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

By Charles Hartshorne | Go to book overview

is necessary existence. But then, since 'necessarily-existing cat', like 'perfect island', is an absurdity, the reductio is therefore invalid (since anything can be deduced from an absurd concept, taken not to be absurd).

Concerning particular and universal statements: 'God exists' is not 'particular' in the same sense as 'cats exist' is so. As we saw in Part One, 'Greatness exists' is, in a relevant sense, as nonparticular as 'some individuals exist', which Reichenbach in his logic allows to be an assumption of logic itself.

I think we can dismiss this refutation, along with so many others like it, as missing the mark.


17. J. N. Findlay

The most important contribution since Kant to the Anselmian controversy, on its skeptical side, has in my judgment been made by this author.

The proofs [for God's existence] based on the necessities of thought are universally regarded as fallacious; it is not thought possible to build bridges between mere abstractions and concrete existence . . . Religious people have . . . come to acquiesce in the total absence of any cogent proofs of the Being they believe in; they even find it positively satisfying . . . And nonreligious people . . . don't so much deny the existence of a God, as the existence of good reasons for believing in Him. We shall, however, maintain that there isn't room, in the case we are examining, for all these attitudes of . . . doubt. For . . . the Divine Existence can only be conceived, in a religiously satisfactory manner, if we also conceive it as something inescapable and necessary, whether for thought or reality. From which it follows that our modern denial of necessity or rational evidence for such an existence amounts to a demonstration that there cannot be a God.

. . . We ask . . . whether it isn't wholly anomalous to worship anything limited in any thinkable manner. For all limited superior-

-255-

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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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