notes - Ontological argument: The ontological argument is...

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Ontological argument: The ontological argument is an a priori proof first proposed by St. Anselm in the form of a prayer. Anselm defines god as a being “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” He goes on to say that existence is greater than nonexistence. Then, if god is something than which nothing greater can be conceived, and existence is greater than nonexistence, god must exist. Rene Descartes also put forth an ontological argument, this time defining god as “the most perfect being.” He was talking about metaphysical perfection (full actualization of possibility) rather than moral perfection. It is more perfect to exist than not to exist, so if god possesses the quality of perfection, then he must exist. Gaunilon was a theist but he believed the ontological argument to be unsound. He said that just because we can conceive of a greatest possible thing doesn’t mean that it must exist. He used the example of the greatest possible island… St. Thomas Aquinas rejected the argument on the grounds that we can only know god through sense experience. Thus, an a priori argument is not useful for proving god’s existence. Kant provided the most compelling refutation of the ontological argument. He stated that existence is not a property one can attribute to a thing. If one were to describe an apple, s/he would say it is “red,” “grows on trees” and “delicious,” but adding the property of existence
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notes - Ontological argument: The ontological argument is...

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