The Ontological Argument
History and Backgroud
St. Anselm on Caterbury
Scholar and Theologian
Ecclesiastical statesman: Archbishop of England
Two matters of language
"Argument: has two meanings: a verbal disagreement; a reasoned support of a given idea
Ontological just means "having to do with being" or "having to do with existence"
"onto-" comes from the present participle of the Greek word "to be"
Expounding the Argument
Premise 1: God is (df.) that being which that which none greater can be imagined.
Premise 2: Other things being equal, a being that exists is greater than one that does not.
Therefore, God exists.
In other words, unlike the case of the sasquatch, the very definition of god commits you to gods
P1: What kind of a definition is this?
It is not perhaps a common-talk definition, but we might say, a reflective-talk definition.
Note: the fact that we define god as a 'being' does not entail that god exists. The word being
does not imply existence
We have 2 mugs of beer that are equal in being cold, clear, and delicious, with the difference
being that one is simply imaginary and one is actually real.
Which of these two mugs of beer is greater (better, finer)?
Anselm's idea is this: Take two gods, alike in every respect, except that one exists and the
other does not, but is purely imaginary.
The god that exists s greater than the one that des not.
If God is purely imaginary but does not exist, than he is not "that being than which none greater
can be imagined".
Of course this whole argument gets very murky if we move away from positive things (eg: devil,
warm sludgy beer).
This is the "trick of thought" in the argument
"Trick" in the sense of clever, surprising turn, not in the sense of deceit.
It is the crux on which the argument turns.
A Digression about Sasquatch A sasquatch is (df.) a large, hairy, gorilla-like creature inhabit