The Ontological Argument. “For I seek not to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand” - St. Anselm. There have been many varied reactions to the ontological argument.
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“For I seek not to understand that I may believe,
but I believe that I may understand” - St. Anselm
Charles Hartshorne: the ontological argument is “one of the greatest intellectual discoveries of all time.”
Immanuel Kant: “The attempt to establish the existence of a supreme being by means of the famous ontological argument . . . is . . . merely so much labour and effort lost; we can no more extend our stock of [theoretical] insight by mere ideas, than a merchant can better his position by adding a few [imaginary dollars] to his cash account.”
Whatever you think of the argument, all agree that Anselm’s argument may be treated as a reductio ad absurdum argument. That is, it begins with a supposition (S) that is contradictory to the proposition that one wants to prove. When one examines this supposition against one or more certain/self-evident assumptions (A1, A2, etc.), a contradiction is discovered which in turn demonstrates that the contradictory of S must be true.
Two common criticisms: in the mind alone (and not in reality)
1) It is no more certain that the GCB exists than it is certain that the greatest conceivable island, bunny or basketball player exist. That is, there is nothing special about the idea of God that makes God exist; just as there is nothing special about the idea of an greatest conceivable island, bunny or basketball player exist.
2) It is a mistake to treat ‘existence’ as a ‘real predicate’. That is, when you think of an idea of something and add existence, you are simply saying that the idea itself is exemplified or instantiated. That is, there is nothing special about the idea of existence.
A second proof? (version 1) in the mind alone (and not in reality)