
    • I must assert all the perfections of this supremely perfect being.
    • Necessary existence is a perfection.
    • Any being that has ever not-existed cannot be perfect.
    • Therefore a supremely perfect being, namely God, must exist!

As existence was the essence of God and a predicate of Him, it could no more seperated from the idea of God than 'three angles' could be seperated from a triangle.

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Kant dismissed the ontological argument!!

Existence is not a predicate AND all existential propositions are synthetic.

Saying that something exists adds nothing more to describe something. For example: A cow is black and white, but to say a cow is black and white AND EXISTS does not change the cow and we can see its existence ANYWAY. 

He said that EXISTENTIAL STATEMENTS were not ANALYTICAL, but SYNTHETIC, as we do not already know that God exists, so the predicate is not intrinsic to God- but rather attached to him.

Anselm's theory may not necessarily be true in practise! He said that although one must accept that existence is a part of the concept of a supreme being, the concept of a supreme being does not have to be true in reality.

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