Thought experimenting with God. Revisiting the ontological argument

Yiftach J. H. Fehige
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
The ontological argument is one of the most intriguing lines of reasoning in Western thought. Leaving behind debates over the proper relation between science and religion, it makes a simple move from conceptual analysis to existence in order to prove the existence of god. The ontological argument will be reviewed against the background of the contemporary debate on thought experiments. Assuming that the ontological argument fails as a philosophical proof, I will argue that its move from concept to existence might best be understood as a thought experiment of revealed theology (a theology based on revelation – unlike philosophical theology/natural theology). Viewed from this perspective it makes sense that Anselm of Canterbury offered his versions of the ontological argument in the form of a prayer, which, presupposing the existence of god, seems to run counter to a proof of god's existence.
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DOI 10.1515/NZST.2009.018
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