Untitled Essay Research Paper Anselm — страница 3

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non-existence as a part of a thing’s concept sort of negates any argumentative power that the concept’s other qualities might have had. A concept of a thing should focus on its defining qualities, such as cold and Budweiser, rather than on its existence. Anselm’s original reply to Gaulino might be applicable here in a defense against Kant. Perhaps it is possible to deny the existence of mere things (be they islands or Budweisers) without logical contradiction, but in the case of a most-perfect being, ‘existence’ must be part of its concept. Perhaps it is possible that an island can be said not to have existed, maybe if tectonic plates hadn’t shifted in a certain way. But God is not bound by the constraints of causality; God transcends cause, existing throughout all

time. So in the concept of God is ‘existence’, as well as His various other attributes. So to say "God does not exist" is contradictory, after all. Kant counters this with a devastating blow. He reduces the ontological argument to a tautology:"The concept of an all-perfect being includes existence." "We hold this concept in our minds, therefore the being must exist." "Thus, an existent being exists." Even if we grant the argument numerous favors, letting it escape from plenty of foibles, in the end, it still doesn’t really tell us anything revealing. "All the trouble and labour bestowed on the famous ontological or Cartesian proof of the existence of a supreme Being from concepts alone is trouble and labour wasted. A man might as

well expect to become richer in knowledge by the aid of mere ideas as a merchant to increase his wealth by adding some noughts to his cash-account." (Kant, 630) Anselm’s argument was not designed to convince unbelievers, but to be food for believers like Gaunilo who wished see what results the tool of dialectic will bring if applied to the question of God. While today the argument seems weak, or even whimsical, it is a brave attempt to go without dogma in explaining God. The argument "must stand or fall by its sheer dialectical force. A principal reason of our difficulty in appreciating its power may well be that pure dialectic makes but a weak appeal to our minds." (Knowles, 106) I think I stand with St. Thomas and Kierkegaard in this matter, for it seems that a

purely logical argument of God’s existence is somewhat out of place. One must be in a position of "faith seeking understanding", in an a-posteriori state of mind to appreciate an a-priori proof such as this. This is somewhat odd and unsettling, for I tend to agree with logically sound arguments at all other intersections of my life. It seems as if Church dogma these days accentuates the mystery of God, staying away from reasoning such as Anselm’s to attract followers. For to have faith in the mystery is what is admirable. One should not be tempted to attend church smugly because it is illogical not to. Anselm. Proslogium, Monologium, Cur Deus Homo. with introduction by Weber, translated by S. N. Deane. Open Court, La Salle, 1948. Copleston, Frederick. A History of

Philosophy. Image Books, New York, 1994. Honderich, Ted (editor). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press, New York, 1995. Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by N. K. Smith. London, 1933 (2nd edition). Kierkegaard, Soren. Philisophical Fragments. Translated by D. F. Swenson. Princeton University Press, 1962. Knowles, David. The Evolution of Medieval Thought. Random House, New York, 1962. Lotze, Rudolf. Microcosmus. Translated by Hamilton and Jones. Edinburgh, 1887. Southern, Richard. Saint Anselm. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990. Van Inwagen, Peter. Metaphysics. Westview Press, Boulder, 1993.