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

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

Argument is valid. Yet it takes no step in the direction of describing how, or in what actual concrete form, perfection is realized. The categorial or logical gap between essence and existence, which Henrich stresses, in the divine case becomes an absolutely infinite gap between abstract essence and/or existence, on one side, and concrete actuality on the other.

The trust in mere dichotomies was effectively criticized by Peirce seven or eight decades ago. But the lesson has yet to be learned. The 'cultural lag' in philosophy is great indeed. (Thus Henrich in 1960 does not know Prosl. III.) 'Existence' can have various positions short of full concreteness or actuality, but in one supreme case it must be as abstract as essence, and hence a priori. The comprehensive or universal contrast of idea or essence is with actuality, not with existence.

Against these authors I maintain: Anselm discovered, and really discovered, the modal uniqueness of the idea of God. What he overlooked, and nearly all his critics equally fail to see, is that, since actuality cannot be necessary, there must be a real duality in God, as in no other being, between necessary existence and contingent actuality.


24. The Proof and the Other Theistic Arguments

There is a final consideration. Philosophers all know that according to Kant the other supposed proofs for God fail unless they can resort to the principle of the ontological proof (that perfection and necessary existence are inseparable). Kant is believed to have refuted the principle, hence to have disposed of all the proofs in one blow. But did he refute the principle? True, he also accused the proofs of other weaknesses.

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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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