Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ontological Argument: The Final Word?

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MYTH
The Ontological Argument for the existence of God is moot

William F. Vallicella = The Man
1. The Ontological Argument of Anselm is a treasure chest, for it contains the gold which proves God’s existence. Halleluyah! William F. Vallicella, the Maverick Philosopher, knows the type of key needed to open it but has not found the key itself. I believe I have found the key in St. Thomas Aquinas’s invaluable Summa Theologica. The key is proving that to exist is good…

Ontological Argument of Vallicella
2. William F. Vallicella outlines the Ontological Argument in his 11/27/2007 post "Deontic Ontological Proofs and Disproofs for the Existence of God":{1}
1. If a maximally perfect being is possible, then it is actual.
2. A maximally perfect being ought to exist.
2.1 A maximally perfect being ought to exist because It is deontically perfect.
2.1.1 It is absurd to say that a being can be perfect in every respect yet that it ought not to exist.
2.1.2 A being that ought to exist is greater than a being that neither ought to exist, nor ought not to exist.
3. Whatever ought to exist is possible.
3.1 It is absurd to say that there are things/states of affairs that ought to exist yet are impossible.
4. Therefore a maximally perfect being is possible.
5. Therefore a maximally being is actual; i.e. God exists.

Key to OA: To Exist is Good
3. Vallicella points out that for the argument to be successful, we must "justify the assumption [integral to premise 2] that to exist is good." St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 3/7/1274), Doctor Angelicus, has done this in his magnum opus, Summa Theologica. The following is how we prove that existence is good:{2}
1. That greatest of heathen philosophers,{3} Aristotle (Ἀριστοτέλης; d. 3/7/322 B.C.), says [Ethic. i], "Goodness is what all desire."
2. Something is desirable only insofar as it is perfect.
2.1 All things desire their own perfection.
3. Everything is perfect as far as it is actual.
4. Something is perfect as far as it exists.
4.1 Existence makes all things actual.
5. Therefore goodness and being are really the same (they differ only in idea).
6. Therefore to exist is good.

Conclusion: Ontological Argument Triumphant
4. Thus we have proven conclusively the truth of the three-step basic Ontological Argument:
1. If a maximally perfect being is possible, then it is actual.
2. A maximally perfect being is possible.
3. Therefore a maximally perfect being is actual (i.e., God exists).

5. Q.E.D. Praise the Lord YHWH, for His greatness knows no bounds!

Notes and References
{1} Vallicella, Dr. William F. "Deontic Ontological Proofs and Disproofs for the Existence of God." Maverick Philosopher. 27 Nov. 2007. 26 Mar. 2008 <http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1196185577.shtml>.
{2} St. Thomas Aquinas: ST I, q. 5, art. 1: "Whether goodness differs really from being?"
{3} William Turner (3/1/1907) for the Old Catholic Encyclopedia: "Aristotle" @ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01713a.htm.

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