the ontological argument

  • Created by: Katy
  • Created on: 13-04-14 21:06

the ontological argument- Anselm

The ontological argument is apriori (gained through experience)

Anselm part 1:

  • God is "nothing than which greater can be concieved (imagined)" he is ultimately perfect 
  • it is possible to think of a greater being that exists both in the mind and the reality and this being would be greater
  • but if god is "nothing than which can greater can be concieved" then he must exist both in the mind and reality and must be necessary 

Anselm part 2: 

  • it is impossible to think that god doesnt exist as he is a necessary being 
  • if god was contingent then he wouldnt be the greatest as we can imagine himn not existing 
  • therefore if god is necessary and "nothing than which can greater be concieved then it is logical to assume that he must exist 
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the ontological argument- Gaunilo

Challenges of Anselms argument from Gaunilo

  • used an analogy of the "perfect island" to challange the 1st part of Anselms argument and show that it didnt work 
  • not valid to move from a definition to existence 
  • imagine the most perfect island because perfection is part of existence means that it must exist to be the most perfect island 
  • otherwise any ordinary island would be better because it exists 
  • Gaunilo said that just because we can imagine something existing doesnt mean that it actually does

Anselm successfully refutes this challenge

  • as an island is contingent 
  • god is necessary and has intrinsic maximum 
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the ontological argument- Descartes

Descartes followed on from Anselm and put forward his own version of the ontological argument 

  • god is supremely perfect,he possesses all perfections and existence is part of existence 
  • therefore god must exist 
  • eg triangles have necessary predicates like 3 side and angles that add up to 180 degrees, if any of these predicates are taken away then it would no longer be a triangle
  • this would be the same principles for the existence of god 

Kants objections to Descartes 

  • existence is not a predicate,adding "and exists" to a definition of something gives it not more meaning 

Extra info

  • Davies 100 coins in the imagination dont spend as must as in existence therefore existence must be a predicate 
  • another philosopher said existence may not be a predicate but necessary existence may be 
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