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Existing by Convention

  • Kenneth G. Ferguson (a1)


Ever since the Proslogion was first circulated (c. 1077), critics have been bemused by St Anselm's brazen attempt to establish a matter of fact, namely, God's existence, from the simple analysis of a term or concept. Yet every critic who has proposed to ‘write the obituary’ of the Ontological Argument has found it to be remarkably resilient (cf. McGrath, 1990: 212). At the risk of adding to a record of failures, I want to venture a new method for attacking this durable argument. Neither the common version of Anselm's argument from Chapter II of the Proslogion nor the previously unrecognized modal version uncovered by Norman Malcolm from Pros, III (1960: 52) can possibly get under way without Anselm's celebrated assertion that

(1) God is that than which no greater can be conceived.



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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
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