The ontological Argument

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  • Created by: Indit
  • Created on: 23-02-16 09:56
What is the Ontological Argument?
A priori, deductive argument based on logic and reason.
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What does the argument work with?
Principles and definitions to demonstrate the existence of God.
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What branch of philosophy is Ontology?
The branch that explores the concept of existence.
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What are the two types of existence that the argument relies upon?
Contingent and Necessary.
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Contingent meaning?
Relies upon other things to exist. There was a time when it didn't exist and there will be the time when it does not exist. e.g; Animals and humans.
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Necessary meaning?
Containing within itself its own reason for existing. Has always existed and will always exist.
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What did Anselm produce?
The argument from the perspective of 'faith seeking understanding' - not trying to convert non-believers.
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What does Anselms argument attempt to prove?
The logical necessity of God using the method of reductio and absurdum.
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What is the method of 'reductio' and 'absurdum'
This shows how absurd it would be for God to not exist!
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How does Anselm define God in his first argument?
'That than which nothing greater can be conceived'.
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How does Anselm continue his points about God?
He says that God exists or doesn't exist. if God does not exist then a greater being can be conceived for example; a God that does exist but this is impossible.
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What is the conclusion that Anselm's first argument comes to?
Therefore to say that God doesn't exist is a logical impossibility. Meaning that God exists in the mind and reality.
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What else does Anselm say about Gods existence?
He says that God is a possible being and if he only exists in the mind and is only a possible being he could be greater than he already is if he existed in reality.
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What does he say in conclusion to this point?
Anselm says that God is a being which greater can be thought. Although this is impossible and God is a being which nothing greater can be thought.
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What does Anselm compare this view about God to?
He compares having £500 in reality and £500 in the mind. Having it in reality is much better than in your mind.
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Does Anselm see perfection in God?
Yes. He sees him possessing all perfections perfectly.
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How does this theory coincide with the existence of God?
Anselm says that for God to possess all perfections then he must also exist.
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What was the name of the person that refuted Anselm's argument during his own lifetime?
Gaunilo refuted Anselm's argument.
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What ere the methods that Gaunilo used?
The reductio and absurdum method.
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What do these methods show?
They show that if the logic of the argument was applied to other things other than God = invalid conclusions.
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What did Descartes do with the word 'God'?
He changed the word 'God' to 'the greatest island'.
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Why did he do this?
Because it led to an argument which had the same form as Anselm's and leads to a false conclusion.
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What does Descartes say about the 'perfect island'?
To conceive of an island in all of its perfections doesn't guarantee its existence or bring it into reality.
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What was Anselm's response to Descartes argument?
He claimed that the challenge revealed a misunderstanding of the arguments purpose.
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What was the misunderstanding?
Anselm's states that his argument was intended to apply only to necessary beings NOT contingent ones. Such as an island which may or may not exist.
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What was Anselm's conclusion about Descartes argument?
He states that at no point can we say that we have reached intrinsic perfection of an island e.g; there could have always been one more coconut tree or another sandy beach.
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How does Anselm describe perfection here?
He describes it as Subjective.
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How and why did Anselm develop his argument?
Anselm developed his argument to demonstrate that it was impossible to conceive of God as not existing. The idea that God is eternal and not limited by, or on time.
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What was the idea included about God?
The idea that God is eternal and not limited by, or on time. God has necessary existence.
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What is the main body of the argument?
God is the greatest possible being, it is greater to be a necessary being than a contingent being.
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Anything else?
If God only exists as a contingent being he can therefore be imagined not to exist and a greater being could be imagined that cannot be conceived not to exist.
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What is Anselm's crucial assumption?
He claims that existence is a predicate of God e.g. a property of God's nature. To be the greatest possible being God must necessarily have the property of existence.
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What did Descartes want to prove in his argument?
He wanted to prove the existence of God using reason alone, rejecting the untrustworthy information gained by the senses.
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What did he use to prove his own existence?
Reason - 'Cogito, ergo sum' meaning (I think, therefore I am)
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What did Descartes think that 'God' believed?
He believed that 'God' meant an infinitely perfect being superior to all beings in perfection.
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What are the 6 points of his argument?
The idea of God is the idea of a supremely perfect being A supremely perfect being has all perfections Existence is a perfection A supremely perfect being has the perfection of existence It is impossible to think of God as not existing.
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What is an Analytical statement?
A statement containing within itself its own validity
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Synthetic?
A statement that requires external validation from observation of the world.
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What does Descartes say about properties of a triangle?
He says that the properties are necessary, IF there is a triangle it must have three angles this doesn't mean that thee are any triangles.
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How does he compare this to God?
He says IF there is a God, God must exist - but the problem is the 'if'
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What does Kant say about existence being a predicate?
He says that whatever adds nothing to the concept of an essence is not part of that essence.
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Can you add anymore to that point?
He says that existence adds nothing to the concept of an essence. Existence is not part of an essence of a thing, it is not a perfection.
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Aquinas rejects Anselms argument how?
He claims that we do not have an agreed definition of God.
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Anything else?
We can reason to God from the effects of God's action in the world. Any argument has to start from experience.
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Finally...
He doesn't consider that week know God's nature, therefore a real understanding is impossible to us.
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However...
Aquinas holds that IF we understand God's nature then we would know that God's nature does have to include existence but as we do not know his existence we have to treat it as synthetic.
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What does Bertrand Russel argue?
Russel argues that existence is not a predicate but rather a term used to indicate the instance of something in the spatio-temporal.
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An example...
'Some tame tigers exist in the world' doesn't tell us anything about their nature but it does indicate that there are such beings in the world.
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How does Russel end his argument?
Bu saying that existence should not be used as an attribute but as an indication of their instance (or not).
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How does Dawkins reject the argument?
Dawkins says that the argument is 'infantile' supporting Russel's claim that it is easier to think that the ontological argument must be fallacious than it is to find out precisely where the fallacy lies.
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How does Dawkins conclude his argument?
By saying that it is impossible for such reasoning that lacks a single piece of data from the real world to lead to such a significant conclusion.
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How does David Hume reject the argument?
Hume considers the argument a failure because of the false assumption that its made about existence - that necessary existence was a coherent concept.
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Can you add to this point?
He argues that existence could only ever be continent. All things which could be said to exist could also be said to not exist.
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Who produced a modern Ontological argument?
Norman Malcom (1911-1990), he accepted Kant was right to say that existence is not a predicate.
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What did he say about God's existence?
If God does not exist today then he never can and never will - his existence must be impossible.
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Anything else?
If God does exist then he must exist necessarily. God's existence is therefore either impossible or necessary.
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How does he conclude his argument?
By saying that God's existence is not impossible. It is not logically contradictory to have the concept of God who exists, therefore, given that God's existence is not impossible then it must be necessary -so God exists necessarily.
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How was Malcoms argument objected?
There can be things that don’t exist without their existence being impossible. It is not illogical to say ‘maybe there is a God and maybe there isn’t’.
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Any other way?
It rests on the assumption that God’s existence is very different from ours.
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And finally...
Malcolm did concede that his argument would not convince atheists, but felt it was worthwhile because the believer would understand completely the necessity of God’s existence.
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Card 2

Front

What does the argument work with?

Back

Principles and definitions to demonstrate the existence of God.

Card 3

Front

What branch of philosophy is Ontology?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What are the two types of existence that the argument relies upon?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Contingent meaning?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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