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Does the ontological argument work?

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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