Paper- The Ontological Argument

Paper- The Ontological Argument - Jennifer Chinn Philosophy...

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Jennifer Chinn Philosophy 1 J. Newman T.A. Tim Lewis Section Wednesday 2:00 The Ontological Argument How can we prove the existence of God? St. Anselm, a Christian philosopher of the 11 th century, created the ontological argument which attempts to answer this question by explaining that because all people can at least understand the concept of God, he must exist. St. Anselm proposes that the meaning of the word, “god,” is understood as “something than which nothing greater can be conceived” (Powell, 78), and that this concept even understood by the nonbeliever. He claims the only reason we are capable of a rational debate regarding God’s existence is because he exists in our understanding; and if he exists in our understanding, he must exist in reality as well. This bold conclusion brought forth many criticisms. The one which I deem strongest is Gaunilo’s argument for the “Lost Island” which scrutinizes St. Anselm’s reasoning, premise by premise. Gaunilo concurrently emphasizes the validity and the highly deceptive form of the ontological argument, and goes on to demonstrate that this deception can be recycled to prove the existence of any other ridiculous thing. Gaunilo also finds fault in the argument that existence in actuality can be shown through existence in understanding, because he claims that the comprehension of god is not in every mind. In order to demonstrate the truth of this proposition, St. Anselm uses an approach called Reductio Ad Absurdum , which functions by deriving a contradiction from its negation of the Atheist, or the “fool.” According to the ontological argument, the “fool” can understand the concept of god and even conceive of his almighty powers, but he may
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not believe in his heart that such a thing can, in fact, exist beyond the mind and in reality.
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Paper- The Ontological Argument - Jennifer Chinn Philosophy...

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