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Title: Philosophy Essay


M Bison - October 20, 2008 08:12 PM (GMT)
Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the Ontological Argument.

The ontological argument is an attempt to prove the existence of God. Its first principle contributor, St Anselm of Canterbury, defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived”. He then claimed that everyone, even the atheist, has some definition or idea of God, even if only to deny His existence. Therefore, God exists in the mind. However, if nothing greater than God can be conceived, then he must exist in reality because that which exists is greater than that which does not. Imagine being awarded a new house. The thought is a pleasant one, but it would be better to actually have the house.

The argument is a priori, which means that it is usable without gathering evidence from experience. Therefore, this argument could be used without having to prove every step of the argument, as it would if it were an a posterior argument (an argument that requires evidence from experience). It is also harder to disprove an a priori argument. For example, an a posterior argument can be made that, out of ten swans, all are white, so all swans are white. However, if a black swan is ever spotted, the argument is disproved. It uses logic to come up with a conclusion, rather than gathering evidence.

Anselm claims that everyone is capable of having an idea of God; therefore everyone should be able to see that God actually exists. If a painter wishes to paint a picture, he recognises that he has to actually paint it before it will become great. Only the fool believes that that which exists in thought is greater than that which exists in reality and doing so is, according to Anselm, akin to self deception.

However, other people claimed that this argument does not work, and is not viable proof of the existence of God. St. Thomas Aquinas claimed that, for the argument to be successful, all humans must have the same definition of God, and yet there are differing opinions on what He is around the world. Also, he claimed that, the very nature of God, He is impossible to understand, and therefore the argument falls apart as some understanding of Him is necessary for it to work.

A monk named Gaunilo also argued against Anselm. He said that, if the argument worked, then it would also work on other “perfect” things. He said that, supposing someone proposed the idea of the perfect island, of which no greater island could be conceived, then it must exist. This is because if Anselm’s argument is true, even the grottiest of islands must be greater than the island if it does not.

However, Anselm replied to Guanilo’s criticism. He said that he was not arguing about temporal, contingent things, but of the “greatest thing that can be conceived”. Islands have no maximum level of perfection, and can always be bettered no matter how good they are. God is not in the same category. He is outside of time and space and his existence is necessary.

David Hume claimed that all meaningful statements must fit into one of two categories: Relations of ideas, which deals with maths and analytical statements, and uses logic to determine answers; or matters of fact, in which all claims about the world, and what may or may not be true, including existence, must fit. He claims that Anselm’s argument is flawed in that it pulls from both categories, making it meaningless. This is because Anselm wants to pass the argument as true do to logic, but he is dealing with existence, which is a matter of fact.

Immanuel Kant claimed that a major flaw in the argument was that it effectively assumes that God exists in order to prove that God exists. It treats existence as a predicate, and Kant points out that the argument assumes from the outset what it is trying to prove, and such a major fault automatically invalidates the argument.

However, this criticism can be argued against. Some have claimed that it is absurd to separate the most perfect being from existence, in the way it is absurd to separate a triangle from having three sides.

Norman Malcolm put forward, improved version of the ontological argument that does not treat existence as a predicate. He believed that existence of God was either impossible or necessary. If his existence is impossible, then the concept is either contradictory or plain absurd. If it is nether, then God has to exist. He defined God as a being of which nothing greater can be conceived. He then put forth three options: Perhaps God exists; God does not exist; and God exists. He worked through these options. For perhaps, he stated that God cannot come into or disappear from existence, for then he would be limited, which he is not by definition. Therefore He either does or does not exist. For does not exist, he claimed that the concept of God must be contradictory, and that it is at least logically possible for God to exist. Therefore, it left only one option: God exists, and this is necessary.

Descartes defined God as a supremely perfect being. He claimed that perfection included existence, as it is a perfection in of itself, making it a predicate of a perfect being. Therefore God exists. He claimed that to imagine a God without existence was to imagine a mountain without a valley or a triangle without three sides. He added that this argument cannot be applied to objects within space and time, such as Gaunilo’s island. He said that only God can have absolute perfection, as there cannot be two absolutes. Anselm claims that existence is a predicate. Descartes explains why.

Bertrand Russell disagreed, claiming that existence could not be treated as a predicate, and that the notion of necessary existence represented a syllogism. He claimed that, if existence was a predicate, then the following would be true: All men exist. Santa Clause is a man. Therefore Santa Clause exists. He claimed that existence was not a property, but a numerical concept. Comparing cows to unicorns would result in the conclusion that there are lots of cows, but no unicorns. Existence is not a quality unicorns lack.

However, it can be argued that neither Santa clause nor unicorns feature perfection as a predicate- God does. Perfection comes with existence naturally, in the same way that the predicate of having skin would natural come with having cells.

Descartes also stresses that God’s existence is uniquely necessary, highlighting that His existence is different to the existence of other things, like people, which are contingent. They are within time and space, whilst God, as a supremely perfect being, is outside of time and space.

In conclusion, it seems logical that the ontological argument is not a truly successful method of proving God’s existence. There are too many holes in it, and almost every step is susceptible to major criticism. Additionally, St. Thomas Aquinas’ argument has not been addressed at all, leaving an unanswered criticism of the argument.

super_wolverine_Man - October 20, 2008 09:45 PM (GMT)
You wrote this? Very informative. Nice Work man.

M Bison - October 20, 2008 09:51 PM (GMT)
Thanks.

granobulax - October 21, 2008 01:17 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (M Bison @ Oct 20 2008, 08:12 PM)
Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the Ontological Argument.

The ontological argument is an attempt to prove the existence of God. Its first principle contributor, St Anselm of Canterbury, defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived”. He then claimed that everyone, even the atheist, has some definition or idea of God, even if only to deny His existence. Therefore, God exists in the mind. However, if nothing greater than God can be conceived, then he must exist in reality because that which exists is greater than that which does not. Imagine being awarded a new house. The thought is a pleasant one, but it would be better to actually have the house.

The argument is a priori, which means that it is usable without gathering evidence from experience. Therefore, this argument could be used without having to prove every step of the argument, as it would if it were an a posterior argument (an argument that requires evidence from experience). It is also harder to disprove an a priori argument. For example, an a posterior argument can be made that, out of ten swans, all are white, so all swans are white. However, if a black swan is ever spotted, the argument is disproved. It uses logic to come up with a conclusion, rather than gathering evidence.

Anselm claims that everyone is capable of having an idea of God; therefore everyone should be able to see that God actually exists. If a painter wishes to paint a picture, he recognises that he has to actually paint it before it will become great. Only the fool believes that that which exists in thought is greater than that which exists in reality and doing so is, according to Anselm, akin to self deception.

However, other people claimed that this argument does not work, and is not viable proof of the existence of God. St. Thomas Aquinas claimed that, for the argument to be successful, all humans must have the same definition of God, and yet there are differing opinions on what He is around the world. Also, he claimed that, the very nature of God, He is impossible to understand, and therefore the argument falls apart as some understanding of Him is necessary for it to work.

A monk named Gaunilo also argued against Anselm. He said that, if the argument worked, then it would also work on other “perfect” things. He said that, supposing someone proposed the idea of the perfect island, of which no greater island could be conceived, then it must exist. This is because if Anselm’s argument is true, even the grottiest of islands must be greater than the island if it does not.

However, Anselm replied to Guanilo’s criticism. He said that he was not arguing about temporal, contingent things, but of the “greatest thing that can be conceived”. Islands have no maximum level of perfection, and can always be bettered no matter how good they are. God is not in the same category. He is outside of time and space and his existence is necessary.

David Hume claimed that all meaningful statements must fit into one of two categories: Relations of ideas, which deals with maths and analytical statements, and uses logic to determine answers; or matters of fact, in which all claims about the world, and what may or may not be true, including existence, must fit. He claims that Anselm’s argument is flawed in that it pulls from both categories, making it meaningless. This is because Anselm wants to pass the argument as true do to logic, but he is dealing with existence, which is a matter of fact.

Immanuel Kant claimed that a major flaw in the argument was that it effectively assumes that God exists in order to prove that God exists. It treats existence as a predicate, and Kant points out that the argument assumes from the outset what it is trying to prove, and such a major fault automatically invalidates the argument.

However, this criticism can be argued against. Some have claimed that it is absurd to separate the most perfect being from existence, in the way it is absurd to separate a triangle from having three sides.

Norman Malcolm put forward, improved version of the ontological argument that does not treat existence as a predicate. He believed that existence of God was either impossible or necessary. If his existence is impossible, then the concept is either contradictory or plain absurd. If it is nether, then God has to exist. He defined God as a being of which nothing greater can be conceived. He then put forth three options: Perhaps God exists; God does not exist; and God exists. He worked through these options. For perhaps, he stated that God cannot come into or disappear from existence, for then he would be limited, which he is not by definition. Therefore He either does or does not exist. For does not exist, he claimed that the concept of God must be contradictory, and that it is at least logically possible for God to exist. Therefore, it left only one option: God exists, and this is necessary.

Descartes defined God as a supremely perfect being. He claimed that perfection included existence, as it is a perfection in of itself, making it a predicate of a perfect being. Therefore God exists. He claimed that to imagine a God without existence was to imagine a mountain without a valley or a triangle without three sides. He added that this argument cannot be applied to objects within space and time, such as Gaunilo’s island. He said that only God can have absolute perfection, as there cannot be two absolutes. Anselm claims that existence is a predicate. Descartes explains why.

Bertrand Russell disagreed, claiming that existence could not be treated as a predicate, and that the notion of necessary existence represented a syllogism. He claimed that, if existence was a predicate, then the following would be true: All men exist. Santa Clause is a man. Therefore Santa Clause exists. He claimed that existence was not a property, but a numerical concept. Comparing cows to unicorns would result in the conclusion that there are lots of cows, but no unicorns. Existence is not a quality unicorns lack.

However, it can be argued that neither Santa clause nor unicorns feature perfection as a predicate- God does. Perfection comes with existence naturally, in the same way that the predicate of having skin would natural come with having cells.

Descartes also stresses that God’s existence is uniquely necessary, highlighting that His existence is different to the existence of other things, like people, which are contingent. They are within time and space, whilst God, as a supremely perfect being, is outside of time and space.

In conclusion, it seems logical that the ontological argument is not a truly successful method of proving God’s existence. There are too many holes in it, and almost every step is susceptible to major criticism. Additionally, St. Thomas Aquinas’ argument has not been addressed at all, leaving an unanswered criticism of the argument.

Wow, that was really good. You're exceedingly intelligent.

M Bison - October 21, 2008 03:56 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (granobulax @ Oct 21 2008, 01:17 AM)
Wow, that was really good. You're exceedingly intelligent.

Why thank you.

super_wolverine_Man - October 21, 2008 07:54 PM (GMT)
Hamboy your name will be herald as one of the great philsopher of the age. Parents will ask their children, name some of the great philosophers of history. They will say Plato,Socrates, and Hammish. Keep up the good work.

darkender - October 21, 2008 09:25 PM (GMT)
:Darkrender: I've seen better...

granobulax - October 21, 2008 11:01 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (darkender @ Oct 21 2008, 09:25 PM)
:Darkrender: I've seen better...

I'd like to see you do better :Darkrender:

Bassetman - October 22, 2008 07:07 PM (GMT)
Philosophy class...it calls to me.

darkender - October 22, 2008 07:41 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (granobulax @ Oct 21 2008, 11:01 PM)
QUOTE (darkender @ Oct 21 2008, 09:25 PM)
:Darkrender: I've seen better...

I'd like to see you do better :Darkrender:

Well then look.

Bassetman - October 22, 2008 07:47 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (darkender @ Oct 22 2008, 07:41 PM)
QUOTE (granobulax @ Oct 21 2008, 11:01 PM)
QUOTE (darkender @ Oct 21 2008, 09:25 PM)
:Darkrender: I've seen better...

I'd like to see you do better :Darkrender:

Well then look.

...Where?

darkender - October 22, 2008 07:50 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Bassetman @ Oct 22 2008, 07:47 PM)
QUOTE (darkender @ Oct 22 2008, 07:41 PM)
QUOTE (granobulax @ Oct 21 2008, 11:01 PM)
QUOTE (darkender @ Oct 21 2008, 09:25 PM)
:Darkrender: I've seen better...

I'd like to see you do better :Darkrender:

Well then look.

...Where?

Over there...

Mimi soulja - October 23, 2008 01:52 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (M Bison @ Oct 20 2008, 08:12 PM)
Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the Ontological Argument.

The ontological argument is an attempt to prove the existence of God. Its first principle contributor, St Anselm of Canterbury, defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived”. He then claimed that everyone, even the atheist, has some definition or idea of God, even if only to deny His existence. Therefore, God exists in the mind. However, if nothing greater than God can be conceived, then he must exist in reality because that which exists is greater than that which does not. Imagine being awarded a new house. The thought is a pleasant one, but it would be better to actually have the house.

The argument is a priori, which means that it is usable without gathering evidence from experience. Therefore, this argument could be used without having to prove every step of the argument, as it would if it were an a posterior argument (an argument that requires evidence from experience). It is also harder to disprove an a priori argument. For example, an a posterior argument can be made that, out of ten swans, all are white, so all swans are white. However, if a black swan is ever spotted, the argument is disproved. It uses logic to come up with a conclusion, rather than gathering evidence.

Anselm claims that everyone is capable of having an idea of God; therefore everyone should be able to see that God actually exists. If a painter wishes to paint a picture, he recognises that he has to actually paint it before it will become great. Only the fool believes that that which exists in thought is greater than that which exists in reality and doing so is, according to Anselm, akin to self deception.

However, other people claimed that this argument does not work, and is not viable proof of the existence of God. St. Thomas Aquinas claimed that, for the argument to be successful, all humans must have the same definition of God, and yet there are differing opinions on what He is around the world. Also, he claimed that, the very nature of God, He is impossible to understand, and therefore the argument falls apart as some understanding of Him is necessary for it to work.

A monk named Gaunilo also argued against Anselm. He said that, if the argument worked, then it would also work on other “perfect” things. He said that, supposing someone proposed the idea of the perfect island, of which no greater island could be conceived, then it must exist. This is because if Anselm’s argument is true, even the grottiest of islands must be greater than the island if it does not.

However, Anselm replied to Guanilo’s criticism. He said that he was not arguing about temporal, contingent things, but of the “greatest thing that can be conceived”. Islands have no maximum level of perfection, and can always be bettered no matter how good they are. God is not in the same category. He is outside of time and space and his existence is necessary.

David Hume claimed that all meaningful statements must fit into one of two categories: Relations of ideas, which deals with maths and analytical statements, and uses logic to determine answers; or matters of fact, in which all claims about the world, and what may or may not be true, including existence, must fit. He claims that Anselm’s argument is flawed in that it pulls from both categories, making it meaningless. This is because Anselm wants to pass the argument as true do to logic, but he is dealing with existence, which is a matter of fact.

Immanuel Kant claimed that a major flaw in the argument was that it effectively assumes that God exists in order to prove that God exists. It treats existence as a predicate, and Kant points out that the argument assumes from the outset what it is trying to prove, and such a major fault automatically invalidates the argument.

However, this criticism can be argued against. Some have claimed that it is absurd to separate the most perfect being from existence, in the way it is absurd to separate a triangle from having three sides.

Norman Malcolm put forward, improved version of the ontological argument that does not treat existence as a predicate. He believed that existence of God was either impossible or necessary. If his existence is impossible, then the concept is either contradictory or plain absurd. If it is nether, then God has to exist. He defined God as a being of which nothing greater can be conceived. He then put forth three options: Perhaps God exists; God does not exist; and God exists. He worked through these options. For perhaps, he stated that God cannot come into or disappear from existence, for then he would be limited, which he is not by definition. Therefore He either does or does not exist. For does not exist, he claimed that the concept of God must be contradictory, and that it is at least logically possible for God to exist. Therefore, it left only one option: God exists, and this is necessary.

Descartes defined God as a supremely perfect being. He claimed that perfection included existence, as it is a perfection in of itself, making it a predicate of a perfect being. Therefore God exists. He claimed that to imagine a God without existence was to imagine a mountain without a valley or a triangle without three sides. He added that this argument cannot be applied to objects within space and time, such as Gaunilo’s island. He said that only God can have absolute perfection, as there cannot be two absolutes. Anselm claims that existence is a predicate. Descartes explains why.

Bertrand Russell disagreed, claiming that existence could not be treated as a predicate, and that the notion of necessary existence represented a syllogism. He claimed that, if existence was a predicate, then the following would be true: All men exist. Santa Clause is a man. Therefore Santa Clause exists. He claimed that existence was not a property, but a numerical concept. Comparing cows to unicorns would result in the conclusion that there are lots of cows, but no unicorns. Existence is not a quality unicorns lack.

However, it can be argued that neither Santa clause nor unicorns feature perfection as a predicate- God does. Perfection comes with existence naturally, in the same way that the predicate of having skin would natural come with having cells.

Descartes also stresses that God’s existence is uniquely necessary, highlighting that His existence is different to the existence of other things, like people, which are contingent. They are within time and space, whilst God, as a supremely perfect being, is outside of time and space.

In conclusion, it seems logical that the ontological argument is not a truly successful method of proving God’s existence. There are too many holes in it, and almost every step is susceptible to major criticism. Additionally, St. Thomas Aquinas’ argument has not been addressed at all, leaving an unanswered criticism of the argument.

EW! Way too much reading! :blink:

M Bison - October 23, 2008 05:33 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Mimi soulja @ Oct 23 2008, 01:52 AM)

EW! Way too much reading! :blink:

Yeah. If you didn't notice, this part of the forum is where the intelligent people post. Go back to Chit-Chat.

super_wolverine_Man - October 23, 2008 07:06 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (M Bison @ Oct 23 2008, 05:33 PM)
QUOTE (Mimi soulja @ Oct 23 2008, 01:52 AM)

EW! Way too much reading! :blink:

Yeah. If you didn't notice, this part of the forum is where the intelligent people post. Go back to Chit-Chat.

:( (Leaves)

granobulax - October 23, 2008 07:08 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (super_wolverine_Man @ Oct 23 2008, 07:06 PM)
QUOTE (M Bison @ Oct 23 2008, 05:33 PM)
QUOTE (Mimi soulja @ Oct 23 2008, 01:52 AM)

EW! Way too much reading! :blink:

Yeah. If you didn't notice, this part of the forum is where the intelligent people post. Go back to Chit-Chat.

:( (Leaves)

He wasn't talking to you! Get back here! :rolleyes:

super_wolverine_Man - October 23, 2008 07:08 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (granobulax @ Oct 23 2008, 07:08 PM)
QUOTE (super_wolverine_Man @ Oct 23 2008, 07:06 PM)
QUOTE (M Bison @ Oct 23 2008, 05:33 PM)
QUOTE (Mimi soulja @ Oct 23 2008, 01:52 AM)

EW! Way too much reading! :blink:

Yeah. If you didn't notice, this part of the forum is where the intelligent people post. Go back to Chit-Chat.

:( (Leaves)

He wasn't talking to you! Get back here! :rolleyes:

:unsure:




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