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The ontological argument of Anselm and Gaunilo's response.

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Introduction

´╗┐The ontological argument exists to prove the existence of God using nothing but a priori reasoning. In other words, it attempts to prove the existence of God without physical evidence, using only thought and logic. It has been argued by many that it is not intended to be used to prove the existence of God to a nonbeliever, merely to reenforce the beliefs of those who already believe. This is suggested because in the work of the original author, Anselm, he prefaces his work with the words ?[or I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand?. What he states, in effect, is that he already believes, and he merely used the argument to reenforce this belief. ...read more.

Middle

A being that does not exist is not the best conceivable being. This is the basic ontological argument. This argument is simple in its brilliance ? it doesn't rely on physical proof or particularly difficult definitions. It merely takes the purest idea of God and shows that this definition must exist. Because of this, this argument has remained on the forefront of the philosophical battleground that is religion. However, since Anselm wrote the argument, many well-known philosophers have rejected what he states. Indeed, in the time that Anselm was still alive, flaws in his argument were pointed out by another monk ? Gaunilo. Gaunilo argued that the logic used by the ontological argument was flawed. He did this by using an example ? that of an island, that for whatever reason could not be proven to exist. ...read more.

Conclusion

While Gaunilo's argument seems to fail at defeating the ontological argument, it does at the very least point out a flaw in the logic. To conclude, while the ontological argument at first appears to be sound, it is attackable in many ways ? two of which are detailed in this essay. Because of the nature of these attacks, it is difficult to remain in support of it. As it is, there is a general consensus among modern philosophers that the argument does not stand in its original form. Therefore, it would appear that this argument has not stood the test of time as well as some would claim. Despite this, however, it still remains an interesting footnote, if for no other reason than because of its age, and the length of time that it has survived. ...read more.

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