An analysis of the ontological argument for gods existence by descartes

By supposing that there is merely a rational distinction between essence and existence abroad in all things, Descartes seems to confirm this objection.

descartes cosmological argument

This latter claim asserts that a being whose existence is necessary is greater than a being whose existence is not necessary. This led to the development of a number of intermediate positions, including Duns Scotus' curious notion of a formal distinction and the view that essence and existence are modally distinct such that existence constitutes a mode of a thing's essence.

Descartes causal argument

And, by the second claim, any existent perfect being is existent. He suggested that, according to Anselm's proof, this island must necessarily exist, as an island that exists would be more excellent. Now this will be meaningless verbiage unless there is some intrinsic maximum or upper limit to the possible intensity of every positive property which is capable of degrees. The desire for God is certain to receive a response. Ross, J. Descartes sometimes uses traditional arguments as heuristic devices, not merely to appease a scholastically trained audience but to help induce clear and distinct perceptions. Since we have no reason, on Malcolm's view to think the existence of an unlimited being is self-contradictory, it follows that an unlimited being, i.

The Ontological argument has its origins in Anselm of Canterbury, who wrote the first ontological argument in the Proslogion The issue arose not as part of an effort to establish God's existence on a priori grounds as mentioned above, Aquinas was one of the staunchest critics of the ontological argumentbut out of concern to distinguish God from finite spiritual entities such as angels.

Thus, if moral perfection entails, as seems reasonable, being perfectly just and merciful, then the concept of moral perfection is inconsistent.

Arguments for the existence of god

In other words, we must be able to have the concept of, or entertain the idea of, a smallest really existing Martian without believing that there really are any smallest Martians. Anselm in his Proslogian. But Mersenne's version of the objection goes further, urging that in order to know with certainty that God's nature is possible, one must have an adequate idea that encompasses all of the divine attributes and the relations between them ibid. Descartes cannot be saved entirely from this charge, but two important points can be made in his defense. Nolan, Lawrence, This intuitive process is psychological in character. Timothy Chambers argued that the devil corollary is more powerful than Gaunilo's challenge because it withstands the challenges that may defeat Gaunilo's parody. We can, of course, try to associate the phrase "a being than which none greater can be imagined" with more familiar finite concepts, but these finite concepts are so far from being an adequate description of God, that it is fair to say they don't help us to get a detailed idea of God. So we shall come to understand that necessary existence is contained in the idea of a supremely perfect being …. Gueroult, Martial,

It has received a lot of both support and criticism from leaning philosophers. He argued that what is self-evident cannot be denied without contradiction, but God's existence can be denied.

A being like God, being perfect in every way, cannot contingently exist.

ontological argument criticism

Now if I take the subject God with all its predicates omnipotence being oneand say, God is, or There is a God, I add no new predicate to the conception of God, I merely posit or affirm the existence of the subject with all its predicates - I posit the object in relation to my conception.

Notice, for example, that the claim that x necessarily exists entails a number of claims that attribute particular properties to x.

modal ontological argument

So the acceptability of axioms for modal logic depends on which of these uses we have in mind. Forgie, J. Thus, Descartes feels justified in concluding that the limits of his capacity for clear and distinct perception will be shared by everyone.

Zalta used an automated theorem prover— Prover9 —to validate Anselm's ontological thesis.

Ontological argument summary

He starts off by saying: "whether there is a God, this, we say, can be proved". But it does not follow that the thing represented by such an idea actually exists, except in the case of God. Curley, Edwin, Therefore, God exists. Whereas the concept of an independent being entails that such a being exists, the concept of a finite thing entails only that it has dependent existence. Descartes sometimes uses traditional arguments as heuristic devices, not merely to appease a scholastically trained audience but to help induce clear and distinct perceptions. But that is absurd: when we entertain the idea of that than which no greater can be conceived, our idea encodes the property of existing in reality. Immanuel Kant directs his famous objection at premise 3's claim that a being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind. Rather it is a precondition for the instantiation of properties in the following sense: it is not possible for a non-existent thing to instantiate any properties because there is nothing to which, so to speak, a property can stick. The no devil corollary is similar, but argues that a worse being would be one that does not exist in reality, so does not exist. Descartes does not conceive the ontological argument on the model of an Euclidean or axiomatic proof, in which theorems are derived from epistemically prior axioms and definitions. But when the complete apparatus of the Cartesian system is brought forth, the argument proves itself to be quite resilient, at least on its own terms. Kant attempted to show in his works that this being possessed many of the common attributes of God, such as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. Hence, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which nothing greater can be conceived. Nothing, that is distinctly conceivable, implies a contradiction.
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Ontological Arguments (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)