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

Explain Descartes' Ontological Argument

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explain Descartes? Ontological Argument. The Ontological Argument is one of the only few a prior arguments for the existence of God. The most famous ontological argument is proposed by St Anselm of Canterbury; however Descartes? version is also very well known. Essentially the two versions of ontological argument are compatible with each other. Descartes starts his ontological argument with the premise that God is a supremely perfect being and because existence is a perfection, God must exist. This is not very different from the version proposed by St Anselm in his Proslogion 2. It is worth noting that Descartes? ontological argument is based on Descartes? theory of innate idea and his doctrine of clear and distinct ideas. The former supports the notion that God is a supremely perfect being while the latter supports the validity of the argument. To Descartes, God?s existence is a de dicto necessity, that is, existence is part of the definition of God. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore Descartes concludes by saying that ?I cannot conceive of a God without existence?. Descartes argument, however, is still open to challenges. Just because I cannot think of a God as not existing does not mean that God actually exists. There is no logical connection here. Descartes, however, makes it clear that the bounds of our thoughts are, at least in some occasions, indications of what is possible. This is not because our thoughts creates or influences reality, but because they reveal reality; and so Descartes argue that the connection between God and existence is not something we come up with, but rather something we discover. Descartes argues that as finite beings, we cannot think of a necessary being, i.e. God, on our own. It is the fact that God necessarily exists that makes us think that way. It is worth noting that Descartes argument here is quite similar to Calvin?s notion of ?sensus divinitatis?. ...read more.

Conclusion

The conclusion of Descartes? ontological argument is not that God exists, but that God exists necessarily. Here, Descartes? ontological argument is very similar to St Anselm?s. St Anselm argues that because God is a being ?that than which no greater can be conceived?, God must exist by necessity because otherwise it would not be the greatest being. Aquinas and later, Caterus, argues that it still does not show that God exists in reality. At best, Descartes? ontological argument shows that the concept of existence in inseparable from the concept of God, or in other words, if God exists, God exists necessarily. Descartes responds to this objection by saying that this overlooks two things: first, his doctrine that clear and distinct ideas are true; and second, necessary existence is part of the concept of God entails God?s actual existence. If it is part of the concept that God must exists, then God must exists. This, however, can be said to be an unsatisfactory response, since Caterus? criticism is precisely that a conceptual connection does not point to a connection in reality. ...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

    the ontological; ontological arguments offer no a posteriori evidence for the existence of God, it would thus be logical to assume that they can never offer definitive proof to the existence of God - This is true, of course, unless one accepts a platonic idea of knowledge, in which we

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

    Where Anselm speaks of 'that than which none can greater be conceived' Gaunilo occupies himself with the comparison between islands. An Island can always be bettered, for example, you can always add another tree or lagoon here or there. Islands are also contingent, they can go in and out of

  1. Outline the ontological argument. The ontological argument is based on the idea that the ...

    Suppose God only exists in one's understanding, God could then be greater by existing in reality, meaning a greater God is possible and exists in reality. However, if God is the greatest thing which can be though of then God must exist in the mind and in understanding.

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

    Descartes version: Cause must have reality as it's effect, the idea of a perfect being is caused by God. Therefore God exists. However Hume also objects to Descartes cosmological argument for the existence of God by using his theory of causation in his book 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding'.

  1. Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument

    God's existence could only be impossible if his descriptions were self contradictory and since the descriptions of God are not self contradictory or logically impossible, God necessarily exists. Platinga argued that there is an infinite number of possible worlds and that the possible differences within these worlds would be infinite.

  2. Ensayo de teoria de conocimiento

    estas puedan procesar cosas por su cuenta, luego estas fueron m�s compactas, se usaban para tipiar documentos, luego para guardar documentos y hoy en d�a que no se puede hacer con la computadora. A lo que quiero demostrar con esto, es que de esta manera se genera un nuevo horizonte

  1. Can computers think?

    Ned Block, a prominent and current philosopher who often deals with the topics of consciousness and the mind, expresses similar views. He writes, "even if a high budget government initiative produced a program that was good at passing the Turing Test, if the program was just a bundle of tricks

  2. Reflection on Descartes' Second Medtitation

    Therefore the perception comes only through intelligence and through understanding of the idea: finally, I recognize that nothing can be perceived better than my own mind. Descartes wrote six meditations every one of which is concerning his way of searching certainty and topics of the God and soul somehow.

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