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Explain Anselm’s version of the Ontological Argument for proving God’s existence and Gaunilo’s criticism

Satisfactory Essays
St Anselm’s argument was from a theistic stance, he had produced the Ontological Argument in a time period where the existence of God was a given. It was very rare to find atheists, therefore it may seem that the Ontological argument was used to convert atheists, it was a response to Psalms 14 and 15 which begins as “The Fool says to himself “there is no God”. However, the argument is actually from a “faith seeking understanding” view and only wants to get closer to understanding the nature of God.
The Ontological argument was presented in his work “Proslogion” in two parts. It should be noted that this entire argument was formed from reason which is the process of forming conclusions and judgements through logic. As a result, a prior (first hand) knowledge is used. The first part is focused on proving God’s existence.
Anselm began with his definition of God. That God is “that then which nothing greater can be conceived” (Id quo nihil mauis potest), meaning that it is impossible for there to be a more perfect being. This leads to the first two premises. Firstly, “God is that then which nothing greater can be conceived” and secondly, “Something that exists in reality (in re) is bound to be greater than something that exists in the imagination (in intellectu). This leads to the conclusion, that as God is “the greatest conceivable thing”…it is only logical that God exists “both in reality and thought”. Anselm’s essential claim was that existence was a “predicate of God” which means a quality of God’s nature. As God is the “greatest conceivable thing”, He must be great in possible way which includes existing.
This argument can be understood more simply through the illustration of the painter that Anselm used. For instance, the painte...

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...nt “just because a person can conceive of something great; does not make it exist in reality”. His final point was that if Anselm’s argument can be used as a template to prove the existence of a non-existent perfect island which is far less great than God…then his Ontological argument is flawed.
To conclude, Anselm’s ontological argument is based purely on reason. Therefore, you must already believe in the idea of God existing in order to accept this argument. This is the a priori aspect of this argument. However, as this argument uses your own logic alone, it does pose contradicting issues which Gaunilo’s critique highlighted. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that Anselm’s version of the Ontological argument was based on mind’s logic, rather than revelation as it is very difficult to construct a concept without your environment having an effect on your findings.
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