Response To Gaunilo's Argument

analytical Essay
395 words
395 words

To understand Gaunilo’s objection to Anselm’s argument of God’s existence it is important to first understand Anselm’s argument. Anselm contends that the existence of God is shown easily in the very definition of God. He defines God in The Longman Standard History of Philosophy as the greatest conceivable being, “a greater than which cannot be conceived” (p. 309). Anselm continues with the argument that “existence is greater than nonexistence” (p.309) and if God is the “greatest” than he must exist. With this statement Anselm says that if you do not believe that God exists, you are saying that “a being that cannot be conceived as anything other than existing does not exist” (p.309) which is self-contradictory. With this definition, according …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that gaunilo's objection to anselm’s argument of god’ s existence is important to understand. he defines god as the greatest conceivable being in the longman standard history of philosophy.
  • Analyzes how gaunilo disagreed with anselm's ideas for two reasons. one is that he does not believe humans have the ability to understand such a concept.
  • Opines that gaunilo's description of the island as perfect, untouched, superior, impossible for man to discover, is a fool.

One being that he does not believe we as humans have the ability to understand such a concept, as we have no experienced it. He states “We cannot properly form the concept of a necessarily existent being because nothing in experience can price the basis for such a concept” (p. 309). Secondly, Gaunilo makes a comparison to refute Anselm’s argument. He says “We can imagine perfect things that are defined as “perfect” but in fact do not exist, such as a perfect island” (p.309). By making this comparison Gaunilo shows how easy it is to prove something’s existence based off Anselm’s logic. Using Anselm’s argument one could say that the island is “perfect”; if perfect is considered greatest, and existence is greater than non existence then the island must be real. However, the island is not real. It is merely a figment of Gaunilo’s imagination. The island only exists in concept, not reality. If the island only exists in concept, how is it that God exists in actuality using the same reasoning? Gaunilo continues the discussion of the island by saying that if a man describes a perfect, untouched, superior island, that is impossible for man to discover, and says that you must believe the island is real simply because it is so excellent in understanding, then you are a fool. Although the island, in concept, is easily understood as perfect, it does not prove that the island must in fact

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