Untitled Essay Research Paper Anselm — страница 2

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saying that the human mind cannot possibly conceive of the idea of God by reason alone (a-priori), as Anselm might. The argument does not make sense by itself, and must first provide an idea of the existence of God with an analysis of God’s effects (a-posteriori), to which Thomas turns. I think there is evidence in Anselm’s writings that he would disagree, saying that the idea of God is an innate one given to us by God, and needs no other revelation to bring it about. "Hence, this being, through its greater likeness, assists the investigating mind in the approach to supreme Truth; and through its more excellent created essence, teaches the more correctly what opinion the mind itself ought to form regarding the Creator." (Monologium, ch. 66) Although St. Thomas was

obviously a believer, he was not swayed by the idea of reason alone being sufficient to prove God’s existence. His objection of the human mind’s capability to ascertain God is echoed by other philosophers such as Kierkegaard (who was also a Christian): "The paradoxical passion of the Reason thus comes repeatedly into collision with the Unknown…and cannot advance beyond this point. [Of God:] How do I know? I cannot know it, for in order to know it, I would have to know the God, and the nature of the difference between God and man; and this I cannot know, because the Reason has reduced it to likeness with that from which it was unlike." (Kierkegaard, 57) Anselm disagrees, and explains why illumination of God through rational discourse brings Man closer to God.

"So, undoubtedly, a greater knowledge of the creative Being is attained, the more nearly the creature through which the investigation is made approaches that Being." (Monologium, ch. 66) Descartes restates Anselm’s argument for his own purposes, which include defining what sorts of knowledge is around that is grounded in certainty. Most later philosophers tend to use Decartes’ formulation of the argument in their analyses. Required for Descartes’ project is God, who granted humans the reasoning capability with which we can cognate truths. The form of Anselm’s argument he uses involves defining ‘existence’ as one of God’s many perfections. "Existence is a part of the concept of a perfect being; anyone who denied that a perfect being had the property

existence would be like someone who denied that a triangle had the property three-sidedness…the mind cannot conceive of triangularity without also conceiving of three-sidedness…the mind cannot conceive of perfection without also conceiving of existence." (Fifth Meditation) Several philosophers ask what properties necessarily should be ascribed to God, and if existence is one of them. Lotze asks how a being’s real existence logically follows from its perfectness. This deduction, Lotze says, satisfies our sentimental values that our ideals must exist. "Why should this thought [a perfect being's unreality] disturb us? Plainly for this reason, that it is an immediate certainty that what is greatest, most beautiful, most worthy, is not a mere thought, but must be a

reality, because it would be intolerable to believe [otherwise]. If what is greatest did not exist, then what is the greatest would not be, and it is not impossible that that which is greatest of all conceivable things should not be." (Lotze, 669) The mind can contrive wonderful and fantastic things. Where is the fallacy in thinking of a perfect, unreal something? Descartes’ formulation which ascribes ‘existence’ to a most perfect being leads us to the most famous objection to Anselm’s argument, from Kant. Kant has a problem with treating ‘existence’ as a property of a thing, that it makes no sense to talk of things which have the property of existence and others which do. Consider the plausible situation of asking my roommate Matthew to get me a beer. "What

kind of beer?" he replies. "Oh, Budweiser. And a cold one, at that. Also an existing one, if you’ve got any," I might specify. Something just seems amiss. For Kant, when you take away ‘existence’ from a concept of a thing, there is nothing left to deal with. It makes no sense to talk of an omniscient, all-powerful, all-good God, nor of a red-and- white, cold, non-existent Budweiser. A thing either exists, with properties, or it doesn’t. Where Descartes and Anselm would say you are making a logical contradiction by saying "God does not exist" because of the fact that this statement conflicts with the very concept of God including the property of existence, with Kant, making this sort of a statement involves no contradiction. For postulating