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

Explain the ontological argument from Anselm and Descartes.

Extracts from this document...

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.

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

    no greater can be conceived, could be thought of as a common truth, and any conclusions drawn from this concept could be held as truth. However, even if we were to take a platonic view of the world, we would still have to deny Kant's second criticism.

  2. Does the ontological argument work?

    because you are making an illogical jump in the argument, de dicto de re ("Ontos" deriving from the Latin meaning of an illegitimate jump in an argument). Norman Malcolm, a disciple of Wittgenstein developed on Anselm's second argument as well and said that God must exist because the statement, "God necessarily exists".

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

    Hume argues that workmen have to be judged by the quality of the work they produced. He also argues that one can't attribute to the cause anything more than what is sufficient to produce the effect. His claim was that a more plausible prediction would be a God who had

  2. Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument

    It b) Overall, the Ontological Argument seems to obviously be incorrect and unsuccessful due to the fact that the weaknesses in it are greater than the strengths. For starters definitions are limiting by nature making it impossible to define God.

  1. Evaluate Descartes Method of Doubt

    any moment he could wake up and think what a funny thing it is that he was doing that strange made up dream imagining called philosophy. The possibility that he is at this very moment in a dream state seems to place all our sensory experiences, even ones which are

  2. Explain Descartes' Ontological Argument

    This again rests on the doctrine of clear and distinct ideas. Descartes argues that what one can perceive clearly and distinctively is true. Because we can clearly and distinctively perceive the connection between God and God?s existence, it follows that God must exist.

  1. EXPLAIN THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS FROM ANSELM AND DESCARTES

    The argument continues in Proslogion 3, and it is that it?s simply impossible for God not to exist. I can acknowledge that the existence of someone while agreeing that the person does not have to exist. In the same way, Anselm assumes that even if we know that God exists

  2. Reflection on Descartes' Second Medtitation

    First meditation is about the reasons, why people should doubt everything they know and how can we know reality. This piece of his work is similar to the work of eastern philosopher al Ghazali, because they both assume that we cannot rely on our senses, due to the fact that senses always deceive us.

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