The Ontological Argument Essay

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The Ontological Argument   The Ontological Argument, put forth by Saint Anselm in his Proslogium, attempts to prove the existence of God simply by the fact that we have a particular concept of God - that God is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." Saint Anselm presents a convincing argument that many people view as the work of a genius. It is also quite often considered a failure because, in William L. Rowe's words, "In granting that Anselm's God is a possible thing we are in fact granting that Anselm's God actually exists." In other words, it "assumes the point it is supposed to prove", primarily because is assumes that existence is a great-making quality, and for God to be truly great, he must exist. I…show more content…
A descriptive way to put it is that knowledge is simply belief that we feel safe enough to bet on. If one accepts these definitions, and understands the concepts they stand for, then one can say that Anselm arrives at the decision that he knows that God exists, and cannot be conceived not to exist. And this is as close to the reality of the existence or nonexistence of God that we as humans, relying on our senses and reasoning for knowledge of truth, can actually come to the truth.   Definitions are the other problem that I must cover, and Anselm also spends considerable time speaking of definitions and how they differ from the understanding, or concept, of something. A definition is the word or words for a concept. There is the tree itself (the truth, or reality), there is our concept of the tree (or our knowledge and beliefs of and about the tree), and there is the word "tree" and all the words describing our concepts of it, or our definition for the thing we call "tree". So, what I am illustrating is that definitions are how we put our concepts into words, and that our concepts are a combination of our beliefs and knowledge of what actually is.   What Anselm basically states in his argument is that if one truly understands what "that than which nothing greater can exist" is, and accept it as a possible definition of God, then one must know that God exists (this assumes that existence is a great
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