Anselm's Ontological Argument

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In this paper I will argue that St. Anselm’s ontological argument is not adequate in proving the existence of God. First I will discuss his ambiguous use of the term “God”. Then, I will move on to analyze the term “greatest” made in his premises. Lastly, I will also criticize Anselm's argument by demonstrating that Anselm’s reply to Gaunilo’s objections are unconvincing. Anselm was the first one who developed the ontological argument, an argument for God’s existence based on reason, not on physical evidence. Philosophers call such arguments a priori arguments. In the first premise he defines God as the greatest possible being that can be imagined. Then, he argues that God exists in reality is getter than God exists in the mind. Consequently, …show more content…
Gaunilo gives us the example of the greatest possible island called “the Lost Island.” He applies Anselm’s argument to “the greatest possible island” to prove the existence of this island, by using the same style of reasoning which Anselm uses to prove the existence of God. If the ontological argument works, then, the Lost Island argument works too since the two arguments have the same logical form. Given the Lost Island argument, Gaunilo criticizes the ontological argument by demonstrating this approach can be used to prove a lot of seemingly fool ideas, for example, “the greatest possible …show more content…
I argue that he uses this technique to make his arguments seem to be sound. His argument is summarized as: (P1) God is the greatest possible being that can be imagined. (P2) God does exist in the mind. (P3) A being that exists in reality is greater than a being that exists in the mind. (P4) Thus, if God exists only in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God. (P5) However, we cannot imagine something that is greater than God because it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined. (C1) Therefore, God does exist in reality. In his argument, he does not clearly differentiate the word “God”. The word “God” should have two meanings: one is God who exists in reality and the other one is God who exists in the mind. While in P4 he talks about “God who exists only in the mind”, in P5 he uses “God who exists in reality” version to make us think that he was talking about this version in P4 too. Thus, there is no such contradiction in P5 from the very beginning because “the greatest possible being that can be imagined” is not exactly same with “God who exists only in the mind”. All we can understand from his argument is that we can actually imagine a being greater than “God who exists in the mind”. However, “God who

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