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The Ontological Argument

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Introduction

The word ontological derives for the Greek word "ontos" which means "to do with being", thus forming the bases of the argument. St. Anselm was a Benedictine monk hence this argument was coming from a believer, a theistic stance which later we will see to be one of its downfalls. The argument starts with a definition, 'God is that which nothing greater can be conceived'. Anselm states that everyone is aware of this definition, therefore if everyone understands God is the greatest being God must exist because if God was only in the mind He would not be the greatest being seeing as a being is the mind everybody will agree is far less than a being in reality. Therefore Anselm states, 'God cannot be conceived not to exist. God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived not to exist is not God.' Also Anselm supported this by stating God everyone knows as being a necessary being - therefore he could not not exist seeing as a necessary being is uncaused. ...read more.

Middle

Conclusion. Therefore God exists. He strengthened this argument by stating God must exist in the same sense a triangle must have 3 sides. Seeing as the very definition of a triangle is a three sided shape hence the very definition of God is an all perfect being hence an all existing being. By just considering the definition you are justifying the existence of both the triangle and God. Along with Anselm he said that this concept cannot be used on a being within the realms of space and time because that being would then have limitations hence not fulfil the definition of perfection. Conclusively God is perfect, there can only be 1 absolute perfect, this one being therefore has to be exempt of our world, have necessary existence and hence this is the definition of God. Therefore God must exist. The ontological argument has been widely criticised. This argument starts with the assumption of God's existence. However as Kant stated 'if there is no triangle there isn't three sides'. In the same way if you reverse the ontological argument if there is no God there is no absolute perfection. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is strength above the other arguments put forward for the existence of God. Secondly the argument is based on language although this could be seen as a weakness seeing as language is based on the interpretation of words and hence interpretation can be flexible. On the other hand this is the same language used in secular situations as well and the argument uses words that are defined through non religious example. For example perfection doesn't necessarily have to be describing something religious. This argument because of its properties is a very strong argument for example the fact it is a priori. Throughout the argument the theistic stance comes through. For a believer starting from the same position as Anselm this argument falls into place however for an unbeliever there are problems they cannot assume that God is perfect and hence exists, this itself is what needs to be proved. The argument has faults and gaps and hence the weaknesses do out weigh the strengths even though this is a very strong argument. ?? ?? ?? ?? The Ontological Argument Examine the major features of the ontological argument. To what extent do the strengths overcome the weaknesses? Lily Fox-Davies ...read more.

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