Reply to Oppy's fool

Analysis 71 (2):303-303 (2011)
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Anselm: I agreed that Pegasus is a flying horse according to the stories people tell, the paintings painters paint and so on . That is, Pegasus is a flying horse in the understanding of storytellers, their readers and the artists who depict Pegasus. You asked whether flying is not an unmediated causal power . Well, it could be an unmediated causal power if you or I had it, but not if a being with only mediated powers had it. And so poor Pegasus, a being whose powers are only those given him by storytellers and artists, has only the mediated power of flying that they have given him. He flies in the thoughts and depictions of beings with unmediated powers. Still, Pegasus has not only the mediated power to fly but also the mediated power to entertain us, and perhaps even inspire us. Fool: But people could tell stories about you, too, about how you sprouted wings and flew onto the roof of Canterbury Cathedral. Anselm: Alas, if it were only in stories that I could do that, then flying would not be an unmediated causal power of mine. I would still have unmediated causal powers all right, and so would be greater than Pegasus. But flying is not one of my unmediated causal powers. However, something than which nothing greater can be conceived would, and does, as I have proved in my Proslogion, have unmediated causal powers – indeed, much greater unmediated causal powers than any poor mortals like you and me.1 •↵1 For …



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Author's Profile

Lynne Rudder Baker
PhD: Vanderbilt University; Last affiliation: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Citations of this work

Updating Anselm Again.Lynne Rudder Baker - 2013 - Res Philosophica 90 (1):23-32.
Against an Updated Ontological Argument.Eric Yang - 2017 - Res Philosophica 95 (1):179-187.
On behalf of the fool.G. Oppy - 2011 - Analysis 71 (2):304-306.
The Ontological Argument and Objects of Thought.Edward Wierenga - 2011 - Philosophic Exchange 42 (1):82-103.

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References found in this work

Anselm’s Argument Reconsidered.Gareth B. Matthews - 2010 - Review of Metaphysics 64 (1):31-54.

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