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The Ontological Argument Must God logically exist?

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Presentation on theme: "The Ontological Argument Must God logically exist?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ontological Argument Must God logically exist?

2 The Ontological Argument Four main contributors to the argument Anselm Descartes Gaunilo Kant

3 The Ontological Argument An a priori argument Based on innate knowledge logic Attempts to prove existence of God from the meaning of the word ‘God’ Depends on a particular understanding of God

4 St Anselm of Canterbury 1033 -1109 Book – Proslogion

5 Classical concept of God Omnipotent All powerful Can do anything Omniscient Knows all things, past, present and future Omnipresent Present at every place at same time

6 Anselm’s first argument Anselm defined God as: ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ Everyone must have a definition of God Even the atheist Therefore God exists in the mind Just as dragons exist in the mind And therefore: God must exist in reality because He is: ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’

7 Gaunilo’s objection If I were to describe the most perfect Island Then state that it must exist because of its perfection You would be a fool to believe me

8 Criticism of Gaunilo Not comparing Like with Like Anselm talks of ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ A greater Island can always be conceived

9 Anselm’s second argument Must be more to God than fact that He exists That would make him similar to us Therefore God must be ‘necessary’ That is there is no possibility of Him not existing

10 Anselm’s second argument It can be conceived that something exists that cannot be thought not to exist God must be such a thing if He is ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ This is because something that can be thought not to exist would be inferior to that which cannot

11 Descartes 1596-1650

12 Descartes argument God is a supremely perfect being Existence is a predicate of a perfect being PREDICATE - the part of a sentence in which something is said about the subject Trying to image God without the predicate of existence is illogical Like a triangle without 3 sides

13 Kant 1724-1804

14 Kant’s objection Opposed Descartes Triangles If you dismiss the idea of 3 sides (predicate) And you dismiss the idea of the triangle (subject) There is no contradiction You can define a thing as you think fit But that does not mean it exists

15 Kant’s objection Opposed Anselm Existence is not a predicate To say that X exists tells you nothing about X A predicate must say something about X ‘X is’ does not tell us anything about X If ‘X exists’ tells us about a property of X then ‘X does not exist’ must tell us what X lacks However, how can something that does not exist lack anything?

16 Putting it together Write bullet points that show how you would go about answering the following exam question: (a) Explain the traditional forms of the ontological argument put forward by Anselm and Descartes (33) (b) ‘The criticisms presented by Gaunilo and Kant successfully reject these arguments.’ Discuss (17)


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