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Author Topic: Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God and Aquinas' Rejection  (Read 24866 times)
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ckinneberg11
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« on: March 17, 2009, 05:24:26 PM »

       Anselm Ontological Argument for the existence of God goes as follows: We believe that God is something than which nothing greater can be thought. When one hears those words, "God is that which nothing greater can be thought," one understands this in one's understanding even if one does not understand, or judge, this to exist. He says that "even the Fool [who said in his heart that God does not exist] is convinced that something than which nothing greater can be thought exists at least in his understanding" (Page 95 top right column). However, St. Anselm then says that something like this cannot only exist in the understanding (the mind) but also in reality. In other words, we can think that God, whom nothing greater can be thought, exists only in the mind, but we can also think that God, whom nothing greater can be thought, exists in reality, and thinking that God exists in reality is greater than thinking that He only exists in the mind. Therefore, we cannot simply say that God exists only in the mind, because if we view God as something than which nothing greater can be thought, there clearly is something greater that can be thought; namely, God existing in reality. "Hence, without a doubt, something than which a greater cannot be thought exists both in the understanding and in reality" (Page 95 last sentence of top right section). Thus, Anselm says that no one can even rightly say that God does not exist if they understand Him to be that which nothing greater can be thought, and if they do, it is something that he says has no signification because it is said by way of the object being thought simply by the word signifying it being thought.
       St. Thomas Aquinas responds directly to Anselm's proof for the existence of God, and he does not agree with it. First of all, responding to the claim that God's existence is self-evident to us because it is natural in us, Aquinas explains how the knowledge that God exists naturally within us is known only by something such as the fact that God is the complete happiness of a person and we all are directed towards and desire happiness. However, he says that not all people view God as happiness itself in their lives, but rather, money, possessions, etc.
       Aquinas then explains how some people don't understand God to mean that which nothing greater can be thought, which is basically required for Anselm's proof. He also explains how many simply say that God is that which nothing greater can be thought, and they think this exists only in the intellect. He says that those people do not make the claim that God is that which nothing greater can be thought that exists in reality, which would be required for Anselm's proof.
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