Anselm's Ontological Argument
"God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived"
"It would be foolish to say God did no exist"
"It is evident to a rational mind, that God exists in the highest degree of all"
1. God exists
2. God has and always will exist
What we Imagine to be real is greater than what is in reality.
It is greater to think that God exists than thinking God does not exist
God not only exists - but has neccessary existence
God is an infinte being
God's existence is greater than God's non existence
Reason of God leads to a greater understanding of his existence
Arguments against Anselm
Gaunilo - 'Perfect Island'
- Just because we can imagine something doesn't mean it exists
- Since it is 'perfect' it must exist
- If it doesn't exist, even the most horrible island would be better than an imaginary one
- It does not work with contingent, temporary things
- Islands have no instrinsic maximum
- God is not contingent or temporary - his exitence is necessary
Descartes's ontological argument
"I think, therefore I am"
God - a supremely perfect being
- Because God is a supremely perfect being, he possesses of perfections
- The perfect state includes existence - existene is a predicate of a perfect being
- THEREFORE GOD EXISTS
Predicate - to ascribe to something a quality or property
- Can only apply to something that is perfect
- Only God can have absolute perfection
- To deny the existence of God is as absurd as saying something that already exists does not exist
- God Has existence the same way as a triangle has three sides
Response of Immanuel Kant
- If you have a triangle
- It must have three angles
- But if you do not have a triangle, you have neither it's 3 sides nor it's 3 angles
If you accept there is a God, it is logical to accept that his existence is necessary
HOWEVER- you do not have to accept that there is a God
Necessity is about Logic (whereas)
Existence is about Experience
Existence is not a predicate - you can describe something perfectly, and then add it exists. It is not a quality in a list of qualities.
Response of Bertrand Russell
- Argued that Anselm's use of the notion of necessary existence represented a syllogism
Syllogism - the inferenece of one proposition from two premises
eg - 1. All Greeks are Men
2. All Men are Mortal
3. Therefore all Greeks are Mortal
Existence cannot be a predicate - it is not a property of things
Response of David Hume
- Argued that the description of a thing can contain every detail possible, but we must go beyond the description itself to determine whether or not that thing exists
- Something cannot be 'defined into existence' no matter how perfect we imagine that being to be, we cannot simply derive existence from its assumed perfection
- All the Ontological argument does is place God's existence in philosophically rational terms if He did exist