left biblioblography: THE ONUS OF ONTOLOGY: ST. ANSELM

Saturday, September 16, 2006

THE ONUS OF ONTOLOGY: ST. ANSELM

A recent poster mentioned this name, and having never heard it before, I thought I’d look into it.

St. Anselm was the Archbishop of Canterbury back in 1093, and was canonized in 1494, two years after that fateful voyage of Columbus, “and is considered one of the most influential thinkers of medieval Europe and Christianity. His motto credo ut intelligam ("I believe so that I may understand") reflected his intention to explain faith in God by reason. St. Anselm is most famous for his argument for the existence of God, called the ontological argument. It goes like this: we understand God to be the greatest possible being; we agree that if God only exists in our minds, we can imagine a greater being that exists both in the mind and in reality; and since God is, by definition, the greatest possible being, he must exist in our minds and in reality.”

From here:

(Snip)To begin his argument, Anselm must first establish that God is the equivalent to "something that which nothing greater can be thought." Since the idea of God is an idea of perfection, the common explanation for God at the time of Anselm was just that. Since perfection cannot be improved upon, then nothing greater can be imagined. From here, he takes a look at the passage in the bible that says, "The Fool has said in his heart, there is no God." He begins to contemplate if and why this statement is true. He decides that it is true, and he comes to the conclusion that they must be a fool because that very statement contradicts itself. He argues that in saying the word "God" you are acknowledging that you have an idea in your mind of something than which nothing greater can be thought.
From here he states that because we are able to conceive of such a perfect being, then one must exist. If one did not exist then that would mean that it wasn’t perfect, and therefore there is something out there that is greater. The idea of a being that nothing greater can be thought of had to be put there by something, and that something is the real being, which is God. He argues that we couldn’t have just come up with it since we as humans are flawed and are incapable of perceiving perfection unless it has been shown to us by something that is perfect. “
(Snip)
”His proof has been accepted, and has been denied. It has been called one of the greatest, and one of the worst proofs for the existence of God. None the less, it has made an impact on philosophy from the day it was published, all the way up to present time.”
(End snip)

Obviously, this is sophistry at its worst. Pure existential projection. I hear the echoes of this in John C. Lilly’s work, who once said, “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits.”

Yeesh, and to think I never really cared for Renee Descartes’ philosophies.

Anyways, the short version is: the universe doesn’t really care about us. It saddens me, but I can’t make up a bunch of metaphysical hogwash to make me feel better. The facts are the facts, and no amount of spin will change that.

All we really have is each other, and those random acts of kindness that sweeten our lives.

Till the next post, then.

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4 comments:

say no to christ said...

This reminds me of a song by the band TOOL called Vicarious.A verse in the song...

"The universe is hostile.
So impersonal…
Devour to survive, so it is.
…So it's always been…"

GREAT atheist band!

Something one of my favorite aunts told me once was that if enough people believe something it can manifest even if it isnt real. Kind of a scary thought, but realistic.

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
Something one of my favorite aunts told me once was that if enough people believe something it can manifest even if it isnt real. Kind of a scary thought, but realistic.
Religion's proof enough of that.

Mesoforte said...

I heard that argument in philosophy class and had to find a few quick ways to refute it. It took a while, but I had the entire class stumped on the argument by the end of it.

Krystalline Apostate said...

MF:
I heard that argument in philosophy class and had to find a few quick ways to refute it.
As w/many theo-metaphysical arguments, it's 1 of those blink-blink-squint-what? ideas - it sounds good on the surface, but a little work puts the blocks to it.