Anselm's Discovery: A Re-Examination of the Ontological Proof for God's Existence

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

23. Some Recent Criticisms of the Proof

The validity of our position may be tested by considering some recent criticisms of the Anselmian argument, particularly as the argument is presented by Malcolm.16

(a) The 'second argument' (from necessary existence as a predicate) is held ( Allen, Abelson, Penelhum) to imply the principle of the 'first argument', that existence is a predicate, which, as Malcolm himself says, is invalid. Yet that existence in the one case of Perfection is a genuine predicate is quite compatible, as we have seen, with its not being so elsewhere. The critics are indeed right in holding that existence must always have a contingent aspect, for it implies a step from the abstract to a particular concrete case and thus a passage from one logical type to another--a passage, moreover, in the direction of greater definiteness, since the concrete instance must have further qualities not specified in the predicate that is being considered. That such a step in its particularity should be entirely necessary would be sheer contradiction. But the ontological Proof, when employed in a neoclassical system, need not take this step to be necessary.

Consider any predicate, H: if it is actualized in a certain way, or by a certain concrete instance, it is always possible to conceive it as actualized in another way, by another instance. If H means human, or 'rational animal living on the earth', there might have been such animals different in each case from any which have actually existed. There might also have been no human animals at all; but this is a further

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16
See The Philosophical Review, 70 ( 1961), for articles by R. E. Allen (pp. 55-66), R. Abelson (pp. 67-84), T. Penelhum (pp. 85-92), P. Henle (pp. 93-101), and G. B. Matthews (pp. 102-3).

-110-

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Anselm's Discovery: A Re-Examination of the Ontological Proof for God's Existence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Open Court Library of Philosophy i
  • Title Page v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xv
  • Part One 3
  • 2. the Overestimation of Gaunilo 18
  • 3. What the Proof Claims to Prove 22
  • 4. the Definition of God: A Dilemma 25
  • 4. the Definition of God: A Dilemma 28
  • 6. Existence a Predicate? 33
  • 7. the Second or Strong Form of the Proof 33
  • 7. the Second or Strong Form of the Proof 36
  • 7. the Second or Strong Form of the Proof 41
  • 7. the Second or Strong Form of the Proof 48
  • 7. the Second or Strong Form of the Proof 49
  • 12. the Role of Faith 53
  • 13. is the Proof Platonic? 55
  • 13. is the Proof Platonic? 60
  • 13. is the Proof Platonic? 62
  • 13. is the Proof Platonic? 65
  • 17. Anselm's Appeal to Rules 70
  • 18. Refutation of Some Refutations 73
  • 18. Refutation of Some Refutations 85
  • 20. Proslogium Ii, Iii, and Anselm's Principle 99
  • 21. Definite Thought is About Something 106
  • 23. Some Recent Criticisms of the Proof 110
  • 24. the Proof and the Other Theistic Arguments 134
  • Part Two a Critical Survey of Responses to Anselm's Proof 139
  • 2. a Strange Story 149
  • 2. a Strange Story 150
  • 2. a Strange Story 154
  • 2. a Strange Story 164
  • 2. a Strange Story 173
  • 2. a Strange Story 176
  • 2. a Strange Story 178
  • 2. a Strange Story 201
  • 2. a Strange Story 208
  • 2. a Strange Story 234
  • 2. a Strange Story 237
  • 2. a Strange Story 238
  • 2. a Strange Story 240
  • 15. R. G. Collingwood 250
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 253
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 255
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 261
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 265
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 267
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 278
  • 16. Hans Reichenbach 297
  • Bibliography 305
  • Acknowledgments 311
  • Index of Names 313
  • Index of Topics 319
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