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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stones of fact to see if perchance God's existence--or His no-- existence--can be found lurking under them. If anything can indicate God, everything must do so, including particularly the bare idea of God itself. What Kant refuted was not the ontological a priori proof of God--he never clearly stated that (in any form equivalent to Prosl. III). What he refuted was the claim to avoid the a priori in the religious sphere. And indeed, to say that we cannot infer God from the logical possibility of His idea, though we can infer Him from cats, mountains, or our own existence, seems downright frivolous. Either the idea of God is a creature, or it is God's self-knowledge (simply that, or as participated in by a creature); there is within theism no third thing it could be. Either way, its reality entails that of God, if anything whatever can do so. For delivering us from the notion that there is a special order of entity, such as the existing world, or our sense perceptions of this world, with which we must start in order to reach God, we can thank chiefly two men, Anselm and Kant. We can start anywhere, and with anything whatever; the question only is, can we understand it well enough to see the reality of God which, unless theism is absurd rather than false, must be there?


11. Hegel

Hegel's defense of the Proof did it little good, first, because he never properly stated it and second, because his system was too unclear to appeal permanently. Anselm had a lucid mind; he generally used words with a nice exactitude. He meant by God the absolute actualization of all that is desirable and good. This complete actualization did not include that of the world, which was, strictly speaking, superfluous. God might

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