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Great Works of Western PhilosophyDiscuss Thomas Aquinas's criticisms of the view that God's existence is selfevident - Essay Example

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The problem of evidence as for the existence of a supreme entity or God has baffled the Western theologians, thinkers, scientists and philosophers since times immemorial. Various theologians and philosophers have extended ontological and theological arguments as for the existence of God…
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Great Works of Western PhilosophyDiscuss Thomas Aquinass criticisms of the view that Gods existence is selfevident
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"Great Works of Western PhilosophyDiscuss Thomas Aquinas's criticisms of the view that God's existence is selfevident"

Download file to see previous pages There is no denying the fact that though both of them were believers, yet in their theological and philosophical confabulations, they seem to be more concerned about establishing the relevance of their approach rather then proving the existence of God. Anselm, an Italian philosopher tends to rely on pure logical catechism. Aquinas, hailing from an aristocratic background, being the son of Count of Aquino, tends to extend a more refined version of the Averroists' view of 'double truth, which believed that the Catholic faith has two dimensions, one based on reason that emanates from philosophy and the other based of revelation, ensuing from theology. However, Aquinas while refuting the ontological argument seems to divest religion of its inherent need for faith and mysticism. In doing so, both the luminaries reduce God to a concept, much unlike the alive and awesome God of the scriptures. Yet, the interesting thing is that this approach of Aquinas towards faith evolved into a living influence that cleared the way for the proliferation and sustenance of a scientific temperament in the West amidst the surrounding theological constraints.
Anselm was a theologian who commanded a considerable influence in the 11th century. In 1078, he propounded his famous ontological argument for the existence of God in his well-known book 'Proslogium'. Anselm was both repudiated and acclaimed by some of the most noteworthy philosophers and theologians. Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant challenged this ontological argument for the existence of God, while it was acclaimed and built upon by Leibniz, Descartes and Spinoza.
Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God proceeds somewhat like this:
1. God stands to be the greatest entity that can be conceived by human mind. (Axiom)
2. If God is not the greatest entity, then definitely something greater then God ought to exist. (Axiom)
3. Yet, it is impossible to conceive an entity greater then God. (Axiom 1, repeated).
4. As axiom 2 is in contradiction with axiom 1, thus 2 is certainly false.
5. Hence, God Exists.
To put the argument of Anselm in simple words:
1. Even if an individual doubts the existence of God, still one knows that God is the greatest entity that can be conceived by human mind.
2. There is no denying the fact that the capacity to exist in the mind and outside the mind stands to be greater then the capacity to exist merely in the mind.
3. Thus, the individual who denies the existence of God, in a way declares that it is possible to conceive something that is greater than God is.
4. This premise stands to contradict the definition of God and hence cannot be true.
5. Thus, God exists.
In a personal perspective, Anselm intends to validate a synthetic argument by pretending that it is in fact an analytic argument. He is trying to prove the existence of something without trying to correlate its existence with the real world. Grave doubts tend to mar the assumption that concludes that it is possible to validate or deny the existence of something by merely resorting to its definition. As per Encarta, it is next to impossible to valida ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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