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

Does the ontological argument work?

Extracts from this document...


Does the Ontological Argument work? The Ontological argument is an a priori and depends on whether you would take a non-realist or realist view of the argument. If one were to use a realist view of the argument it would collapse almost every time but if you were to use a non-realist view then the Ontological argument makes sense. Whereas the cosmological argument is an a posteriori, which is a synthetic argument and derives from experience to prove a statement or a fact, the Ontological argument is an a priori, which involves analytical statements that are independent of experience. St Anselm wrote in his book, the Proslogian in 1078 in the second chapter that is often known as his first argument, "And indeed we believe you [God] are something greater that which cannot be thought". The argument was a realist argument, realist argument is a statement that corresponds with reality and is true or false depending on the circumstance and if you buy into the ontological argument. Both theists and atheists understand the definition that Anselm gave. He said that it is something to exist in the mind alone but it is so much better to exist in reality, imagining a piece of cake in your mind, wouldn't it be greater if it were there in real life so you could eat it? If you were to apply the same principle to the statement, "God Exists" then analytically the statement makes sense. ...read more.


But Aquinas does agree that the statement "God Necessarily Exists" but as we don't know this to be the case because of lack of knowledge about the nature of God then we must only use statements starting from experience. Immanuel Kant, another critique of Anselm's argument named the ontological argument and had a realist view. He used the correspondence approach because he was a realist (like Aristotle) and that a statement that corresponds with reality and is true or false depending on the circumstance of the statement. He said that we have no idea of necessary being and that God is largely defined in the negative terms than positive terms. Also he says quite rightly that when you say, "God necessarily exists", it only necessarily applies to statements because with words and language are used and could only apply to propositions, not reality and that there are no propositions necessarily about reality. The ontological argument doesn't logically work because yes, you can say that a triangle necessarily has 3 sides and you can also say that a unicorn necessarily has a horn but this doesn't mean that there are any triangles or unicorns. So God doesn't have to necessarily exist, there is just the possibility of God existing. So therefore, to Kant existence isn't perfection because things don't necessarily exist. I think that Kant's argument is very strong because he realises that Anselm's use of philosophical language is flawed because there is no logical explanation to back up the ontological argument. ...read more.


I think that the Ontological argument works very well in this way because Anselm doesn't try to convert people to God but mainly to understand what it means to believe in God, by understanding what it is to know what it means to believe in God rather than Kant's quest for philosophical facts that wont comfort him spiritually. So would God's existence be more like a unicorn (an object rather than a fictional being) or the equator? The philosopher Kant would say that God is like an object. An object can be or not be and no in-between, so God, being thought of as an object could be or not be. Norman Malcolm would reject this because there could be no possibility of God's existence because God is necessity. So there are two sides of the Ontological argument, the realist view and the non-realist view. With the realist view the Ontological argument will almost certainly fail every time because it makes an illegitimate jump between reality and into the unknown (what Aquinas calls God) by de dicto de re. But with the non-realist view the Ontological argument works every time because it doesn't need to rely on logic as much but more to do with faith of a believer. I think that the ontological argument was only supposed to work for believers just to confirm their faith by a non-realist view and that a realist view of supporting the ontological argument will never satisfy the likes of Kant. Philosophy essay on the Ontological argument Matthew Oliver 1 ...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

    to understand so that i may believe, rather i believe so that i may understand", this raises many questions over the true intention of Anselm's argument; if he does not wish to prove the existence of God, rather he wishes to understand God, then surely his argument can offer no proof for the atheist.

  2. Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument

    "It is necessary to assume something which is necessary of itself, and has no cause of its necessity outside itself but rather is the cause of necessity in other things. And this all men call God." Quoted Aquinas. Descartes composed a number of Ontological arguments that differed from Anselm's.

  1. Utopia - The Impossibility of Perfection

    Furthermore, through the ironic contradiction between a blessed anarchy and a benevolent autocracy, the audience is again presented with the paradoxicity of utopian thought as a whole. It can also be argued that Gonzalo's Commonwealth is but a concentrated microimage of the even bigger utopia in The Tempest that is, the play itself.

  2. Ensayo de teoria de conocimiento

    Buscas acerca de las cosas nuevas y encuentras otras. A la larga solo notas que hay muchas cosas por seguir investigando y descubriendo. Por consiguiente, �nicamente apreciamos lo ignorantes que somos en realidad. Para reafirmar dicha afirmaci�n, donde se aumenta la ignorancia al ampliar el conocimiento, �sta debe ser metaf�ricamente

  1. moral argument

    For example, if someone walked into your house and left with your TV, you would expect everyone to agree with you that there exists a principle for all people to not take things which aren't theirs. If someone disagreed with you, you would think they were very strange, or indeed crazy - that something is seriously wrong with them.

  2. Can computers think?

    Without this, and assuming that the mental states actually exist within the physicality of the brain, it seems possible that a machine could be designed that could learn, experience things, and make decisions just like a human and would essentially be thinking like a human.

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