Writing Assignment Number 2: The Ontological Argument
Through the ontological argument, Anselm seeks to prove that God exists and he attempts to refute the fool who says in his heart that there is no God. This fool has two important characteristics: he understands the claim that God exists and he does not believe that God exists. Gaunilo plays the role of the “fool” and challenges Anselm’s ontological argument. I will argue that Anselm’s response to Gaunilo’s attack is not adequate because it does not address the issue of certainty, which plays an important role in Gaunilo’s objection. First, I will explain, in greater depth, Anselm’s ontological argument. I will then elaborate on why Gaunilo denies that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding. Lastly, I will argue why Anselm’s response to Gaunilo’s attack is insufficient. Anselm defines God as a being “that than which no greater can be conceived.” He argues that, whatever can be understood exists in the mind and that the concept of God can be understood, so God exists in the mind. Anselm then tries to prove that God also exists in reality and not only in the mind. The first premises states “assume that God only exists in the mind and not in reality.” The second premises positions “but then a greater being than God can be thought.” Finally, we can conclude “but God was defined as a being that than which nothing greater can be conceived; so, no greater than God can be thought.” The second and last premises that “a greater being than God can be thought” and “no greater than God can be thought” are contradictions. Therefore, our original assumption that God only exists in reality must be false. Anselm implies that only a fool would deny God’s existence. He questions, “Why, then, has the fool said in his heart, there is no God (Psalms XIV. 1), since it is so evident, to a rational mind, that you do exist in the highest degree of all? Why, except that he is...
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