The argument put forward Anselm
The argument put forward Anselm by provides a fascinating argument that seeks to prove the existence of God and is known as the ontological argument. Ontology is the study of what exists or being. His intention is to show that it will be self-contradictory to claim that god, the greatest being that a person could possibly conceive, does not exist. Anselm’s argues that his basic claim about the nature or essence of God is sufficient to guarantee that which he refers to as God exists. From the Proslogium, we learn that the nature of God is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” This statement implies that God is the greatest of all beings and is the greatest possible being. His argument seems to be a clear demonstration of what many individuals believe regarding the divine nature. The idea of the “greatest possible being” implies that in essence, God is omniscient or all-knowing, omnipotent or all-powerful, omnibenevolent or all good, and omnipresent or everywhere at the same time.
The argument put forward Anselm
In his ontological argument, Anselm interprets the essence of God to mean “that which nothing greater can be conceived.” He also proposes that there are two types of existence: the existence in the understanding alone and existence in reality. In the first case involves an idea alone rather than in reality. The second case involves existing as an entity that is separate from its idea but not necessarily a physical existence. Ansel then introduced the principle of greatness that states that “that which exists, in reality, is greater than that which exists in the understanding alone.” Although the fool has said that God does not exist or that there is no God, the same fool understands the idea of God. It follows that the fool’s belief is that God exists as an idea or in the understanding alone and that he does not exist in reality. Anselm, on the other hand, believes that God exists in reality. In the end, two competing conceptions about God are presented. The nature of God, however, dictates that we select that greater or higher conception about Him. Based on the principle of greatness, Anselm’s conceptions is the greatest. Consequently, it follows that God exists in reality.
Moreover, after defining the essence of God, Anselm argues that the being must exist in the mind of all including those that refute God’s existence. According to him, this greatest possible being that exists in the mind also exists in reality since if it exists in mind alone, there must be an even greater being that exists not only in mind alone but also in reality. Consequently, this greatest possible being, which in essence is God, exists also in reality. In standard form, Anselm’s difficult-to-understand passage implies argues that understanding god’s essence proves that God must exist. In summary, Anselm views God’s essence as a conceptual truth. He argues that God exists as an idea in a fool’s mind. While weighing one being that exists in reality and the other as an idea, he concludes that other things being constant, the one that exists, in reality, is greater than the other that is simply an idea. If the existence of God is only in the form of an idea rather than reality, then this creates room to think of something greater than God, which in essence would become the greatest possible being that exists. However, it is not practical to imagine or think of being greater than God since we would be contradicting ourselves by supposing that we can imagine of another being greater “than that which nothing greater can be imagined.” Consequently, the understanding of God’s essence proves that God must exist.
The argument put forward Anselm
The basic statement of Gaunilo’s objection to the Ontological Argument is that one cannot define something into existence. Gaunilo, a Benedictine Monk presents a very important criticism of the arguments set forth by Anselm. It is reasonable for any person to be worried that Anselm shifts his idea illegitimately from the existence of an idea to define an object that corresponds to his notion. Gaunilo’s basic statement in his argument is that Anselm’s approach of simply defining things into existence cannot be done.The argument put forward Anselm
To prove the above basic statement, Gaunilo uses the analogy of lost island. He attempts to apply Anselm’s strategy in deducing actuality and reality of a perfect island. He considers this to be a perfect counterexample of Anselm’s argument form. In doing this, he imagines of an island that is greater than all other islands and with unlimited riches and delicacies. Although it has no inhabitant or owner, its excellence exceeds that of all other countries inhabited by man because of the abundance of the things it contains. He then proceeds to argue that a person who understands the idea of an island would easily understand these words since they involve no difficulty. However, Gaunilo points out that it does not follow that the island exists. Applying this argument to Anselm’s claim, understanding the nature of God does not guarantee the existence of God.
Gaunilo’s island analogy inspires an apologetic rejoinder from Anselm in which he argues that God is not analogous to islands and that greatness is not essential to islands. Since God is essentially the greatest being, Anselm is of the opinion that Gaunilo’s objection does not apply. Looking at the argument between the two, it is evident that Anselm attempts to raise an argument in which he aims to contingent beings from the necessary beings. The existence of contingent beings is tied to other beings. In the event that these other beings fail to exist, the contingent beings will also cease to exist. On the other hand, the necessary being does not depend on any other being. He is eternal and as a result, his existence can never come to an end. God’s does not exist contingently because it was so, his existence would be depending on something else or other beings. Therefore, God existence is necessary. In Anselm’s view, It would not make sense to talk of a God that is not in existence because he would no longer be God. It is clear that employs prior deductive reasoning in his response to Gaunilo.
Evaluation of the Ontological Argument-the argument put forward Anselm
Gaunilo’s counterexample can be expressed as follows with respect to Anselm’s strategy: The lost island is the greatest possible and imaginable island. The lost island is an idea that has been conceived and therefore exists in mind. An Island that exists not only as an idea but in reality is greater than the one that exists simply as an idea. Therefore, if the existence of the lost island is in the form of the idea alone, then it is possible to think of another island that is greater than the lost island, which is the greatest possible and imaginable island. Since we cannot imagine another island greater than the lost island, it follows that the lost island exists.
After analyzing the above statements in detail, it emerges that the argument presented by Gaunilo contains an incoherent premise 1. It would be unreasonable to compare the conceptually maximal qualities with those that make a specific island great. Moreover, although we may have a specific island that may be considered to be great in some way, another greater island could possibly be imagined in the same respect. For instance, if one considers the abundance of riches to be an important attribute that makes the island great, it follows that no matter the quantity riches in that island, it is possible to think of a greater island since there is a specific amount of riches that could be considered to be the intrinsic maximum. Based on this reasoning, the idea of a lost island would be illogical.
On the other hand, Anselm’s Argument about the concept of God seems to be reasonable to some extent. The maximally great being that Anselm defines as the “ that than which nothing greater can be conceived” exhibits properties such as power, knowledge, and benevolence, all of which have intrinsic maximums. To have perfect knowledge, for instance, one must understand all positions. Conceptually, it would be impossible to have more than this kind of knowledge. Similarly, having perfect power simply means being in a position to carry out everything that could possibly be done. Conceptually, it would impossible to have the power that exceeds this.The argument put forward Anselm
In conclusion, Anselm seems to be more persuasive in his argument because it is more logical and reasonable than Gaunilo’s argument. His concepts seem to work. However, it is worth pointing out that this is the case for those concepts, such as power and knowledge, whose properties exhibit some intrinsic maximum that serves as the upper limit. If any of the attributes of God that are essential in understanding his nature lack an upper limit, it follows that Anselm’s argument will become as incoherent as Gaunilo’s. As long as the attributes of God are restricted to omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent, properties which admit upper limits, Anselm’s argument remains persuasive and logical. More importantly, Anselm completely avoids the arguments raised by Gaunilo. The argument put forward Anselm