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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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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