Anselm’s Ontological Argument



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Anselm’s Ontological Argument

  • STARTER TASK:
  • ‘Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God”’
  • Psalm 14:1
  • Copy this statement down. What do you think it is trying to suggest and why?
  • LEARNING OBJECTIVE – I will be able to explain Anselm’s two ontological arguments, and start to assess Gaunilo’s response.
  • May 3, 2017

ANSELM’S ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

  • All students will be able to explain ANSELM’S two arguments
  • (grade E & D)
  • MOST students will be able to assess ANSELM’S argument using Gaunilo’s critiques.
  • (grade C)
  • SOME students will be able to evaluate the Ontological argument using Gaunilo’s and Anselm’s arguments
  • (grade B & A)

A predicate is…

  • ‘an intrinsic property or quality of something’
  • Predicates of an elephant might be…
  • A trunk, size, long ears, being a mammal, tusks, long memory, etc…

Predicates of…?

  • The Earth
  • A Car
  • A Human
  • Anselm’s essential claim is…
  • Existence is a predicate of God (it is a property or quality of God’s nature).

Anselm’s First Argument

  • God is the greatest possible being which can be conceived (thought) of.
  • God may exist either in the mind alone, or in reality as well.
  • Something which exists in reality and in the mind is greater than something which exists just as an idea in the mind alone.
  • Conclusion:
  • 4) God must exist in reality and in the mind (or we have not thought of the greatest possible being).

Features of the first argument (for an essay plan).

  • ‘a being which nothing greater can be conceived’: Anselm expects everyone will accept this definition.
  • Painter and painting analogy (mind and reality).
  • Reductio ad absurdum – if he does exist in the mind alone then he is not greatest possible being.
  • God’s existence is analytic (once we analyse the definition of the term we will see that God exists).
  • Anyone who doesn’t accept it is a ‘fool’, as it is plain and obvious.

Anselm’s second argument

  • God is that being nothing greater than which can be thought of.
  • Something which cannot be thought not to exist is greater than anything which can be thought not to exist.
  • Conclusion:
  • 3) Therefore, it is impossible to think that this being (God) cannot exist.

Argument 2: In simpler language…

  • You can’t think of anything greater than God.
  • Necessary things are greater than contingent things.
  • Conclusion
  • 3) God is necessary

Features of Anselm’s second argument

  • 1) This adds the idea that it is impossible for God not to exist – in other words, God is necessary.
  • 2) It has been argued that his second argument was aimed at believers as a proof that existence in God is rational – to justify a belief in God.

Gaunilo’s response

  • Gaunilo was a contemporary of Anselm, he was a monk who rejected Anselm’s argument in ‘On Behalf of the fool’ using three arguments….
  • On Gossip – the fool could have all kinds of made up things in his head, gossip for instance is unreliable – how should he be able to discern what is true and what is not?
  • You can’t define things into existence
  • The Perfect Island

The Perfect Island

  • Think of some other examples you could include to demonstrate the point about the Perfect Island in an essay…
  • Plantinga – Islands are different to God – there could always be a more perfect Island - more dancing girls, more lush palm trees, twice the size, etc. – idea of a greatest possible island is incoherent. God on the other hand is maximally great – nothing greater is possible.

Homework

  • Use the info in this Powerpoint and the last to write an essay plan for ‘Explain Anselm’s ontological arguments…’ (25 marks).
  • Pick three main points and write out three paragraphs.
  • For next lesson

ANSELM’S ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

  • Write your Outcome down into your notes
  • Learning Outcomes
  • All students will be able to explain ANSELM’S two arguments
  • (grade E & D)
  • MOST students will be able to assess ANSELM’S argument using Gaunilo’s critiques.
  • (grade C)
  • SOME students will be able to evaluate the Ontological argument using Gaunilo’s and Anselm’s arguments
  • (grade B & A)


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