The Ontological Argument

Here are bite-sized chunks of information on the ontological argument! Which may i add - is likely to be on the exam paper this year as only one question has been set on it. 

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The Ontological argument:-

The ontological argument is by St Anselm of Canterbury which he states in his works - The Proslogian.The argument is A PRIORI as it uses our reason to help understant it. It is as follows:

God is that than which no greater can be conceived, therefore if you conceive something greater that than which no greater can be conceived then that than which no greater can be conceived cannot be that than which no greater can be conceived.

This simply states that God is the greatest being anybody can possibly think of. But to be the greatest conceivable being God would have to exist Because if God did not exist – he would not be the greatest conceivable being because to be the greatest he would have to exist. For example, if we think of having £100. Having £100 in your mind may be good because you can think of what you could possibly spend it on. However, surely the £100 would be greater if it existed? Because if it did you could actually buy things with it and it wouldn’t be a part of your imagination any longer. Therefore, existence is a predicate that God needs to be God as God is the greatest conceivable being, if he didn’t exist, he wouldn’t be the greatest.

Anselm also says - even the fool can conceive that God is the greatest being.

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RENE DESCARTES is FOR the ontological argument.

He states, that like a triangle needs to have 3 sides to be a triangle and all angles must add to 180 to be a triangle, God needs existence to be God. If he did not have existence he would not be God! Like a triangle without three sides would not be a triangle!

Existence is a predicate.

“I think therefore i am” as we can think, it must mean that there is a God to let us think!

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If something is possible, it tends to exist. In a possible world a possible being which is maximally great could possibly exist. Our world is a possible world and it exists, which means God is possible and so God exists as our world does.

NORMAN MALCOLM states that Existence is a predicate to God! Because God is the greatest necessary being and without existence he is not God at all but just a myth like pegasus. Pegasus is not the greatest possible being, and so existence for Pegasus wouldn't mean much. But as God is the greatest he has to have existence or else he could not have created the universe!

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against: Gaunilo states that “ ON BEHALF OF THE FOOL, you cannot just imagine things into existence.” Gaunilo uses the analogy of the Perfect Island to enforce his idea. He states: I can think of the perfect island in my mind, and imagine myself living on it. But just because i can imagine the island does not mean that it exists. Yes, it would be better if it existed, but just because it would be better if it existed does not magically make it exist. Just like God.”

Despite being Christian, Kant was also a known philosopher for being against the argument though he faces his argument more against Rene Descartes rather than Anselm. He states that: Existence is not a predicate. If we think of God as the greatest necessary being, he still has his characteristics such as Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence, etc. Existence does not have to be a predicate of God because he is still God without existence. It is wrong to say that a triangles predicate is that it has to have 3 sides as that is substantial as if it had more sides it simply wouldn’t be a triangle anymore – it cannot be a characteristic but a necessity. And God doesn’t have to exist to be God.  

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kiaya thomas


how come you didnt state how Anselm set up the argument, using the biblical fool? It's a crucial step, without it the argument doesnt make sense.

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