• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument

Extracts from this document...


A) Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God (18) B) Discuss the view that the Ontological Argument is obviously incorrect as an argument (12) a) The Ontological Argument is an a priori argument which attempts to prove God's existence. Ontology literally means 'concerned with being'. It is also a reduction ad absurdum argument which shows that the existence of God could not be denied because to do so would involve adopting a nonsensical argument. This deductive type of argument attempts to show that the very being or concept of God implies his existence in reality. The Ontological Argument is one of five classical arguments for the existence of God. It moves from a definition of God as being "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" to a proof of God, using a priori logic. It was formulated primarily by St. Anselm (1033-1109), but remains a relevant philosophical discussion today.The argument states that firstly, nothing greater than God can be conceived and secondly, it is greater to exist than not to exist. Thirdly states that if we conceive of God as not existing, then we can conceive of something greater than God (God existing) and fourthly that to conceive of God as not existing is not to conceive of God. Fifthly states that it is inconceivable that God doesn't exist and lastly therefore God exists. ...read more.


However, one does not have to accept that there is a perfect being therefore one does not have to accept the existence of a perfect being. Kant distinguished between analytic and synthetic statements. Necessity is about logic, whereas existence is about experience. He also argued that adding reality to a concept does not make it any better , existence is not a predicate. Hume argued that the description of one can only contain every detail possible but we must go beyond the description itself to conclude whether it exists or not. A thing cannot be defined into existence- no matter how perfect it may be imagined to be. He stated that all the Ontological argument does is place God's existence in philosophically rational terms if he did exist. Since the argument has its defenders and criticisms modern philosophers like Norman Malcolm and Alvin Platinga reformulated the argument in an attempt to revive it. Malcolm agreed that existence should not be used as a predicate as Anselm did in his first attempt in the prosologion 2 but stated that in prosologion 3 Anselm does not treat existence as a predicate. Malcolm stresses that Anselm says that God must exist because the concept of God is the concept of a being whose existence is necessary. He further stated that either God has always existed or that he does not exist at all. ...read more.


The argument more or less claims that since God exists in our thoughts he must exist in reality as an even more perfect being. However, if so why are there no unicorns and fairies since they exist in our thoughts too.. All that can be concluded from this argument is that God exists in our imagining and is totally subjective since he will be a different concept for different people. The argument states that it is better to exist than not to exist however, is it actually better? Not all things which exist are good. It is not better that evil exists nor do everyone want to exist. The Argument also states that God is perfect therefore he has to exist however, the connection between existence and perfection is problematic because everything that exists is flawed. It is almost the reverse that is true: non existence is more perfect than actual existence. In conclusion, the Ontological argument is incorrect since it fails to prove God's existence. The argument has too many flaws even though it starts off with logical and acceptable premises. Not all can conceive of God, some may know the concept of God yet not believe God exists. Since we are imperfect we cannot expect God to exist because the definition we gave him requires his existence. We have no right to talk about perfection since none of us ever experienced supreme perfection so we cannot come to a conclusion that perfection requires existence. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. The Ontological Argument - Critique

    moving then to attribute existence to being a perfection, thus, his argument can be outlined by the following: God can be thought of as a supremely perfect being. A supremely perfect being possesses all perfections. Existence is a perfection. Therefore God exists.

  2. strengths and weaknesses of the ontological argument

    Aquinas criticised Anselm's version of the argument for this reason, and accused Anselm of making an assumption about the definition of God not necessarily shared by all believers. However, if we accept Anselm's definition of God, and thus accept the argument's premises, the conclusion appears to follow logically from the premises- creating a valid, logically sound, deductive argument.

  1. Outline the main features of virtue ethic

    Although this strength shows that not just one group of people can follow virtue ethics and since not everyone can follow these rules, it is versatile so can be changed to suit everyone's needs. A strength such as it centres ethics on the person and what it means to be

  2. Examine the major features of the Ontological argument for the existence of God.

    * He does not believe that God exists. Anselm's goal is to show that this combination is unstable. Anyone who understands what it means to say that God exists can be led to see that God does exist. On this view, the atheist is not just mistaken: his position is internally inconsistent.

  1. Compare and contrast the contributions of Descartes and Humes on the issue of the ...

    Moving from concept to reality Like Hume Many argue agaisnt the ontological argument because they claim it move from an idea or concept to reality, that is just not possible 3. Not great-making quality Kant argues that existence is not a predicate, doesn't tell us what object is like.

  2. moral argument

    the crusades, terrorism, witch-hunts etc.) Atheist Michael Martin explains this by saying that atheists can act morally by attempting to avoid acts which damage society or violate a person's rights. He argues that they avoid these evils because of the negative effects they have on society, and that God has nothing to do with it.

  1. Outline the ontological argument as presented by Anselm and Descartes.

    Therefore God must exist in the mind, as well as in reality. However, if the argument was just to prove God existence, then all that would tell us is that God is like us. He exists. In the next stage of his argument, Anselm went on to demonstrate that God's existence is necessary.

  2. Outline the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

    of this logic used on the existence of God, He argues that such necessary propositions are only true if such being exists. Kant also proposes that the statement ??God exists?? must either be an analytic or synthetic statement explaining the predicate must either be inside or outside the statement.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work