Kants critic of the onthological argument

Proslogion Theologian and philosopher Anselm of Canterbury — proposed an ontological argument in the second and third chapters of his Proslogion. The concept must exist either only in our mind, or in both our mind and in reality. If such a being exists only in our mind, then a greater being—that which exists in the mind and in reality—can be conceived this argument is generally regarded as a reductio ad absurdum because the view of the fool is proven to be inconsistent. Therefore, if we can conceive of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, it must exist in reality.

Kants critic of the onthological argument

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. Gaunilo did not identify any specific fault with the argument, but argued that there must be something wrong with it, because if there is not then we can use its logic to prove things that we have no reason to believe to be true.

For instance, Gaunilo argued, it is possible to construct an argument with exactly the same form as the ontological argument, that purports to prove the existence of the perfect island: If the ontological argument works, then, according to Gaunilo, the argument for the existence of the perfect island works too.

The two Kants critic of the onthological argument have the same logical form, and so they stand or fall together. The argument for the existence of the perfect island, though, is clearly spurious; we have no reason to believe that the perfect island exists. One problem with it concerns the idea of a perfect island.

A perfect island, presumably, is one with an abundance of lush palm trees and pristine beaches. The more of these an island has, the better it is. There is, however, no intrinsic maximum number of trees or beaches that an island could have; for any island that can be imagined, there is another, greater island, with one more palm tree and one more beach.

There is, then, no island than which no greater island can be conceived. The concept of the perfect island is incoherent; there can be no such thing. The concept of a perfect God, on the other hand is not incoherent. Power, knowledge, and the other qualities of God all have upper limits which when reached cannot be passed.

Existence is not a Predicate The most influential criticism of the ontological argument is that of Immanuel Kant. Kant thought that because the ontological argument rests on the judgement that a God that exists is greater than a God that does not, it rests on a confusion.

According to Kant, existence is not a predicate, a property that a thing can either possess or lack. 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.

Rather, suggests Kant, to say that something exists is to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world.

Existence, then, is not a matter of a thing possessing a property, existence, but of a concept corresponding to something in the world. To see this more clearly, suppose that we give a complete description of an object, of its size, its weight, its colour, etc. If we then add that the object exists, then in asserting that it exists we add nothing to the concept of the object.

The object is the same whether it exists or not; it is the same size, the same weight, the same colour, etc. The fact that the object exists, that the concept is exemplified in the world, does not change anything about the concept.

To assert that the object exists is to say something about the world, that it contains something that matches that concept; it is not to say anything about the object itself.

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If Kant is correct in his view that existence is not a property of objects, then it is impossible to compare a God that exists to a God that does not. A God that exists is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. A God that does not exist is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.

Both are the same. Some have insisted that asserting that an object exists can change the way that we conceive of it. If, having read about Socrates in the works of Plato, I discover that he is a real historical figure, i. Whatever you make of the ontological argument, the other arguments for the existence of God are independent of it.

The next of them is the first cause argument.Understand Kant’s two criticisms of the Ontological Argument. Evaluate these criticisms. Starter. Watch the video Kant’s Objection to the Ontological Argument (preview and download above). Clarify the argument with the students.

Kants critic of the onthological argument

Ask them to express it back to you. Main Activities.

Kants critic of the onthological argument

The first critic of the ontological argument was Anselm's contemporary, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. He used the analogy of a perfect island, suggesting that the ontological argument could be used to prove the existence of anything.

This was the first of . The ontological argument is, roughly, the argument that God, being that than which no greater can be conceived, must exist, for if he did not then it would be possible to conceive of an existent God, which would be greater than that than which no greater can be conceived, which is absurd.

The ontological argument is the most maligned of the .

Responses to Gaunilo

Kant’s Background to the Ontological Argument Immanuel Kant () does not seem to show familiarity with Anselm's version of the ontological argument, and it appears that he is responding to its less impressive forms found in the writings of René Descartes ( .

If appropriate, show again the video Kant’s Objection to the Ontological Argument (preview and download above). Hand out Worksheet 2 and read through the passage as a class, clarifying points as you go. Make it clear that .

Kant's Criticism of the Ontological Argument One of the most famous (and supposedly devastating) criticisms of Anselm’s ontological argument comes from Immanuel Kant. It is virtually undisputed by those who mention the argument.

Anselm: Ontological Argument for the God’s Existence | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy