Anselm’s Proof of God, Proofs of God’s ExistenceJune 26, 2021
The first proof of God is in fact the foreground approach in the entire history of philosophy. Accordingly, our minds and senses convey information that there are many good things around us. The fundamental question at this point is: Are all these good things good because of one good thing; Or does the goodness in each of them contain a unique feature?
Of course, the answer given by Anselmus to this question is obvious: All good things are good for one good reason. Because the degrees of goodness of good things are very different from each other, and what they receive good from must be the good that all good things share. It is unthinkable that goodness, which is the reason for the well-being of everyone and everything, also has a reason. If it were, then he would not be able to move things outside himself in a certain direction. Therefore, it must be said that the existence of this good is realized through itself. Only he is the supreme good above all other good things and God himself as the only perfect in all beings.
Almost all God arguments found in medieval philosophy use similar methods. Another proof of God by Anselmus shows a development reminiscent of other proofs. According to him, everything takes its existence from a being that realizes its existence through itself. Existence involves a certain level of perfection. Everything that is more or less perfect gets its perfection from the one who has the highest perfection, and that is God.
Anselmus’ proof of God is called the Ontological Proof of God because of his hyper-realistic approach.
In the history of philosophy, it was Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who used the term Ontological Proof of God. He stated that there are three proofs of God that can be realized through speculative reason, and one of them is ontological (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, A590 / B618). In fact, Kant did not directly testify to Anselmus; but he gave this name to Descartes’ proof of God, which is a variant of his. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant said that Descartes established the existence of God from the simple idea of God itself. However, whether such an approach is valid for Anselmus is debatable.
After writing the Monologue, Anselmus begins to wonder if there is a simpler way to prove God’s existence. These thoughts lead him to construct a very simple proof of God. While guiding the reader in his work called Proslogion, God also determines the way in which he will build his proof. This proof will take place through love of God and intuition. To put it bluntly, Anselmus follows Augustine in this argument. When trying to describe God, Augustine used the expression “who cannot be better thought of” (quo esse aut cogitari melius nihil posit). What was expressed for a period in the history of philosophy was also expressed in one way or another in previous periods. Therefore, there is someone who preceded Augustine: The famous Roman philosopher Seneca also understood God as “a greatness that cannot be considered greater than himself”.
In the second part of the Proslogion, Anselmus says, “We believe that you (God) are something greater than which cannot be conceived.” says. Anselmus tries to understand what is contained in this statement from two sides. The first of these is formed in the mind (intellectu). According to him, even a fool “There is no God.” Although he does not develop an understanding of whether these words are really true or not, he is in a position to understand what he is saying. Thus, everyone, including those who deny God, has a conception of God in their own mind. According to Anselm, it is not acceptable for God to be just an understanding or idea in the mind. Once God is thought of as that beyond which no greater can be conceived, he will not only exist in intellectu; but it will also take place (in re) in reality. (Si enim vel in solo intellectu est potest gogitari esse et in re quod maius est.) Anselmus’ starting point in this argument is faith in God. The proof begins in the mind, as others have done, and continues with the help of divine enlightenment.
After Anselmus put forward this proof, the most important criticism directed at him is Gaunilon, one of the priests of Marmoutier (Tours). Gaunilon makes two important criticisms regarding the proof. In his little article titled “In the Name of the Fool,” Gaunilon admits that the fool can say these words and hear these sounds coming out of his mouth. However, he cannot grasp this any more than he can perceive God. For the fool does not know a reality which is itself God. More importantly, he cannot come to an understanding of God from other realities;