27 sept. 2011

Bad Arguments --the Ontological Proof

I will be examining some bad arguments in favor of (and against) religious belief in this blog. Once in a while I might find a good argument.


The ontological proof, associated with Anselm and later with Descartes, begins by imagining a perfect being. What would this perfect being be like? It would be all-knowing, all-powerful, etc... And to be really perfect it would have to exist. Therefore such a perfect being does, in fact, exist.

Now the spectacular flaw in such an argument, as Kant pointed out, is to view existence itself as a predicate similar to others. In other words, you cannot begin by imagining a being and then forget, at the end, that it is a fabrication of your imagination. Imagine a perfect swimming pool. It would have to bring together certain characteristics considered ideal in a pool. The water would always be the perfect temperature and would never be dirty; it would never allow anyone to drown it, etc... We cannot then add to this list of predicates that this swimming pool must also exist, and that therefore there is such a pool somewhere.

1 comentario:

Clarissa dijo...

You now also have posts on religion. How cool! I'll include this in my Link Encyclopedia.

The problem with this particular argument is that in order to imagine a perfect being, you need a perfect imagination. But only a perfect being can possess one. That is, if we are looking for an imagination (and, consequently, a being) that would be perfect for absolutely everybody.So unless a human claims that s/he is god, they cannot possibly imagine this perfect being.