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The Argument from Perfection to Existence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

Charles Crittenden
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, The Florida State University

Extract

Here is an argument for the existence of the most perfect being:

1. There is a concept of a greatest conceivable being (most perfect being, being than which none greater can be conceived, etc.—hereafter I shall sometimes use ‘G.C.B.’ to represent this notion).

2. This being cannot be conceived of only, as then it would lack existence and so not be the greatest conceivable.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1968

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References

page 123 note 1 A clear statement of the demonstration of Anselm's to which this argument corresponds is found on pp. 7–8 of his Proslogium, etc. (translated by Deane, S. N. (La Salle, III., 1903))Google Scholar. All references concerning Anselm are to this source. The ontological argument can have different forms, but I shall be concerned only with that which begins by assuming that there is an everyday conception of a greatest conceivable being. However I shall not directly discuss the second proof which Professor N. Malcolm claims to have found in the Proslogium (see ‘Anselm's Ontological Arguments’, reprinted in Knowledge and Certainty (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1963), pp. 141162)Google Scholar, although I do think that the points to be raised can be applied to this proof.

page 124 note 1 See Kiteley, M., ‘Is Existence a Predicate ? ’, Mind, 1964, pp. 364–73;Google Scholar and Ebersole, F., ‘Whether Existence is a Predicate’, Journal of Philosophy, 1963, pp. 509–24.Google Scholar

page 126 note 1 Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 4, Article 2.

page 126 note 2 Ibid., Question 4, Article 2, Objections 1 and 2.

page 126 note 3 Ibid., Question 4, Article 2, Reply Objection 1.

page 126 note 4 Ibid., Question 2, Article 3.

page 127 note 1 N. Malcolm, op. cit., pp. 146–7.

page 127 note 2 N. Malcolm, op. cit., pp. 146–7.

page 128 note 1 Proslogium, p. 167. Gaunilon's actual words are found on pp. 148–9, but I quote Anselm's statement of the objection as it is clearer.

page 132 note 1 Op. cit., pp. 161–2.

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