The Ontological Argument

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Anselm's first ontological argument- the reply to

In Intellectu and in re- The first Ontological Argument

God is the greatest possible being which can be thought concieved (thought)

God may exist either in the mind (in intellectu) or in reality (in re)

Something which exists in reality and in the mind is greater than something which exists as an idea in the mind alone

Therefore God must exist in the mind and in reality

It is greater to exist in reality than in the mind alone. The idea of existing in reality and in the mind has some extra quality that the idea in the mind alone.

Predicate- an intrinsic property or quality of something. So for example, a predicate of God is his existence. Anselm claims existence is a predicate of God. To be God, God must exist. God's existence is analytic.

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The second Ontological argument from Proslogion

God is that being than which nothing greater can be thought of.

Something which can not be thought not to exist is greater than anything which can be not be doubted exist.

 Therefore it is impossible to think that this being cannot exist.

This being is called God.

So basically, God means existence as it is God's predicate.

Neccesary existence- In Anselm's view God can not fail to exist

Contingent existence-Depending on something else to exist. God must exist by necessity as if he was contingent then he would depend on something else and not be the greatest being. You contradict yourself if you don't believe in God.

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Gaulino's response

Gossip! God's existence can be a word of mouth

Defining things into existence- you can not justify the existence of something by just having an idea about it. Middle age philosophers separated this from what is in the mind (de dicto) to what exists in reality (de re).

Gaulino's island- Just because I can think of my most perfect island does not mean it is real.

Anselm's response back:

The island is different- its existence is contingent, God is not

Alvin Plantinga- there could always be a better island.

Final thoughts:

Anselm merely demonstrates what is true, like a scientist repeating his experiment

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Descartes ontological argument- triangles

Descartes says in every person there is a placed idea of God.

Some things just can not be doubted like the truth of mathematics.

Demonstrating gods existence is not about proving the idea of God but is about showing that there should be no reason to judge god not existing.

The nature of a triangle is that it has 180 degrees meaning it is incapable of change. Like god triangles have an immutable nature.


Without knowing what a triangle is we can at least gather the essence of what it is by the fact it has 3 sides to 180. The same thing applies to God, part of his 'essence' is existing. Existing is fundamental to the nature of God. The essence of God is that he exists and existence is a predicate of God.


Existence is perfection as God is not lacking in any way.

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Kant says existence is not a predicate. For example, we can have an idea of what a unicorn is but that does not mean it exists in reality.

Kant says all philosophical statements are synthetic- they need to be proven true.

Peter Gassendi- It is relevant to discuss such ideas if they exist.

Replies to Kant:

Norman Malcolm- neccesary existence could be a predicate of God.

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