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Explain the ontological argument from Anselm and Descartes.

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Introduction

Explain the ontological argument from Anselm and Descartes. "Ontological" literally means, "concerned with being". The ontological argument attempts to prove God's existence through theoretical reasoning alone. The argument is entirely a priori, meaning it involves no empirical evidence at all. Rather, the argument begins with an explanation of the concept of God, and seeks to demonstrate that God exists on the basis of that concept alone. It does not rely on our observations of the universe, the world around us. It uses logic, and the idea that it is illogical to say that God does not exist, as its main argument. This argument was most classically put forward by Anselm (1033-1109) in his book entitled "Proslogion". The argument was criticised in his own time and centuries later by philosophers such as Aquinas and Kant. Among those who have supported it lays Descartes. The argument works better for those who already believe in God than for the atheist. It is doubtful Anselm intended for the ontological argument to appeal to the atheist. ...read more.

Middle

Anselm says that a necessary being is far greater than a contingent being, which has to depend on something to exist. A contingent being which is dependant, cannot be the greatest conceivable being. He believes this 'necessary existence' quality is unique to the greatest conceivable being and not for anything else with a contingent existence because a contingent being is not the greatest conceivable being that can be thought. For Anselm, God's reality is inescapable and he is trying to express this in his argument. He is trying to understand more fully what he already believes. This is very different from trying to prove God's existence to someone who does not accept it. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) took this argument a little further. He was a supporter of the ontological argument, had to adapt his argument to make it work His version of the argument is some way clearer than that of Anselm. He declared that to say that God does not exist is a logical contradiction. ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead of defining God as a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, Descartes defines God simply as "a supremely perfect being." Overall, Descartes and Anselm both believe in the existence of God. Descartes tried to prove God's existence and he believes that because God is a supremely perfect being, He possesses all perfections. Anselm believes that God exists, he is a believer in God and he tries to prove that God exists in his second form of the argument. For Anselm there is no doubt that existence makes a thing more perfect so to say that the most perfect thing must have existence as one of its characteristics is clearly logical. Hence Anselm's agreement with the Psalmist who says, 'only the fool says in his heart there is no God'. The Ontological Argument claims to arrive at the existence of God by analysing the idea of God and this idea does not depend on experience - it is therefore an a priori argument. Anselm and Descartes expand on this idea and try to prove the existence of God. ?? ?? ?? ?? Gurleen Chaggar LVI5 Miss. Thacker Philosophy Essay ...read more.

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