Explain Anselm’s Ontological argument (25 marks)
Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury and a monk was the creator of the Ontological Argument. The main aspect behind the argument was that the existence of God was true, in simple words, God exists. The argument is deductive as it depends only on knowledge and logic, not on experience as experiencing God is impossible physically. It is also a priori for similar reasons; the argument relies on logic alone. Anselm put forward his ideas about the existence of God through his book, the Proslogion. He started by simply giving the word ‘God’ a definition, and then explaining that to not believe in God was absurd. The Proslogion consisted of two main parts. In Proslogion 1, Anselm explained God as being something that ‘nothing greater can be conceived’. He explained this further by saying that God must exist to meet this opinion - someone as great as God must exist necessarily and not only in the mind. Anselm suggested that ‘even the fool has said in his heart, there is no God’. By this, he meant that even a fool who has no belief in God must still have the concept of God present in their mind to be able to have this opinion, therefore God exists. He is the greatest thought. In Proslogion 2, Anselm used the example of experience and imagination as a contrast. For example, what would be greater: £1000 in imagination, or £1000 in your hand? It is obvious what everyone would answer; it would be greater if it actually existed. Therefore the greatest is existent. God is the greatest, so he must exist. The final part of Anselm’s ontological argument was formed around the objection of another monk/philosopher called Gaunilo. Gaunilo used the example of ‘the perfect island’ in order to criticise Anselm’s argument. Since the island is perfect, Gaunilo argued that Anselm would say that the island must exist, however perfect islands can exist in imagination alone. Anselm argued back that islands are contingent, meaning they rely on...
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