Anselm And Descartes Argument

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In Anselm’s “Proslogion” and Descartes’ “ Meditations on First Philosophy,” Anselm and Descartes offer their own answers to one of the most important questions in life, which is whether God exists. I will point out similarities and differences in the two arguments, and I will argue why Descartes ‘proof’ is more persuasive. Anselm’s argument for the existence of God is quite simple. He first proclaims that humans can grasp in their mind “something than which nothing greater can be thought” (Anselm 7). This “something” is an all-perfect God. Then, Anselm states that, if the all-perfect God existed only in thought, then something greater than the the all-perfect God can be conceived, namely, an all-perfect God that exists in reality. And…show more content…
Anselm’s argument deals with his definition of what God is while Descartes uses the idea that every idea has a cause. This is an important difference because Anselm is able to jump directly to his conclusion, and Descartes still has more work to do to prove his argument. Descartes is then faced with a predicament of establishing who or what created this idea of God. Lastly, another difference is that Descartes discusses finite and infinite substances. According to Descartes, infinite substances are more real than finite substances, and with this fact along with his causality assertion, he is then able to reach the conclusion that God exists. Both arguments start from the same foundation and then branch out from each other until the same conclusion is…show more content…
However, I must first start by mentioning that neither argument are free from criticism. One criticism pertaining to both arguments has to do with the beginning of each proof. As stated earlier, both Anselm and Descartes start with the presumption that they have a comprehensible idea of God. But this statement is open for question because we can not be certain if this is true. Anselm and Descartes do not fully provide evidence to prove that they have this clear idea of God. It is very much possible that this is completely false and then both arguments would be incorrect from the start. However, despite this I still believe Descartes argument is more persuasive, and one reason is because Anselm’s argument is very vague. For instance, Anselm never explains what it means for one thing to be ‘greater’ than something else. This definition is necessary in order to agree with Anselm’s premise that there exists things in reality which are greater than things that only reside in the understanding. Also, Anselm does not discuss what a perfect being is. He claims that God cannot be perfect if He exists only in the understanding, but what exactly does being perfect mean? Moreover, Anselm would then need to be able to provide evidence of how God would meet this description. Finally, Descartes proof resonates with me more because he acknowledges that humans are imperfect. I agree
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