But it seems quite clear that there are other properties, such as length or temperature or pain, to which there is no intrinsic maximum or upper limit of degree. And the only way for God to be his own explanation is for some version of the ontological argument to work. As it turns out, there are two different versions of the ontological argument in the Prosologium. But to the extent that existence doesn’t add to the greatness of a thing, the classic version of the ontological argument fails. Unfortunately, as appealing as this picture of explanation is, ontological arguments involve a severe logical fallacy. But this entails that the nonexistence of an unlimited being in W can be explained by the absence of f in W; and this contradicts the claim that its nonexistence in W can’t be explained by reference to any causally contingent feature. Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), is the creator of the ontological argument. Therefore, the existence of God is logically necessary. Hence, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which nothing greater can be conceived. Now imagine that there is something that is its own explanation: in order to explain a fact, you have to appeal to another fact, and to explain that fact, to another, and on and on, until, ultimately, you hit upon a final fact that explains itself. Thus, if moral perfection entails, as seems reasonable, being perfectly just and merciful, then the concept of moral perfection is inconsistent. someone who believes that the entire world can be explained in terms of a chain of logical connections and that we have access to this explanation) you have to believe in the possibility of an ontological argument. 2. One natural interpretation of this somewhat ambiguous passage is that Aquinas is rejecting premise 2 of Anselm’s argument on the ground that, while we can rehearse the words “a being than which none greater can be imagined” in our minds, we have no idea of what this sequence of words really means. Gaunilo’s argument, thus, proceeds by attempting to use Anselm’s strategy to deduce the existence of a perfect island, which Gaunilo rightly views as a counterexample to the argument form. But these latter claims clearly attribute particular properties to x. For this reason, Premise 2 of Malcolm’s version is questionable. To think of such a being as existing only in thought and not also in reality involves a contradiction, … Similarly, the claim that an unlimited being B does not exist at W clearly entails that B never exists at W (that is, that it is always true in W that B doesn’t exist), but it doesn’t clearly entail that B necessarily doesn’t exist (that is, B exists at no logically possible world or B‘s existence is logically impossible. This being than which no greater can be conceived either exists in the mind alone or … The medieval philosopher St. Anselm gave a famous version of the ontological argument, and even Plato puts an ontological argument in Socrates' mouth in the Phaedo. Anselm began with the concept of God as that than which nothing greater can be conceived. Norman Malcolm expresses the argument as follows: The doctrine that existence is a perfection is remarkably queer. It might be the case that, other things being equal, a set of dishes that is indestructible in this world is greater than a set of dishes that is not indestructible in this world. This second argument implies 1 that the conceivability of a perfect being is the crux of the issue. Email: himma@spu.edu This latter claim asserts that a being whose existence is necessary is greater than a being whose existence is not necessary. Here it is important to note that all versions of the ontological argument assume that God is simultaneously omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. If any of the properties that are conceptually essential to the notion of God do not admit of an intrinsic maximum, then Anselm’s argument strategy will not work because, like Guanilo’s concept of a piland, the relevant concept of God is incoherent. The ontological argument would be meaningful only to someone who understands the essence of God completely. As C.D. To understand why a self-causing thing is necessary to bring explanation to a satisfying end, consider what would happen if there were no such self-causing thing (which, unfortunately, there probably is not): in order to explain any fact, you would have to appeal to another fact, and then, to explain that fact, to another, and, for that one, to another, and infinitely on. Findlay, J.N., “God’s Existence is Necessarily Impossible,” from Flew, Antony and MacIntyre, Alasdair, Malcolm, Norman, “Anselm’s Ontological Argument,”, Pike, Nelson, “Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action,”. Ontological arguments are common in the history of philosophy. God is, as a conceptual matter (that is, as a matter of definition) an unlimited being. In this chapter, Anselm (arguably) suggests a modal version of the ontological argument, which we will discuss in tandem with David Lewis’ article “Anselm and Actuality.” In the pages that follow, however, I only concentrate on what I take to be Anselm’s argument in Chapter 2. While Gaunilo was a firm believer in God (and was in fact a monk), he disagreed strongly with Anselm’s method for proving his existence. Saint Anselm’s argument reads as follows: But if a person p who does A at t has the ability to do other than A at t, then it follows that p has the ability to bring it about that an omniscient God has a false belief – and this is clearly impossible. They simply do not work. God’s indestructibility in this world means that God exists eternally in all logically possible worlds that resemble this one in certain salient respects. If a maximally great being exists in one logically possible world, it exists in every logically possible world. Rowe, William, “Modal Versions of the Ontological Argument,” in Pojman, Louis (ed. And notice that his argument does not turn in any way on characterizing the property necessary existence as making something that instantiates that property better than it would be without it. The counterexample can be expressed as follows: Notice, however, that premise 1 of Gaunilo’s argument is incoherent. While there are several different versions of the argument, all purport to show that it is self-contradictory to deny that there exists a greatest possible being. Ontology in simple terms is a branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being. A look at theologist Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s existence which has been debated for almost a thousand years. Anselm’s argument is based on the fact that there is a specific concept of God. To say that something which was dependent on nothing whatever was superior to anything that was dependent on any way upon anything is quite in keeping with the everyday use of the terms superior and greater. This distinguishes the claim that x exists from the claim that x necessarily exists and hence seems to imply that the latter, and only the latter, expresses a property. Here is his argument for this important claim. Further, on Malcolm’s view, the existence of an unlimited being is either logically necessary or logically impossible. Thus, if God exists in the mind as an idea, then God necessarily exists in reality. Here is a schematic representation of the argument: It is sometimes objected that Plantinga’s Premise 4 is an instance of a controversial general modal principle. If I want to prove that bachelors, unicorns, or viruses exist, it is not enough just to reflect on the concepts. For suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater.… Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one, than which a greater can be conceived. One might say, with some intelligibility, that it would be better (for oneself or for mankind) if God exists than if He does not-but that is a different matter. This second version appears to be less vulnerable to Kantian criticisms than the first. In fact, what it means for something to be a clear and distinct perception is that, so long as we are attending to it, we cannot possibly doubt its truth. Thus, if a piland exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine an island that is greater than a piland (that is, a greatest possible island that does exist). The first, expressed by Premise 2, is that we have a coherent idea of a being that instantiates all of the perfections. Kant rejects premise 3 on the ground that, as a purely formal matter, existence does not function as a predicate. But it is very hard to see how transworld indestructibility adds anything to the greatness of a set of dishes that is indestructible in this world. In his own time, St Anselm had his critics. We can do so merely by consulting the definition and seeing that it is self-contradictory. The first ontological argument for existence of God was developed by the Benedictine monk of Canterbury Anselm who was born in 1033 and died in 1109. Second, notice that the argument for Premise 4 does not make any reference to the claim that all propositions bear their modal status necessarily. The rationalist's job is done. Logically, it is merely the copula of a judgement. We can prove certain negative existential claims merely by reflecting on the content of the concept. The ontological argument is particularly faulty. Then there would be three possible beings, namely, one which combines X and Y, one which combines Y and Z, and one which combines Z and X, each of which would be such that nothing … superior to it is logically possible. The idea here is that existence is very different from, say, the property of lovingness. But this contradicts the assumption that B is a being that instantiates all the perfections. According to premise 3, existence is what’s known as a great-making property or, as the matter is sometimes put, a perfection. Such an argument works like this: It was first clearly formulated by St. Anselm in his Proslogion (1077–78); a later famous version is given by René Descartes. Rather it is a precondition for the instantiation of properties in the following sense: it is not possible for a non-existent thing to instantiate any properties because there is nothing to which, so to speak, a property can stick. The second version does not rely on the highly problematic claim that existence is a property and hence avoids many of the objections to the classic version. Thus, if God exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God (that is, a greatest possible being that does exist). Leibniz all have their own versions of the ontological argument. But notice that the claim that a maximally great being exists in some world is logically equivalent to the claim that the concept of a maximally great being is not self-contradictory; for the only things that don’t exist in any possible world are things that are conceptually defined in terms of contradictory properties. As the objection is sometimes put, Anselm simply defines things into existence-and this cannot be done. Nothing has no qualities whatsoever. undertaking it is to deduce God’s existence from the very definition of God. For example, the “fine-tuning” version of the design argument depends on empirical evidence of intelligent design; in particular, it turns on the empirical claim that, as a nomological matter, that is, as a matter of law, life could not have developed if certain fundamental properties of the universe were to have differed even slightly from what they are. As we have seen, Plantinga expressly defines maximal excellence in such terms. Thus, on this general line of argument, it is a necessary truth that such a being exists; and this being is the God of traditional Western theism. Some commentators deny that St. Anselm tried to putforward any proofs of the existence of God. Rather, as we saw above, Malcolm attempts to argue that there are only two possibilities with respect to the existence of an unlimited being: either it is necessary or it is impossible. Likewise, if I want to prove that bachelors, unicorns, or viruses don’t exist, I must do the same. One influential attempts to ground the ontological argument in the notion of God as an unlimited being. We can, of course, try to associate the phrase “a being than which none greater can be imagined” with more familiar finite concepts, but these finite concepts are so far from being an adequate description of God, that it is fair to say they don’t help us to get a detailed idea of God. How can he use clear and distinct perceptions to prove God's existence, these critics ask, if he needs God in order to prove that clear and distinct perceptions to tell us the truth? No more complete understanding of the concept of a maximally great being than this is required, on Anselm’s view, to successfully make the argument. The ontological argument, then, is unique among such arguments in that it purports to establish the real (as opposed to abstract) existence of some entity. Even among commentatorswho agree that St. Anselm intended to prove the existence of God,there is disagreement about where the proof is located. By definition, God is a being than which none greater can be imagined. There is, however, one class of exceptions. Wiki). But even if we concede that existence is a property, it does not seem to be the sort of property that makes something better for having it. Since, by definition, a being that is maximally great at W is omnipotent at every possible world and a being that does not exist at some world W’ cannot be omnipotent at W’, it straightforwardly follows, without the help of anything like the controversial S5 axiom, that a maximally great being exists in every logically possible world. He simply is not. He argues that everyone (theist and atheist alike) should agree to some definitions about what God is like. As Malcolm describes this idea: God is usually conceived of as an unlimited being. Ideas include: Gaunilo's … But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God (for it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined.). Suppose B is a being that instantiates all the perfections and suppose B doesn’t exist (in reality). For this reason, the very concept of a piland is incoherent. Summary of Argument Defining God Immanuel Kant was the first to point this problem out, although he himself had given his own version of the ontological argument years earlier. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), is the originator of the ontological argument, which he describes in the Proslogium as follows: [Even a] fool, when he hears of … a being than which nothing greater can be conceived … understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his understanding.… And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) directs his famous objection at premise 3’s claim that a being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind. A piland that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is greater than a piland that exists only as an idea in the mind. Thus, if God doesn’t exist at W, then God doesn’t exist in any logically possible world. Without an ontological argument, explanation must either end in some brute, unexplained fact, or turn into an infinite regress, where the there is no end to explanation. Accordingly, the very concept of a being that instantiates all the perfections implies that it exists. A being that is loving is, other things being equal, better or greater than a being that is not. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Cantebury (1033-1109), is the originator of the ontological argument, which he describes in the Proslogium as follows:[Even a] fool, when he hears of … a being than which nothing greater can be conceived … understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his understanding.… And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. Suppose that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, eternal (and hence, so to speak, indestructible), personal God exists in this world but not in some other worlds. Otherwise put, Premise 2 asserts that we have a coherent idea of a being that instantiates every property that makes a being greater, other things being equal, than it would have been without that property (such properties are also known as “great-making” properties). The problem with this criticism is that the ontological argument can be restated without defining God. Thus, the most important contemporary defender of the argument, Alvin Plantinga, complains “[a]t first sight, Anselm’s argument is remarkably unconvincing if not downright irritating; it looks too much like a parlor puzzle or word magic.” As a result, despite its enduring importance, the ontological argument has brought few people to theism. Accordingly, what goes wrong with the first version of the ontological argument is that the notion of existence is being treated as the wrong logical type. Anselm delivered three proofs of the existence of God in his earlier work, Monologion. Since existence isn’t a logical predicate, it doesn’t belong to the concept of God; it rather affirms that the existence of something that satisfies the predicates defining the concept of God. The existence of an unlimited being is either logically necessary or logically impossible. Otherwise put, then, the second key claim is that a being whose non-existence is logically impossible is greater than a being whose non-existence is logically possible. One of the most fascinating arguments for the existence of an all-perfect God is the ontological argument. The claim that an unlimited being B exists at some world W clearly entails that B always exists at W (that is, that B‘s existence is eternal or everlasting in W), but this doesn’t clearly entail that B necessarily exists (that is, that B exists at every logically possible world). Saint Anselm’s ontological argument is distinctive from other arguments that attempt to prove that it is the existence of God, the creator, and not just some abstract entity that is being defined. The rationalists and those before them, failed to notice this big difference separating existence from other properties. We first present a number of requirements that any successful reconstruction should meet. Though Anselm doesn’t expressly address the issue, it is clear (1) that he is attempting to show the existence of the God of classical theism; and (2) that the great-making properties include those of omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection. Thus, a being that is omniscient lacks the ability to create free beings and is hence not omnipotent. Nevertheless, Aquinas had a second problem with the ontological argument. Wiki). We conceive of God as a being than which no greater can be conceived. Here’s the argument reduced to its basic elements: Notice that Malcolm’s version of the argument does not turn on the claim that necessary existence is a great-making property. God's existence does not prove that clear and distinct perceptions are true. Unless, of course, you ended up at a fact that simply could not be explained, in which you would not have managed to give an explanation for everything in the world. The ontological argument asserts God, being defined as most great or perfect, must exist since a God who exists is greater than a God who does not. Millions of books are just a click away on BN.com and through our FREE NOOK reading apps. To say that x instantiates a property P is hence to presuppose that x exists. There have been several attempts to render the persuasive force of the ontological argument more transparent by recasting it using the logical structures of contemporary modal logic. Anselm’s argument was not proven invalid until Immanuel Kant, a german philosopher during the 18th century, proposed an objection that would be the decisive blow to the Ontological argument (Immanuel Kant. Indeed, there are plenty of beings that will probably never exist in this world that exist in other logically possible worlds, like unicorns. Likewise, perfect power means being able to do everything that it is possible to do; it is conceptually impossible for a being to be able to do more than this. Nevertheless, the matter is not so clear as Malcolm believes. Since there are only two possibilities with respect to W and one entails the impossibility of an unlimited being and the other entails the necessity of an unlimited being, it follows that the existence of an unlimited being is either logically necessary or logically impossible. God is only needed to ensure that doubt does not creep in after we stop attending to these perceptions. Even so, the basic idea is the same: ontological arguments attempt to show that we can deduce God’s existence from, so to speak, the very definition of God. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations in it. Perhaps the most influential of contemporary modal arguments is Plantinga’s version. There is, of course, this difference: whereas the concept of a bachelor explicitly contains the proposition that bachelors are unmarried, the concept of God does not explicitly contain any proposition asserting the existence of such a being. All that is left, then, to complete Malcolm’s elegant version of the proof is the premise that the existence of an unlimited being is not logically impossible – and this seems plausible enough. Argument: Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), is the creator of the ontological argument. It establishes the existence of God as "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" (Roth, 1970, p.270). In fact, in order to be a proper Cartesian rationalist (i.e. Kant’s objection is how existence is not a predicate (Mike, screen 25). Since the notion of maximal greatness, in contrast to the notion of an unlimited being as Malcolm defines it, is conceived in terms that straightforwardly entail existence in every logically possible world (and hence eternal existence in every logically possible world), there are no worries about whether maximal greatness, in contrast to unlimitedness, entails something stronger than eternal existence. The ontological argument. Broad expresses it: Let us suppose, e.g., that there were just three positive properties X, Y, and Z; that any two of them are compatible with each other; but that the presence of any two excludes the remaining one. From our perspective, necessary existence adds nothing in value to eternal existence. For the only kind of being which would be … superior to any of these would be one which had all three properties, X, Y, and Z; and, by hypothesis, this combination is logically impossible.… It is now plain that, unless all positive properties be compatible with each other, this phrase [i.e., “a being than which none greater can be imagined”] is just meaningless verbiage like the phrase “the greatest possible integer.”. Likewise, cosmological arguments depend on certain empirical claims about the explanation for the occurrence of empirical events. Analysis of Anselm's Ontological Argument and the Argument from Evil 1448 Words 6 Pages Roxx Alvarado Professor Aaron Wilson PHI2010 8 September 2011 Analysis to Anselm’s Ontological Argument and the Argument from Evil The debate of the existence of God had been active since before the first philosopher has pondered the question. To see that this criticism is unfounded, it suffices to make two observations. And only a claim that attributes a particular property can entail claims that attribute particular properties. On this line of analysis, then, it follows that it is logically impossible for a being to simultaneously instantiate omniscience and omnipotence. To defend this further claim, one needs to give an argument that the notion of a contingent eternal being is self-contradictory. It is, e.g., logically impossible that any proper fraction should exceed the ratio 1/1; and again, on a certain definition of “angle,” it is logically impossible for any angle to exceed four right angles. PL4* If “A maximally great being exists” is possible, then it is necessarily true that “A maximally great being exists” is possible. If this is correct, then all versions of the ontological argument fail. His rejection of the ontological argument caused other Catholic theologians to also reject the argument. There is an enormous literature on the material in ProslogionII-III. Descartes, then, can legitimately use clear and distinct perceptions to prove God's existence. The dialogue below seeks to restore that simplicity, with one important modification. The unlimited character of God, then, entails that his existence is different from ours in this respect: while our existence depends causally on the existence of other beings (e.g., our parents), God’s existence does not depend causally on the existence of any other being. Anselm puts forth a second argument, also ontological and a priori, that concerns necessary existence rather than existence. Nor, as Spinoza observed, will it make sense to say that something could prevent Him from existing. I need to go out into the world and conduct some sort of empirical investigation using my senses. For example, if one thinks that abundant fruit is a great-making property for an island, then, no matter how great a particular island might be, it will always be possible to imagine a greater island because there is no intrinsic maximum for fruit-abundance. Thus, by definition, if God exists as an idea in the mind but does not necessarily exist in reality, then we can imagine something that is greater than God. A modern version of the argument makes this explicit: It is possible that there is a God. The form of the argument is that of a reductio ad absurdum argument. The Proslogion marked what would be the beginning of Saint Anselm's famous and highly controversial ontological arguments for the existence of God.The first and most famous argument of his can be found at the end of chapter 2, followed by his second argument …