Examine the main features of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God
The Ontological argument is most famously linked to the early Arch Bishop of Canterbury, St. Anselm (1033 – 1109). In his works ‘Proslogian’, Anselm argued that God’s existence could be proved merely by saying his name. Anselm believed that the word “God” held all the information about him in order to prove his existence and so no further investigating or defining was needed.
The argument is a priori, deductive and analytic as it doesn’t rely on any outside evidence or post experiences, the premises all lead to a logically necessary conclusion and the conclusion is already apparent in the premises. For example if one were to mention God in premise 1, the conclusion “Therefore God exists” is (according to Anselm) ‘unnecessary’ as one has already established his existence by saying his name in premise 1.
Anselm approached the argument in three ways, with a further addition of the ‘fools’ argument, aimed at atheists. ‘Reducito ad absurdum’ is the first school of thought that Anselm applied to proving the existence of God, in which he reduces any opposing argument to absurdity. In Anselm’s case, any opposing argument would be that “God doesn’t exist”, however since Anselm defined God as “That than which nothing greater can be conceived” he fights back by making this opposition seem absurd. In this way of thinking Anselm poses God as logically necessary and concludes that he cannot not exist.
Anselm then goes on to look at the argument in two forms. The first form revolves around God existing in re (in reality) and in intellectu (in the mind). Anselm believed that God existed in everybody’s mind as everyone uses his name and therefore has an understanding of him. Anselm states that God is the greatest thing we can think of in our minds (“that than which nothing greater can be thought”) and so God must exist in reality in order for our thoughts not to be able to stretch any further....