Anselm's Cosmological Argument

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Anselm seeks to explain the existence of a greatest being, i.e. God. He approaches this task not via our experience of the universe, but rather attempts to explain it solely based upon reason. Anselm attempts to prove the existence of God by providing us with a logical explanation, based upon our understanding, definition, and necessity of God. It is inconceivable for God not to exist. There is a certain nature through which everything that is exists, Anselm explains, is caused to exist by something. Everything that is, exists by virtue of something, and nothing is able to exist through nothing. The underlying assumption here is that things do not exist through themselves for there is no need for their being. Leading to conclude that it is implausible that anything at all is able to exist because of nothing, and that nothing should exist because of something. Building upon earlier argument, Anselm concludes that “whatever is […] does not exist except through something.” Since, according to him, this premise is true and since, as pointed out earlier in his argument, everything that is exists either through itself or through something, there must be one, or many, beings though which all things that are exist. Our existence and the existence of everything there is, therefore, must be explained by a virtue of a higher being, or several of them.

Anselm identifies and explores several possibilities of existence of a higher being, or beings. He points out that there may be several beings, rather than one, that are the ultimate cause of everything that exists, and presents one with his critical analysis of such idea. Anselm argues that if there is more than one of such beings then they themselves must exist either through (a) one being, (b) separately through itself, or (c) mutually through one another. If, he states, these beings exist through one supreme being, then all things that exist cannot exist through more than one being. Following this premise, Anselm...
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