New Aspects of Omnipotence and Necessity in Anselm: M. J. A. O'CONNOR

Religious Studies 4 (1):133-146 (1968)
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Abstract

Anselm presented his ontological argument in three main forms. In Proslogion II he argued that the very concept of God implies his actual existence. In Reply to Gaunilo —the argument from aseity—he argued that the conception of God as an eternal existent rules out his conception as a merely possible existent. In Proslogion III he argued that the concept of God implies his actual existence as logically necessary. Each of these arguments has its traditional refutation. Against Proslogion II it is argued that the analytic use of ‘exists’ conceptually and descriptively is logically distinct from its synthetic use as an empirical judgement. Against the argument from aseity the same point is made about ‘exists eternally’, and against the detail of his argument it is said that the second premise is not a proposition with a single implication, but a disjunction. Against Proslogion III it is argued that ‘logically necessary existence’ is a meaningless notion. This paper is designed to show that Anselm's arguments may be refuted without recourse to these traditional criticisms; that each of his arguments contains at least one further error, of equal if not more importance, which has passed unnoticed. If this appears to be bringing yet further coals to Newcastle, the revival of the argument by Hartshorne and Malcolm, and the supposed ‘ontological disproof’ by Findlay, may indicate our need of further fuel.

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