The Major Features of the Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

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The Major Features of the Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

The ontological argument for the existence of God was originally set

out in eleventh century by St. Anselm in his Proslogian. Anselm was a

Benedictine monk, Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the great

medieval theologians. It has received a lot of both support and

criticism from leaning philosophers. The argument is appeals to those

who already believe in the existence of God than to an atheist. The

argument is entirely a priori; it seeks to demonstrate that God exists

on the basis of that concept alone, and show existence as an

attribute/characteristic of God, in the same way omnipotence and

benevolence are considered to be.

Anselm presented his argument in two stages, with the main idea behind

them being that epistemology is ontology, so that if we can conceive

of X then X must exist. Anslem defined God as 'a being than which

nothing greater can be conceived', and thus cannot just exist merely

in peoples thoughts. He must exist separate from our thought, in

reality. To explain this he used the analogy of the painter,

" For when a painter thinks ahead to what he will paint, he has that

picture in his thought, but he does not yet think it exists, because

he has not done it yet. Once he has painted it he has it in his

thoughts and thinks that it exists because he has done it… And

certainly that greater than which cannot be understood cannot exist

only in thought, for if it exists only in thought it could also be

thought of existing in reality as well, which is greater. (Proslogion,

Chapter 2)"[1]

With Anslem's definition it means that even an atheist...

... middle of paper ... a second point

to defeat Anselm, 'existence is not a predicate', he says that just

because someone says X exists it does not tell you anything about X.

Thus the statement 'X exists' is telling us a property about X, then

'X does not exist' denies that it has this property, but how can God

lack this if it does not lack anything?

Thomas Aquians' compliant about the Ontological argument is it does

not base the statement 'God exists' on a secure basis. It does not

refer to any a posteriori criteria because it is based entirely on a

logical argument. This is not going to convince an atheist because

they have to start with the assumption the God does exist.


[1] Pasted from

[2] Intrinsic maximum - can not be bettered
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