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A2 Ontological

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  • 1. Does God Exist? Ontological Arguments
  • 2. What you need to know…
    • Ontological arguments as presented by Anselm and Descartes.
    • Analysis of these arguments should include reference to the following:
    • a posteriori and a priori reasoning; inductive and deductive arguments;
    • proof and probability; the relationship between reason and faith.
  • 3. Exam Questions:
    • June 04
    • 1 (a) Outline both the cosmological argument as presented by the Kalam tradition and the ontological argument as presented by Anselm. (20 marks)
    • (b) “There is a posteriori and a priori reasoning. There are inductive and deductive arguments.”
    • Explain the type of reasoning and argument used in the ontological argument, and assess how far
    • the argument proves the existence of God. (30 marks)
    • June 02
    • 1 (a) Outline the cosmological argument as presented by Aquinas and the ontological argument as presented by Descartes. (20 marks)
    • (b) These arguments have been presented as “proofs” of the existence of God. Examine what is meant by “proof” in this context, and assess how far these arguments may be considered to be proofs of God’s existence. (30 marks)
  • 4. Ontological Arguments
    • A Priori – not dependant on evidence
    • Deductive – if premise is correct, conclusion is definite/necessary
    • If we define “God” we conclude God must exist – impossible for God not to exist
    • “ from a definition of God to the reality of God” Vardy
    • Main proponents: Anselm, Descartes
    • Main opponents: Gaunilo, Aquinas , Kant
  • 5. Match the words and their definitions… A priori Based on logic and definitions A posteriori Based on reasoning/evidence Analytic The statement is correct by definition Synthetic The statement is not necessarily correct by definition
  • 6. ANALYTIC AND SYNTHETIC STATEMENTS
    • In order to understand the Ontological argument the difference between the above must be understood:
    • An ANALYTIC statement is one where the predicate is included within the subject. Thus ‘All bears have bones’ is an analytic statement (provided we are referring to real live bears and not to teddy bears)
    • A SYNTHETIC statement is one where the predicate is NOT included within the subject. Thus ‘All bears are black’ is a synthetic statement. It could only be known to be true by enquiry – by using experience.
  • 7. A TEST! Are these statements analytic or synthetic?
    • 1) ‘Triangles have three angles’
    • 2) ‘Cars have four wheels’
    • 3) ‘Cats have four legs’
    • 4) ‘A bull has horns’
    • 5) ‘Water is wet’
    • 6) ‘Priests are male’
    • 7) ‘Gay men are happy’
    • 8) ‘Roman Catholic priests are male’
    • 9) ‘God has existence’
  • 8. ‘ God exists’ If you consider that the very essence of God includes existence, then you will hold that this statement is analytic. If you maintain that God may or may not exist, and that it is possible for God not to exist, then you will consider this statement to be synthetic.
  • 9. St Anselm (1)
    • 1033-1109 Archbishop of Canterbury
    • First Argument (Baked Beans)
      • Imagine the greatest possible power, intelligence, justice, love.
      • GITTWNGCBC – by definition
      • Greater to exist in reality ( en re ) than just in the mind ( en intellectu )
      • Therefore if God exists en intellectu, he must exist en re
  • 10.
    • Second Argument (greatness is necessary)
    • - GITTWNGCBC - necessity is greater than contingency
    • - therefore God has to exist necessarily
    St Anselm (2)
  • 11. Ontological Arguments and their Problems
    • 1. Pupils will be able to use keywords
    • 2. Pupils will be able to explain Anselm’s Ontological arguments
    • 3. Pupils will be able to identify and explain the problems with Anselm’s Ontological arguments
    • 4. Pupils will understand Descates’ Ontological argument and Kant’s objections
  • 12. Are these statements analytic or synthetic? 1) ‘Circles are round’ 2) ‘the sun will rise tomorrow’ 3) ‘husbands are married’ 4) ‘husbands have wives’ 5) ‘Water is wet’ 6) ‘the soul exists’ 7) ‘My class will arrive late’ 8) ‘God is the greatest being’ 9) ‘God has existence’
  • 13. GAUNILO’s REPLY
    • Gaunilo rejected Anselm’s argument by drawing a parallel with a lost island. If we imagine the greatest possible island, then this island must exist… He is effectively saying that we cannot define something into existence.
  • 14. Is Gaunilo Right?
    • Anselm’s reply is to say that his argument and the sequence of his reasoning only applies to God – as only God has all perfections.
    • Gaunilo is saying that God is merely the greatest ACTUAL being just as the island is the greatest ACTUAL island - but this is NOT what Anselm is saying. Anselm is claiming that God is the greatest POSSIBLE being and his argument only applies to God.
  • 15. Descartes
    • Ren é Descartes (1596-1650)
    • A triangle, by definition has 3 angles
    • It is imperfect without them
    • God is perfect
    • In the same way a triangle has 3 angles, God has existence
    • He would be imperfect without it
  • 16. Descarte continued…
    • Descartes guarded against the sort of attack that Gaunilo developed against Anselm by saying that:
    • A) The argument applies only to an absolutely perfect and necessary being (it cannot, therefore, be applied to something like a lost island).
    • B) Not everyone does think of God, but if they do then God cannot be thought not to exist.
    • C) God alone is the being whose essence entails God’s existence. There cannot be two or more such beings.
    • Descartes says we can know God's essence and therefore we can say that God must exist.
  • 17.
    • Once you have thought of a triangle, it must exist.
    • The properties of a triangle are necessary to it – three angles, three sides, etc.
    • Triangles exist because we understand what triangles are……
    • BUT, all Descartes is really establishing is IF there is a triangle it MUST have three angles. This does not actually mean there are any triangles.
    • Similarly, IF there is God, God must exist – but the problem is the ’if’!
    Descartes is right!
  • 18. IMMANUEL KANT
    • Kant first called this the ‘ontological argument’ - he thought that the argument made an illegitimate jump from ideas to reality (‘ontos’). He raised the following objections to the argument:
    • We may not be able to reject the idea that a triangle has 3 angles, but we can reject the triangle altogether!
    • Until recently, most scholars rejected Descartes ideas in favour of Kant
    What Triangle?
  • 19. More Problems…
    • Aquinas – We can only know God, and therefore prove God, through his actions – our experience of God (a posteriori)
    • Bertrand Russell
    • You can say “cows exist” but not “unicorns exist”. Why? Experience (a posteriori)
  • 20. Modern Developments 1
    • Norman Malcolm (1911-1990)
    • Developed Anselm’s second argument
    • If God had not always existed, he would have been caused . If God had been caused, he would not be TTWNGCBC – uses a posteriori proof
    • He says that in the case of the statement ‘God necessarily exists’ there are three possibilities:
    • EITHER This is impossible (and he argues this is not the case as there is no contradiction in the statement)
    • OR it is probable (and since God is necessary Malcolm maintains that this cannot be the case)
    • OR it is true (This is the only alternative left and must therefore be the case)
    • The statement 'God necessarily exists', therefore, can be held to be true.
  • 21. Modern Developments 2
    • Alvin Plantinga
    • There are an infinite number of possible worlds
    • In one of these possible worlds there must be a Greatest Possible Being (MAXIMAL EXCELLENCE)
    • This Greatest Possible Being must be the Greatest Possible Being in every possible world, or it would not be the Greatest Possible Being. MAXIMAL GREATNESS
    • 1] Plantinga’s argument depends on the very idea of there being many possible worlds and this is far from clear.
    • 2] There is a jump from saying a maximally great being is possible to saying that it exists.
    • 3] The whole argument still depends on definitions and Hume and Kant’s challenges that we cannot move from definitions to reality still apply.
    • 4] If the very idea of a being with Maximal Greatness makes sense (which Peter Vardy challenges) then so would the idea of a being with Maximal non-greatness.
  • 22.