Ontological Argument

  • Created by: xouture
  • Created on: 13-10-15 09:59

Ontological Argument Revision Notes

For: Anselm, Descartes, Malcolm, Plantinga

Against: Gaunilo, Kant, Aquinas

A Priori - The argument does not rely on the evidence of the senses for either its premises or its conclusion, but rather moves by logical steps to a conclusion which is logically necessary. Independent of experience thus do not rely on experience, rely on analysis of an idea. E.g. We do not have to meet any spinsters in order to know they must be female. By understanding definition of God, we can come to see that God exists.

Deductive  - The premises of a  deductive argument contain the conclusion it reaches. The argument is structured in a way to make the conclusion the only one that can be deduced from the premises.

Analytic - It is true by definition alone and so the argument reaches conclusions about the existence of God that are based on the definition of God used in the premises.The argument maintains the the statement 'God exists' is analytically true. We can find out whether or not God exists by understanding the word 'God'. God cannot fail to exist. St. Anselm believed the Ontological Argument succeeded as he thought that God's existence could be best proved by analysing what it is meant to talk about God. 

Context - Anselm's Ontological Argument appears in his book called Proslogion which is an address to God. Anselm was a theist and in his book he was reflecting on how self evident the existence of God was to him - he was clarifying the existence of God to the theist, rather than trying to prove it to the non-believer. The Ontological Argument made the existence of God true by logical necessity and the process of his reasoning led Anselm to attempt to prove the existence of God by means ofreductio ad absurdum. This aims to prove something by reducing to nonsense the opposite of what you are…


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