'aliquid quo nihil maius possibit' 'Nothing greater can be thought'
Psalm 14:1 'The fool says there is no God'. He understand the def of God but doesn't believe.
If God exists in the mind (in intellectu) alone then a greater being could exist in the mind and reality (in re). This being would be greater than our def of God and would therefore be God. Therefore God must exist.
Reductio ad absurdum
Anselm is using reason to prove that God exists.
Suppose God only exists in our understanding.
God could be greater by existing in reality
This means a greater God is possible.
Last statement is a contradiction of def of God
1.1.1 Arguing from definition
184.108.40.206 aliquid quo nihil maius possibit
220.127.116.11 in intellectu; in re
'There exists, therefore beyond doubt something that which a greater cannot be imagined both in the understanding and in reality'
18.104.22.168 reductio ad absurdum
1. Suppose God only exists in one's understanding.
2. The God could be greater by existing in reality
3.This means a greater God is possible - one that exists in reality.
The last statement would be a contradiction of the definition of God. This contradiction would be an absurd conclusion. Therefore, the opposite conclusion must be true.
1.2 Second part
God's existence is necessary.
This means there is no possibility of God not existing.
He has a necessary existence because -
nothing greater can be conceived.
to be thought not to exist is inferior to thinking of something that must always exist
God must necessarily exist.
1.2.1 Arguing from necessary existence
22.214.171.124 response to Gaunilo
126.96.36.199 Contingent v Necessary
1)God is the greatest possible being (nothing greater can be conceived).
2)It is greater to be a necessary being than a contingent being.
3)If God exists only as a contingent being, so therefore can be imagined not to
exist, then a greater being can be imagined, namely a necessary being.
4)This necessary being would be greater than God.
5)Therefore, God must be a necessary being, and exist in reality.
2.1 Cogito ergo sum
He sets out to state what we can know for sure.
He concluded his own existence through his ability to think.
He could prove his own existence but not that of others.
A Priori knowledge eg maths, triangles
2.2 First part
God exists as an idea in his mind.Supremely Perfect Being - existence is one of God's perfections
God's necessary existence is contained within our understanding of God as a 'supremely perfect being'.
As imperfect beings we cannot develop the idea of a prefect being ourselves. The idea must have come from the prefect being itself. Therefore God exists.
2.3 Second part
Existence is a predicate - a perfect being must possess existence otherwise its not perfect.
The very essence of God includes existence. God must exist in reality or God cannot be perfect and this would be against the definition.
Its like imagining a triangle without 3 sides.
Contemporary of Anselm. Rejects Anselm's argument that understanding of God leads to God's existence.
We have understanding of many things but it doesn't make them exist. The fact that he argues with Anselm shows that there isn't an agreed understanding of the meaning of 'God'.Uses idea of perfect island which doesn't need to exist
4 Significance of OA for
4.1 Relationship between faith &
Raises the Q - is faith grounded in reason or reason governed by faith.
'Fides quaerens intellectum' - Anselm
He believed reason alone can lead to error and has to be supported by faith. Greater understanding can be achieved through faith.
OA can help develop someone's faith and understanding of God. Strengthen their relationship with God.
Some argue that the OA only works for those who have faith, its unlikely to persuade agnostics or atheists.
Karl Barth denied the possibility of gaining knowledge of God through reason. Barth believed the OA was not to convince unbelievers but offered as a prayer of meditation.
Barth believes that if humans had the ability to use reason to discover the existence of God then faith would not be necessary. Acc to him God's necessary existence is a statement of faith as without God's existence the world etc wouldn't exist.
4.2 Could OA weaken
If God can be proved by reason then there is little or no place for faith.
Anti-realists hold the idea that the truth/falsity of a statement is not about the objective reality but the situation or person. So 'God exists' is true for a community of religious believers as a concept within the community.
If the OA is a part of a community prayer then God does exist for that community. It can't tell us anything about the objective reality.
4.3 Failure of OA to strengthen
Dawkins believes that the OA will not convert an atheist to faith - God Delusion
As it does not prove the existence of God, it has no significance for faith.
5 Modern Supporters
Anselm's 1st argument is not valid because existence is not a characteristic.
Agrees with Anselm's second argument that God's existence is necessary.1. Concept of God is the concept of a being whose existence is necessary2. Its not possible to think of a being that necessarily exists not existing3. Therefore God must exist.
There is a possible world in which exists a being with 'maximal greatness'.
A being only has maximal greatness if it exists in every possible world.
Maximal greatness entails Maximal excellence which entails omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection
6 Objections to the OA
1. Existence is not a predicate or possession that one can have or not have.
2. Can't take an idea in the mind, apply logic and have a conclusion in the observable universe.
Distinguishes between first and second order predicates.1st Order tell us about the nature of the object e.g. colour, size. There is a relation between the two concepts but the concepts are not properties of each other e.g. my horse is brown
Existence is a 2nd order predicate because it tells us nothing about the nature of X. They only apply to concepts and not objects e.g. mammals exist. It applies to the concept of mammals rather than a particular mammal.
Kant argues that we can define a thing as we wish but it might not be the case that anything fits that definition in reality. Existence is not a predicate because it tells us nothing about X. Whereas 'male' or 'fat' do.A predicate must give us information about a thing. To say that a 'thing is' does not.
Analytical proposition - the statement about the thing is contained in the definition. e.g. a square is a 4-sided figure with equal sides. This is a priori. Existence can't be contained inside an analytical statement. Statements about existence must be in synthetic propositions as its necessary to prove existence using evidence (a posteriori). God's existence is synthetic, a posteriori
He rejects the certainty that the human mind has the correct concept of God.
God is beyond human understanding therefore humans can't prove that God exists from the mere idea of God.
Existence of God is not self-evident.
Aquinas' proofs always start from a posteriori evidence and then use reason.
A priori arguments can't prove that God exists as we can't define God (via negativa??)
We only know God exists through the effects of God's work in the world.
Bertrand Russell claimed the OA used the word 'exist' incorrectly.
He used example of dragons. We know what the word means. When saying 'dragons don't exist' it means of all things that exist, dragon is not one of them.
If I say a hamster has soft fur and tiny feet, the intention is to describe the hamster. If I say the hamster exists, it provides an extension to the description, it isn't part of the description.
He says existence is an extension of an intention.
Russell agrees with part of the OA that God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived' but he doesn't believe that this definition proves God existence.