Explain the ontological argument from Anselm and Descartes.

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Gurleen Chaggar                LVI5

Explain the ontological argument from Anselm and Descartes.

"Ontological" literally means, "concerned with being". The ontological argument attempts to prove God’s existence through theoretical reasoning alone. The argument is entirely a priori, meaning it involves no empirical evidence at all. Rather, the argument begins with an explanation of the concept of God, and seeks to demonstrate that God exists on the basis of that concept alone. It does not rely on our observations of the universe, the world around us. It uses logic, and the idea that it is illogical to say that God does not exist, as its main argument.

This argument was most classically put forward by Anselm (1033-1109) in his book entitled "Proslogion". The argument was criticised in his own time and centuries later by philosophers such as Aquinas and Kant. Among those who have supported it lays Descartes. The argument works better for those who already believe in God than for the atheist. It is doubtful Anselm intended for the ontological argument to appeal to the atheist. Kant was the first to name the argument "ontological”. Furthermore, Charles Hartshorne thinks it should be called the "modal" argument, since it relies on the modal categories of possibility, actuality, and necessity.

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Anselm had two arguments in which he develops. The first argument starts off with a definition of God, saying that God is: "A being than which nothing greater can be conceived". Anselm already believes in God and this is significant. He also goes on to say that God is by definition that than which nothing greater can be conceived. This definition is understood by believers and non-believers. Also, it is one thing to exist in the mind alone and another to exist both in the mind and in reality. He then went onto say that it is greater to ...

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