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

Outline the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Ryan Lynch 12LCH Outline the Ontological Argument for the existence of God. The Ontological Argument, the Greek word ‘ontology’ relating to being, for the existence of God uses A Priori logic and reason, based on premises that are not drawn from or dependent upon experience, to state that God must exist because he is the greatest possible being we can conceive. The Ontological Argument is also deductive and analytic as the premises of a deductive argument contain the conclusion that it reaches and is structured so that its conclusion is the only possible one that could be deduced from its premises. As it is analytic it is true by definition alone and therefore this argument reaches conclusions about the existence of God based on the definitions of God used in its previous premises. The basis of the ontological argument was first proposed by Anselm and later interpreted by many other philosophers such as René Descartes and Norman Malcolm; however each argument only differed because each started with a different concept of God. The Ontological Argument has faced many critics that challenge the argument for not proving the existence of God and each critic highlights the flaws within this argument explaining that these flaws lead to impossible conclusions. Anselm, an Archbishop, was the first to propose the Ontological argument which was included in the second and third chapters of his book ‘proslogion’, a book written as a prayer and/or meditation to reflect on the attributes of God and not originally to prove the existence of a God. ...read more.

Middle

A statement is analytically true if the clauses or predicates within the statement say something necessarily true of all instances of the subject and Descartes maintained existence belonged analytically to God as three angles were analytically predicated of a triangle. The Ontological argument also faces many criticisms by different philosophers for not proving the existence of God. Gaunilo was one of the first philosophers to criticize Anselm?s theory using his ?island? theory. Gaunilo asked people to conceive an island ??more excellent than any other island?? and he suggest that this island according to Anselm?s proof must necessarily exist because an island which exists in reality would be much greater than one purely in our minds. Although Gaunilo?s argument does not directly highlight a flaw it does however show the same logic of Anselm?s argument can be applied to other non-accepted arguments. Anselm responded to this by explaining that only arguments of necessary existence can be applied to the ??that than which no greater can be conceived? theory and the island theory is a contingent object and therefore can always be improved therefore never reaching a state of perfection. Anselm then dismissed any criticisms that did not relate to a necessary existence. Gaunilo went on to further criticize Anselms argument by putting forward the concept that the notion of God cannot be conceived, he goes onto explain that atheists would not accept that God can be fully understood or grasped and therefore humans cannot fully conceive God. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall the Ontological Argument for the existence of God is both supported and criticised by many philosophers. ??That than which no greater can be conceived? is a statement that is interpreted different by many different philosophers and many different people. Many people believe this shows that God is a supremely perfect being and must exist whilst others will fail to understand how God can be conceived by humans because they cannot comprehend a being like God and how this would evidently lead to his existence. I believe that it isn?t possible to prove the existence of God from the concept of God alone because I fail to see how something so advanced can be conceived by humans without any experience of God. The ontological argument provides different theories for the existence of God each with their strengths and weaknesses however to conclude I do not believe that the Ontological argument would convince an Atheist to believe in the existence of God because ??that than which no greater can be conceived?? may be true for some believes it is not necessarily true for others. Only if true premises lead to valid conclusions can a ??deductive?? argument be said to have fully succeeded, this cannot be said of the Ontological argument as it has flaws and many argue its premises do not lead to its conclusions. For example Anselm?s second predicate fails to meet the conclusion that God exists. I therefore believe that the criticisms overpower the arguments explained in the Ontological Argument for the existence of God. ...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

    Kant did not criticise Anselm, although he may have had access to his work, he instead attacked Descartes formulation of the argument. Descartes, in the midst of doubting all he knew, famously reaching the conclusion "Cogito ergo sum", thought that if he could know of God, he could work forward

  2. 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.

  1. Explain the ontological argument from Anselm and Descartes.

    Descartes states that as he has a concept of the most perfect being in his mind, the most perfect being must exist in reality as well. Descartes defined God as a "supremely perfect being". From this definition, Descartes tried to prove God's existence because God is a supremely prefect being, He possesses all perfections.

  2. Describe the main strengths and weaknesses of the cosmological argument for the existence of ...

    If, for example, nothing causes itself how can there be a first cause which does not itself require a cause other than itself?30 William of Ockham raised at least three problems with the Cosmological Argument. 1.) Ockham challenges Aquinas' view that an infinite series was impossible.

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

    Hume fork implies that you can't deductively prove anything about the world, and this objects to Descartes Ontological argument. However Kant objects to Hume's 'fork' because he claims that there are synthetic priori truths. Kant claims that you know a priori that your experiences will always have certain general properties,

  2. EXPLAIN THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS FROM ANSELM AND DESCARTES

    For Anselm, God?s existence is thus analytic. Descartes formulation of the Ontological Argument is based on the idea that God exists to guarantee what can be known. There are important differences between Descartes? argument and that of Anselm. Anselm argues from a definition of God as ?the greatest thought that can be thought?.

  1. Explain the Ontological Argument + Kant's Argument has Finished all Arguments

    It is a predicate of God. Norman Malcolm was a modern philosopher and though he disliked Anselm?s Proslogion 2 and Descartes? argument, he sympathised with Anselm?s Proslogion 3. Malcolm?s version of TWNGCBC was ?God is an unlimited being?. Then if something caused God to exist then God would be limited.

  2. Describe the origins and nature of the Ontological argument for the existence of God. ...

    says in his heart, there is no God.? He uses the analogy of the painter.

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