Anselm's Ontological Argument
What does "ontological" mean?
ontology = def the study of being, or what exists
I can conceive of God, a perfect being. But if God doesn't exist, then God
isn't perfect. So, God must exist.
(This isa highly compressed version of the argument. Details to follow.)
Anselm's starting point is to give a definition:
God = def the greatest possible being.
Anselm asks us to imagine God. If we are truly imagining God, then what we imagine, he claims,
must be something entirely unsurpassable in greatness (perfection). For God, if God exists, must, by
definition, be as excellent as anything possibly could be. Accordingly, our concept of God is a concept
of the being than which (or whom) none is greater.
Consider the following division:
Possible Things Impossible Things
Teletransporters The planet Vulcan Round squares
Chairs People Four-sided triangles
Insects Bigfoot God (?) Married bachelors
Possible things include both:
Things Which Don't Exist Things Which Exist
Rabbits' horns Insects
(Exist in the understanding only) (Exist in the understanding and in reality)
The question is: In which of these categories do we place God?
Anselm is going to try to show us that we must place God in the category of "things which exist in
reality"). Now for the ontological argument itself:
(1) God is that than which (or whom) nothing is greater.
(2) God exists in the understanding (or, is possibly real).
(3) To exist is greater than not to exist.
(4) Suppose that God did not exist.
(5) So, something might be greater.
(6) So, something might be greater than that which (or whom) nothing is greater.
(7) But this is a contradiction, so our supposition (4) must be false.
(8) Therefore, God exists in reality.
Imagine a God tha0 had every attribute that a God 1 has (omnipotence,
omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc.) except existence.
But by p