Intro to Philosophy
Anselm’s ontological argument focuses on the notion that God exists. He defines God as being one “that than which no greater can be conceived.” If God is defined as the greatest being, he emphasizes nothing can be imagined greater than God. Anselm believes that if an individual understands the definition of God, than God exists in the understanding of that person. It is greater to exist in reality than in the mind alone. Anselm illustrates this point with the image of a painter. He questions whether a picture someone has thought about painting is greater than one they have actually painted. If God exists only as an idea in the mind, than it’s possible to imagine something that is greater than God. Anselm believes that would be contradicting the definition of God. Anselm states that anyone who understands and accepts the definition of God can come to conclusion that God exists both in the mind and in actual reality. From Anslem’s reasoning, one then could conclude that God does exist. Anselm believes there is no greater being than God. A possible objection to Anselm’s argument is the question, what makes God the greatest conceived being? There is no way of determining that Anselm’s argument is valid. Anselm simply believes his reasoning behind the definition of God leads God to exist as a superior being. A definition of a concept alone doesn’t prove something exists in actual reality. Existence is not something that can be associated with the definition of an object. His deductive thinking process creates limitations. It is not possible to prove the existence of something without any reference to the world. As a result, Anselm presents a flawed argument.
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