The Ontological Argument

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  • Created on: 08-05-22 16:16
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  • The Ontological Argument
    • A Priori
      • using reasoning prior to experience
        • theoretical and analytical
      • deductive: aims to prove without question the existence of God - where others point to his existence
      • God is true by definition
    • St Anslem
      • 1033-1109
      • French monk who became the archbishop of Canterbury
      • wrote the ontological argument as a prayer to God
      • 'Proslogian'
    • The First Formulation
      • Psalm 'the fool says in his heart, there is no God'
        • the 'fool' must have an understanding of God in order to reject him
          • therefore atheists and theists have the same broad understanding of God
      • the definition of God is that which nothing greater can be conceived
        • both the atheist and the theist understand this
          • God exists in everyone's mind
            • the definition of God as being the greatest possible being. it is greater to exist in reality than just in the mind
              • God cannot then just exist in the mind alone as it would contradict his definition
                • God must therefore exist in the mind and in reality
                  • therefore God exists
    • The Second Formulation
      • makes distinction between necessary and contingent beings
      • contingent beings can or cannot exist
        • necessary beings cannot not exist
      • necessary beings are greater than contingent ones
        • If God were contingent, he wouldn't be the greatest conceivable being
          • God must be a necessary being
            • therefore God must exist
    • Gaunilo
      • 'On Behalf of the Fool'
      • also a monk (believed in God)
      • The Perfect Island
        • if you were told to imagine the greatest conceivable island, it would exist in your mind
        • logically, it must exist in order to be the greatest conceivable island
        • this would not 'prove' that the island exists, just because of its definition
          • yet is is non-sensical for it to exist in reality
      • Other Criticisms
        • we believe in things like gossip but that doesn't make it true
        • we do not necessarily have a common understanding of God
        • you cannot fully understand something from description alone
        • can't define something into existence
        • we can imagine God's non-existence as much as his existence
    • Kant
      • circular logic - the definition already includes existence
        • if God exists, he exists necessarily, but he does not necessarily exist
      • existence is not a predicate. saying something exists does not add anything to our understanding of it
        • 100 thalers - you know what 100 thalers are whether they exist or not. saying 100 thalers exist does not add anything
    • Descartes
      • God is a 'supremely perfect being'
        • existence is fundamental to his essence
      • 3 sides are fundamental to the essence of a triangle
      • a mountain requires a valley, the two go together, the same way God and existence go together
        • the mountain and the valley still go together even if they don't exist. God and existence go together so God must exist


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