The Ontological Argument

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  • Ontological argument claims the statement 'God exists' is analytically true - nonsense or incoherent to doubt God's existence.
  • Once you have understood the meaining of 'God' you must recognise that He exists.

Anselm's First Ontological Argument

  • His first of two ontological arguments can be summarised as follows
  • 1. God is the greatest possible being which can be conceived of
  • 2. God may exist either in the mind alone or in reality as well.
  • 3. Something which exists in reality and in the mind is greater than something existing in the mind as an idea alone.
  • 4. Therefore, God must exist in reality and in the mind.
  • Anselms argument was a reply to the fool who said there is no God, which gave Anselm his starting point. The fool has to have an idea of what 'God' is in their mind.
  • God is the 'greatest possible being' so therefore he is the greatest possible being that can be 'conceived'
  • Greater to exist in reality than in the mind alone. 
  • Thinking about a unicorn and it's qualities does not make it exist; not even in reality. So what Anselm meant was what exists in reality as well as in themind is greater than something that is only an idea in the mind.
  • Anselms argument depends on the assumption that existence in reality and in the mind is greater than existence in the mind alone.
  • Anselms answer was existence is the extra quality.
  • Existence is a predicate
  • Predicate is used to indicate an intrinsic property or quality of something; predicates are something about the nature of a thing.
  • It is part of God's nature that God exists; a predicate of God is God's existence.
  • As the predicate is existence, God has to exist as the greatest possible being. 
  • The idea that exists in reality has the extra property of existence. To be the greatest possible being; God has to exist out of necessity. 
  • The conclusion Anselm reaches is God being the greates being that can be thought of, so he must exist. His existence is therefore analytic.

Anselm's Second Version of the Argument

  • 1. God is that being nothing greater than which can be thought of.
  • 2. Something which cannot be thought not to exist is greater than anything which can be thought not to exist.
  • 3. Therefore, it is impossible to think that this being cannot exist.
  • 4. and this being is what we call 'God'.
  • The second argument holds an essential point that it is impossible for God to not exist. Saying 'god does not exist' contradicts yourself.  
  • Part of God's nature to exist.
  • Contingence and necessity
  • Concludes that God has to exist and cannot fail to exist. This is called 'necessary existence'.
  • Anything which has to exist and cannot fail to exist is said by philosophers to exist by necessity. 
  • Most things depend on something else for their existence 'contingent existence'
  • Contingent existence refers to something which depends on referring to something else to


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