Strength and weaknesses of ontological argument
The Ontological Argument was, and still is, a hot-topic for debate among philosophers; many famous philosophers have published criticisms of the theory including Immanuel Kant and St. Thomas Aquinas. This obviously raises questions regarding whether or not this argument works. While there is no clear-cut answer to these questions, I personally believe that the negatives of this argument outweigh the positives, thereby making it a weak argument. The first published criticism of Anselm’s Ontological Argument was from Gaunilo in his book In Behalf of the Fool (making reference to the fool in the book of psalms who didn’t believe in God). While Gaunilo was a firm believer in God (and was in fact a monk), he disagreed strongly with Anselm’s method for proving his existence. His problem is with the strand of Anselm’s argument which is put forward in Chapter Two of Proslogion. While Anselm claimed that the God, who is defined as perfect, must exist because an existent God is better than a non-existent God meaning that if he didn’t exist, he wouldn’t be perfect and therefore, wouldn’t be God, Gaunilo applied this logic to the example of a Perfect Island. If the perfect Island didn’t exist in the real world, it would be a contradiction to call it the perfect Island. By this logic, the perfect Island must exist seeing as if it didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be perfect1. We obviously know that the Perfect Island does not in fact exist and, by Gaunilo’s reasoning, Anselm’s argument doesn’t work; if it doesn’t work with parallel arguments, it doesn’t work in the example of God. This criticism is very astute and, therefore, severely weakens the argument and its effectiveness. However, Anselm directly responded to his contemporary Gaunilo’s criticism in an attempt to defend his argument and its ideals. Firstly, Anselm pointed out the fact the example of the Island (or any other examples for that matter) do not work because it, unlike...
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