The Ontological Argument

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Part of Philosophy>Philosophy of Religion

Overview[edit]

The ontological argument proposes that God's existence can be proved a priori, that is, by intuition and reason alone. It was first put forward by Anselm of Canterbury in the Proslogium.

The argument works by examining the concept of God, and arguing that it implies the actual existence of God; that is, if we can conceive of God, then God exists — it is thus self-contradictory to state that God does not exist. This is obviously a controversial position, and the ontological argument has a long history of detractors and defenders.

The argument's different versions arise mainly from using different concepts of God as the starting point. For example, Anselm starts with the notion of God as a being than which no greater can be conceived, while Descartes starts with the notion of God as being maximally perfect (as having all perfections).

Suggested Reading[edit]

  • St Anselm, "The Ontological Argument" From Proslogium.
  1. Anselm, St. Burr, David (ed.). Anselm On God's Existence.
  2. Anselm, St. Feinberg, Joel (ed.). Reason and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0534543510.
  3. Anselm, St. Deane, Sidney N (ed.). St. Anselm's Basic Writings. Open Court Publishing Co. ISBN 0875481094.
  4. Anselm, St. Charlesworth, M. (ed.). St. Anselm's Proslogion. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0268016976.
  5. Anselm, St. Davies, Brian (ed.). Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192825259.
  • William L. Rowe, "The Ontological Argument."
  1. Rowe, William L. Feinberg, Joel (ed.). Reason and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0534543510.
  • Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, "On Behalf of the Fool."
  1. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. Burr, David (ed.). Gaunilo: How Someone Writing On Behalf of the Fool Might Reply to all This.
  2. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. Feinberg, Joel (ed.). Reason and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0534543510.
  1. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. Davies, Brian (ed.). Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192825259.
  2. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. Deane, Sidney N (ed.). St. Anselm's Basic Writings. Open Court Publishing Co. ISBN 0875481094.

Enyclopedia Articles[edit]

Lecture Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Wikipedia contributors, "Ontological argument," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, The ontological argument (accessed October 29, 2006).