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

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

a higher stage of being than a being which, no matter how truly it exists, how vere est, is subject to this dialectic; that is, whose existence can hypothetically be denied by the same thinking which may also affirm it. The former is an absolute being beyond the opposition of the subjective and objective. It not only exists in truth but it exists as truth; it is the truth of existence itself. . . .45


19. Jan Berg
Among the few careful attempts to apply the techniques of modern logic to Anselm's text is the one we are now to consider.46 The following symbols are used:
'∃x (--x--)' 'there is an x such that --x--'
'℩x (--x--)' 'the unique x such that --x--'
'G' abbreviates 'nihil maius cogitari possit'. Thus 'G(x)' means that 'nothing greater than x can be conceived'.
'∼' 'it is false that'

After several attempts to formulate Anselm's reasoning in Prosl. II, attempts which are found to assume what is to be proved (the divine existence), the following formula is said to avoid this assumption:

'∼ ∃y (y = ℩x (G(x))) (∼G) (℩x(G (x)))'

This formula says: "If there is not a y identical with the unique x such that none greater can be conceived, then the unique x than which none greater can be conceived has the property of being not such that none greater can be conceived'. To avoid the contradiction in the consequent one must deny the antecedent in the initial formula, by asserting:

____________________
45
"Prolegomena to a Meta-Anselmian Axiomatic," Review of Metaphysics 14 ( 1961), 638, 640, 666f.
46
"An Examination of the Ontological Proof," Theoria 27 ( 1961), 99- 106.

-265-

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