Ontological argument- Help! Watch

dauntlesstraitor
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I'm doing AS OCR philosophy+ethics, and were currently doing the ontological argument in philosophy. I think I get the general gist of it, but I do not know enough detail to get a C grade, never mind an A grade!

Does anyone know this argument in depth enough to explain what Anselm and Descartes said? Thank you so much!
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ReeceSelby
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Anselm said that God is 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'. He then states that existence in material reality is greater than mere existence as an idea, therefore for God to be the greatest, he must exist outside the mind. Thus, God exists.
Descartes states God as a supremely perfect being, and that if He were truly perfect, existence would be an attribute of His. If He did not exist, He would not be perfect, thus God must exist.

This argument, from both Anselm and René Descartes, attempts to use an a priori, logical deduction to prove God's existence.
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TheBeastHunter_
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What Reece said is right, but it's helpful to note that Anselm had two forms of the argument and he believed that everyone can define God.

The first is as Reece said,

1: God is a being 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'
2: An existent being would be greater than and imaginary being. (An illustration is a pile of money would be greater in real life than in thought)
Therefore: An existent God is greater than a God in thought. The idea of God is surpassed by an actual existent God.

The second, Anselm argued that it's impossible for God not to exist,

1: God is a being 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'
2: Because God is an unsurpassable in every way, he must be a necessary being (as necessary existence is eternal and depends on nothing)
Therefore: God exists, necessarily. (A necessary being cannot fail to exist, only contingent beings do. There is no point in talking about a God that doesn't exist as then it wouldn't be God.)

As for Descartes, Reece is right! You can also add that God is perfect, he must be unchanging and so he must always exist and always continue existing for eternity.

And remember: You use can Kant to criticise the ontological argument and you can use Gaunilo to criticise Anselm, but Anselm replies!

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georgiakirk123
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(Original post by dauntlesstraitor)
I'm doing AS OCR philosophy+ethics, and were currently doing the ontological argument in philosophy. I think I get the general gist of it, but I do not know enough detail to get a C grade, never mind an A grade!

Does anyone know this argument in depth enough to explain what Anselm and Descartes said? Thank you so much!
Descartes used an analogy of a triangle by saying that having three sides is a predicate of a triangle just as existence is a predicate of God. However people argued this by saying you don't have to have three sides or a triangle just as you may not have to have God who exists it is just an idea.
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surprisedcake
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I know others have answered but hopefully this helps aswell.

St Anselm's first argument

Summarized as:

  1. God is the greatest possible being.
  2. It is greater to exist in the understanding and in reality than in the understanding alone.
  3. Therefore the greatest possible being, God, must exist in the understanding and in reality.
  4. Therefore the greatest possible being, God, must exist in reality as well as understanding.

St Anselm’s point is that an imaginary greatest possible being is not great at all because we can imagine a greater being that actually exixts. God, to be the greatest possible being, must exist.

Guanilo's criticism

Summarized as:

  1. We can imagine an island which is the most excellent island.
  2. It is greater to exist in reality than merely in the imagination.
  3. Therefore the most excellent island must exist in reality.

Guanilo thinks you can use this to will any "excellent" being into existence. Guanilo says that the island cannot be real until empirical evidence for it is found. This argument may fall apart at the point where existence is not a necessary condition of being the greatest island, but is a predicate of being a God.

St Anselm’s second ontological argument (reply to Guanilo)

Summarized as:

  1. By definition, God is a being than which none greater can be imagined.
  2. A being that necessarily exists in reality is greater than a being that does not necessarily exists.
  3. Thus, by definition, if God exists as an idea in the mind but does not necessarily exist in reality, then we can imagine something that is greater than God.
  4. But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God.
  5. Thus, if God exists in the mind as an idea, then God necessarily exists in reality.
  6. Therefore, God necessarily exists in reality.

God cannot be conceived not to exist, that which can be conceived not to exist is not God. Islands have a contingent existence and depend on other physical things for their existence. God is necessarily existent, because he relies on no one else for his existence. We can imagine the island as not existing for a variety of reasons, but we cannot imagine God so; for whatever we imagine, it is not God. St Anselm therefore claims that Guanilo’s argument fails because God cannot be conceived as not existing.

Descarte's ontological argument

Summarized as:

  1. God is a supremely perfect being.
  2. A supremely perfect being contains all supreme perfections.
  3. Existence is a supreme perfection.
  4. Therefore, God a supremely perfect being exists.

Descartes ontological argument aims to find God’s existence a priori and use it as a firm foundation for other beliefs. Descartes argued that it was impossible to imagine God as not existing in the same way it would be impossible to imagine an uphill slope without a downhill slope.
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dauntlesstraitor
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Thanks guys!
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