|Kant Settled the Ontological argument? Discuss
Author: Like-In-My-Dream PM
PHILOSOPHY -- ANALYSIS question -- How Far do you think that Kant Settled the Ontological Argument? -- An essay I wrote for my A-level course -- I recieved an A for this piece: Mark-10/10Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 717 - Published: 01-27-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2627514
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I figure that everyone wants help with their school work sometimes, as do I, so I decided to post some of my essays that I have written in the past for my philosophy and ethics course that I got full marks on.
PLEASE DO NOT copy this word for word as that would be plagerism, but I have found that looking back over these past essays and summarising the main points was very useful when it came to revision of all the arguments.
The essay question you are working on will most likely not be this exact question so copying it exactly will not help in the slightest except to make you look like an idiot.
Hope this is useful to all you aspiring philosophers out there :)
How Far do you think that Kant Settled the Ontological Argument?
The ontological argument was first introduced by Anselm, and was later backed up and elaborated on by Descartes. Anselm suggested that the phrase 'God does not exist' is philosophically incoherent because the phrase 'God exists', unlike a statement made about anything else existing, (e.g. a badger) is an analytical statement rather than a synthetic one. Anselm developed two systems to logically prove the existence of God both by showing that he must exist, and by showing that he has necessary existence.
Kant rejected Anselm's ontological argument completely; he sought to prove Anselm wrong and did so in two ways that clearly undermined Anselm's theory.
Kant's first attack on Anselm's theory is that God cannot be defined into existence. Kant goes about proving that Anselm was mistaken by pointing out that Anselm's argument is entirely dependant on everyone having experience of God and an understanding of what God is. For example, if you have not encountered a triangle in your entire life and were told that a triangle has three sides, you could counter that argument by stating that triangles do not exist therefore making the argument void. So under this logic, Kant argues that for people who do not have an understanding of God previous to the argument, this argument does not prove anything to them about God's existence.
Anselm built his argument on the fact that God has all the perfect attributes and therefore, to be perfect, God must have the quality of existence, therefore completing his perfection. Kant's argument is that existence is not a predicate – it is not a quality of something:
" 'Being' is obviously not a real predicate; that is, it is not a concept of something which could be added to the concept of a thing. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations, as existing in themselves. "
- - Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason, 1788
Therefore existing in reality is not 'greater' than existing in the mind because it is not a quality attributed to a being as the being would be exactly the same in your head as it would be in reality it just happens to be real rather than imaginary. Existence or non-existence is immaterial to whether something is the 'greatest being that can be conceived'.
Both of these arguments by Kant seriously undermine the logical approach of Anselm and Descartes to proving the existence of God. The first argument of Kant's nullifies the claim that it is a part of God's nature that he exists, and the second does the same for Anselm's second argument that God exists necessarily. Kant has shot down both arguments very effectively; however, followers of Anselm and Descartes like Alvin Plantinga dispel the belief that the ontological argument is created to prove the existence of God, but shows how rational the belief in God is:
" What I claim for this argument, therefore, is that it establishes, not the truth of theism, but its rational acceptability. "
- - Alvin Plantinga – God, Freedom and Evil
Kant therefore proved that, without a doubt, the ontological argument does have flaws and does not prove God's existence in any way, however if you work under the assumption that this was not Anselm's intent in the first place, and it was created, not to convert non-believers, but to encourage Christians in their own faith, the system of the ontological argument still has some merit.