Anselms Contradiction or Equivocation? (Anselms Proslogion Book 2)

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Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th. In his Proslogion, St. Anselm claims to derive the existence of God from the concept of a being than which no greater can be conceived. Anselm reasoned that, if such a being fails to exist, then a greater being — namely, a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists — can be conceived.

But this would be absurd: nothing can be greater than a being than which no greater can be conceived. So a being than which no greater can be conceived — i. For instance, in the Fifth Meditation, Descartes claims to provide a proof demonstrating the existence of God from the idea of a supremely perfect being. Descartes argues that there is no less contradiction in conceiving a supremely perfect being who lacks existence than there is in conceiving a triangle whose interior angles do not sum to degrees.

Hence, he supposes, since we do conceive a supremely perfect being — we do have the idea of a supremely perfect being — we must conclude that a supremely perfect being exists. Leibniz argued that, since perfections are unanalysable, it is impossible to demonstrate that perfections are incompatible — and he concluded from this that all perfections can co-exist together in a single entity. Anselm, Descartes and Leibniz. Critiques of ontological arguments begin with Gaunilo, a contemporary of St.

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Perhaps the best known criticisms of ontological arguments are due to Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason. However, as Bertrand Russell observed, it is much easier to be persuaded that ontological arguments are no good than it is to say exactly what is wrong with them.

This helps to explain why ontological arguments have fascinated philosophers for almost a thousand years. Anselm presents the ontological argument as part of a prayer directed to God. He starts with a definition of God, or a necessary assumption about the nature of God, or perhaps both.


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For it is one thing for a thing to be in the understanding and another to understand that a thing is. Anselm goes on to justify his assumption, using the analogy of a painter:.

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But when he has already painted it, he both has in his understanding what he has already painted and understands that it is. Therefore even the fool is bound to agree that there is at least in the understanding something than which nothing greater can be imagined, because when he hears this he understands it, and whatever is understood is in the understanding. For if it is at least in the understanding alone, it can be imagined to be in reality too, which is greater.

But certainly this cannot be. From that contradiction, he draws his conclusion:.

Necessary Existence

In order to understand the place this argument has in the history of philosophy, it is important to understand the essence of the argument as Anselm first conceived it. There are various kinds of so-called perfections. Request removal from index. Revision history. From the Publisher via CrossRef no proxy wydawnictwoumk.

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Configure custom resolver. Formal Reconstructions of St. The Ontological Argument and Russell's Antinomy. Sara L. Uckelman - - Logic and Logical Philosophy 18 Ian Logan - - Ashgate. In Defense of Anselm.

Ontological argument

Mark Owen Webb - - Philo 8 1 Anselm's Argument and Berry's Paradox. Chris Heathwood - - Religious Studies 47 3 Millican on the Ontological Argument.


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Yujin Nagasawa - - Mind Peter Millican - - Mind In all instances which we have ever seen, thought has no influence uponmatter except where that matter is so conjoined with it as to have an equal reciprocal influenceon it. In his mind the modified Epicurean hypothesis is credible, because it is based onexperience.

Its bare-bones claim is this: first, we only know contingent things to be real things;second, ideas about things must come from experience; third, the idea of the modified Epicureanhypothesis is from experience; and, therefore, motion comes from matter itself in Part IX, hewill say this is also an a priori claim. From the empirical claim that matter moves, Philoconcludes matter moves itself.

Furthermore, Philo contends that it is absurd to say that there is a demonstrable beingwhose non-existence is impossible. All we know and can possibly know are existing things thatcan be accounted for by the Epicurean hypothesis. There is no being, therefore, whose non-existence implies acontradiction. Consequently there is no being whose existence is demonstrable. I propose thisargument is entirely decisive, and am willing to rest the whole controversy upon it.

If Philo is right, Demea must be wrong. Hume believes that he has undermined theism. And sonaturally does it afford an inference directly opposite to the religious hypothesis!

Anselm & the Argument for God: Crash Course Philosophy #9

If empiricism rules out any demonstrablebeing, the material world cannot also be such a being. Frankly, Charles Hartshorne sees more clearly than Gaskin the serious undermining effect of this inconsistency. Moreover, the unqualified validity of empiricism cannot itself be an empirical truth. So Hume is simply appealing tohis own a priori, against the religious a priori. HeThe Saint Anselm Journal 8. Demea is not arguing that in light of necessarily true premises, weshould conclude that God as a contingent reality exists.

Such a reality would be a necessary,existent Being. His empiricism may successfully account for what can beexperienced in the world, but to refute Demea it has to rely on the a priori claim that the world isself-caused and self-moving to account for motion in the world. To win, Philo has to do morethan show the success of his empiricism. He has to show that what can be known, can be knownonly through empiricism, and, furthermore, that what empiricism knows, i. Furthermore, the confusion gets deeper.

The notion of a sum of objects is an abstraction, not a reality,and it would be incoherent to claim that an abstraction is a necessary self-causing reality. Yet, it is not clear at all how a sum of particlescan be its own self-cause. While the notion of a sum of objects may enable us to group theobjects, we are not entitled to postulate that the sum indicates a distinct reality from thecollection; and for the sum to be a self-causing and self-moving being, it would have to havesubstantial existence greater than the collection of the particles.

However, to say that matter in this sense is self-caused and self-moving is also vague and, hence, cannot clearly show that God does not exist. Hume wants an a priori necessary matter to be identified with empirical realities, and these are notmodally identical. Math and logic are a priori claims as pure reason, but they are not substantive realities, whereasfor matter to cause the universe to exist and to move, it has to be a substantive reality. Thus Philo must be intending matterto be a necessary reality of which we cannot think its nonexistence. However, it is at this point that we have to stop Hume, because this claim is something heflatly says we cannot do when applied to God.

Summa Theologiae 1, qq.

What he says aboutmatter, he prohibits Demea, in principle, from saying about God—the impossibility of the non-existence of a necessary being. But he wants to say more, and for that he relies on the apriori argument. Stove also sees this problem in Hume. Why cannot there be two necessary beings? Quick Upload. Featured Examples. Creation Tutorial. Video Tutorial.


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