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Ontological Argument - Edexcel A2

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Introduction

Essay on the Ontological Argument Clarify the key concepts of the ontological argument for the existence of God (26 marks.) In one form or another, the Ontological Argument has existed for close to a thousand years, yet is noteworthy for other reasons than its longevity. The only a priori argument for the existence of God, it attempts to prove the existence of God using the definition of God Himself to draw out His existence. Although never intended to be an argument for the existence of God, the first record of the Argument is found in Anselm's Proslogium, where he says, written here in syllogistic form, that God must exist: P1: God is the greatest conceivable being P2: It is greater to exist in reality than just in the mind. C: God must exist. This is considered to be a weak argument, and a fellow monk of Anselm, Gaunilo, strongly criticised Anselm's argument in his book On Behalf of the Fool, forcing Anselm to justify his comments. Gaunilo argued that the imagination of something perfect does not automatically mean that it exists; he used the example of a perfect island. Everyone could imagine a perfect island, but that does not mean that it exists. Anselm, in Responsio, retorted by saying that an island, perfect or otherwise, would still be contingent, not contingent, as the God of modern theism would have to be. ...read more.

Middle

After being published in Proslogium, a fellow monk, Gaunilo, criticised Anselm, by using the image of the perfect island, which must exist, according to Anselm. Accepting this criticism led Anselm to his second formulation of what is now known as the Ontological Argument. However, Anselm never intended to write an argument for the existence of God; Proslogium was a prayer or a meditation, and it was only Gaunilo's criticisms that led Anselm to revise his work. From this, it could be debated whether the Ontological Argument, as written by Anselm actually qualifies as an argument. Since his intention was never to use it for the purposes of proving God's existence, it could be argued that, according to the question, the argument is not a proof. However, this did not stop someone like Kant, writing a few hundred years ago, from criticising Descartes' version of the argument. His arguments varied, yet they are all considered to effectively refute the Ontological Argument. Kant's criticisms are contained in his work, Critique of Pure Reason. They are directed towards Descartes, but the objections contained in them apply equally as well to Anselm. A being has formal existence if it is both conceived of in the mind, and exists physically; if it exists only in a conception of the mind, then its existence is intentional. ...read more.

Conclusion

Writing recently, Findlay says that, whilst Kant's arguments are good, they are not fully developed. Instead of arguing against God, Kant's arguments allow for the creation of a formal dis-proof of God's existence. He says that a contingent being would not deserve worship; a necessary being is a logical absurdity. Only necessary being/s can be the object of religious devotion; necessary existence cannot be attributed to an actual existing God, therefore, God cannot exist. Summing up, he says: It was indeed an ill day for Anselm when he hit upon his famous proof. For on that day, he not only laid bare something that is of the essence of an adequate religious object, but also something that entails its necessary nonexistence. There is one further possibility to the solution of this question; the question of whether or not it is ever possible to prove conclusively something's existence. It could be argued that, as an a priori argument, the Ontological Argument is not suited to prove the existence of anything; existence requires investigation, which falls out of the scope of an a priori argument, which is the main point of the Ontological Argument. Therefore, I believe that it is clear to see that the argument has sustained so many criticisms that it cannot be counted as a proof for God, per se, but instead an argument for His existence. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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