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Part 1: Analyse the distinctive features of the Ontological Argument.

St Anselm was a scholastic monk in the 11th Century who lived in a pre-modern period in which truth was known universally through religion rather than each person having their own subjective ethics and beliefs. Truth was objective. Anselm believed in Christianity and lived to become the Archbishop of Canterbury in the last 11th century. At the time the argument was not known as the Ontological argument, but was named to be such later on by Kant as Ontology was developed. The Ontological argument is the only a priori argument for the existence of God as it argues that God must exist as it is a self-defining property of God and therefore it is rationally known. Anselm was influenced mainly by revelations from God but was also seen as a mystic as well as religious, but most importantly, he gave God the classic supreme omni attributes. Anselm was not an empiricist and so as a scholastic, was not influenced by enlightenment. He could be seen as a rationalist and his views were before Aquinas and he had not read the works of Aristotle. Anselm begins by defining God as a being which none greater can be conceived and so, he asks us to think of the concept or idea of the greatest possible being and theorises that everybodys idea of the greatest possible being is the exact same, and if you arent th inking of the same being or you argue that your idea of the greatest being is different from everybody elses idea of the greatest being then you are not thinking of the greatest possible being. Anselm supposed that the greatest possible being may only exist as an idea in the mind and he added on, that existence in reality is actually greater than existence in the mind. Therefore we can conceive of a being greater than the greater possible being (in the mind) and this would the greatest possible being (in reality). Anselm then draws the conclusion from this that the greatest possible being must exist in reality as well as the mind. Of course this theory is incredibly problematic, and raises many issues. Firstly, Anselm is arrogantly stating that what exists in the mind must exist in reality. However if I imagine a firebreathing dragon with a mermaid tail, does this mean it exists? Obviously the clear answer here is that it does not. However we cannot imagine something without giving it the attributes (both physical and mental) which we actually can conceive on and therefore exist. Anselm draws from this that we can imagine a greatest possible being with the greatest attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence etc) and because we can imagine it it must exist, and will have the property of existence, which will actually make it better than the greatest possible being in the mind. However Kant argues that existence is not a property and nothing actually differs from the imagination of the greatest being in your mind and the greatest being in reality. Plato may also have argue that existence rationally (within the mind) is actually greater than existence in reality as in the mind, it would exist necessarily and immutably rather than contingently and mutably in reality. Furthermore, a necessary being is much greater than a contingent being, and if God exists as a contingent being then God could be imagined not to exist. However, the greater being

cannot be imagined not to exist and is therefore necessary (as God is) and Anselm draws from this, that God must exist in reality. If something can be thought to exist it cannot be thought not to exist, as this would be analytically contradictory. Essentially if you can think of a being greater than the greatest possible being as a though, then it is not the greatest possible being. Therefore the thought proves that the absolute greatest possible being must exist in reality to truly be the greatest possible being. Gaunilo initially criticises this argument by using his own analogy of the lost island and he argues that similarly to Anselm we must imagine something that is the greatest possible (an island), and he agrees that something which exists in reality is actually greater than that which exists merely as an idea in the mind. He points out that the greatest possible of something must have the greatest possible properties and as Anselm made clear, existence is a property. Therefore if the greatest possible Island did not exist, then there must be an island greater than this which does have the property of existence. Gaunilo draws the conclusion from this that the lost island must exist both in reality and in the mind to be the greatest possible being. However it has been argued that Gaunilos criticisms are flawed as islands have no intrinsic values or maxims which can make them the greatest possible whereas God actually does have attributed which can be maximised to make him the greatest possible being (love, power etc), and so he can actually be perfect, yet an island cannot. Essentially, pointing out that Gaunilos analogy is a poor one. Furthermore islands are actually limited in themselves as it is defined in itself as an island. Whereas in Anselms argument, he does not group God into a category and therefore limit the power or maxims that God could possess. Ultimately, the argument is that although the greatest possible island is the greatest possible island it is not the greatest possible being and thus the greatest possible being could be greater than the greatest possible island as it is non-island and is not restricted. Descartes developed his own version of the Ontological argument with a conclusion drawn from two premises: 1. God is a supremely perfect being. 2. A supremely perfect being must possess all supreme perfections and properties (including existence). 3. Therefore God (a supremely perfect being) must exist. The fundamental basis for this argument is that existence is a property and a supremely perfect being must self-evidently possess the property of existence to be the greatest possible being. Descartes argues that it would be a contradiction to think of God and lacking the property of existence together. God is a being who is analytically defined to be existent otherwise it would not be God. Descartes compares the property of existence to God to the property of three sides and internal angles adding to 180 degrees to a triangle.

Part 2 Discuss the view that the Ontological Arguments are obviously incorrect.
The Ontological argument originated from St Anselm of Canterbury in 1078 during the premodern scholatic period, and was further developed by Descartes in the early 17 th century during the modern era when universal truths were seen to be known through reason rather than religion alone. Descartes was a rationalist and although his argument differed slightly from Anselms he still assumed that existence was a property and God had to possess this attribute to be the true greatest supreme being. Now that we live in the 21st Century in which Philosophy is influenced widely by postmodernism, it is commonly agreed that there are no universal truths known through religion or reason, and each and every person has their own subjective perception of affairs. Hume (as an empiricist) argues against the Ontological argument by stating a priori arguments can only be proven to be truly analytic (self-evident) if the opposite of the statement implies a contradiction. If something implies a contradiction, then it is an inconceivable concept. However everything can be conceived not to exist and therefore, nothing can be proven to exist a priori, including God. Gaskings argument against the Ontological is a more significant argument as Gasking claim s that if existence actually is a property then to not have existence would actually be greater than to exist. His argument theorises that the creation of the universe is merited by two things the ability of its creator and the intrinsic quality of the universe. Therefore the merit of the creation of the universe would increase and become more impressive as the creator is more disabled or handicapped as Gasking states. Furthermore there is no greater disability or handicap than non-existence, so he asks the question which is greater: An existing God in reality which created the universe, or a non-existing God which created the universe? Therefore to be the true greatest possible being, God would have to be nonexistent. This argument is significant as Anselm assumes that existence is a perfection whereas Gasking argues that existence is actually a handicap. However the most prominent argument against the Ontological Argument comes from Kant who disproves the assumption that property must be an existence rendering the entire argument useless. When people assert that God exists they are not saying that there is a God and he possesses the property of existence. If that were the case, then when people assert that God does not exist they would be saying that there is a God and he lacks the property of existence and therefore, they would be both affirming and denying Gods existence at the same time. Kant suggests that to say that something exists is to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world. For Kant, existence is not a matter of a thing possessing a property (existence). Existence is a concept corresponding to something in the world, but is not a selfdefining predicate which God must need to be God.

Kant's objection to the ontological argument is that existence is not a property that can be attributed to beings like we can attribute other properties such as being blue, soft or round. When we talk about entities existing, Kant argues that we do not mean to add existence as a property to their beings, but it is a given. In other words, the objection seems to be that one cannot go around adding existence as a property to God (or anything else for that matter) in order to define God or anything else into existence. Unfortunately, defining my house as a colossal mansion that contains millions of pounds and fancy cars and expensive furniture does not mean that a careful understanding of that definition of my house will actually make it so. In order to see if that definition were true, we would have to go to my house and check it to see if the definition is empirically accurate. Similarly, a definition of God must be checked with reality to see if it is correct, and as God cannot be empirically proven or disproven to exist the definitions given are meaningless.