This paper will attempt to state and explain the Cartesian Ontological Argument, its most promising lines of objection and some of the replies to these objections. Before studying the argument, it is important to notice that this type argument, unlike causal or teleological arguments, tries to be based on reason alone, not observation. Descartes considers that his a priori claims can derive the existence of God from the very concept of God. The Cartesian Ontological Argument can be formulated as follows: (1) God is that being than which nothing more perfect can be conceived upon. (2) Existence is a perfection.
What I want to know is how we can conceive the existence of something that is beyond all that is conceivable. While there are obvious problems with his logic, Anselm firmly believes that God is the greatest of all beings. This is exactly what Aquinas believes, only his argument is much clearer. First, he asks "whether it can be demonstrated that God exists." This is an important question because if it cannot be demonstrated that God exists, then there is no point in trying to.
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.
The Ontological Argument The Ontological Argument, put forth by Saint Anselm in his Proslogium, attempts to prove the existence of God simply by the fact that we have a particular concept of God - that God is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." Saint Anselm presents a convincing argument that many people view as the work of a genius. It is also quite often considered a failure because, in William L. Rowe's words, "In granting that Anselm's God is a possible thing we are in fact granting that Anselm's God actually exists." In other words, it "assumes the point it is supposed to prove", primarily because is assumes that existence is a great-making quality, and for God to be truly great, he must exist. I disagree with Rowe's point that Anselm's definition of God invalidates his argument because it later helps to prove Anselm's argument.
As I mentioned, Anselm believes that God is the greatest being we can possibly think of. He does this by first trying to prove the opposite of what he really wants to prove. For example, lets suppose God does not exist in reality. We then could think of something greater, a being that has all the same virtuous characteristics as we think God as having, but also being able to exist in reality. He then tries to prove that this supposition leads to a conclusion which cannot possibly be true.
Having established the parameters for this essay, I will first assess the plausibility of Anselm’s version of the ontological argument. However, I will argue that this version of the ontological argument is ultimately foiled by both Gaunilo and Kant. This essay will then argue that the modal ontological argument is the most convincing before concluding that while it alone is not convincing, the fact that it merely requires the possibility of God’s existence rather than the actuality of it, means that it makes the existence of God far easier to accept. Anselm’s ontological argument can be viewed as a proof by contradiction - taking God to refer to Anselm’s “being than which nothing greater can be conceived” : (1) God exists in the understanding but not in reality. – premise (2) Existence in reality is greater than existence in the understanding alone.
How can anyone rationally conclude that there is a God from the simple statement that a first cause is necessary for the existence of anything? A first cause does not prove God, it only assumes that there is a God, at best. Could one not put matter in the place of God in St. Aquinas’s argument and still assume there is a first efficient cause? The theory that matter “is”, is just as plausible as the theory that God “is”. Matter is closed and finite in extent, with no beginning nor end.
If the greatest thing that we can conceive does not exist than we can still conceive the greatest thing that does exist, and that would be God. Descartes views God in a similar way to St. Anselm. Descartes sees God as the perfectbeing while St. Anselm describes God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought.” In Descartes “the Argument from Perfection” he reasons that if existence is one of the perfections and God has all the perfections, then God must exist. Along with these arguments others in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic communities have similar views. Cosmological arguments are... ... middle of paper ... ... one time was not in existence, it has parts that were put together to form the watch, each one of those parts had to be formed and then they were all fit together in harmony to form the watch by the watchmaker.
Thus, Anselm tends to base his argument on the definitions and terminology used. Anselm’s first form of the argument is that God is "that than which none greater can be conceived". Firstly, it must be emphasised that Anselm’s definition does not limit God to being the "greatest" but makes it known that nothing greater can be thought than God himself. Therefore, God should not in any way be linked to terms such as ‘omnipotent’ as terminology such as this limit him to what he really is. With this definition, he attempts to prove that not only does God exist in the mind but also in reality.
In this paper, I will examine the ontological argument of Anselm for the existence of God. Anselm defines God as “that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought,” which means, at least for Anselm, that God must exist because he is the greatest being that can be conceived. Furthermore, he argues that all people, whether or not they believe in the existence of God, at least understand his definition, including the fool who denies that God exist. Anselm, in addition to that, describes two main differences between understanding the definition of God, and understanding God to exist. In the explanation of this argument for the existence of God, Anselm states that God is the greatest being that can be thought and nothing else can be conceived as a greater being than God.