The Ontological Argument For The Existence Of God Essay

The Ontological Argument For The Existence Of God Essay

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In Meditation V, Descartes presents what is now considered the Ontological argument for the existence of God. Descartes claims that as the idea of a “supremely perfect being [God], is one which I find within me just as surely as the idea of any shape or number”, the essence of this idea itself is evidence of God, as for something to be perfect it must exist. Of course, this argument is open to many attacks from those such as Aquinas, Kant, Leibniz, Gaunilo and Hume. Furthermore, Descartes undermines himself with his previous meditations, for instance, in Meditation II, he claims we must question “what is reasonable”, as we do not already know. If we cannot appreciate the definition of reasonable, how are we to understand or even fathom what is “perfect”? Ultimately, whilst Descartes makes a logical argument using his definitions, axioms, premise and demonstration, the premises of which he draws the conclusion are presumed, making his argument flawed.
Focussing initially on Aquinas’s criticism of Descartes argument, we start by focussing on what we define as God. Aquinas argues that “Perhaps not everyone who hears this word "God" understands it to signify something than which nothing greater can be thought”, thus Descartes’ argument is only plausible for those who view God in the same light that he does. Nevertheless, this criticism is easy to solve. If we replace the word “God” with “a being than which none greater can be conceived”, then we instead establish that a being of which none greater can be conceived exists, and we naturally assume that this being is God. Nonetheless, Aquinas continues with a second flaw in Descartes argument, the lack of establishment between physical and mental existence. In light of Aquinas’ criticis...


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...t to be would be a contradiction, for instance, ‘a bachelor is an unmarried man’; A bachelor, by definition is an unmarried man therefore ‘an unmarried man is an unmarried man’. Therefore, to claim ‘an unmarried man is not an unmarried man’ is a contradiction, therefore based on pure reason this statement is true regardless of sense experience. However, Hume claims that “There is no being, therefore, whose non-existence implies a contradiction.” Consequently, God cannot be proved existent on a priori grounds and Descartes argument fails. Nevertheless, an rationalist may argue that Gods existence is a priori synthetic knowledge, undermining Hume’s criticism. Howbeit, as previously addressed with reference to Aquinas, God is not always considered a ‘perfect’ being, thus his existence cannot be true by definition, therefore, it cannot be an a priori truth.
Ultimately,

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