Gaunilo of Marmoutiers

Gaunilo or Gaunillon[1] (fl. 11th century) was a Benedictine monk of Marmoutier Abbey in Tours, France. He is best known for his contemporary criticism of the ontological argument for the existence of God which appeared in St Anselm's Proslogion. In his work In Behalf of the Fool,[4] Gaunilo contends that St Anselm's ontological argument fails because logic of the same kind would force one to conclude many things exist which certainly do not.[5] An empiricist, Gaunilo thought that the human intellect is only able to comprehend information provided by the senses.[6]

Little beyond this essay is known of Gaunilo; no other extant writings bear his name. Anselm wrote a reply to it, essentially arguing that Gaunilo had missed his point.

The "Lost Island" refutation

Anselm claimed his ontological argument as proof of the existence of God, whom he described as that being for which no greater can be conceived. A god that does not exist cannot be that than which no greater can be conceived, as existence would make it greater. Thus, according to St. Anselm, the concept of God necessarily entails His existence. He denies Gaunilo a Godless epistemology.[7]

Gaunilo criticised Anselm's argument by employing the same reasoning, via reductio ad absurdum, to "prove" the existence of the mythical "Lost Island", the greatest or most perfect island: if the island of which we are thinking does not exist, it cannot be the greatest conceivable island, for, to be the greatest conceivable island, it would have to exist, as any existent island would be greater than an imaginary one. This, of course, is merely a direct application of Anselm's own premise that existence is a perfection. Since we can conceive of this greatest or most perfect island, it must, by Anselm's way of thinking, exist. While this argument is absurd, Gaunilo claims that it is no more so than Anselm's.

Anselm had no difficulty in rejecting this parody, because Gaunilo had described the Lost Island as "an island more excellent than any other lands". Anselm correctly pointed out that nowhere had he had put forward the kind of argument which Gaunilo alleged, "because the phrase 'greater than everything' does not have the same force for the purpose of proving that what is spoken of is in reality as [his own phrase] "than which a greater cannot be conceived" <Anselm's Reply V>. Because Gaunilo's phrase did not contain the words "can be conceived", his counter-argument cannot generate the contradiction from which Anselm concludes that something than which a greater cannot be conceived is in reality.


Philosophers often attempt to prove the ontological argument wrong by comparing Anselm's with Gaunilo's.  The former runs:  

  1. God is that being than which no greater can be conceived.
  2. It is greater to exist in reality than merely as an idea.
  3. If God does not exist, we can conceive of an even greater being, that is one that does exist.
  4. Therefore, God must indeed exist in reality.

Gaunilo's parody runs along the same lines:

  1. The Lost Island is that island than which no greater can be conceived.
  2. It is greater to exist in reality than merely as an idea.
  3. If the Lost Island does not exist, one can conceive of an even greater island, that is one that does exist.
  4. Therefore, the Lost Island exists in reality.

If one of these arguments is sound, it has been asserted, they must both be sound. By Gaunilo's reckoning, however, one (and, therefore, the other, too) is unsound. The Lost Island does not exist, so there is something wrong with the logic that proves that it does. Because the argument proves true in one case that which is patently false (the Lost Island), it is fair to ask whether it may fairly be regarded as proving true the other case. The fact that there is no perfect island is put forth by Gaunilo as showing that Anselm's argument for God's existence is flawed. Such objections are called overload objections: they do not claim to show where or how the argument goes wrong; they merely argue that, if it is unsound in one application, it is unsound in all others.[8] Simply put, they are arguments that would overload the world with an indefinitely large number of things, like perfect islands.

Criticisms

Gaunilo's objection to the ontological argument has been criticised on several grounds. Anselm's own reply was essentially that Gaunilo had missed his point: any other being's existence is derived from God's, unnecessary in itself, and nonamenable to his ontological argument which can only ever properly apply to the single greatest being of all beings. Indeed, while we can try and conceive of a perfect island, that island is yet greater if it creates other beings, whereupon it would no longer be an island as we can understand it. Similarly, Alvin Plantinga tendered a reply to Gaunilo's remonstrance by arguing that the concept of "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" is not applicable to an island, or any other object, in the special way that it is applicable to God. Plantinga defends Anselm's proof by averring that it applies exclusively to Him. A necessary being is both existent and the greatest conceivable and greatest possible being. Only God, as Anselm defines him, meets all of those criteria and can, therefore, be dubbed a necessary being.

Another criticism of Gaunilo's argument points out that, whereas God is that thing than which no greater can be conceived, Gaunilo's is that island than which no greater can be conceived. Thus, while no island may exceed it in greatness, it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that some non-island could. "Consequently," wrote William L. Rowe in his summary of the polemic, "if we follow Anselm's reasoning exactly, it does not appear that we can derive an absurdity from the supposition that the island than which none greater is possible does not exist."[9]

Gaunilo's refutation is also criticized on the grounds that it misinterprets the argument set forth by Anselm. Richard Campbell contends that the argument criticized by Gaunilo is incomplete because it represents only one of three stages of a larger argument, one that is not meant to be read as a proof for God but rather as the basis for the following chapter. He argues that since Anselm himself says in Reply I that if something than which a greater cannot be thought exists, it cannot be thought not to exist, a defender of Gaunilo must allow that this island cannot be thought not to exist. But in Proslogion III Anselm deduces that God exists from the premise that "Whatever is other than You can be thought not to exist". Thus, altering Anselm's formula but adopting his premises, entails that the Lost Island both can and cannot be thought not to exist. Since that is a contradiction, it follows that it is not legitimate to alter Anselm's formula. [10]

Parallels

David and Marjorie Haight took a very similar tack with Anselm's proof attempt as did Gaunilo. However, whereas Gaunilo changed the target noun of Anselm's proof, "God", to an alternate noun that he felt was more obviously absurd, a "Lost Island", the Haights inverted the adjective in Anselm's reasoning. Where Anselm used the word "greater" to define god into existence, the Haights point out that the logic can be inverted by replacing "greater" with "worse". The statement then follows to a conclusion that the very most bad thing has to be an existent bad thing, because it would be worse for this bad thing to exist than to not exist, therefore it must exist in its absolute badness. Therefore, the Devil must also exist, so long as Anselm's proof is held as consequential.

Both Gaunilo and the Haights arguments point out that there may be other nouns, and other bivalent adjectives that when conceived as an Anselm proof (in an extreme that demands existence) could also be argued to necessitate their existence as well. For example, with cold or heat: Surely an absolutely cold (or hot) being that exists in reality is more absolutely cold (or hot) than one that only exists in imagination. Therefore, it must indeed exist in reality. And so on. The Haights show that the word "great" may not be the only adjective that pushes for existence when conceived in the extreme, just as the phrase "that God thing" may not be the only noun interacting with "great" in this way, as Gaunilo observed.

The remainder of Gaunilo's text

Gaunilo's treatise is divided into eight sections. The first seven of these sections are criticisms of Anselm's argument from the point of view of a rational non-believer. The last section (8) is simply praise for the remaining chapters of the Proslogion. The full title of Gaunilo's treatise is: 'What Someone in Behalf of the Fool Replies to these Arguments'.[11] This means Gaunilo does not write as a fellow Christian who believes, rather, he pretends to be a rational non-believer. The scholarly debate has focused on section 6 (the Lost Island Refutation). Very few scholars[12] engage with the remaining sections of Gaunilo's text.

External links

References

Citations

  1. ^ EB (1878), p. 93.
  2. ^ Psalm 14:1
  3. ^ Psalm 53:1
  4. ^ The title of Gaunilo's book repeats Anselm's use of the fool mentioned in the Psalms who doubts the existence of God.[2][3]
  5. ^ An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, Michael J. Murray and Michael Cannon Rea, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pg. 126.
  6. ^ The History of Theology: Middle Ages, Giulio D'Onofrio and Basil Studer, Liturgical Press, 2008, pg. 155.
  7. ^ Anselm of Canterbury: The beauty of Theology, David S. Hogg, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, pg. 104.
  8. ^ "Philosophy of Religion." Gaunilo of Marmoutiers’ Objection to Anselm’s Argument. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/gaunilo.htm>.
  9. ^ William L. Rowe: "The Ontological Argument" in Feinberg; Shafer-Landau: Reason & Responsibility, p. 15.
  10. ^ Campbell, Richard (2018). Rethinking Anselm's Arguments: A Vindication of his Proof of the Existence of God. Brill. pp. 300–324.
  11. ^ Gaunilo's name does not appear in early manuscripts.
  12. ^ See Thomas Losoncy and recently Miroslav Imbrisevic

Bibliography

  • "Anselm" , 'Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed. , New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, p. 91–93.
  • Feinberg, Joel; Shafer-Landau, Russ: Reason & Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy: Thirteenth Edition. (Thomson Wadsworth, 2008).
  • Haight, Frederick David; Haight, Marjorie A.: The scandal of reason: or shadow of God. (University Press of America, March 15, 2004, ISBN 978-0761827252).
  • Imbrisevic, Miroslav: Gaunilo's Cogito Argument in The Saint Anselm Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2007.
  • Losoncy, Thomas: Anselm's response to Gaunilo's Dilemma. An insight into the notion of 'Being' operative in the Proslogion in The New Scholasticism, Vol. 56, No. 207, 1982, p. 207-216.
  • Losoncy, Thomas: The Anselm-Gaunilo Dispute about Man's Knowledge of God's Existence: An Examination in 25 Years of Anselm Studies (1969–1994): Review and Critique of Recent Scholarly Views, ed. Frederick van Fleteren and Joseph C. Schnaubelt, (Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1996), pp. 161–181.
Acosmism

Acosmism, in contrast to pantheism, denies the reality of the universe, seeing it as ultimately illusory, (the prefix "a-" in Greek meaning negation; like "un-" in English), and only the infinite unmanifest Absolute as real. Conceptual versions of Acosmism are found in eastern and western philosophies.

Agnostic existentialism

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

Argument from love

The Argument from love is an argument for the existence of God. The best-known defender of the argument is Roger Scruton.

Argument from miracles

The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God that relies on the belief that events witnessed and described as miracles – i.e. as events not explicable by natural or scientific laws – indicate the intervention of the supernatural.

One example of this argument is the Christological argument: the claim that historical evidence proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this can only be explained if God exists. Another is the claim that many of the Qur'an's prophecies have been fulfilled and that this too can only be explained if God (Allah) exists.

Defenders of the argument include C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and William of Ockham.

Atheist's Wager

The Atheist's Wager, popularised by the philosopher Michael Martin and published in his 1990 book Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, is an atheistic response to Pascal's Wager regarding the existence of God.

One version of the Atheist's Wager suggests that since a kind and loving god would reward good deeds – and that if no gods exist, good deeds would still leave a positive legacy – one should live a good life without religion. Another formulation suggests that a god may reward honest disbelief and punish a dishonest belief in the divine.

Atheistic existentialism

Atheistic existentialism is a kind of existentialism which strongly diverged from the Christian existential works of Søren Kierkegaard and developed within the context of an atheistic world view. The philosophies of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche provided existentialism's theoretical foundation in the 19th century, although their differing views on religion proved essential to the development of alternate types of existentialism. Atheistic existentialism was formally recognized after the 1943 publication of Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre and Sartre later explicitly alluded to it in Existentialism is a Humanism in 1946.

George I. Mavrodes

George I. Mavrodes is an American philosopher who is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.

Guy II, Count of Soissons

Guy II (d. 1057), son of Renaud I, Count of Soissons, and his wife (name unknown), widow of Hilduin III, Count of Montdidier. Count of Soissons.

Guy was identified as Count of Soissons in 1042 in a charter in which Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, the treasurer of St. Martin, denoted property. Guy died with his father in 1057 at the siege of Soissons.

It is not know whether or not Guy was married and no children are recorded. Upon his death, his sister Adelaide assumed the countship of Soissons.

Harald Høffding

Harald Høffding (11 March 1843 – 2 July 1931) was a Danish philosopher and theologian.

Index of medieval philosophy articles

This is a list of articles in medieval philosophy.

Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawāzin al-Qushayri

Abhinavagupta

Abner of Burgos

Abraham bar Hiyya

Abraham ibn Daud

Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī

Abu Rayhan Biruni

Abu Yaqub Sijistani

Acharya Hemachandra

Active intellect

Actus et potentia

Actus primus

Actus purus

Adalbertus Ranconis de Ericinio

Adam de Buckfield

Adam de Wodeham

Adam of Łowicz

Adam Parvipontanus

Adam Pulchrae Mulieris

Adelard of Bath

Adi Shankara

Ahmad Sirhindi

Al-Farabi

Al-Ghazali

Al-Jahiz

Al-Kindi

Al-Shahrastani

Al Amiri

Alain de Lille

Albert of Saxony (philosopher)

Albertus Magnus

Alcuin

Alessandro Achillini

Alexander Bonini

Alexander Neckam

Alexander of Hales

Alfred of Sareshel

Alhazen

Altheides

Amalric of Bena

André of Neufchâteau

Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Laon

Antonio Beccadelli

Arab transmission of the Classics to the West

Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī

Auctoritates Aristotelis

Augustine Eriugena

Augustine of Hippo

Averroes

Averroism

Avicenna

Ayn al-Quzat Hamadani

Barlaam of Seminara

Bartholomew of Bologna (philosopher)

Bartolommeo Spina

Basilios Bessarion

Bernard of Chartres

Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Trilia

Bernard Silvestris

Berthold of Moosburg

Boethius

Boetius of Dacia

Bonaventure

Brethren of Purity

Brunetto Latini

Byzantine philosophy

Byzantine rhetoric

Cahal Daly

Caigentan

Cardinal virtues

Carolus Sigonius

Catherine of Siena

Celestial spheres

Cesare Cremonini (philosopher)

Choe Chung

Christine de Pizan

Condemnations of 1210–1277

Consolation of Philosophy

Constantine of Kostenets

Contra principia negantem disputari non potest

Convivio

Cosmographia (Bernard Silvestris)

Credo ut intelligam

Cristoforo Landino

Daniel of Morley

Dante Alighieri

David ben Merwan al-Mukkamas

De divisione naturae

Demetrius Chalcondyles

Denis the Carthusian

Divine apathy

Doctrine of the Mean

Dōgen

Dominicus Gundissalinus

Duns Scotus

Dynamics of the celestial spheres

Early Islamic philosophy

Elia del Medigo

Ethica thomistica

Étienne Tempier

Eustratius of Nicaea

Euthymius of Athos

Everard of Ypres

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi

Federico Cesi

Five wits

Francesco Filelfo

Francis of Marchia

Francis of Mayrone

Francis Robortello

Francisco de Vitoria

Francisco Suárez

Franciscus Bonae Spei

Fujiwara Seika

Gabriel Biel

Galileo Galilei

Garlandus Compotista

Gasparinus de Bergamo

Gaunilo of Marmoutiers

Gemistus Pletho

George of Trebizond

Gerard of Abbeville

Gerard of Bologna

Gerard of Brussels

Gerard of Cremona

Gerardus Odonis

Gersonides

Gilbert de la Porrée

Giles of Lessines

Giles of Rome

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Godfrey of Fontaines

Gonsalvus of Spain

Great chain of being

Gregor Reisch

Gregory of Rimini

Grzegorz of Stawiszyn

Guarino da Verona

Guido Terrena

Guillaume Pierre Godin

Guru Nanak Dev

Haecceity

Haribhadra

Hayy ibn Yaqdhan

Henry Aristippus

Henry Harclay

Henry of Ghent

Herman of Carinthia

Hermannus Alemannus

Hervaeus Natalis

Heymeric de Campo

Hibat Allah Abu'l-Barakat al-Baghdaadi

Hisdosus

Hōnen

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Hugh of Saint Victor

Hugh of St Cher

Hylomorphism

Ibn al-Nafis

Ibn al-Rawandi

Ibn Arabi

Ibn Bajjah

Ibn Hazm

Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Masarrah

Ibn Taymiyyah

Ibn Tufail

Immanuel the Roman

Insolubilia

Intellectualism

Intelligible form

Ioane Petritsi

Ippen

Isaac Abrabanel

Isaac Israeli ben Solomon

Isagoge

Isotta Nogarola

Jacob ben Nissim

Jacopo Zabarella

Jakub of Gostynin

Jan Szylling

Jayatirtha

Jean Buridan

Jean Capréolus

Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi

Jien

Jinul

Jiva Goswami

Jocelin of Soissons

Johannes Scotus Eriugena

John Argyropoulos

John Blund

John de Sècheville

John Dumbleton

John Halgren of Abbeville

John Hennon

John Italus

John Major (philosopher)

John of Damascus

John of Głogów

John of Jandun

John of Mirecourt

John of Paris

John of Salisbury

John of St. Thomas

John Pagus

John Peckham

Joseph Albo

Joseph ben Judah of Ceuta

Judah ben Moses Romano

Judah Halevi

Julius Caesar Scaliger

Kitabatake Chikafusa

Kwon Geun

Lambert of Auxerre

Lambertus de Monte

Leo the Mathematician

Leon Battista Alberti

Leonardo da Vinci

List of scholastic philosophers

Madhusūdana Sarasvatī

Madhvacharya

Maimonides

Manuel Chrysoloras

Marcus Musurus

Marsilio Ficino

Marsilius of Inghen

Marsilius of Padua

Matheolus Perusinus

Matthew of Aquasparta

Medieval philosophy

Meister Eckhart

Michael of Ephesus

Michael of Massa

Michael Psellos

Michał Falkener

Miskawayh

Mohammad Ibn Abd-al-Haq Ibn Sab’in

Moralium dogma philosophorum

Mu'ayyad fi'l-Din al-Shirazi

Muhammad ibn Muhammad Tabrizi

Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi

Myōe

Nahmanides

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Nasir Khusraw

Neo-medievalism

Niccolò Machiavelli

Nichiren

Nicholas of Autrecourt

Nicholas of Kues

Nicole Oresme

Nikephoros Choumnos

Odo of Châteauroux

Omar Khayyám

Oxford Calculators

Oxford Franciscan school

Palla Strozzi

Paolo da Pergola

Passive intellect

Patriarch Gennadios II of Constantinople

Paul of Venice

Peripatetic axiom

Peter Abelard

Peter Aureol

Peter Ceffons

Peter Crockaert

Peter de Rivo

Peter Helias

Peter Lombard

Peter of Auvergne

Peter of Capua

Peter of Corbeil

Peter of Poitiers

Peter of Spain (author)

Peter Olivi

Petrarch

Petrus Aureolus

Petrus Ramus

Photios I of Constantinople

Pierre d'Ailly

Pierre de Bar

Pietro Alcionio

Pietro d'Abano

Policraticus

Porphyrian tree

Praepositinus

Primum movens

Problem of universals

Proslogion

Qotb al-Din Shirazi

Quiddity

Quinque viae

R. De Staningtona

Rabia al-Adawiyya

Radulfus Ardens

Radulphus Brito

Ralph of Longchamp

Ralph Strode

Ramanuja

Ramism

Ramon Llull

Remigius of Auxerre

Renaissance

Renaissance humanism

Renaissance philosophy

Richard Brinkley

Richard Kilvington

Richard of Campsall

Richard of Middleton

Richard of Saint Victor

Richard Rufus of Cornwall

Richard Swineshead

Richard Wilton

Robert Alyngton

Robert Cowton

Robert Grosseteste

Robert Holcot

Robert Kilwardby

Robert of Melun

Robert Pullus

Rodolphus Agricola

Roger Bacon

Roland of Cremona

Roscelin of Compiègne

Roscellinus

Rota Fortunae

Scholasticism

School of Saint Victor

Scotism

Sensus communis

Sentences

Seosan

Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi

Shinran

Siger of Brabant

Simon of Faversham

Simon of Tournai

Solomon ibn Gabirol

Sophismata

Sperone Speroni

Stephen of Alexandria

Substantial form

Sum of Logic

Summa

Summa contra Gentiles

Summa Theologica

Summum bonum

Supposition theory

Synderesis

Temporal finitism

Term logic

Theodore Metochites

Thierry of Chartres

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Bradwardine

Thomas Gallus

Thomas of Sutton

Thomas of Villanova

Thomas of York (Franciscan)

Thomas Wilton

Thomism

Thought of Thomas Aquinas

Timeline of Niccolò Machiavelli

Ulrich of Strasburg

University of Constantinople

Univocity

Urso of Calabria

Vācaspati Miśra

Vijnanabhiksu

Vincent Ferrer

Vital du Four

Voluntarism (metaphysics)

Voluntarism (theology)

Walter Burley

Walter Chatton

Walter of Bruges

Walter of Mortagne

Walter of St Victor

Walter of Winterburn

Wang Yangming

William Crathorn

William de la Mare

William of Alnwick

William of Auvergne (bishop)

William of Auxerre

William of Champeaux

William of Conches

William of Falgar

William of Heytesbury

William of Lucca

William of Moerbeke

William of Ockham

William of Saint-Amour

William of Sherwood

William of Ware

Works by Thomas Aquinas

Yi Hwang

Yohanan Alemanno

Zhang Zai

Zhu Xi

List of philosophies

Philosophical schools of thought and philosophical movements.

Natural-law argument

Natural-law argument for the existence of God was especially popular in the eighteenth century as a result of the influence of Sir Isaac Newton. As Bertrand Russell pointed out much later, many of the things we consider to be laws of nature, in fact, are human conventions. Indeed, Albert Einstein has shown that Newton's law of universal gravitation was such a convention, and though elegant and useful, one that did not describe the universe precisely. Most true laws are rather trivial, such as mathematical laws, laws of probability, and so forth, and much less impressive than those that were envisioned by Newton and his followers. Russell wrote:

"If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others -- the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it -- if there was a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate law-giver. In short, this whole argument from natural law no longer has anything like the strength that it used to have."The argument of natural laws as a basis for God was changed by Christian figures such as Thomas Aquinas, in order to fit biblical scripture and establish a Judeo-Christian teleological law.

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Nicholas Wolterstorff (born January 21, 1932) is an American philosopher and a liturgical theologian. He is currently Noah Porter Professor Emeritus Philosophical Theology at Yale University. A prolific writer with wide-ranging philosophical and theological interests, he has written books on aesthetics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of education. In Faith and Rationality, Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and William Alston developed and expanded upon a view of religious epistemology that has come to be known as Reformed epistemology. He also helped to establish the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers.

Ontological argument

An ontological argument is a philosophical argument for the existence of God that uses ontology. Many arguments fall under the category of the ontological, and they tend to involve arguments about the state of being or existing. More specifically, ontological arguments tend to start with a priori theory about the organization of the universe. If that organizational structure is true, the argument will provide reasons why God must exist.

The first ontological argument in the Western Christian tradition was proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in his 1078 work Proslogion. Anselm defined God as "a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists", and argued that this being must exist in the mind, even in the mind of the person who denies the existence of God. He suggested that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it exists only in the mind, then an even greater being must be possible—one which exists both in the mind and in reality. Therefore, this greatest possible being must exist in reality. Seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes deployed a similar argument. Descartes published several variations of his argument, each of which centred on the idea that God's existence is immediately inferable from a "clear and distinct" idea of a supremely perfect being. In the early eighteenth century, Gottfried Leibniz augmented Descartes' ideas in an attempt to prove that a "supremely perfect" being is a coherent concept. A more recent ontological argument came from Kurt Gödel, who proposed a formal argument for God's existence. Norman Malcolm revived the ontological argument in 1960 when he located a second, stronger ontological argument in Anselm's work; Alvin Plantinga challenged this argument and proposed an alternative, based on modal logic. Attempts have also been made to validate Anselm's proof using an automated theorem prover. Other arguments have been categorised as ontological, including those made by Islamic philosophers Mulla Sadra and Allama Tabatabai.

Since its proposal, few philosophical ideas have generated as much interest and discussion as the ontological argument. Nearly all of the great minds of Western philosophy have found the argument worthy of their attention, and a number of criticisms and objections have been mounted. 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 many parodies, all of which attempted to show that the argument has absurd consequences. Later, Thomas Aquinas rejected the argument on the basis that humans cannot know God's nature. Also, David Hume offered an empirical objection, criticising its lack of evidential reasoning and rejecting the idea that anything can exist necessarily. Immanuel Kant's critique was based on what he saw as the false premise that existence is a predicate. He argued that "existing" adds nothing (including perfection) to the essence of a being, and thus a "supremely perfect" being can be conceived not to exist. Finally, philosophers including C. D. Broad dismissed the coherence of a maximally great being, proposing that some attributes of greatness are incompatible with others, rendering "maximally great being" incoherent.

Contemporary defenders of the ontological argument include Alvin Plantinga, William Alston and David Bentley Hart.

Religious skepticism

Religious skepticism is a type of skepticism relating to religion. Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious but skeptical of specific or all religious beliefs and/or practices. Socrates was one of the most prominent and first religious skeptics of whom there are records; he questioned the legitimacy of the beliefs of his time in the existence of the Greek gods. Religious skepticism is not the same as atheism or agnosticism and some religious skeptics are deists.

Robert Merrihew Adams

Robert Merrihew Adams (born 1937) is an American analytic philosopher of metaphysics, religion, and morality.

Theological noncognitivism

Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.

Theological veto

The theological veto is the concept in philosophy of religion that philosophy and logic are impious and that God, not reason, is sovereign. This concept is held as true by some theists, especially religious fundamentalists.

The idea is derived from a belief that mankind is depraved, and its intellect is a flawed product of this fallenness. In this view conversion, not reason, is the way to the truth; preaching, not argument, is the way to persuade; and grace, not evidence is the way belief is confirmed. In this view, natural reason is so profoundly hostile to the divine that holding it above faith is tantamount to worshiping a sinful creature as an idol. Even the use of reason on behalf of faith is rejected under the theological veto, as it shows faithlessness. It presupposes by practice that faith can be benefited by reason.

Transcendental argument for the existence of God

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) is the argument that attempts to prove the existence of God by arguing that logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose a supreme being and that God must therefore be the source of logic and morals.A version was formulated by Immanuel Kant in his 1763 work The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, and most contemporary formulations of the transcendental argument have been developed within the framework of Christian presuppositional apologetics.

Concepts in religion
Conceptions of God
Existence of God
Theology
Religious language
Problem of evil
Philosophersof religion

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