Essay on Anselm’s Ontological Argument

1238 Words Sep 18th, 2008 5 Pages
The ontological argument for God’s existence is a work of art resulting from philosophical argumentation. An ontological argument for the existence of God is one that attempts the method of a priori proof, which utilizes intuition and reason alone. The term a priori refers to deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is the type of reasoning that proceeds from general principles or premises to derive particular information. The argument works by examining the concept of God, and arguing that it implies the actual existence of God; that is, if we can conceive of God then God exists. However, this type of argument is often criticized as committing a bare assertion fallacy. The bare assertion fallacy is fallacy in formal logic where a premise …show more content…
Since we can conceive of this greatest or most perfect conceivable island, then it must exist. While this argument seems absurd, Gaunilo claims that it is no more so than Anselm's. Gaunilo asserts that an additional argument is needed to a being like the one Anselm described exists. Another problem Gaunilo discovers is if one can actually understand what is supposed to be understood for Anselm’s argument to work. God is unlike any creature or anything that we have conceived of so Gaunilo questions whether the idea of such a being can be conceived. In Anselm’s view Gaunilo, Gaunilo demands a further argument precisely because he has not understood the argument as Anselm has presented it. While St. Thomas Aquinas believed that God's existence is self-evident, he rejected the idea that it can be deduced from claims about the concept of God. Aquinas argued, plausibly enough, that "not everyone who hears this word 'God' understands it to signify something than which nothing greater can be thought, seeing that some have believed God to be a body." The idea here is that, since different people have different concepts of God, this argument works, if at all, only to convince those who define the notion of God in the same way. Aquinas had a second problem with the ontological argument. On Aquinas's view, even if we assume that everyone shares the same concept of God as a being than which none

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