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For being accustomed in all other things to make a distinction between existence and essence, I easily persuade myself that existence may perhaps be separated from the essence of God, and thus God might be conceived as not existent actually. PROP. XI. God, or substance, consisting, of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality, necessarily exists.
"Proof.--If this be denied, conceive, if possible, that God does not exist: then his essence does not involve existence. --Of everything whatsoever a cause or reason must be assigned, either for its existence, or for its non-existence --e. g., if a triangle exist, a reason or cause must be granted for its existence; if, on the contrary, it does not exist, a cause must also be granted, which prevents it from existing, or annuls its existence. "If, then, no cause or reason can be given, which prevents the existence of God, or which destroys his existence, we must certainly conclude that he necessarily does exist. For if it were of the same nature, God, by that very fact, would be admitted to exist. But substance of another nature could have nothing in common with God (by Prop. ii.), and therefore would be unable either to cause or to destroy his existence.
"As, then, a reason or cause which would annul the divine existence cannot be drawn from anything external to the divine nature, such cause must perforce, if God does not exist, be drawn from God's own nature, which would involve a contradiction. To make such an affirmation about a being absolutely infinite and supremely perfect, is absurd; therefore, neither in the nature of God, nor externally to his nature, can a cause or reason be assigned which would annul his existence. Therefore, God necessarily exists. --The potentiality of non-existence is a negation of power, and contrariwise the potentiality of existence is a power, as is obvious. --In this last proof, I have purposely shown God's existence a posteriori, so that the proof might be more easily followed, not because, from the same premises, God's existence does not follow a priori. Imperfection, on the other hand, does annul it; therefore we cannot be more certain of the existence of anything, than of the existence of a being absolutely infinite or perfect --that is, of God. "Our idea of a most perfect being, not the sole proof of a God. --How far the idea of a most perfect being which a man may frame in his mind, does or does not prove the existence of a God, I will not here examine.
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The proposition, God is almighty, contains two concepts, each having its object, namely, God and almightiness. If, then, I take the subject (God) with all its predicates (including that of almightiness), and say, God is, or there is a God, I do not put a new predicate to the concept of God, but I only put the subject by itself, with all its predicates, in relation to my concept, as its object. If we were concerned with an object of our senses, I could not mistake the existence of a thing for the mere concept of it; for by the concept the object is thought as only in harmony with the general conditions of a possible empirical knowledge, while by its existence it is thought as contained in the whole content of experience. Then we have the question coming in, Does God exist? "The ontological proof, which is the first properly metaphysical proof of the existence of God, consequently came to mean that God as the Idea of existence which unites all reality in itself, also has the reality of existence within Himself; this proof thus follows from the Notion of God, that He is the universal essence of all essence. For if it is accepted as in thought alone, we may go on farther to accept it as existent; that, however, is something greater' than what is merely thought. 'Thus were that beyond which nothing greater can be thought merely in the understanding, that beyond which nothing greater can be thought would be something beyond which something greater can be thought. But that is truly impossible; there thus without doubt exists both in the understanding and in reality something beyond which nothing greater can be thought.' Secondly, there are two sorts of objects of thought --one that is and another that is not; the object that is only thought and does not exist, is as imperfect as that which only is without being thought. Undoubtedly God would be imperfect, if He were merely thought and did not also have the determination of Being. But in relation to God we must not take thought as merely subjective; thought here signifies the absolute, pure thought, and thus we must ascribe to Him the quality of Being. On the other hand if God were merely Being, if He were not conscious of Himself as self-consciousness, He would not be Spirit, a thought that thinks itself.
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