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

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview
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tory. To have some emotion or other, and some sensory experience or other, is presupposed by any thinking at all (in spite of so-called thinking machines). Even God, in Neoclassical Theism, has something analogous to sensation. An innate idea is not one which could arise with no sensations or feelings, but one which logically could arise no matter what the sensations or feelings, provided they favored conscious thinking, including thinking about thinking, on sufficiently complex levels, and with sufficient freedom from inhibitions.

How far this is what the rationalists meant I shall not further inquire. It is, I suggest, at least as close to what they meant as anything which Locke set up to attack.


6. Spinoza

Spinoza seems to have been the first, though he was not the last, to employ the Proof in support of another doctrine than classical theism; in his case, a more rigorously formulated version of classical pantheism or Stoicism. In one sense this was logical. If God is a superconcrete yet wholly necessary being, then all concreteness must be within Him--otherwise He is but an abstraction from the total reality--and since, on classical assumptions, nothing contingent can be in Him, all things must be necessary. But then the distinctive meaning of 'necessary' is lost!

About the Proof itself Spinoza had no misgivings, and he is well beyond the mere notion that existence is better than nonexistence. His proof of Proposition VII rests on the idea (which had been indicated by Anselm, and developed by Scotus and Thomas Bradwardinus) that what cannot be caused by another cannot exist contingently, which is a version

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