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

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

physics, which is not a separate philosophical science but a special study of the existential aspect of that same subject-matter whose aspect as truth is studied by logic, and its aspect as goodness by ethics.

Reflection on the history of the Ontological Proof thus offers us a view of philosophy as a form of thought in which essence and existence . . . are conceived as inseparable . . . unlike mathematics or empirical science, philosophy stands committed to maintaining that its subject- matter is no mere hypothesis, but something actually existing.42

Let it be noted well that, even in this exceptionally sympathetic account, there is no distinct echo of the logic of Prosl. III. As a result the formulation, like so many others, is less cogent than Anselm's own, when that is taken as he wrote it, without truncation or mutilation. After all, the questions are, why does this essence involve existence? And how do we know that it does? Anselm saw more deeply into these questions than most of those who came before or after him.

The assertion that Kant understood the Proof is of doubtful value in the absence of any evidence that Collingwood had in mind the actual course of the Proof in the ten essential Anselmian pages to which we have repeatedly referred.


16. Hans Reichenbach

Here is our last example of a philosopher refuting an Anselm who never existed, an Anselm whose only wisdom was that existence is one of the predicates which a thing may be conceived to have. Anselm was a man who thought this, but he was not a man who had no other thoughts relevant to the Proof. And only that fictitiously unresourceful man is refuted in the following.

____________________
42
Philosophical Method ( Oxford, 1933), pp. 124-27.

-253-

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