Anselm's Ontological Argument And The Philosophers



Saint Anselm of Aosta, Bec, and Canterbury, perhaps during a moment of
enlightenment or starvation-induced hallucination, succeeded in formulating an
argument for God's existence which has been debated for almost a thousand years.
It shows no sign of going away soon. It is an argument based solely on reason,
distinguishing it from other arguments for the existence of God such as
cosmological or teleological arguments. These latter arguments respectively
depend on the world's causes or design, and thus may weaken as new scientific
advances are made (such as Darwin's theory of evolution). We can be sure that
no such fate will happen to Anselm's Ontological Argument (the name, by the ...

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Boso is forced to agree. This is just like Socrates'
procedure with, say, Crito.
Later philosophers have both accepted and denied the validity of
Anselm's famous ontological argument for the existence of God, presented in both
the Proslogium and Monologium. Anselm did not first approach the argument
with an open mind, then examine its components with a critical eye to see which
side was best. Anselm had made up his mind about the issue long before he began
to use dialectic to attempt to dissect it. "Indeed, the extreme ardor which
impels him to search everywhere for arguments favorable to the dogma, is a
confession his part that the dogma needs support, that it is debatable, that it
lacks self-evidence, the criterion of truth." (Weber, V)
In chapters 2-4 of his Proslogium, Anselm summarizes the argument. A
fool is one who denies the existence of God. But even that fool understands the
definition of God, "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived." But
the fool ...

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things do not fit this quality.
Copleston sums it up succinctly (for Anselm doesn't): "it would be absurd to
speak of a merely possible necessary being (it is a contradiction in terms),
whereas there is no contradiction in speaking of merely possible beautiful
islands.
St. Thomas Aquinas rejects the argument, saying that the human mind
cannot possibly conceive of the idea of God by reason alone (a-priori), as
Anselm might. The argument does not make sense by itself, and must first
provide an idea of the existence of God with an analysis of God's effects (a-
posteriori), to which Thomas turns. I think there is evidence in Anselm's
writings that he would disagree, saying that the idea ...

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Added: 9/4/2006 10:18:30 AM
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