Notes on the ontological argument

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Ontological argument – objections

The main objections for the ontological argument are;

1.       The definition of God.

2.      Existence as a predicate of God

3.      The possibility of having existence claims from definition.

Aquinas’ challenge

·         Challenges both Aquinas and Descartes arguments.

·         Rejects that there can be certainty that the human mind has the right concept of        God.

·         God is beyond our human understanding; therefore humans can’t prove that God exists from their mere idea of a God.

·         The existence of God then is not self evident.

·         Priori arguments to prove the existence of God fail as we can’t define God.

·         We only know God exists through God’s work in the world that we see. E.g. design in nature.

Humes’ criticisms

·         He argued it’s not possible to take an idea in one’s mind then apply pure logic to that idea and then reach a conclusion.

·         Hume also argued that existence isn’t a predicate which something can have or not have.

·         Some would argue that as humans we base our lives on what we observe rather than what we can rationally prove.

·         This would make Humes’ argument strong.

·         To think about God in the mind and then think about God in reality is the same thing.

·         All we are doing is thinking about God and not proving grounds for his existence.

Kant’s criticisms

·         Criticised Descartes saying that existence is a property of perfection and that existence is a predicate.

·         Objects that denying Gods existence is the same as denying that triangles have 3 sides.

·         He states that if we dismiss the idea of both the 3 sides (the predicate) and the idea of the triangle itself (the subject) there is no contradiction.

·         It’s then possible to dismiss the concept of God.

·         Kant argues Descartes defines a thing as he sees fit but this doesn’t mean the definition matches the reality of it.

·         As well as this saying existence is a predicate of God Kant believed was wrong.

·         This would mean saying X exists would tell us noting about X.

·         Kant believed a predicate must give us information about X.

Existence is a synthetic proposition

·         Kant also argued God cannot be placed in a separate category to everything else.

·         Anselm and Descartes have given a synthetic proposition (where the predicate isn’t part of the meaning, to prove it to be true or false experience is needed) to the status of a analytic proposition (necessarily true without fact or experience) and so have broken the rules of grammar.

·         He argued it is not possible to include existence within a analytic proposition as it’s possible to contradict existence as a property.

·         Propositions related to existence then need to be synthetic as it’s


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