Ontological argument

  • Created by: Jenna
  • Created on: 06-06-15 11:19

Introduction to Ontological

  • A priori meaning its based on reason and logic
  • Analytical meaning the definition is true within the statement
  • Deductive meaning the premises ential the conclusion
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St Anselm

  • Puts forward an argument from his 'Proslogion' using deductive reasoning
  • His definition of God is "... that than nothing greater can be conceived" meaning no one is more perfect than God, so God must posses all perfections
  • such a being must exist if it possess all perfection
  • Therefore God exists in re (reality) not just in intellectu (the mind).
  • Thus what exists in reality is greater than what is in the mind and therefore God is true by de dicto (by definition)
  • Anselm’s analogy of the painter tries to show that what can be seen and physically exists is better than something that only exists in the mind, e.g. the painter has an idea in his mind of his next piece of work, however it cannot be said to exist until he has executed it so it exists in reality.
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  • Criticises Anselm and uses his example of a 'perfect island'
  • A perfect island may exist in the mind however not in reality, this is because everyone has their own ideas of what 'perfect' consists of.
  • Replacing the word 'God' with 'perfect island' proved a false conclusion when followed a principle similar to Anselm's, it's too subjective
  • Anselm then argued back to this and said God is not a contingent object like an island is which holds palm trees.
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Alvin Plantinga

  • God is 'maximally great and maximally excellent' in all possible worlds  
  • So God must exist in all possible worlds due to God being so omnipotent and omnibenelovent
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  • a predicate of God is existence.
  • A predicate of a triangle is that it has three sides and therefore the predicate of God is that he is ‘supremely perfect’ and if something is perfect it must exist.
  • It’d be illogical to think of God not existing and likewise you can’t imagine a triangle with 4 sides instead of 3.
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Bertrand Russell

  • In favour of Immanuel Kant's obvservations and against the existence of God
  • He proposed that existence was not a predicate but rather a term used to indicate the instance of something in the spatio-temporal world (a world beyond our own).
  • Therefore you can't just stick the word 'exist' on to anything to try and make it true, especially God, as it doesnt indicate there is an instance of such thing in the world, it also doesnt tell us anything about their nature.
  • Its like saying 'dragons exist'... do they really? No theyre just a myth, just like God.
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David Hume

  • Opposed is Anselm’s argument in reply to Gaunilo and his analogy of a ‘perfect island’.
  • Anselm said God isn’t a contingent object like an island, however Hume suggests existence can only be contingent, existence is simply a fact and it couldn’t be analytically true.
  • Therefore Hume and Gaunilo knock down Anselm (one of the main features)
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Immanuel Kant

  • German philosopher Immanuel Kant Descartes analogy and the existence of God, he observes before you start to describe something you have to prove it exists.
  • Existence is not a predicate because you’ve got to establish its existence first.
  • Descartes analogy of the triangle doesn’t work because you can see and experience a triangle however you can’t see or experience God.
  • Kant said “God is an object of pure thought” thus, if God did have all perfections then a predicate of God would be that he actually existed.
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