Perfect Island Objection by Anselm of Canterbury

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Due to the preconceptions I have concerning Anselm’s Ontological Argument, as learnt through course research and lectures. I will like Descartes in his ‘First Meditation’, put these preconceptions to one side and present an essay that explores both sides of the argument in an attempt to reach an independent conclusion. However, I hope to reach the same conclusion as I had before – that is, that the Ontological Argument can be refuted on the basis that there exists a fundamental dissimilarity between the concept of existence in our minds, and that of existence in reality. This essay will present two objections to Anselm’s Ontological argument, namely, the ‘Perfect Island Objection’ and the ‘Existence is not a Predicate’ objection, whilst also discussing possible responses to these objections. The Ontological Argument sets out to prove the existence of God, as defined by Anselm as ‘something than which nothing greater can be conceived’. Without this carefully phrased definition, there would be no argument, as the argument’s leap from imagination to reality occurs here, i.e. from God in the imagination to God in reality. This ‘leap’, or crossover, as presented in Anselm’s reductio ad absurdum argument, is where this essay will focus on most in raising possible objections and identifying any fallacies in the argument. Anselm begins by supposing that we, as functional human beings, can understand his definition of God. As Anselm himself puts it, even “when the fool [atheist] hears the words ‘something than which nothing greater can be conceived’, he understands what he hears.” This premise is intended to demonstrate the fact that when we conceptualize something (e.g. God), the thing that we are conceptualising exists in our underst... ... middle of paper ... .... As I have argued, Kant’s objection seems to suggest that Anselm is treating ‘existence’ as a property of God the same as we would treat the property of a square as having four sides. As a definition, this is fine – but one cannot expect God to actually exist simply because we assign ‘existence’ as a predicate for God. Perhaps the ‘Perfect Island’ objection is more intuitive and easily digested, and thus serves as a stronger argument for the layman. But Kant’s objection is important In that it highlights the distinctions between fictitious objects labelled as ‘in existence’ and physical objects in realty. However, I would argue that both objections give us good reasons to reject the entirety of Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the existence of God. Works Cited Simon Blackburn, Think, Oxford University Press Inc., New York, 1999, p. 154 Saint Anselm
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