A Priori? Essay, Research Paper
The existence of God can be proved a priori by a
logical deduction from the concept of God, when we
think about the idea of God we realise that real
existence is an essential part of how we conceive the
idea of God. God therefore necessarily exists so that
it is impossible for him to not exist.
I belive to be necessary to examine Anselm’s version
of the ontological argument, in order to answer the
above question, namely whether God’s existence can be
proved a priori.
Anselm states that a non believing fool (in the Psalms)
can coceive the idea that God is ‘a being than which
none greater can be thought’ because he understands it.
Anselm further adds that if this idea could exist not
only in his undestanding but also in reality then that
would be greater. Futhermore we cannot conceive of God
as not existing, becasue that would be less greater
than a being which necessarily exists. In addition to
this anselm states that God cannot be thought of as
non-existent because we cannot conceive of him a
beginning or an end.
Gaunilo however criticises and objects to Anselms
argument that the existece of God can be proved a
priori. He states that he can conceive the existence
of a ‘wonderful lost island’, which is perfect, just
by thinking about the idea.
However Anselms counter objects to Gaunilo’s argument
by saying that only the idea of god can be thought of
as necessarily existing because it is unique.
Aquinas makes his views known, and I believe it would
be beneficial to identify them because they are
relevant to the question. Aquinas states the God’s
existence may indeed be self-evident, but it is not
self-evident to us because we do not understand the
essence of God. Furthermore we (man) may self-evidently
desire happiness, and God may be man’s happiness but
we dont desire God through ignorance. Finally saying
that fools like the one Anselm describes deny the first
premise that there is ‘a being then which none greater
can be thought’
Hume however states that we can clearly conceive the
non-existence of any existent thing, and therefore
non-existence is never a contradiction. Thus Hume
voices the normal empiricist view, that logic could
never prove the existence of anything.
However the most potent criticisms come from Kant, who
i believe ‘demolishes’ the claim that the existence of
God can be proved a proiri by a logical deduction.