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

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

17. Anselm's Appeal to Rules

Suppose we can without contradiction conceive that there is a unique x which is unsurpassable, and suppose we can also without contradiction conceive the negation of this. Then either supposition is the notion of an absolutely inexplicable brute fact. Ordinary facts may in a relative sense be inexplicable, but in a relative sense at least they are always explicable. They have causes which at least partly explain them. Even if determinism is, as I confidently believe, a false doctrine, still, every existing thing of ordinary kinds has come into existence thanks to causes which made the emergence of some such thing when and where it did, if not inevitable, at least more or less probable. But to be unsurpassable a being must exist thanks to no cause whatever, and without ever coming into existence or being capable of ceasing to exist. An uncaused being such that it might have failed to exist, yet incapable of coming into or going out of existence could only be, in the most absolute sense, inexplicable, a wholly and simply irrational contingent fact. No antecedent fact would illuminate it, and by hypothesis no abstract principle of logical necessity would either. It would just be so. Unlike ordinary ideas of chance, such as those of Peirce and others, which always set limits to the inexplicable aspects of things, we would here have an existence through and through pure chance, in the strict logical sense of having no aspect derivable either from necessity (as in pure mathematics) or from antecedent fact or cause. All else, then, would exist as at least partly explicable, but the inexplicability of this existence would be infinite and total. God exists, He might not have; He does not exist, He might

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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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