Ontological Argument
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Author’s Introduction

  1. An ontological argument for the existence of God attempts the method of a priori proof, which uses intuition and reason alone. The argument examines the concept of God, and states that if we can conceive of the greatest possible being, then it must exist. The argument is often criticized as committing a bare assertion fallacy, as it offers no supportive premise other than qualities inherent to the unproven statement.
  2. In the context of the Abrahamic religions, ontological arguments were first proposed by the Medieval philosopher Anselm of Canterbury (in his Proslogion). Important variations were developed by later philosophers like Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz, Norman Malcolm, Charles Hartshorne, and Alvin Plantinga. A modal-logic1 version of the argument was devised by the mathematician Kurt Gödel.
  3. The differences among the argument's principal versions arise mainly from using different concepts of God as the starting point. Anselm, for example, starts with the notion of God as a being of which no greater can be conceived, while Descartes starts with the notion of God as being totally perfect, and Leibniz with something having all "perfections".
  4. The ontological argument has been a controversial topic in philosophy. Many philosophers, including Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, St. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, have openly criticized it.

  1. History
  2. Anselm's argument
  3. Suhrawardi's argument
  4. Descartes' ontological arguments
  5. Criticisms and objections
    • 5.1 Criticism by "essence precedes existence"
    • 5.2 General objection
    • 5.3 Gaunilo's island
    • 5.4 Necessary nonexistence
    • 5.5 Kant: existence is not a predicate
    • 5.6 Problem of incoherence
  6. Revisionists
    • 6.1 Mulla Sadra's ontological arguments
    • 6.2 Plantinga's modal2 form
    • 6.3 Alexander R. Pruss and Samkara's dictum
  7. See also
  8. Notes
  9. References
  10. External links


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Ontological argument

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