Anselm's Proof of God and Contradictions

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Chapter 1: A rousing of the mind to the contemplation of God Come now, insignificant mortal. Leave behind your concerns for a little while, and retreat for a short time from your restless thoughts. Cast off your burdens and cares; set aside your labor and toil. Just for a little while make room for God, and rest a while in him. … Speak now, my whole heart: say to God, “I seek your face; your face, Lord do I seek” (Psalms 27:8). Come now, O Lord my God. Teach my heart where and how to seek you, w
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   Chapter 1: A rousing of the mind to the contemplation of GodCome now, insignificant mortal. Leave behind your concerns for a little while, andretreat for a short time from your restless thoughts. Cast off your burdens and cares; setaside your labor and toil. Just for a little while make room for God, and rest a while inhim. … Speak now, my whole heart: say to God, “I seek your face; your face, Lord do Iseek” (Psalms 27:8).  Come now, O Lord my God. Teach my heart where and how to seek you, where andhow to find you. Lord, if you are not here, where shall I seek you, since you areabsent? But if you are everywhere, why do I not see you, since you are present? Truly “you dwell in inaccessible light” (1 Timothy 6:16).   And where is this “inaccessi  ble light”?   How am I to approach an inaccessible light? … I have never seen you, O Lord my God; I do not know your face. … Lord, you are my God, and you are my Lord, but I have never seen you. You have made me and remade me, you have given me every goodthing that is mine, and still I do not know you. I was created so that I might see you, but I have not yet done what I was created to do. … (97)  Let me look up at your light, whether from afar or from the depths. Teach me how toseek you, and show yourself to me when I seek. For I cannot seek you unless you teachme how, and I cannot find you unless you show yourself to me. Le me seek you indesiring you; let me desire you in seeking you. Let me find you in loving you; let melove you in finding you.I acknowledge, Lord, and I thank you, that you have created in me this image of you sothat I may remember you, think of you, and love you. Yet this image is so eroded by myvices, so clouded by the smoke of my sins, that it cannot do what it was created to dounless you renew and refashion it. I am not trying to scale your heights, Lord; myunderstanding is in no way equal to that. But I do long to understand your truth in someway, your truth which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand inorder to believe; I believe in order to understand. For I also believe that “Unless I believe, I shall not understand” (99).  Chapter 2: That God Truly Exists[1] Therefore, Lord, you who grant understanding to faith, grant that insofar as you knowit is useful for me, I may understand that you exist as we believe you exist, and that youare what we believe you to be. [2] Now we believe that you are something than whichnothing greater can be thought. [3] So can it be that no such nature exists, since “Thefool has said in his heart, „There is no God‟ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1)? [4] But when this same fool hears me say “something that which nothing greater can be thought,” he surely understand what he hears and what he understand exists in his understanding, even if hedoes not understand that it exist [in reality]. [5] For it is one thing for an object to exist inthe understanding and quite another to understand that the object exists [in reality]. [6]When a painter, for example, thinks out in advance what he is going to paint, he has it inhis understanding, but he does not yet understand that it exists, since he has not yet painted it. [7] But once he has painted it, he both has it in his understanding andunderstands that it exists because he has now painted it. [8] So, even the fool must admitthat something than which nothing greater can be thought exists at least in his  understanding, since he understands this when he hears it, and whatever is understoodexists in the understanding. [9] And surely that than which a greater cannot be thoughtcannot exist only in the understanding. [10] For if it exists only in the understanding, itcannot be thought to exist in reality as well, which is greater. [11] So if that than which agreater cannot be thought exists only in the understanding, then that than which a greater cannot be thought is that than which a greater can be thought. [12] But that is clearlyimpossible. [13] Therefore, there is no doubt that something than which a greater cannot be thought exists both in the understanding and in reality (99-100). Continuation of Anselm‟s Ontological Argument   Selection from Anselm‟s Proslogion   Chapter 3 “That he cannot be thought to not exist”  This being exists so truly that he cannot be thought not to exist. For it is possible to think that something exists that cannot be thought not to exist, and such a being is greater thanon that can be thought not to exist. Therefore, if that than which a greater cannot bethought can be thought to not exist, then that than which a greater cannot be thought isnot that than which a greater cannot be thought; and this is a contradiction. So that thanwhich a greater cannot be thought exists so truly that it cannot be thought not to exist.Object ions to Anselm‟s Ontological Argument  1. Guanilo of Marnoutier, “Reply on Behalf of the Fool” (found on pages 124 -25 in the Williams translation of Anselm‟s work).   How … is the fact fact that this greater being has been proved greater than everything else supposed to show me that it exists in actual fact? For I continue to deny, or at leastdoubt, that this has been proved, so that I do not admit that this greater being exists in myunderstanding or thought even in the way that many doubtful and uncertain things existthere. First, I must become certain that this greater being truly exists somewhere, andonly then will the fact that it is greater than everything else show clearly that it alsosubsists in itself.For example, there are those who say that somewhere in the ocean is an island, which, because of the difficulty  —  or rather impossibility  —  of finding what does not exist, some call „the Lost Island‟. This island (so the story goes) is more plentifully endowed thaneven the Isles of the Blessed with an indescribable abundance of all sorts of riches anddelights. And because it has neither owner nor inhabitant, it is everywhere superior in itsabundant riches to all the other lands that human beings inhabit.Suppose someone tells me all this. The story is easily told and involves no difficulty, and  so I understand it. But if this person went on to draw a conclusion and say, “You cannot any longer doubt that this island, more excellent than all others on earth, truly existssomewhere in reality. For you do not doubt that this island exists in your understanding,and since it is more excellent to exist not merely in the understanding, but also in reality,this island must also exist in reality. For if it did not, any land that exists in reality would be greater than it. And so this more excellent thing that you have understood would not in fact be more excellent.” If, I say, he should try to convince me by this argument that Ishould no longer doubt whether the island truly exists, either I would think he was joking,or I would not know whom I ought to think more foolish: myself, if I grant him hisconclusion, or him, if he thinks he has established the existence of that island with anydegree of certainty without first showing that its excellence exists in my understanding asa thing that truly and undoubtedly exists and not in any way like something false or uncertain.2. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I, chapter11. ... granted that by the name „God‟ everyone understands that than which a greater cannot be thought of, it does not follow that there is something than which a greater cannot bethought of in the nature of things. For we have to posit the name and its interpretation inthe same way. Now from the fact that it is conceived by the mind what is indicated by the name „God‟, it does not follow that God exists, except in the intellect. Whence it is not necessary either that that than which a greater cannot be thought of exists, except in theintellect. And from this it does not follow that there is something than which a greater cannot be thought of in the nature of things. And so no inconsistency is involved in the position of those who think that God does not exist: for no inconsistency is involved in being able, for any given thing either in the intellect or in reality, to think somethinggreater, except for those who concede that there is something than which a greater cannot be thought of in the nature of things.3. St. Thomas Aquinas, The Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, ed. A.C. Pegis(New York: Random House, Inc, 1954).Perhaps not everyone one who hears this name God understands it to signify that thanwhich nothing greater can be thought, seeing that some have believed God to be a body. Yet granted that everyone understands that by this name God is signified somesomething than which nothing greater can be thought, nevertheless, it does not thereforefollow that he understands that what the name signifies actually exists, but only that itexists mentally. Nor can it be argued that it actually exists, unless it be admitted thatthere actually exists something than which nothing greater can be thought; and this precisely is not admitted by those who hold that God does not exist.
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