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Anselm's Ontological Argument Essay

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In Chapter 2 of Anselm's Proslogian, Anselm offers what was later to be characterized as his Ontological Argument, which is an argument for God's existence he felt was so strong that even a fool as is said in Psalms 14:1- "who has said in his heart, 'There is no God'". Anselm's argument is as follows :
1. God is 'that which nothing greater can be conceived'.
2. If someone understands a thing, than that thing exists in someone's understanding.
3. If someone understands 'that which nothing greater can be conceived', then 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' exists in someone's understanding. (from 1 and 2)
4. Someone understands 'that which nothing greater can be conceived'.
5. Therefore, 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' exists in someone's understanding. (from 3 and 4)
6. If 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' exists in someone's understanding, then 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' can be conceived to exist in reality as well.
7. Existing in reality as well as in someone's understanding is greater than existing in someone's understanding alone.
8. If 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' exists in someone's understanding alone, then something can be conceived which is greater than 'that which nothing greater can be conceived'. (from 6 and 7)
9. Nothing can be conceived which is greater than 'that which nothing greater can be conceived'.
10. Therefore, 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' doesn't exist in someone's understanding alone. (from 8 and 9)
11. Therefore, 'that which nothing greater can be conceived' exists in reality. (from 5 and 10)
12. Therefore, God exists in reality. (from 1 and 11).
Anselm's argument not only depends on the idea of something being 'that ...


... middle of paper ...


...ed', and this term is that which Anselm's entire argument rests.
If nothing else, Anselm spurred thought on the existence of God. The language it uses is simple enough to grasp, e.g.- greatness, existence, reality, etc. While it probably won't convince the Atheist that he is in error, it can take an already believing Christian and strengthen his conviction, which may have been the purpose in the first place, as some commentators have suggested that it wasn't intended to be a proof at all (Marenbon 121).



Works Cited

Chambers, Timothy. "On Behalf of the Devil: A Parody of Anselm Revisited." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100 (2000): 102-103.
Cosgrove, Matthew R. "Thomas Aquinas on Anselm's Argument." The Review of Metaphysics 27, No. 3 (1974): 513-514.
Marenbon, John. Midieval Philosophy: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction. Routledge, 2006.



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