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Ontological Argument

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Introduction

a) Explain the Ontological argument from Anselm, and Guinilo's objections to it. (33) Anselm largely bases his argument on a priori principles centered on the very essence of God. He argues for the existence of God with a definition from the bible, as "that than which nothing greater can be conceived". Anselm simply argues in 'The Proslogion' that there must be a God as everyone has an idea of him, therefore he argues that everyone can have a conception of God of "that than which nothing greater can be thought". Therefore God is not a fictional creation as otherwise we would have no concept of him and so he can exist both in thought and reality, he is a supremely perfect being and is not inferior to any thought or idea. There are two parts to Anselm's argument one proving Gods existence and the other proving Gods necessary existence. ...read more.

Middle

However one of Anselm's contemporaries Gaunilo, created an overload objection, where he came up with an alternate theory; where he states that if a person were to describe the ultimate island "it would necessarily exist because of its perfections". Gaunilo believed that Anselm's thought process was not logical due to his process of stating a definition of God to then using this to prove his existence. Gaunilo's example of an ideal and supreme island of a person's dreams does not mean that it has to exist in reality because of its complete perfection. However philosophers such as Plantinga view this is flawed as how can you compare a supreme and ultimate being-God to an island which has no intrinsic maximum and so can always be improved upon? Therefore this criticism is flawed as he is referring to an island which is contingent and so does not have necessary existence. b) ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus distinguishing between an analytic statement; necessity which is about logic i.e. math factual and therefore true and an synthetic statement; existence is about experience. Thus the conclusion is that its acceptable to believe that it is logical for Gods existence to be logical, however it is not imperative to believe and accept that there is a God and he exists. Another criticism is that of the definition of God as the "greatest and most perfect being "-can human beings truly understand and comprehend this concept? Also the thought process which Gaunilo undertakes comes under scrutiny, he moves from a thought of existence of an item to them stating the actual existence of that thing-surely this is not logical and casts dispersions on Gaunilo's argument. Russell uses the Sylogism "Men exist, Santa Clause is a man, therefore, Santa Clause exists" to argue against Anselm's use of 'exist' as a predicate and show that his argument is incorrect as it other wise wouldn't be able to justify such an illogical thing. ...read more.

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