• 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...

Introduction

a) Clarify the key concepts of the ontological argument for the existence of God. (12 marks) The ontological argument is an 'a priori' argument that uses the definition of God to try and prove God's existence. It was first put forward St Anselm of Canterbury. Anselm described God as 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'. As even an atheist must have a definition of God, God exists in the mind. It is greater to exist in reality than to just exist in the mind. It would be greater for God to exist in reality rather than just exist in the mind. As Anselm describes God as 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' God exists. If God did not exist in reality something that does exist in reality would be greater than God, which under Anselm's definition of God is not possible. Therefore, God exists. Anselm then goes onto prove that God's existence is not only true but that it is also necessary. Anselm attempts to prove this by stating that it can be thought of that something exists that cannot be thought not to exist. ...read more.

Middle

Another modern philosopher to put forward a form of the ontological argument is Alvin Plantinga. Plantinga uses the idea of possible worlds to prove that a being of maximal greatness (i.e. God) exists in our world. For every scenario there is a possible world. For example, there is a possible world where an A grade psychology student would drop psychology and become lazy bum and another possible world where the same student would continue with psychology and become prime minister. These are two examples of possible worlds. There are an infinite number of these possible worlds. Plantinga puts forward the idea of one possible world. In this world Plantinga imagines a world in which a being of maximal greatness exists. This being would have maximal greatness only if it existed in all possible worlds. This being of maximal greatness must also be a being of maximal excellence. A being of maximal excellence must be omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect. Therefore there is a being that is omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect in our world, this is what we call God. Thus God exists. b) ...read more.

Conclusion

Kant said that if you have a triangle it must have three sides, however if you do not have a triangle then you do not have it's three sides either. Likewise, if you believe in God it is logical to think that it is necessary for him to exist. But you do not have to accept the existence of God in the first place. The example of a unicorn is useful here. A unicorn must have a horn. However, this does not mean that unicorns exist it just means that if a unicorn did exist it is necessary for it to have a horn; if God existed his existence is necessary but you do not have to accept that God exists in the first place. As Hicks and Hume have said, the ontological argument just makes philosophical sense of God's existence and necessity but only if you accept that God does exist. Finally, Bertrand Russell also rejects the Ontological argument. He states that however much we define something we have to have evidence as to whether it exists. Something cannot be defined into exists; we must have some experience of it to decide that it exists. This is why Russell does not accept that an a priori argument can prove existence. Philosophy (FM) The Ontological Argument 3/7/07 Russell Wright 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Existence of God 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 GCSE Existence of God essays

  1. "Modern visions of the Ontological Argument are more successful than early versions"

    Therefore, God necessarily exists.5 John Hick is the principal objector to this argument because he believes Malcolm jumps from factual necessity to logical necessity. Perhaps the most influential of contemporary modal arguments is Plantinga's version. Plantinga begins by defining two properties, the property of maximal greatness and the property of maximal excellence, as follows; 1.

  2. "The Ontological Argument fails to prove God's existence"

    If the greatest conceivable thing is not God, then the argument would still go on indefinitely. The whole argument would then break down, because the definition of God being 'the greatest conceivable thing' has no meaning to it, and this is the basis upon which the whole argument is built.

  1. Explain the Ontological argument.

    and the sides (predicate) then the triangle is left with no contradiction. One can define an object as one sees fit, but this definition does not always meet the definition in real life. Descartes then goes on to argue that existence is not a predicate.

  2. The ontological argument

    Without further empirical evidence therefore it was said that Anselm's argument was useless. Gaunilo's most famous counter-example was the perfect island, used to undermine Anselm's foundations; We can imagine a perfect island of which it is the greatest that can be conceived, and as it is greater to exist in

  1. The Ontological Argument

    However, the atheist would question who God actually is if he exists, and therefore would not be convinced by this argument. The atheist would also argue that one cannot move from a concept to reality, only to a concept of reality, and that The Ontological Argument's flaw is that it

  2. The ontological argument

    The next classical ontological argument was presented by Descartes. He argued, quite simply, that existence is a predicate of a perfect being: God must exist, because without existence, He would not be supremely perfect. Descartes used the example of a triangle - if we were to imagine a triangle without

  1. The Ontological Argument.

    For Anselm any being that has the attribute of existence is greater than a being that did not have the attribute of existence. Therefore, that for Anselm, 'God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived' means God must exist.

  2. Explain the Ontological

    In the second paragraph he addresses questions that the reader may have about his awareness of the subject. The use of Rhetorical questions in the paragraph make the reader think in much more depth about their answer and the one they perceive him to have.

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