Ontological Arugment

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

  • APRIORI- uses logic to prove an initial definition is correct
  • DEDUCTIVE: Conclusions derived from premise
  • ANALYTICAL: Meaning is explained within itself

ONTOLOGICAL is a number of arguments within one school of thought

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CLASSICAL ARGUMENT

  • ST ANSELM OF CANTERBURY
  • RENE DESCARTES
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ST ANSELM OF CANTERBURY (PART 1)

  • Define God as

"that than which nothing greater can be concieved"

  • Even an atheist must have a definition of God, if only to dismiss his existence.
  • Therefore Anselm argues:

"God (like dragons) exists in the mind"

  • He must also exist in reality because he is "that than which nothing greater can be concieved"

THAT WHICH EXISTS IN REALITY IS GREATER THAN THAT WHICH EXISTS PURELY IN THE MIND

EXAMPLE:

Imagine being given £1000.....it's a nice thought.....but it also exists in reality

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ST ANSELM OF CANTERBURY (PART 2)

He attempts to demonstrate that God's existence is Necessary

To suggest this....is to suggest that there is no possibility of Him not existing

To do this,

He suggests that we need to know more than that He simply exists inside and outside our minds.....he believes that we know this....

  • it can be conceived that something exists that cannot be thought not to exist
  • God must be such as thing as he is "that than which nothing greater can be concieved."
  • this is because something that can be thought not to exist would be inferior to that which cannot

Through these two parts, Anselm believes that he has demonstrated not only the existence of God, but also that His existence was necessary.

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DESCARTES (support Anselm)

He defined God as

"a supremely perfect being"

From this definition we can coclude that God exists because

  • Existence is a PREDICATE* of a perfect being......therefore
  • GOD MUST EXIST to avoid being self-contradictory

He states that trying to imagine God without the predicate of existence is illogical

like...

Imagining a triangle without three sides.


* predicate= characteristic

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MODERN VERSION

  • NORMAN MALCOLM (PART 2)
  • ALVIN PLATINGA (POSSIBLE WORLDS)
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NORMAN MALCOLM (Modern Version)

He states that Anselm's Part 2(Proslogion 3) is more accurate than Part 1(Proslogian 2)

  • CRITICISM: existence is treated as a predicate that things either have or lack (such as blue eyes, brown hair)......Proslogian 2

Malcolm believes that Proslogian 3 does not treat existence as a predicate: Anselm is saying that God must exist because the concept of God is the concept of a being whose existence is necessary

He develops Part 2 (proslogian 3)

  • God cannot come into existence as he would be a limited being
  • If God does exists...he cannot come into existence....nor can he cease to exist
  • Therefore...his existence is necessary
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ALVIN PLATINGA

'POSSIBLE WORLDS'

Example: In our world, John Kennedy was an American President....this was not necessary....he could have made a different career choice!!

  • In the possible worlds there are many differences

'POSSIBILITIES ARE INFINITE'

Another Possible World

  • there is a possible world, W, in which there exists a being with 'maximal greatness'
  • a being has maximal greatness only if it exists in every possible world

Therefore........in every possible world there is a being of maximal greatness....DOES NOT MEAN GOD!

Maximal Greatness= Maximal Excellence

Maximal Excellence= omnipotence, omniscience and moral perfection

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CRITICS OF THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

  • GAUNILO (most perfect island)
  • IMMANUEL KANT (Existence is not a predicate)
  • GOTTLOB FREGE (frist & second order predicates)
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GAUNILO

Opposed Anselm's (Part 1)- criticises Anselm's move from his definition of God to suggest that God exists!

  • He stated that is some was to describe to you the most 'perfect island' lost somewhere and untouched by man....you would be a fool to believe him because he states that the island must exist due to its perfection!!

NOT VALID!!!!

Anselm speaks of God as "than than which nothing greater can be concieved"

Gaunilo occopies himself with islands!!

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KANT

Opposed Descartes claim denying God's Existence is tantamount to denying that triangles have three sides, which is contradictory

  • If one dismisses both the idea of the three sides(predicate) and that os the triangle itself (subject), one if left with no contradiction

Opposed Anselm- 'existence is NOT a predicate'

  • X exists tells one nothing about X
  • A predicate must give us information about X
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FREGE

He distinguishes between 'FIRST' & 'SECOND-ORDER' predicates

  • FIRST-ORDER PREDICATES=> tells us something about the nature of something
  • SECOND-ORDER PREDICATES=> tells us about concepts

CRITICISM TO BOTH ANSELM & DESCARTES

  • Both seem to use existence as a first-order predicate, whereas it is actually a second-order predicate
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PLATINGA

THEREFORE

1. There is a possible world in which there is a being that is maximally great

2. It has Maximal Excellence

3. If omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect and maximally great, it is existent in our world

4. Therefore,there is a God

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