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EXPLAIN THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS FROM ANSELM AND DESCARTES

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Introduction

´╗┐EXPLAIN THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS FROM ANSELM AND DESCARTES (25) The most famous ontological argument is found in Anselm?s Proslogion , chapters 2 and 3, where Anselm offers a reduction ad absurdum argument (an argument whose aim is to show that a proposition is true because its denial entails a contradiction or some other absurdity). Anselm says we need to consider what God is. The answer Anselm comes up with is that God is ?something than which nothing greater can be conceived?. This, he observes, is what ?we believe? God to be. This essay will demonstrate why this is and will also explain the ontological argument from Descartes too. Anselm reasoned that something existing in reality is far greater than something that exists just in thought. If God were to only exist in our minds alone, people should be and are be capable to think of something else that is greater than God and then calling that thought, 'God'. (This is similar to the 'chicken and the egg theory' and can go on forever) It is greater for a thing to exist both in the mind and in reality than for it to exist only in the mind. ...read more.

Middle

This is known as necessary existence, anything which has to exist and cannot fail to exist is said to exist by ?necessity?. Most things that exist depend on something else for their existence. For example, Costa in Aylesbury only exists in reality because someone built it. We cannot say that Costa had to exist, because it was up to the owners of Costa to decide whether or not to build it. This type of existence is called contingent existence. Anselm argues that God must necessarily exist because if God existed only contingently, God would depend on something else for existence, and therefore would not be as great as a being that had to exist and could not fail to exist. The word ?predicate? is used to indicate an intrinsic property or quality of something. For example, a predicate of a particular species of goat might be its form or its horns. In other words, predicates tell us something about the nature of a thing. Anselm?s claim is that existence is a predicate of God (a property or quality of God?s nature). ...read more.

Conclusion

The same can be said about the existence of God. In the same way as a triangle needs three sides, Descartes argues that the “essence” of God requires that He exists. Necessary existence cannot be divorced from the concept of a supremely perfect being. We intuit this in exactly the same way that we might intuit the concept of the number 2, or the fact that a triangle has 3 sides. In the previous chapter of Meditations, Descartes had argued that if a person can clearly see that something is intrinsic to the concept of a thing, then that “something” must be true. There are some qualities that a thing must have for it to be that thing. A triangle must have three sides. A hill must have slopes. A Bachelor must be unmarried. These “facts” are self evident – they do not require empirical proofs in order for a person to accept them as truths. In Other Words: ß Whatever I perceive to be contained in the concept of a thing is true of that thing. ß I clearly perceive that necessary existence is a part of the concept of God. ß God therefore exists. ...read more.

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