Reprinted by permission of open court publishing company, a division of carus publishing company, peru, il. The ontological argument is the attempt to prove, simply from an examination of the concept of god, that the being to which that concept would apply must in fact exist. One might put the argument in other words, and argue that god. Saint anselm wishes to convince a fool who can understand the idea of god as a being greater than which cannot be conceived that disbelief in god is logically inconsistent with their understanding. An ontological argument is a philosophical argument for the existence of god that uses ontology.
And finally there is one more strong criticism where anselms argument fails. Speaks january 6, 2006 1 anselms presentation of the argument anselms argument begins with a statement of what god is. An ontological argument is an a priori demonstration of the existence of god. Anselm, descartes, critics, and a contemporary defense luke arredondo ht 503 medieval theology 27 april 20 arredondo 1. The ontological argument describes god as a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, anselm argued that the greatest possible being must exist otherwise he would not be the greatest possible being, although he must be the greatest possible being in every way. Content 1 arguments for the existence of god 2 ontological arguments 3 anselms ontological argument and its formal reconstructions 4 criteria for formal reconstructions 5 central concepts in anselms argument 6 a modalfree reconstruction 7 two modal reconstructions 8 what can we learn. The ontological argument revisited the ontological argument has often been criticized on the grounds that it mistakenly supposes exists to be a pred icate. Anselm, who claims that once we understand the nature of god as a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, we realize that his essence implies his existence. The ontological argument for the existence of god cross.
Mar 23, 2012 evaluate anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. Gaunilo raised an objection to the ontological argument on the grounds that anselms argument can be altered to prove the existence of any concept simply by using the definition that the concept is greater than all other concepts. One must read gingerly through the ontological argument from st. Theologian and philosopher anselm of canterbury 10331109 proposed an ontological argument in the second and third chapters of his proslogion. The word ontological comes from ontology, the study of ology of what exists or being ont.
Anselm proposes that if god can be thought of and perceived, then he must. Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that god exists, from. In other words, for the adherents of the ontological argument, the existence of a greatest possible being is necessary, and he is god. Although this argument has been presented as unassailable and irrefutable, there have been, however, some very important attempted refutations from very reputable and important scholars. Anselms text anselms ontological argument is presented in his proslogion, starting with chapter ii, though where the argument ends is more controversial.
Malcolms version malcolm pointed out the second version of the ontological argument, god is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived. It covers everything in the specification and uses the nelson thornes book as a guide. The argument for the existence of god will always give rise to infinitive points of view. Gods existence, which holds that the idea of god in ones mind is evidence of a. The one fatal flaw in anselms argument peter millican.
Explain anselms ontological argument essay example graduateway. The ontological argument for the existence of god i. This is an a prioriargument for the existence of god. Is the ontological proof of gods existence, by anselm. Deals with the argument as laid down by anselm and developed by descartes. As is clearly evident, the ontological argument rests on the assumption that the concept of god, as it is described in the argument, is selfconsistent. Other ontological arguments must be judged on their own merits. Anselm in the eleventh century, and then criticized by a monk named gaunilo anselms contemporary and later by st. What is common among these versions of ontological argument, including anselm s argument for gods existence, is the claim that it is selfcontradictory to deny the existence of a greatest possible being. We then o er a detailed preparatory study of the basic concepts involved in anselms argument. Anselm of canterbury 10331109 was the first major philosopher of the high middle ages, roughly the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries in european history. As the philosophy of aristotle, and his muslim commentators, was introduced into the universities, it was seen as a threat to traditional christian belief.
I the other a priori argument due originally to anselm is the ontological argument i the ontological argument comes in various forms, but the common element is that it asserts that gods existence can be proven simply from the concept of god. Immanuel kant 17241804 claimed that there are only three possi ble ways of proving the existence of god by means. Anselms text anselms ontological argument is presented in his proslogion, starting with chapter ii, though where. We rst present a number of requirements that any successful reconstruction should meet. The ontological argument for the existence of god is the only a priori argument for gods existence. Descartes ontological argument stanford encyclopedia of. As clearly as possible, restate anselms ontological argument. The ontological argument st anselm and descartes both famously presented an ontological argument for the existence of god. Anselm begins with a stipulative definition of god as a being than which no greater being can be conceived. Ontological argument for gods existence one of the most fascinating arguments for the existence of an allperfect god is the ontological argument.
If you have a particular issue with anselms ontological argument, you will automatically disagree with what im proposing here and i should note that im not entirely sold on this argument either. Anselm, offered an early and influential reply to the ontological argument. Anselm 10331109 who was an archbishop of canterbury and abbot of bec. Kants background to the ontological argument immanuel kant 17241804 does not seem to show familiarity with anselms version of the ontological argument, and it appears that he is responding to its less impressive forms found in the writings of rene descartes 15961650 and christian wolff 16791754. Why the ontological proof of gods existence is bullshit. More specifically, ontological arguments tend to start with an a priori theory about the organization of the universe. Immanuel kant 1724 1804, offered what many believe to be a damning critique of anselms ontological argument. Is the ontological proof of gods existence, by anselm, godel. A resources and revision website for a level religious studies, ocr, aqa and edexcel. Anselm reasoned that, if such a being fails to exist, then a greater. The argument according to anselm and its metaphysical interpretation according to kant jeanluc marion. If a painter preconceives an idea for a work of art, the finished product will always be superior to the idea of it alone. In this paper, we discuss formal reconstructions of anselms ontological argument.
Anselm 10331109 of canterbury was born in aosta, italy. Speaks january 6, 2006 1 anselm s presentation of the argument anselm s argument begins with a statement of what god is. Anselms response focuses on his position that god alone cannot be conceived not to exist. Anselms reasoning was that, if a being existed only in the mind but not in reality, then a greater being was conceivable a being which exists both in the mind. The ontological argument of anselm of canterbury has long since captivated the minds of many philosophers and apologists. This leads stewart, in his influential paper, to conclude that the ontological argument, as such, is never considered by hume. Evaluate anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. The ontological argument from st anselm, proslogium, trans. Explain the ontological argument from anselms perspective. Anselm of canterbury is most famous for his ontological argument for the existence of god, which is that god is the greatest necessary being that which may be thought of paraphrase.
The ontological argument is a priori, it comes before evidence and relies on reason, e. It was critized and somewhat ambivalently rejected by thomas aquinas. Anselm s ontological argument for the existence of god. The ontological argument from anselm and descartes, and challenges to it from gaunilo and kant for medieval theologians, the existence of god was a given there was no need to debate it. Anselm defined god as a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists, and argued that this being must exist in the mind. Anselm 10331109 was archbishop of canterbury and wrote many influential works, including his proslogium, monologium and cur deus homo. Let us return to our discussion of unicorns and god. Anselm then imagines a character, the fool, who denies that god exists. However, i do wonder if something like anselms ontological argument can be tweaked to support the universalist position. Now we believe that you are are something than which nothing greater can be thought.
My aim is to demonstrate that the significance of this. This is an a priori argument for the existence of god. About the work although anselms argument for gods existence presented in this article is based on predominately on reason, anselm presents the argument as clari. He has forcefully argued that kants objection does not conflict with anything in anselms argument. A modern advocate of the ontological argument is alvin plantinga b. Anselm of canterburys ontological argument the postbarthian. Anselm s argument together with gaunilos, aquinas and kants objections are conveniently summarized by kenneth einar himma in the internet encyclopedia of philosophy.
Anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. Saint anselm of canterbury offered several arguments for the existence of god. Wikipedias reprint from the scholarly 1911 encyclopedia britannica on anselms life and works anselm, the ontological argument a short selection of anselms argument from proslogium 2 in the online reading for philosophical inquiry on this site. Project muse is the ontological argument ontological. Anselme du bec after his monastery, was an italian benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the catholic church, who held the office of archbishop of canterbury from 1093 to 1109. Feb 12, 2015 it is widely accepted that the first ontological argument was proposed by anselm of canterbury in his 1078 work proslogion. But many philosophers are skeptical about this underlying assumption. That ontological argument is the subject of this article, and henceforth i shall call it the ontological.
A good discussion with extensive links to the history, classification, and classic objections to. Moreover, anselms argument was shown to be a valid argument, with a conclusion that follows from the premises. Anselm s famous, or some might say infamous ontological argument, is found in chapters 2 and 3 of the proslogion. Anselm had a clear understanding of an all knowing, all powerful and an all loving god, thus believing god exists. The first ontological argument in the western christian tradition was proposed by anselm of canterbury in his 1078 work proslogion. The ontological argument for gods existence has taken several different forms throughout history, but the most popular version is that of the 11th century philosopher and theologian saint anselm of canterbury. Ontological arguments stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. I am going to argue i that the way in which this criticism is usually presented is faulty, 2 that these faults result from overlooking certain basic features of the concept of existence.
Anselm means when he writes there is only one way god can be conceived not to. He has two versions of it, and they are the most widely discussed among the many versions of this argument. Jul 15, 2015 a powerpoint on anselm s ontological argument. Apr 11, 2012 the ontological argument is widely thought to have been first clearly articulated by st. Matthews and lynne rudder baker the ontological argument in anselms proslogion ii continues to generate a remarkable store of sophisticated commentary and criticism. Pdf in this article i offer a new interpretation of saint anselms ontological argument. However, in our opinion, much of this literature ignores or misrepresents the elegant simplicity of the original argument.
Anselm 10331109, archbishop of canterbury, presents one of the most famous arguments for gods existence. I shall take it for granted that the connection between what i call ontological arguments and traditional presenta tions of the ontological argument there is, of course, no one argument that can be called the ontological argument is plain. I believe, as many scholars do, that descartes and anselms arguments share several significant features and so may be thought of as alike in kind. St anselms ontological argument is a deductive, priori, analytic argument which seeks to establish the existence of god by understanding the attributes of god in the sense of classic theism. This entry is a good place to start for clarification of the above notes to the argument. We saw in our discussion of anselm that anselm was trying to provide a reductio ad absurdum of the atheists position, by showing that the supposition that god does not exist in reality leads to an absurdity.
The form of the argument is that of a reductio ad absurdum argument. Ontological argument for the gods existence internet. The honor of being the first to present this argument fully and clearly belongs to saint anselm of canterbury 10331109. Anselms ontological argument is an a priori proof of gods existence. Thomas aquinas in the th century, it was revived in the 17th century by rene des. Descartes ontological argument i in the fifth meditation, descartes is considering various mathematical and conceptual truths i for instance, we know simply by analyzing the concept \triangle that the interior angles of a triangle equal two right angles i likewise, we know by the concept \mountain that wherever there is a mountain there is a valley. While there are several different versions of the argument, all purport to show that it is selfcontradictory to deny that there exists a greatest possible being. Anselms famous, or some might say infamous ontological argument, is found in chapters 2 and 3 of the proslogion.
One of the most fascinating arguments for the existence of an allperfect god is the ontological argument. Anselms versions of the ontological argument descartes is not the first philosopher to state this argument. Types of existence paul tillich argued that god does not exist in the same contingent way that all matter in the universe does. For a long time, the socalled ontological argument was not called ontological at all. He is most famous for his ontological argument, which is one of the most famous proofs for the existence of god in proslogium, as well as for his argument for satisfaction atonement in cur deus homo trans. St anselm the ontological argument pdf anselm does not distinguish clearly between. But, anselm notes, this fool must surely at least be able to understand. The ontological argument to be clear, by the ontological argument, i refer to the traditional accounts as produced by anselm and descartes. Many arguments fall under the category of the ontological, and they tend to involve arguments about the state of being or existing.
What is anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. Proslogion, meaning discourse, was written by anselm. The one fatal flaw in anselms argument 439 gods existence, and another under which it is validand indeed soundbut fails to prove the existence of god. Anselms actual argument, unlike most versions, is an exercise in intentional logic, a fact that has eluded commentators from the time of gaunilon. Anselms argument was not presented in order to prove gods existence. Explain anselms ontological argument essay example.
For anselm does not contingently add existence as a property to god and define him into existence. Even a fool, when he hears of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his understanding. Their versions of the argument are slightly different, but. Anselmo daosta after his birthplace and anselm of bec french. Not long after anselm published his proslogion, his devotional apologetic was criticized by gaunilo, yet anselms argument was taken up by many of the wests most prominent thinkers, such as descartes and leibniz, both. What analogy did anselm used to support the third stage of the first ontological argument. Anselms a prioriargument for the existence of god today we will look at anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. Designed for aqa a2 this powerpoint takes you through the ontological argument.
Anselms name will forever be associated with the ontological argument for. About the work although anselm s argument for gods existence presented in this article is based on predominately on reason, anselm presents the argument as clari. Criticisms of anselms ontological argument the postbarthian. What is anselms ontological argument for the existence of. Anselms argument together with gaunilos, aquinas and kants objections are conveniently summarized by kenneth einar himma in the internet encyclopedia of philosophy. On the logic of the ontological argument stanford university. The third paper, by john rushby 18, deals with anselms argument. Anselm starts with an idea that depends on experience for their justification and then proceeds by purely logical means to the conclusion that god exists. Anselm argued that we can imagine a being which is greater than all else. Eder, ramharter formal reconstructions of anselms ontological argumentdecember 15, 2015 2 31. Anselm has argued that there exists a difference between the concept of unicorn as it exists intramentally and extramentally. Anselm of canterbury, who defined god as the greatest conceivable being.
Therefore the argument works only in the case of god. If we can construct a similar argument to a given argument with the same form as the original with true premisses and a false conclusion, then the given argument is also shown to be invalid. Anselm believes understanding the nature of religious belief is a necessary condition for believing in the nature and existence of god. Humanities wp brp 68hum2014 this working paper is an output of a research project implemented at the national research university higher school of economics hse. We examine the famous ontological argument in proslogium ii. Formal reconstructions of anselms ontological argument. Anselm to contemporary philosophers alvin plantinga, richard taylor on. There are excerpts the works of philosophers who tackled the ontological proof for gods existence, in their own words, with little editorial guidance. A criticism of anselms ontological argument leaving. Anselms argument is an a priori argument that is, it is an argument that is independent of. Perhaps one of the most famous ontological arguments presented was by st. Although anselms argument for gods existence presented in this article is based on predominately on reason, anselm presents the argument as clarification. Anselms definition of god as the being than which no greater can be conceived is impossible to understandthere is no.
Anselm developed a controversial a priori argument for the existence of god. Anselms ontological argument for the existence of god anselms argument is an a priori argument. Anselm gave in, accepted the inference, and produced one of the most famous, intriguing, challenging, and fascinating arguments in the history of philosophy, an argument that was later named the ontological argument from the greek word ontos. Having receded from the forefront of intellectual thought after being refuted by st. Basically, if gods goal is to save all people, or at least as many people as.
Born in the italian town of aosta, located in the province of turin, anselm left home while still in his teens and for three years wandered alone through. Anselm, archbishop of canterbury first set forth the ontological argument in the eleventh century. Ontological argument religious studies alevel revision world. Pdf this paper presents the special issue on formal approaches to. I am going to argue i that the way in which this criticism is usually presented is faulty, 2 that these faults result. Saint anseim and even descartes both introduce it as meum argumentummy argument.1349 976 1075 525 368 625 556 1234 304 425 154 1085 444 420 961 961 1457 670 700 1200 259 759 433 383 1488 774 772 1103 792 1474 842 1244 1222 703 1050 1244 51 345 933 912 796 1161