Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance

The Scholastics

Did Anselm face objections to his ontological argument?

Yes. Also, different forms of St. Anselm’s (1033–1109) argument kept popping up in the history of philosophy after Anselm died, as did different objections to it. It remains a subject of debate in some circles to this day. Anselm had posed his argument as something that a fool, who did not believe in God, would have to agree with. His contemporary, a monk called “Gaunilon,” took up the position of the fool.

Gaunilon first said that it was impossible to conceive or imagine “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.” Anselm’s response was that if the words “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived” are understood, then one (the fool) has conceived of or imagined this being. And because this being is so great and existence or being is greater than non-existence or non-being, the being exists.


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