In the bible, it says that “Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God” (Psalms 14:1). Anselm's reflection to this has become known as the Ontological Argument. Anselm defines God by saying God is that “which nothing greater can be conceived.” One way to interpret this phrase is to define “God” as maximal perfection, i.e. the greatest possible being. Anselm justifies his argument by using the idea of a painter. When a painter first knows of what it is he or she wants to accomplish, they have it in their understanding but does not yet understand it to exist. They don’t understand it to exist because they have yet to construct their painting. He is trying to say that there is a difference between saying that something actually exists in my mind and saying that I believe that something actually exists. when you hear the word square, you picture a square, or when you hear the word circle, you picture a circle. Anselm argued when humans hear the word God, they think Supreme Being. When I hear the word “God,” I recognize a God that I know from my personal experiences, but I also know that this God of mine is also working through the lives of everyone, not just mine. He has an intimate oneness with all of us, even if we don’t recognize or know it. I don’t think the God I know of is worried about whether people are religious or not. I think this God is interested in exploring experience, through us.
Philosophers have for long debated on the existence of a Supreme all powerful and all perfect God, Kant, and Anselm being among them. Where Anselm has supported the presence of God and all the attributes that regard to the Him, Kant has risen up with a counter argument. The interaction between the two, the philosophical objection raised by Kant, and what this means to the rest of mankind will be analyzed in this paper.
Gaunilo’s Criticism Gaunilo of Marmoutier, a monk and contemporary of Anselm's, is responsible for one of the most important criticisms of Anselm's argument. Anselm's argument illegitimately moves from the existence of an idea to the existence of a
There are two arguments going on in this article, “Proslogion and Exchange with Gaunilo” and “Treatise on God”. It is an ontological argument between Anselm, Gaunilo, and Aquinas. I like this article because it is about god is real or not. Anselm is born in Aosta, in 1033. He wants his readers to believe that god does not exist but he is in our thoughts. If there is something better than god is foolish. He is saying in his article that,” Better to be just than unjust, and better to be happy than unhappy.” I believe the thought. He is trying to explain that god is everywhere and he is helping us. He is little upsets with Gaunilo because he does not agree that god exists. Gaunilo thinks that nothing better than the thought and true nature.
He said that according to Anselm's line of reasoning, if he envisioned an island that is beautiful and sparkling and completely perfect, then it must exist. For an island that does exist would be more perfect than one that does not exist. Gaunilo said that we cannot simply define things into existence. We cannot show an island or God exists simply by analyzing that idea.
Anselm goes on to justify his assumption by using the analogy of a painter. In short, when a painter first conceives of what it is he wants to accomplish, he has it in his understanding but does not yet understand it to exist. He doesn’t understand it to exist because he has yet to construct his painting. His point in general is that there is a difference between saying that something exists in my mind and saying that I believe that something exists. Anselm goes on to introduce another assumption that could be considered a new version of the argument. He tries to show that God cannot possibly exist in the understanding alone by contrasting existing in the understand with existing in reality.
The next point Anselm makes is that God existing in reality as well as understanding is greater than just understanding alone. Anselm then follows that with his next point: that it can be thought that God can exist in reality. “So even the fool must admit that something than which nothing greater can be thought exists at least in his understanding, since he understands this when he hears it, and whatever is understood exists in the understanding. And surely that then which a greater cannot be thought cannot exist only in the understanding. For if it exists only in the understanding, it can be thought to exist in reality as well, which is greater” (Proslogion Chapter 2). The first point is self-explanatory. Proving God exists would be much easier if God existed in reality and understanding compared to understanding alone. Similarly, proving a cyclops existed would be much easier if you saw, captured, and defined it as a cyclops than just being able to define a cyclops. It is a reasonable assertion.
Guanilo’s argument is correct, but it does not apply to Anselm’s argument. When you conceive an island to be the greatest of all islands. You believe that this island has all the great making properties you believe apply to this island. If you believe that this island should have abundant beaches, then the island becomes contradictory. Properties such as abundant beaches, plentiful fruit, and ample rainfall have no natural limit to themselves. Despite how great your island is, there is always a greater island because there is no maximum amount of those properties.
Another part of Anselm's argument is the idea that it is greater to exist in reality as well as mind, rather than simply mind. This speaks specifically to premise 7 of his argument. While in a quantitative sense this is necessarily true (existing in 2 ways rather than only 1, and 2 being greater than 1), it is certainly questionable whether the opponent of this argument would see it as being objectively better. An opponent of premise 7 might say that an idea can remain perfect, like the chocolate cake you dream about eating. Prior to eating it, you perceive it to be perfect, your mouth begins to water, and your conception of that cake you are going to eat exists in your mind in some way. Then, once you eat the cake, it's dry, stale, and the frosting
Anselm’s ontological argument is historically important because it was among the first arguments for proving the existence of God. His argument had a considerable influence on the populace at the time and received both praise and criticism. His argument also led to the development of counterarguments and other theories for God’s existence or non-existence from other philosophers. Anselm’s ontological argument is still relevant today because it allows us to have a glimpse into the mindset of one of history’s most influential philosophers, and it allows us to develop our own arguments from that.
This concept of God’s existence is also led with the idea that God is a necessary being, a being that is not dependent of something greater in order to exist. If God relied on another being, like how a children rely on parents to conceive them, then this being called God is not God because it would be imperfect. Therefore, there must be another to call God that meets all the requirements for perfection. One of the first popular objections was created by Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. The premise and conclusion to Gaunilo’s argument is identical to Anselm’s argument except with the replacement of the word “God” with “the Lost island” and the word “being” with “island”. As simple as that, though Gaunilo’s argument is completely absurd, Gaunilo’s reductio ad absurdum also proves to be as deductively valid as Anselm’s argument. However, this “Lost Island” could in no way exist. The absurdity and validity of “the lost island” quickly brought up questions as to how Anselm’s Argument cannot be absurd. Anselm’s argument was not proven invalid until Immanuel Kant, a german philosopher during the 18th century, proposed an objection that would be the decisive blow to the Ontological argument (Immanuel Kant. Wiki). Kant’s
If a person can realize that God is the greatest thing, and nothing greater can be thought, than they simply believe that he would exist, even if they do not realize they believe in him.
Anselm in this case defines God as “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived” (Anselm 30). Ontological arguments tend to be a priori, which is an argument that utilizes thoughts as opposed to empirical evidence to prove validity. Anselm addresses the Atheist fool in an attempt to disprove him “since the fool has said in his heart, There is no God?”(Anselm, 30). Anselm stressed that it is obligatory to recognize God as a perfect being that cannot be improved upon, and if someone understands the concept of God, then God exists in that person’s understanding. It is greater to exist in reality than just simply the understanding. The fool understands the concept of God. Therefore the fool has God in his understanding. Suppose God exists only in the understanding of the fool and not in reality. We could then think of something exactly as it existed in the fools understanding but it can also exist in reality, and the being we conceived of would be greater than the being that exists in the fools understanding. Therefore God exists not only in the understanding of the fool but also in reality. By showing that God exists in reality as well as in the understanding, we see that it is imperative that we should believe in God and that it is indeed reasonable.