The ontological argument is the most maligned of the arguments described on this site. It has critics representing all theological positions, including the classical theist Aquinas, the non-classical theist Kant, and the atheist Hume. Few now defend the ontological argument, but it has not been abandoned altogether.
Nonetheless, his objection has historical significance and is often cited by contemporary philosophers as good reason to reject the ontological argument. Kant thought the ontological argument was flawed.
Any argument for the existence of God based on the proposition that a God that exists in reality is greater than a God that only in the imagination is based on a confusion. Predicates According to Kant the confusion lies in the fact that existence is not a predicate.
The predicate is that part of a sentence which is not the subject but which gives information about the subject. Or a string of words as in the sentence Clare went to school, 'Clare' is the subject and 'went to school' is the predicate.
A predicate is a property that a thing can either possess or lack. Predicates and the Existence of God When people assert that God exists they are not saying that there is a God and he possesses the property of existence. If that were the case, then when people assert that God does not exist they would be saying that there is a God and he lacks the property of existence, i.
Kant suggests that to say that something exists is to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world. For Kant, existence is not a matter of a thing possessing a property i. Existence is a concept corresponding to something in the world.
Kant's objection to the ontological argument is that existence is not a property that can be attributed to beings like we can attribute other properties such as being blue, hard, or round.
When we talk about entities existing, Kant contends that we do not mean to add existence as a property to their beings. In other words, the objection seems to be that one cannot go around adding existence as a property to God or anything else for that matter in order to define God or anything else into existence.
In order to see if that definition were true, we would have to go to an ATM and check the balance of my account and see if it is accurate. Similarly, a definition of God must be checked with reality to see if it is correct.
Kant would agree, if you had a triangle then you did indeed have an object with three sides. But if you do not have the triangle, you have neither its three angles or its three sides. If you accept that there is a God, it is logical to accept also that His existence is necessary.
Contemporary Views of the Ontological Argument Kant's objection has been very influential in the ontological argument debate. Philosopher are still divided as to whether or not existence is a predicate. Some thinkers controversially believe that existence can be thought of as a unique property.
A modern advocate of the ontological argument is Alvin Plantinga b. He has forcefully argued that Kant's objection does not conflict with anything in Anselm's argument. For Anselm does not contingently add existence as a property to God and define him into existence.
Naturally these objections are contentious, which adds to the intrigue of the ontological argument.Gregory S. Neal, "Anselm's Ontological Argument For the Existence of God" from Grace Incarnate () Maciej Nowicki, "Anselm and Russell" Logic and Logical Philosophy () Brown, Paterson.
"Professor Malcolm on Anselm's Ontological Arguments", Analysis, Third Point of anselm: The distinction between "existence in the mind" and "existence in reality" It is generally agreed that God exists in the mind.
The big question is whether He exists in reality too. Previous Index Next The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God Anselm of Canterbury The ontological argument for the existence of God, as it is found in its classical form, was first formulated by the eleventh century Benedictine monk, Archbishop and theologian, St Anselm of Canterbury ().
Perhaps, then, Anselm’s comparison between a God that exists and a God that does not is possible, and the ontological argument survives Kant’s criticism.
Whatever you make of the ontological argument, the other arguments for the existence of God are independent of it. Previous Index Next The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God Anselm of Canterbury The ontological argument for the existence of God, as it is found in its classical form, was first formulated by the eleventh century Benedictine monk, Archbishop and theologian, St Anselm .
Anselm of Canterbury (/ ˈ æ n s ɛ l m /; /4–), also called Anselm of Aosta (Italian: Anselmo d'Aosta) after his birthplace and Anselm of Bec (French: Anselme du Bec) after his monastery, was a Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, who held the office of archbishop of Canterbury from to After his death, he was canonized as a saint.