The Ontological Argument Presented by Descartes and the Cosmological Argument Presented by Aquinas

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The Ontological Argument Presented by Descartes and the Cosmological Argument Presented by Aquinas

Descartes, often called the father of modern philosophy, developed

Anselm’s argument, in attempting to prove God’s existence from simply

the meaning of the word ‘God’. The ontological argument is a priori

argument, such arguments use logic to prove an initial definition to

be correct. The basis of these arguments depends upon one’s

understanding of the nature of God. Anselm’s definition of God being

“a supremely perfect being”, is the basis of his argument. God must be

such a thing that cannot be thought not to exist if he is:

“Than that which nothing greater can be conceived”. (Anslem)

Descartes points out that if you imagine a triangle, one of its main

properties is that it has three sides and three corners. These are the

predicates of a triangle. Descartes expands his point, this time

referring to the properties of God. If something perfect is imagined,

it must be even more perfect if it was in existence. Furthermore, the

most perfect thing has all properties including existence. Descartes,

therefore, believes, that a supremely perfect being has all

predicates. Hence, if a perfect being has all predicates one of the

properties must surely be existence. Therefore, if God is the greatest

conceivable being and has all qualities, he must have all predicates,

one of them being existence, therefore God must surely exist.

Descartes says that trying to imagine God without the predicate of

existence is illogical, like imagining a triangle without three


In conclusion to Descartes’s argument, if the most perfect thing has

all p...

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... have been

impossible for anything to have begun to exist…therefore we cannot but

admit the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity…”

Furthermore, there must have been a ‘necessary being’ to bring about

this existence, this being God. He evaluated that if God did not

exist, then nothing would exist.

In conclusion, Aquinas presents in his three ways of proving the

existence of God that nothing could have existed without the existence

of another. Moreover, something else must have caused the existence of

this cause. Hence, a chain of causes is brought about. However,

Aquinas emphasises that there must a beginning to the chain of causes.

If the chain of causes is finite, then it means that this being does

not have to rely on anything else to come into existence. There is

only one such being…God.
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