The ontological argument from Descartes to Hegel (review) [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (2):pp. 243-245 (2010)

Graham Oppy
Monash University
Kevin Harrelson's book commences with the following words: This book provides a philosophical analysis of the several debates concerning the "ontological argument" from the middle of the seventeenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. My aim in writing it was twofold. First, I wished to provide a detailed and comprehensive account of the history of these debates, which I perceived to be lacking in the scholarly literature. Second, I wanted also to pursue a more philosophically interesting question concerning the apparent unassailability of ontological arguments. In pursuit of this latter problem, the driving question that my account addresses is "why has this argument, or kind of argument, been such a constant in otherwise diverse philosophical contexts and periods?" I think that there is no doubt that Harrelson succeeds in the first of these aims. He has, indeed, produced a detailed scholarly account of the history of debates about ontological arguments from the middle of the seventeenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth. His history is engaging and interesting, covering a wide range of authors with diverse philosophical orientations: Descartes, Arnauld, Caterus, Gassendi, Hobbes, Mersenne, More, Geulincx, Cudworth, Locke, Clarke, Malebranche, Huet, Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff, Baumgarten, Eberhard, Crusius, Kant, Mendelssohn, and Hegel, among others. It seems to me that anyone who works on the treatment of
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0200
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