What is the Ontological Argument? in 260 Words

499096~Uninhabited-Tropical-Island-Ari-Atoll-Maldives-PostersPart of my no-nonsense, quick Philosophy series, aiming for less than 200 words. (I have failed to read this target in this post.)

What is the Ontological Argument for the existence of God?

The cause of much head-scratching, this is one of the most controversial argument of these types. There are many formulations, but one might go:

1. God is the greatest conceivable being.

2. To exist is greater than to not exist.

3. If God did not exist then he would not be the greatest conceivable being.

4. Therefore, God exists.

I remember my Philosophy teacher writing this on the board and asking, ‘Now, why is it bollocks?’ The fact is it’s actually quite hard to say why even though most people, including theists, suspect that it probably is.

As far as I know, no one has ever stopped being an atheist because of the Ontological Argument.

Is it a good argument?

Two classical objections are Gaunilo’s ‘Perfect Island’ objection and Kant’s objection that existence is not a predicate. I can’t see how either of these are fatal to the Ontological Argument and I find Kant’s objection hard to understand anyway. However, I can’t quite bring myself to believe that the Ontological Argument is sound, as it does seem to be quite silly.


Are you convinced by the Ontological Argument?

If not, what reasons would you give?

Can someone explain to me how Kant’s objection deals with the argument as I’ve laid it out in this post? I’ve never understood this properly.

Related Posts

What is the Teleological Argument? in 162 Words


3 thoughts on “What is the Ontological Argument? in 260 Words

  1. One problem is the second move. On what grounds do we say that existence is ‘greater’ than non-existence? For the classical God of Christianity the distinction between existence and non-existence is overcome, and He would lie ‘beyond the coincidence of contradictories’. This creates a fatal problem for the argument. God would not be subject to the limitation of existing or not-existing. Kant’s point, I think, is that there is no phenomenon that has the property of existence. His view seems to be that the categories of thought must be transcended for a fundamental ontology, as proposed by Buddhism, Taoism, advaita Vedanta, Sufism, Christian mysticism and so forth. Whatever seems to exist would be emergent, epiphenomenal, and this would include the gods. .

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