The Ontoligical Argument Essay, Research Paper
Many people have tried to prove through many ways that God exists. Anselm used the ontological argument, proposing that if God could be thought of and perceived, then God has to exist. At the center of the ontological argument is the idea or concept of existence. The Ontological argument is a group of different philosophers arguments for the existence of God. “Ontological” means talking about being and so in the Philosophy case, that being is the existence or being of God. The ontological argument differs from other arguments in favor of God because of the fact that it is an a priori deductive argument, a priori means that a person arguing this can reach a certain conclusion by the use of reason and not proof. A deductive argument means that if the premises that are put into the argument are true, then the conclusion must be true. Thus, Anselm tends to base his argument on the definitions and the terms that he used.
Anselm s first form of the argument is that God is “that than which none greater can be conceived” (45) . Firstly, it must be emphasised that Anselm s definition does not limit God to being the “greatest” but Anselem makes it known that nothing greater can be thought than God himself. Therefore, God should not in any way be linked to terms such as omnipotent as terminology such as this limit him to what he really is. With this definition, Anselem tries to prove that not only does God exist in the mind but also in reality. He is saying that Because God is something and can be perceived, God must exist. Another way of stating this is that: God is perfect so he must exist because he would not be perfect if he didn’t exist. Anselm uses the example of “the fool” to prove his point on God s existence. He says that when “the fool” says that “There is no God” in the Psalms, he must therefore understand what he hears , and what he understands in his language by the term “God”. Therefore, if he knows what God is, God must exist as it is impossible to know what something is if it does not exist. The atheist, as Anselm points out, is able to understand the phrase “being than which none greater can be thought.” He concludes that if an atheist can understand this, then God is in the atheist’s understanding. But just because something “exists in the understanding,” we would not normally conclude that it also exists in reality. As Anselm himself points out, a painter may have the completed work of art in his mind, but that doesn’t make it a real painting. What Anselm tries to show us is that having an idea in the understanding requires one to admit that the thing exists in reality as well. For suppose that God exists only in the understanding. Then we can conceive of a greater being: one who exists in reality as well. And that would mean that this God who exists only in the understanding is not the greatest conceivable being.
In Chapter 1, entitled A Call for the Mind to Contemplate God, Anselem states that “For, rather than seeking to understand so that I can believe so that I can understand. In fact, one of the things that I believe is that, “unless I believe, I cannot understand” [Isa. 7:90]” (45). Here, Anselem is explaining because he has faith, God exists; and because God exists, he has faith.
Anselm defines God but he doesn’t clearly identify him. In order to identify him, we would have to carefully define “great” and then look for the greatest thing that we can identify in the world. It is different among everybody. Those who say they can identify God would also share different views. We might identify Jesus, Socrates, Muhammad, Confucius, or the Buddha as God. On another definition of great we may also possibly identify nature itself as God. If we do not proceed in this fashion, the word “great” is just meaningless, without any substance. Unless we know what “great” really means, we don t have any reason to think that something existing in reality is greater than something existing only in the mind. I suspect that Anselm might be indirectly suggesting that to exist in reality is to exist more than to exist only in thought. But then again, something either exists or it doesn’t. I understand what people mean when they explain that something exists more or more completely, but what would it be like for something to “exist more really” than something else? I don t see that being possible.
St. Thomas Aquinas argued that knowledge is never a priori, and therefore Anselm s argument does not give us any knowledge about God or his essence and existance. This is true, of course, and it thus refutes Anselm s intention–to come closer to God–of the entire argument, but it does not get rid of the fact that the existence of God is logically necessary.
People like Anselem have tried to prove the existence of God throughout the ages. Some of their arguments are good, while others are not as convincing. All of the ontological arguments are either invalid or open to the door to many questions which would be hard to address. In general, then, the problem with ontological arguments is that their conclusions cannot involve expressions with ontological commitment unless those commitments were introduced by expressions used in the premises; they are therefore most likely to be question-begging or invlaid. I believe that if a god existed, there would be evidence of its existence. Its influence would be revealed in prayers answered everywhere. Its knowledge would be revealed through prophets and books which actually had something intelligent to say.