Understanding Ontology

Richard Beck has a useful debunking and re-bunking of Anselm’s (in)famous “ontological argument” for the existence of God:

Few find the ontological argument persuasive. It seems too cute and quick. Seems a bit fishy. And yet, some find the argument persuasive and the argument has been given a fair amount of logical and philosophical attention, then as now.

Personally, I’m one of those who don’t find the ontological argument persuasive. And yet, how I think about God has a family resemblance to the ontological argument.

At its heart the ontological argument has us imagine a horizon of “greatness” and “perfection.” The argument then goes on to say that existence must be, necessarily, a part of that vision. Maybe, maybe not. But in one sense it really doesn’t matter. Because I think that horizon of “greatness” and “perfection” can do much of the work we want from any conception of God, with or without existence.

via Experimental Theology: The Ontological Argument.

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  • Steve

    Saint Anselm is proof that God is merciful enough to forgive us when we make really awful proofs for His existence.

  • so it doesn’t matter if god is a concept (fictional character, or whatever) or actually exists (if i’m reading this right?)

    ( i guess i’ve heard similar views elsewhere, it just seems to me he must be trying to say something more by using the ontological argument stuff)

    • i guess since this was said to be a “re-bunking” i was surprised to find that, no, it did not “re-accomplish” what the original was supposed to accomplish.