Anselms text anselms ontological argument is presented in his proslogion, starting with chapter ii, though where the argument ends is more controversial. Having receded from the forefront of intellectual thought after being refuted by st. The word ontological comes from ontology, the study of ology of what exists or being ont. Descartes ontological argument stanford encyclopedia of. Matthews anselms ontological argument in proslogion 2 has been discussed and criticized so much that it is hard for us today to see its basic structure. However, not everyone who is acquainted with the argument has been converted.
It is worth noting that anselm actually presents two distinct versions. Anselmss ontological argument is stated, and a few standard objections to his argument are listed. Strengths and weaknesses of the ontological argument. Ontological argument for gods existence one of the most fascinating arguments for the existence of an allperfect god is the ontological argument. Thomas aquinas in the th century, it was revived in the 17th century by rene des. An ontological argument is a philosophical argument for the existence of god that uses ontology. It forms the rst part of an extended meditation based on anselm s understanding of god as that than which. What analogy did anselm used to support the third stage of the first ontological argument.
In the 11th century, saint anselm, the archbishop of canterbury, proposed the first and bestknown ontological argument for the existence of god. He has two versions of it, and they are the most widely discussed among the many versions of this argument. Descartes and anselm show how the supposition that god does not exist leads to a contradiction, and they then conclude that god must therefore exist. It seems at the outset that there is something strange about this argument. Anselm reasoned that, if such a being fails to exist, then a greater. Anselm believes understanding the nature of religious belief is a necessary condition for believing in the nature and existence of god. If a painter preconceives an idea for a work of art, the finished product will always be superior to the idea of it alone. My aim is to demonstrate that the significance of this. Anselm of canterburys ontological argument the postbarthian.
Anselm 10331109 was archbishop of canterbury and wrote many influential works, including his proslogium, monologium and cur deus homo. Anselmss ontological argument is stated, and a few standard st. The ontological argument in anselms proslogion ii continues to generate a. Anselm means when he writes there is only one way god can be conceived not to. Ao1 a examine the ontological argument for the existence of. Anselm presents a philosophical argument for the existence of god.
This argument for the existence of god has fascinated philosophers ever since anselm first stated it. As clearly as possible, restate anselm s ontological argument. Third, it is inconceivable that one and the same thing could have both existenceinreality and existenceintheunderstanding. Revision outline for the ontological argument ao1 a examine the ontological argument for the existence of god. Original german text available online, 628 kb pdf file, maintained by. Anselm stolz, anselm s theology in the proslogion, in the manyfaced argument. Anselm 10331109 of canterbury was born in aosta, italy. Each sheet is downloaded as an a3 word document and an a4 pdf, for compatibility.
Many such arguments have been advanced since anselms, but anselms original argument has remained a popular object of study. Kants objections, plantingas reply gregory robson, duke university i. The structure of the ontological argument is simple and straightforward. Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that god exists, from. Conceptual closure in anselms proof fordham university. An analysis of the ontological argument of st anselm. This website and its content is subject to our terms and conditions. The ontological argument alvin plantinga 1 the third theistic argument i wish to discuss is the famous ontological argument first formulated by anselm of canterbury in the eleventh century. Moa resumed disputes among analytical philosophers. The ontological argument for the existence of god i. Now by conceiving actual existence for a being, what do we give it. An ontological argument is an argument that attempts to prove the existence of god by thinking alone.
One might put the argument in other words, and argue that god. Anselm of canterbury 10331109 was a neoplatonic realist and was often called the second augustine. Anselm s ontological argument for the existence of god anselm s argument is an a priori argument. Jun 14, 2015 this feature is not available right now.
It moves through logical stages to reach a conclusion, which is selfevidently true or logically necessary. 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. Pdf in this article i offer a new interpretation of saint anselms ontological argument. Ontological argument the ontological argument is widely thought to have been first clearly articulated by st. Anselm of canterbury was a neoplatonic realist and was. 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.
Existence is derived immediately from the clear and distinct idea of a supremely perfect being. Ao1 a examine the ontological argument for the existence. Explain the ontological argument from anselms perspective. Introduction hroughout immanuel kants era, philosophers richly debated rene descartess seventeenthcentury reformulation of the ontological argument that anselm originnally advanced in the eleventh century. Anselms ontological argument for the existence of god anselms argument is an a priori argument.
Matthews and lynne rudder baker the ontological argument in anselm s proslogion ii continues to generate a remarkable store of sophisticated commentary and criticism. Speaks january 6, 2006 1 anselms presentation of the argument anselms argument begins with a statement of what god is. Deity, then i call that argument an ontological argument. Ontological arguments stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Anselm claims that we can prove the existence of god, without any evidence from experience, simply by understanding the conceptof god. 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. Sheikh gharawi isfahani has presented one version for the. Descartes ontological or a priori argument is both one of the most fascinating and poorly understood aspects of his philosophy. Anselms argument found in proslogion is arguably the most famous. Navigating a way through the ontological argument by mike tonks. Th is argument takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum. Tes global ltd is registered in england company no 02017289 with its registered office at 26 red lion square london wc1r 4hq. For anselm, mental things that have existenceintheunderstanding exist just as much as nonmental things that have existenceinreality, but in a different way.
Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Leibniz and the ontological argument received 2 february, 1977 i in his comments on descartes principles, leibniz formulates an ontological argument which he attributes to anselm and descartes as follows. Anselm s is far simpler, easier to understand, and more difficult to refute than the modal. Reprinted by permission of open court publishing company, a division of carus publishing company, peru, il. In the present sense of this term, there are infinitely many ontologi cal arguments, all of them valid. Anselm developed a controversial a priori argument for the existence of god. For anselm, mental things that have existencein the understanding exist just as much as nonmental things that have existenceinreality, but in a different way. The ontological argument st anselm and descartes both famously presented an ontological argument for the existence of god. A 10 minute video microlesson that takes a quick look at anselm of canterburys cunning and controversial argument for the existence of god. Many arguments fall under the category of the ontological, and they tend to involve arguments about the state of being or existing.
Leibniz and the ontological argument rutgers university. The necessary being exists that is, a being whose essence is existence or a being which. Aquinas claims that 1 not everybody understands god to be that than which nothing greater can be thought, 2 anselm s reasoning assumes, rather than establishes, the. Why isnt anselms ontological argument used anymore.
These researchers, who concede the modal version of the argument, endeavour to demonstrate its. The unconvinced sense that one cannot argue for gods existence in this way and thus that the argument s logic is flawed. Matthews anselm s ontological argument in proslogion 2 has been discussed and criticized so much that it is hard for us today to see its basic structure. Anselms proof, known since the time of kant as the ontological argument for the existence of god, has played an important role in the history of philosophy and has been incorporated in various forms into the systems of descartes, leibniz, hegel, and others. Anselms argument reconsidered lynne rudder baker and gareth b. He concludes that faith seeking understanding means the attempt to attain a vision of god through an understanding of what the faith says about god. This is an a prioriargument for the existence of god. The honor of being the first to present this argument fully and clearly belongs to saint anselm of canterbury 10331109. Now we believe that you are are something than which nothing greater can be thought. Anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. If one wants to deny that god exists, one has to do one of two things.
Aquinas for example, had been put forward by gaunilo. The ontological argument from st anselm, proslogium, trans. Their versions of the argument are slightly different, but. However, in our opinion, much of this literature ignores or misrepresents the elegant simplicity of the original argument. Matthews and lynne rudder baker the ontological argument in anselms proslogion ii continues to generate a remarkable store of sophisticated commentary and criticism. The one fatal flaw in anselms argument peter millican. The main weakness of anselms argument is posed by gaunilo of marmoutier, a contemporary of anselm, gaunilo posed, using reductio ad absurdum, that if the logic of the argument were applied to anything other than god, its conclusion would be unreasonable. Anselm stolz, anselms theology in the proslogion, in the manyfaced argument. The philosophical consensus seems to be that the argument is hopeless. The unconvinced sense that one cannot argue for gods existence in this way and thus that the arguments logic is flawed.
The ontological argument simple version in meditation 5, descartes argument for the existence of god looks something like this. 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. Conceptual closure in anselms proof tony roark department of philosophy, boise state university, boise, idaho, 837251550, usa received 9 july 2002 revised 2 october 2002 gyula klima maintains that anselms ontological argument is best understood in terms of a theory of reference that was made fully explicit only by later medievals. Fascination with the argument stems from the effort to prove gods existence from simple but powerful premises. Third, it is inconceivable that one and the same thing could have both existenceinreality and existencein the understanding. I shall devote special atten tion to one particular ontological argument, the most modest, since many of its features are shared by all other ontological arguments. Anselms versions of the ontological argument descartes is not the first philosopher to state this argument. 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. What everybody knows is wrong with the ontological argument. What everybody knows is wrong with the ontological. Anselms a prioriargument for the existence of god today we will look at anselms ontological argument for the existence of god. Anselm was the first thinker in the west to present the ontological argument as far as history tells us.
And in the proslogion anselm sets out to convince the fool, that is, the. 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. Therefore god exists when i understood this argument, i later came to like it a lot. My idea of god is the idea of a supremely perfect being. More specifically, ontological arguments tend to start with a priori theory about the organization of the universe. In fact, anselm s ontological argument has provoked a collection of strange, convoluted, and unconvincing responses. The ontological argument to be clear, by the ontological argument, i refer to the traditional accounts as produced by anselm and descartes.
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. While some people are convinced that god exists once they have been exposed to anselms ontological argument, many are not. Jan 06, 2006 anselms idea is that the problem with the argument which leads to c is that 2 is false. The form of the argument is that of a reductio ad absurdum argument. While some people are convinced that god exists once they have been exposed to anselm s ontological argument, many are not. Some of the subsequent criticisms of the ontological argument, by. Anselms ontological argument is certainly one of the most audacious.882 1604 55 136 481 1015 1569 335 263 893 1428 24 808 449 1093 894 56 1107 25 586 366 667 992 155 1053 1025 216 862 559 1354 1009 463 785