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

The Ontological Argument

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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

    world had a mother, the human race must also have a mother!58 It may be that Russell misses the point here, as Gaunilo did with the 'lost island' when discussing the ontological argument. Neither Aquinas nor Leibniz is arguing that because each event in the world requires a casual explanation,

  2. The Ontological Argument - Critique

    a real coin can be used for buying objects, so in this way, perhaps existence does add properties to an object; however, we are still unable to qualify existence, in the way we may qualify other predicates: to say "some cows exist", makes no logical sense, whereas to say "some

  1. Analyze the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument

    After he finishes painting it, he has it both in his understanding and his thoughts and knows it exists. Gaunilo responded to Anselm's first attempt by stating that Just because we can conceive a perfect island, doesn't mean such a place exists, this is 'absurd'.

  2. Examine the major features of the Ontological argument for the existence of God.

    But this being can be conceived to exist in reality. That is, we can conceive of a circumstance in which theism is true, even if we do not believe that it actually obtains. (4) But it is greater for a thing to exist in reality than for it to exist in the understanding alone.

  1. Utopia - The Impossibility of Perfection

    The result, as Hythloday mythically describes it, is a perfect world in which people leave in accord because they are cut off from the source of greed and envy. In this world, people develop a complete detachment to the unnecessary material life because they do not own anything except for their own bodies.

  2. strengths and weaknesses of the ontological argument

    the island- the God he is defining is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived"- God's greatness is ultimate. Anselm claimed that therefore, the idea of a perfect island does not include its necessary existence, while the idea of a perfect being does entail its existence.

  1. Sartre is a very strong proponent of strong determinism, that is, he does not ...

    The idea that the physical world is constrained by the laws of science is not a new one, nor is it particularly controversial. Nearly everyone will agree that for all practical purposes, science seems to be a valid representation of what goes on in the physical universe or else we

  2. Outline the ontological argument as presented by Anselm and Descartes.

    By this Anselm meant to the eternal and transcendent nature of God. This means for God to exist outside our space and time, but able to create and act within it. Anselm argued that if He did not exist this way, we would not exist either.

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