The Ontological argument


The Ontological argument

  • Anselm's a priori argument aims to prove the existence of God 
  • Responding to the fool who doesn't believe in God
  • God is 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'
  • Things can exist either in mind only or in mind and reality
  • It is greater to exist in mind and reality than in the mind only
  • God has to logically exist for the definition to be true
  • Guanilo: perfect island: logic doesn't work
  • Anselm then explains: Necessary existence is better than contingent existence
  • If God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived then God has necessary existence 
  • Unlike the island which in contingent 
  • Descartes: God possesses all perfections and existence is a quality of a perfection
  • E.g. a triangle has 3 sides and without one side it wouldn't be a triangle: without God existing it wouldn't be a perfect God 
  • Kant opposes Descartes and says that existence is not a predicate
  • God might exist, but you can't prove it with logic 
  • Adding 'and exists' to the end of something does not mean that it exists
  • Things need more than a definition to exist e.g. a unicorn can be defined but doesn't exist 
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