The Ontological Argument

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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. I agree with Anselm's assumption that existence is a great-making quality. Therefore, I take the stance that Anselm's Argument is a valid one.

There are so many things that go into supporting an argument like Anselm's. One must definitely consider the epistemological questions, or the "How do we know what we know?" questions. One must also consider how God should be defined, especially since the definition and concept of God is so central to Anselm's point. I take the position that knowledge is belief that is reasonably and logically supported. Knowledge approaches truth, or the actuality, but is not necessarily true. I believe that knowledge is the closest we can get to truth with the information we have access to. Therefore, at the root of all knowledge is a belief that has been supported by other information that we believe. Thus, a belief may become knowle...

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... to be true. Take for instance the Fountain of Youth example. The Fountain of Youth would be greater (or more powerful) than it is if it existed. If existence is looked upon in this way, then it can be applied to everything, including God.

Therefore, if one understands the concept of "that than which nothing greater can be conceived", believes this to be an accurate definition/concept of God, and accepts the claim that existence is a "great-making" quality, then one must concede that God exists. Furthermore, Rowe's point that Anselm's definition of God invalidates his argument, because it later helps proves Anselm's argument, is not valid because, as with the freedom example, it can be shown that for some things the fact that we have particular concepts about them proves their existence. Consequently, I still believe that Saint Anselm has a valid argument.
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