Anselm's Ontological Argument

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Philosophy of Religion (OCR)

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Anselm's Ontological Argument
1 The Ontological Argument is one of the five traditional arguments for the existence of God. It is a priori; i.e it is not dependent on experience but instead attempts to use logical reasoning. The classical versions of the Ontological argument are raised by St Anselm and Descartes, with Alvin Platinga providing a more modern theory. Ontological means "concerned with being"; the argument was named by neither of the these previously mentioned philosophers but by Immanuel Kant.
1.1 Anselm outlined two versions of the argument and these are found in his book, Proslogian (1078) through the form of a prayer, directed at the Fool of Psalm 14 who says, in his heart, "there is no God". His argument is based on a "reductio ad absurdum" which attempts to prove something by reducing the very opposite to being absurd.
2 Anselm's second version of the argument is what he believes to be important in refuting Gaunilo's main criticism of a "perfect island". Anselm's starting point is that God is an absolutely perfect being and one who cannot be surpassed in greatness. The greatest conceivable beings existence cannot be contingent as this would be mean there could be a greater being, with necessary existence. Thus, the greatest conceivable being has necessary existence; i.e. the idea of something you cannot imagine not existing. He concluded that if God has necessary existence then he clearly exists.
3 Anselm used the analogy of a painter to show that God can be understood as a concept and understood to exist. He claims a painter has an idea of what his masterpiece will look like before it's painted; the painter understands the concept of the painting even though he doesn't understand it to exist. After painting his masterpiece the painter will understand both the concept of the painting and of it existing. Anselm is trying to say that even the "fool" can grasp the concept of God.
3.1 Anselm begins his first argument by saying that from the idea of God, we understand a being who is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived". He then argues that the greatest conceivable being would not be such if he only existed in our minds. For a greater being would be one that not only existed in our minds but in reality also.
3.1.1 Thus, as we are imagining the greatest conceivable being, we must be thinking of a being who exists in both our minds and in reality. God must therefore exist in both the mind and reality.
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