When reviewing the Ontological Argument, one must keep in mind that St.

Anselm sought the perfect argument which would establish the existence and nature of God. Unfortunately for St. Anselm, when in the realm of theory, there is neither the perfect defense, nor perfect offense, which we will examine in depth. To begin review of Anselm’s argument, one must make the assumption that the term God is synonymous with the concept of a being greater than all others and without equals. To begin the premise, Anselm suggests that the concept of “God” (as defined above) is understandable by human cognition and therefore is in existence, as compared to an object or being which cannot be imagined, such as a circular square. By saying God exists in mentality, Anselm then suggests that God might have existed in reality, as compared to a being of solely imaginary origin, much like the difference between a horse, and a unicorn. To summarize the main point of his argument, Anselm then draws the conclusion that because God exists in the possible human imagination and could have existed in reality, in the sense that his existence is possible, with notions of probability aside, the being that is greater than all others is indeed in existence. Now, according to Anselm, existence is a quality that can make one thing more worthy than another. For example, because a horse exists in reality, in the sense that it can be physically interacted with, it is by all means greater than a unicorn, which (most probably) only exists in imagination, because it cannot be physically interacted with.

As the textbook states, the most “famous” objection to Anselm’s Ontological Argument was made in the eighteenth century by Immanuel Kant. Kant’s criticism is simple, to the point, and in my opinion, the argument which destroys Anselm’s Ontological Argument. The central point of Kant’s criticism states that when a person describes the qualities of an object or being, such as weight, physical appearance, or personality attributes, there is a presupposition that the object or being actually exists. Now, in this sense, the term exist is defined as being logically possible. To explain this argument, we’ll revert to the concept of the horse and the unicorn. It is as logically sound to say “The horse is brown” as it is to say “The unicorn is white” under both Anselm’s and Kant’s argument. However, when relating to the concept of existence as a predicate, a problem arises. According to Kant, existence cannot be a predicate, simply due to the fact that it is logically inaccurate to assume that it is. Again, in the case of the horse versus the unicorn, if existence were required for something to be “real”, it would be redundant to say “The horse exists,” because it is a given assumption of any statement involving a horse that it exists. Likewise, if existence were required for something to be “real”, it would be contradictory to say “The unicorn does not exist,” because you cannot ascribe characteristics to a concept which is not logically conceivable. Therefore, because Anselm’s defense of his argument relies on the premise that existence is a predicate, his defense is invalid. Anselm’s defenses utilize reducing arguments to absurdity. Following his reasoning, one must start with a refutation of the premise that God exists in reality. As the concept of God is conceptual, it is probable to assume that God could have existed,

unlike the concept of a round square, which is impossible to imagine. Anselm then states that if God does not exist in reality presently, but did previously, God may have been “more real” at one point than he currently is. This current lack of existence would imply that God is now lesser than he previously was. Finally, Anselm arrives at his desired conclusion, one of logical absurdity. When the definition of God is taken as “the being than which none greater is possible,” it becomes absurdity to arrive at the conclusion of the argument that God only exists in imagination, as the logical result of said argument is that the “being than which none greater is possible is a being than which a greater is possible.” Therefore, according to Anselm, it is logically sound to assume that God exists both in imagination and in reality. As stated above, the key weakness in Anselm’s argument was defined by Kant. Anselm makes the assumption that a thing’s existence adds to the reality of the thing, when in fact, comparison of things that exist and things that do not exist are impossible. In my opinion, after reading and rereading the arguments for and against Anselm, I believe that Kant presents the more logical argument. Anselm’s argument is based on a comparison that cannot be made, and as such, his argument provides irrelevant answers to the existence of God.

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