Is there an a priori understanding of God?
>a priori: knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori knowledge, which derives from experience.
Is the categorical imperative insight into the inherent nature of God and the universe?
pic maybe related, if you're a gnosticist.
St. Augustine certainly thought so.
Studies of uncontacted tribes are mixed though. There seems to be widespread belief in the supernatural, but not all 'primitive' people have gods. It seems that cultures start with weird shamanistic spirit beliefs and invent gods independently through a sort of philosophical convergent evolution.
On a cultural level, sure.
But what about on a person, individual level?
People in groups are irrational, impulsive, and reactionary. Most people like to "follow the leader."
On an individual level, however, people are much more thoughtful and intelligent.
If God does exist, there must be some proof within the universe of his existence. But perhaps his proof is not empirical
ultimate creator of the universe that cares and/or is attentive about our actions (and thoughts)
hard question. Intuitively, I believe in free will, even though I have no concrete proof of it. For all I know, I might be convincing myself I have free will when in reality I do not. I can never know.
well if god is our creator, by your definition, and in order to create something order must be brought to create a system, and since organization is the primary function of mind (modeling) then God is essentially supreme mind. then this would imply that we are either thoughts or figments of god imagining himself as us.
If I were to live in a cave all by myself, would I be able to experience or understand the existence of God (assuming he exists) without reading the bible or going to church?
Animals are born with instincts, knowledge already built into the "system." Are you saying people have no instincts?
I don't know how you went from point a(order to create a system) to point c (we are figments of God's imagination). That implies we have no free will, correct?
Instincts aren't knowledge. Knowledge is intellectual union with the thing known, and no animal except humans has that.
Instincts are more like inborn dispositions. If you're asking whether we have an intrinsic disposition to know God, at least in some sense, then I would say that yes we do.
A priori, or a posteriori, it doesn't matter.
Religious people will claim they have an intuition of God one moment and the next they will claim they have seen supernatural things that can only be miracles from God.
The essence of the question really boils down to whether you personally have a ontology which permits things like the supernatural.
I'm a catholic, learning more about theology n stuff.
Also learning about Kant, and how both can be interrelated.
I (as well as Gertrude Stein) define knowledge as the thing you know.
the thing you know is knowledge. If you want to refute or deny that definition I totally get it. Your definition of knowledge has merit.
Occam's razor: what if this "miracle" can be explained independent of God?
Religious people have the burden of proof to prove it was supernatural intervention, not the other way around.
Religious people are religious because they either read the bible or they attend church, or maybe they just believe in God.
Can someone live in a cave all their life and believe in God?
Can someone live in a cave all their life and fulfill the categorical imperative?
Highly debatable, as the best that can be done is that we can present that belief in God is rational.
Try this formulation from St.Anselm's Proslogion II:
>God exists in the understanding but not in reality.
>Existence in reality is greater than existence in the understanding alone.
>A being having all of God's properties plus existence in reality can be conceived.
>A being having all of God's properties plus existence in reality is greater than God.
>A being greater than God can be conceived.
>It is false that a being greater than God can be conceived.
>Hence, it is false that God exists in the understanding but not in reality.
>God exists in the understanding.
>Hence God exists in reality.
Pretty much, you can make tight arguments justifying belief, but proving that God is the on the same level as 2+2=4 is far from proven as of yet.
In regards to the categorical imperative in relation to God, that really rests on the person's conception of the deity.
> Is there an a priori understanding of God?
I think there is an inborn tendency for humans to compare the objects of their experience on a scale, a hierarchy - to think of some things as more hot/sweet/sharp/soft/bright/blue/dark than other things, and to think of still other things as more X than those things - and this natural tendency to classify things on a scale of increasing magnitudes leads us to the idea of a maximum, an unsurpassable endpoint: a hottest thing, or brightest thing, or heaviest thing - and since we are easily tempted to treat even more abstract concepts like "existence" or "powerful" or "perfect" in similarly hierarchical ways, a human can naturally come upon the idea of a highest existing/powerful/perfect thing. In the sense of following this innate tendency, I think the concept of a god can be a priori - but this doesn't mean that every person has a set, determinate concept of a god for as long as that person is conscious. It only means that humans in general have the innate capacity to come up with the idea of a god - even though many people could probably live their whole life without ever doing so.
The question then becomes: if a person's mind comes up with the idea of such a god, is there anything extramental that corresponds to this idea; that is, does the idea of a most perfect/existent/great being have some referent? I don't believe that this is a question that the unaided human mind can answer. Rather, I think we need to consult the extramental world before we can be sure that we're not merely playing with concepts.
So far, after my own personal consultation with the contentful world of experience beyond my abstract concepts, the answer to the question of a god is: no.
This is an interesting train of thought, but can't you use the same syllogism to explain anything?
If you remove God from that syllogism and add a Unicorn instead, the same conclusion will be reached and yet nobody(or very few)people believe in Unicorns.
I'm not certain if that is necessarily true, though I am no logician.
The caveat of this argument is that by definition, we cannot conceive of a being greater than God, while we can conceive of something greater than a unicorn.
Though if you are interested in the criticisms, Thomas Aquinas and Kant raise some interesting points.
This is why Anselm wanted every publication of his Proslogion to inlclude the reply given by the monk Gaunilo.
Gaunilo argued that Anselm's rationale could also prove the existence of the most perfect island; but since nobody believes that the most perfect island exists simply becuase we can conceive of it, nobody should believe that a god exists simply because we can conceive of a most perfect being.
Anselm rejected this argument, arguing that tlhe conceot of God is unique, and the same rationale used to ontologically prove the existence of god can't be used to prove the existence of unicorns or islands or any finite beings; there can only be one "that than which a something greater can't be thought," since such a being isn't restricted to the category of islands or vertebrates or any other *particular* class of things, but is rather the greatest conceivable thing-in-general.
What's more, says Anselm: Gaunilo's argument describes Anselm's god as the greatest conceivable thing (as do many paraphrases of Anselm's argument that have been published long after Anselm's death) when, in fact, Anselm was very careful to define God in such a way that God is a being GREATER than can be conceived.
Just because it is possible to construct definitions doesn't mean that said definitions have any effect on reality. If you conceive of something impossible, it does not suddenly become possible because you tack "by the way, that impossible thing has the property of being possible" onto the end of the definition.
I still buy Anselm's uniqueness argument.
Anything can be romantacized, including the island.
God is not a thing, (we're assuming) he's not an idea, he is a multi dimensional (Flatland [the book])) entity
Tedhnically you're right, but I think the question is popularly understood (among the philosophically minded, at least) to mean somethg like what you say: "is it possible to provide an a priori proof of the existence of a god?"
Even if no one were to ever find an a priori proof for the existence of God:
1) does not mean it does not exist. Perhaps it's outside of our understand (ie prudential wisdom)
2) does not mean God cannot be understood a priori. Perhaps it's an ineffable understanding; it's an intuition
Anselm claims that we do, in fact, have a concept of what he calls "god," a conceot of "that than which something greater cannot be thought" - since Anselm says that when a person hears these words, the person understands what is said, and thus "god" exists at least in the person's understanding alone (and Anslem's goal is to show that god *also* exists in reality, independently of the hearer's understanding).
But from what I can tell, the hearer has at most tried to combine several concepts in his/her mind: the concept of "greater" and the concept of "thought" and the concept of "cannot," and so on for every concept designated by Anselm's definition of god ("that than which something greater cannot be thought"). But just because the hearer has several concepts in his/her mind, and tries to combone them, does not mean that those concepts can be combined with logical consistency; I can equally say that we you hear the words "square circle" or "odd-numbered four," you inderstand what's said - that is, you inderstand the individual concept "square" and the individual concept "circle," and the individual concept "odd-numbered" and the individual concept "four" that together constitute the respective phrases. But it doesn't follow from this that those indicidual concepts can be united together into a logically coherent whole; in the case of "square circle" and "odd-numbered four," the resultant concept is clearly logcally contradictory - and in the case of Anselm's "that than which something greater cannot be thought," the combined result might be logically contradictory too, though less obviously so. In other words, Anselm hasn't shown that his definition is coherent - only that the individual concepts that make up his definition, when taken by their individual selves. Are individually coherent.
>arguing that tlhe conceot of God is unique
That would be just a case of special pleading though.
I could still use his argument in a way in which a Unicorn can be unique as well, and the conclusions would be the same.
... Also, the principle that
> Existence in reality is greater than existence in the understanding alone
seems problematic, because we're talking about two domains here: the which is merely in the human understanding, and that for which there is a correspondence between the human understanding and reality-apart-from-human-understanding. But how can we expect ONE concept - "existence," "is" - to have the exact same meaning when used in reference to A) the understanding alone, and B) then when used in reference to the human understanding AND what's indpendent of the understanding?
Kant insists that when we add "that which is indpendent of the understanding," "that which is in reality," we add another set of rules by which we determine truth from fantasy. His point is this: to talk about what we can conceive is one thing, but to show that what we conceive of actually exists is another, and the only way to be sure that our concepts have referents - that our mere concepts correspond to real objects that are not mere concepts - is to explore the domain of real, empirical experience, and see what it presents us with.
But since our finite human experience can never present us with an object "than which something greater cannot be thought," we can never know whether such a god exists or does not exist.
Anselm needn't be interpreted as saying that one has the idea of a particular being in mind; In the reply to Gaunilo, Anselm says that "that than which nothing greater can be thought" acts rather to eliminate contingent things from consideration. Anything which can be thought *not* to be, is something which doesn't have in itself the principle of its existence, so a "greater thing"- that is, some being which is more "being-like," i.e., is closer to unqualified and independent existence, can always be thought, the essence of which cannot be separated from its existence.
Since Anselm says, moreover, that one cannot comprehend God, he means something weaker than "complete understanding" when he says you have something in mind: a concept that *points to* God is enough for his purposes, since he has an explicitly broad understanding of "exists in the mind."
The concept of "that than which nothing greater can be thought" is coherent if the concept of "thinking of existence" is coherent, because (if i am right about Anselm's generic "that" referring to "being") it is equivalent to "that which is most unqualifiedly existent which can be thought."
>The greatness of existence
When Anselm is talking about existence being better in reality than in the understanding alone, the most plausible interpretation is that, while our concept of existence has something of existence itself "in it," actual existence-itself would be more (greater) existence-itself than any mere concept.
Anselm would agree that, as a rule of thumb, the actual existence of things is independent from the concept of them. But there is this distinction precisely because, in those things, their existence is separable from their essence, hence to perfectly conceive *what* they are does not entail their existence. Only that than which no greater being can be thought has existence itself as its essence, so pretty much all parodies run aground at this point.
I actually think the ontological argument is sound, but I also think it's a subtle a posteriori argument rather than an a priori one. It works from our general intuition of existence, which is part of every observation. The ontological argument traces our vague concept of being to Being Itself, and thereby draws our attention to God's self-revelation in contingent existence.
It's way too late for me to grasp everything ITT, but I think this video is related to the topic or at least interesting.
Please share any problems with the argument.
Is it possible to think of an unthinkable thing?
I think this is a question that our comments are revolving around - and whether we answer "yes" or "no" will decide whether we judge Anselm's argument to be valid or invalid.
> Anselm needn't be interpreted as saying that one has the idea of a particular being in mind
I think that's correct, since we see as the Proslogion continues that Anselm claims his method leads us to think of God as more than just "that than which something greater cannot be thought" - we are led to think of God as "that which is greater than can be thought." So we can't be thinking of a particular thing; if we were, then it would be a thing that can be thought, contrary to Anselm's enhanced definition.
But I don't think this strengthens Anselm's argument, despite his opinion to the contrary. If we can't even think the concept X (assuming we can still even call it a "concept", rather than the mere attempt to form a concept) then we're even farther away from proving that there is a hoped-for real object that corresponds to X. So maybe we should step back, reject the definition "that which is greater than can be thought" as a seductive error that we were enthusiastically led into by the momentum of our upwards abstractions, and return to the definition "that than which something greater cannot be thought" as the one that can truly prove from its own merely conceptual resources that a real extramental object corresponds to it.
But I don't think this works either, for a reason I was grasping for in >>580817
The reason, it seems to me now, is that even "that than which something greater cannot be thought" is like the above enhanced definition, in that it's a compound of concepts that don't unite into a determinate concept, don't yield the idea of any particular thing. You phrase it well when you write
> "that than which nothing greater can be thought" acts rather to eliminate contingent things from consideration
but the result of this is that we have a merely negative conception of Anselm's God - as should have been more obvious to me given the word "cannot" (or "nothing," depending on how it's rendered in English) in the definition. Without any positive information about what God is, we cannot think of God; and when we think of all of the finite, contingent, less-than-maximally-great things that God is not, we are *not* thinking of God via what-God-isn't. Rather, we are thinking of those finite things, and not thinking of God at all.
So you might be right that
> The concept of "that than which nothing greater can be thought" is coherent if the concept of "thinking of existence" is coherent
but this doesn't seem to help Anselm, because if his method is negative as you say, then the "existence" that's being thought of is the totality of finite, contingent things whose existence we experience in the world (or whose existence we can imagine as being greater than anything we've experienced, but still finite and contingent - like islands or superheroes or the Greek pantheon), and such "existence" is being *denied* of God, rather than being a concept with which we think of God.
And if you read Anselm as arguing that his definition yields the concept of God as pure Being, in which there is no composition of existence and essence, then I disagree that we can actually think this concept; we can conceive of wordly objects whose essence is conceptually distinguishable from their existence - but to think of "that which is NOT composed of essence and existence" is, yet again, to have a merely negative conception of God - to think positively of all the things that are not God, without getting any closer to thinking of what God is.
So, as I had said in >>580817, it's not obvious that Anselm is correct when he claims "God exists in the intellect because the words 'that than which something greater cannot be thought' are understood by the hearer." Instead, it seems that even this less enhanced definition doesn't yield any concept of God, and I'm skeptical that
> a concept that *points to* God is enough for his purposes
since Anselm sets up as a pillar of his argument the inference from "God exists in the intellect" to "God exist in reality" - yet if God doesn't exist conceptually in the intellect to begin with, the argument is robbed of this inference.
> Is it possible to think of an unthinkable thing?
I don't think so.
> Can Anselm's argument(s) provide an a priori understanding/proof of God?
Thank you! Just imagine if I edited more of my own spelling.
Too bad for you, because I don't think he said anything incorrect in the excerpts that video contains - despite whatever errors he might make elsewhere.
The arguments that the narrator makes, on the other hand, are more flawed.
Anselm doesn't have to claim that we have an idea of pure Being, in the sense of comprehending its essence. I think his argument has both a negative and a positive aspect. The negative eliminates absurd parodies like Gaunilo's Island, or pretty much everything that isn't Being Itself.
But if you look at the ending of his reply to Gaunilo, there is also a positive aspect to his argument. As the lesser goods resemble the greater, even if the greater is in itself unknown, nevertheless the greater may be illuminated by reflecting on what it is for the lesser to be "good" at all.
So Anselm is arguing that impoverished conception of being (derived from qualified being) which we have, couldn't be any kind of concept of being at all except in relation to being itself, i.e., actual perfect being. He doesn't need God to be directly thinkable- to be thinkable through something else is sufficient, because denying that qualified existence points to unqualified existence leads to contradictions and absurdities even within our meagre grasp of qualified being. Most fundamentally, it would lead to asserting that that which makes qualified existence a kind of *existence* is not existence at all.
So what's at stake in the ontological argument is our ability to assert or understand that anything at all exists. If it succeeds, then we cannot be said to understand existence even in a qualified sense, unless we also grant that there is a most-existent being.
Yes, sadly this is what I'm getting from this thread. The ontological argument assumes a lot, and in the end it's really only a convoluted redefinition. Plus, we have to agree what "great" means and if a God is possible in the first place.
This meanders into "well, god isn't what we think in a traditional sense!" Which I think is an awful non-argument. This is assuming that the God of almost every religion, which is preached as at least fairly tangible, is just an entity that created the universe. This is a non-argument because
A. Why should we need such a God?
B. It's clearly just how the monotheistic "hands on" Gods have been reduced over the years, and shouldn't be considered as an actual possibility.
If we need to have such arguments to these tiny semantic points, isn't that proof enough that we're merely human and there is no God?
The OA is not dependent on our "agreeing" what "great" is. Its concept of greatness is greatness of being, i.e., of unqualified and complete *existence.* The possibility or impossibility of God is not a premise in the argument. Sure, the success of the proof entails that God is possible, but if successful the proof also entails that denying that God is possible leads to the denial of some obvious premise.
Typically religious philosophers use the Creator as a starting point for deriving the divine attributes.
That there needs to be a creator is demonstrated by the many cosmological arguments rather than the OA, the best of which don't merely posit a being that sparked the universe in the distant past, but one which sustains the universe here and now. Far from being 'reduced,' such a God is as great and hands-on as any theist could possibly wish.
Anyway, the arguments are subtle because the errors and misconceptions that lead to the denial of the conclusion are subtle, and need to be countered with subtle refinements.
It's not at all proof that there is no God- reality doesn't owe you an intellectual spoonfeeding. If one thinks that belief in God should not require intellectual hard work, then there is always simple faith.
We don't create knowledge, we discover it. For example, the laws of gravity have always existed, but it's just a few hundred years ago that we discovered it. As such, knowledge exists a priori.
This is just another language game. The laws of gravity are not "knowledge", they are a set of physical interactions characteristic of the agents involved. We did not discover knowledge of gravity, we constructed a model that seems to correlate with physical reality reasonably well under certain circumstances (and not in others.) The model could be called " knowledge" but constructing it was an extended, ongoing process. A priori knowledge does exist, but it is largely limited to instinct such as "beware of spiders, snakes and other things that tend to kill you."
>knowledge of something that isn't real
>if you look at the ending of his reply to Gaunilo, there is also a positive aspect to his argument. As the lesser goods resemble the greater, even if the greater is in itself unknown, nevertheless the greater may be illuminated by reflecting on what it is for the lesser to be "good" at all.
Two issues to note about this: firstly, I'm not convinced Anselm's tactic in that section actually does provide positive content for us to think of. He says in section 8 that if something with a beginning and an end is good, then something with a beginning but without an end is more good - while something that, though changing from moment to moment, has no beginning and no end is better still, and something that does not have a beginning and does not have an end and does not undergo change is better than everything yet considered. But all Anselm is doing is *removing* aspects from the concept under consideration, starting with "that which has a beginning and end and undergoes change" (though this last aspect is only implicit in Anselm's description of the first hypothetical thing he has us consider) and having us discard conceptual attributes until "beginning" and "end" and "change" have all been negated. He starts with a vague enough description that holds of every particular object we experience in the world, and ends with the description of something even less determinate, even more vague.
This leads into the second issue: it's not at all clear - especially to someone who doesn't already believe that a god such as Anselm's exists - that it's even conceivable for a thing to exist AND a) be without beginning and end in time and space, or b) be absolutely unchanging, or c) a & b. We experience, and understand concepts of, objects that are spatiotemporally limited, and are constantly undergoing some kind of change - but when we negate these aspects, what remains as existing?
You might join Anselm in saying "existence itself remains!" but the very question is whether there IS any existence to remain apart from these aspects.
What's more, even IF Anselm's tactic in this section gives us some positive conception of what the nature of the goodness of the greater unknown goods are - some experienced content of being by which to think of the unexperienced greater being - it seems that the only kinds of goodness and being that can be elucidated by this tactic are natural kinds, while anything of God remains inaccessible, given the radically different nature of Anselm's God and the kind of goodness/being God has (or, strictly speaking, is). A lesser example of natural goodness might give us a clue by which to seek out, and know when we find it, a greater example of goodness in nature, and this itself could help us recognize an even greater example of natural goodness upon encountering it - but I don't see how any of these examples can give us any preview or clue as to what the unexperienced supernatural goodness of God would be like; this goodness is supposedly God's nature itself, since in the absolute simplicity of God's perfection, there is no composition of attributes, or even composition of essence and existence, as is the case with all natural objects of human experience. God's radical perfection seems to put up a boundary, beyond which we cannot apply similarities drawn from and between earthly things.
>So Anselm is arguing that impoverished conception of being (derived from qualified being) which we have, couldn't be any kind of concept of being at all except in relation to being itself, i.e., actual perfect being.
Which would makes sense historically, given the Platonic principles passed down through the Augustinian tradition that heavily informed Anselm's thinking - living as he did towards the end of the period when Plato was the major influence on medieval philosophy, and not quite in the era when Aristotle's thought became more dominant. But though Anselm might assume that there must be some archetypal Being from which all qualified beings are derivations/participants/imitators, this is not an assumption the hearer has to share.
Personally, I'm more persuaded by the view that there are no gradations of being, no scale in which some things exist more than other things; in fact, this metaphysical view strikes me as on par with whatever
might result from the view that there is no pure, simple, unqualified existence - but rather many different things that we relate to one another and categorize by the similarities and differences we perceive of them, abstracting more and more general concepts until we think of maximally general, unsurpassably vague concepts like "being" - concepts that apply to whatever particular, finite object we might experience, but not for that reason subsisting apart from such particular, finite objects of natural experience.
You say that one such absurdity (or maybe the one fundamental absurdity at the root of all the others) resulting from this competing view is that it forces us to conclude
> that which makes qualified existence a kind of *existence* is not existence at all.
But I think this criticism makes an error in its claim that there are "kinds of existence" at all. As I indicated, I don't think it's intelligible to talk of degrees of existence. We can conceive of "existence" (with difficulty, though, since there's minimal content to think of after we have abstracted all particular, thus more determinate, aspects of things away), and we can think of more specific categories under this general concept: living existents and non-living existents, for example, or human-made existents and non-human-made existents. We can specify and divide such classes further and further down, and recognize that our concepts become more determinate, more vividly imaginable, the more specific we get. But at each level, "existence" means the same thing; mammals don't exist more or less than dogs, which don't exist more or less than labradors, which don't exist more or less than my neighbor's labrador named Dickface.
This is just a consequence of how our mind organizes hierarchies of concepts; the attributes of general concepts apply to all of the subcategories beneath them. This same principle by which I defend my view of the concept "existence" applies for less metaphysically seductive/misleading concepts like "vegetable:" root vegetables are not more or less vegetable than tubers, which are not more or less vegetable than potatoes, which are not more or less vegetable than either yukon gold potatoes or russet gold potatoes.
So I disagree that we've come upon an absurdity in denying that
>qualified existence points to unqualified existence
Rather, I don't see how we can avoid absurdity when we say that some things exist more than others. Do beings of greater existence have a lesser admixture of nothingness? If we add nothingness to being, haven't we just failed to add anything, leaving the being just as it was, thus just as full of being? Is it even intelligible to think of "nothingness" If so, what are we thinking of?
Maybe you have answers to these apparent absurdities - you've shown some sharp argumentation thus far, to be sure - but I expect that would just leave you and me with competing metaphysical views whose plausibilities are roughly equal.
Not really children raised in secular families often need to ask "what's god" to their parents,children dont feel any spiritual connection or vibe unless brainwashed into thinking they do
The fact that you don't know this makes me think you come from an poor/uneducated background
Thanks for the lengthy replies, Kantbro. I'm actually writing a paper on the OA at the moment, so this is valuable challenge.
To your first issue, Anselm's method is to sharpen your vague idea of being by "de-reifying" non-being. A concept of existence begins as vague in the first place, because existence is qualified and not sharply distinguished from what in itself is only a limit on or lack-in existence.
Anselm's attitude towards beginnings and ends is a good example of this. You say that he is subtracting aspects from things, leaving us with the vague, but this is only what he is doing in a linguistic sense. In terms of the ontology of things, beginnings and endings are limits on existence, hence lacks-in existence rather than aspects of existence in themselves. To reify limits at all it is necessary to define them in reference to that which does not have these lacks, and thereby has no beginning or end.
So he starts with a concept of universal referent- everything which is "exists" to some degree in some form, and precisely by subtracting non-being leads to something *more* determinate rather than less- existence itself, which is-not anything with merely qualified existence.
So if we grant that what we had in the beginning was a vague or otherwise lacking concept of existence, the "existence which remains without these lacks" must be intelligible, as that through which the lacking being exists (imperfectly) at all.
This is a kind of via positiva: whatever is understood imperfectly in us must exist in some perfected form somewhere, else we could not have the imperfect understanding to begin with, hence it is in some sense true to say that the Unqualified Being is "like" the natural kinds that exist in nature. Fully developed, this leads to something like Aquinas's analogical predication of the divine attributes.
You are absolutely right, however, that it doesn't lead us to the fullness of God's being in and of itself. Anselm would be the first to say that, short of a miracle, this is impossible. But you don't need to comprehend that essence to be oriented toward it through properly examining your own imperfect concept of existence, and through that act of orientation, be forced to grant its existence.
Only in the way we have an a priori understanding of our own existence, an intrinsic tendency to assign agency to understand phenomenon.
God is just projecting agency onto existence itself, it's the logical next step when you discover that most of the phenomenon you thought were caused by beings were actually the interaction of the laws of nature, so you move the location of the being beyond the reach of investigation.
Can you create a fictional character that is described in the fiction to be so powerful it can come to exist in the real world, such that it actually comes to exist in the real world?
The answer is apparently yes, but only once, and only if it's god.
You're correct that Anselm's acceptance of archetypal being is not something his hearer has to share, but the step of the ontological argument acts as a demonstration of this.
If there is no being-itself which your concept of existence could refer to or resemble, then since a concept is "of" its referent just insofar as it can refer to or resemble them-and-not-something-else, you couldn't have the concept at all.
To deny that perfect being exists, in that case is to deny that one can have a concept that refers to the existence of things in any sense at all. If Anselm succeeds in setting this price for the denial of the perfect being, it seems that the price of denying God's existence, is denying that anything at all exists!
I don't think that the univocal idea of existence helps you escape Anselm's conclusion, you just multiply them. That is, existence-itself (that than which no greater existence can be thought) the common act of all existent things, is in everything in the same way. So existence exists, but there are as many of it as there are existents. It's still a bit god-like, even now, since it's what allows anything at all to be. It's still transcendent, since it is the same in all things, whereas each thing is different from everything else.
At that point, one has to reckon not with the logic of the ontological argument per se, but with the absurd consequences of multiplying existence-itself.
Whatever is composite, exists through that which is not itself, i.e., its parts. But existence cannot exist through non-existence. Hence, existence must be simple. But whatever is multiplicable, must have a distinction between that element which is common and unique to itself, hence what is multiplicable is composite, and cannot be existence itself. So existence itself is simple and unique. So there can only be one existence-itself.
Yet it gets worse, because saying that there is only one way to exist, leads back to the ancient problem of Parmenides.
If there is no qualified existence, then there is either existence or non-existence. In order for there to be more than one being, there would have to be some real difference between them. If they both exist, then the difference is not in respect of their existence, but in respect of non-existence. But non-existence, in and of itself, doesn't exist! So there can be no real differences between things, and all existence is one, as Parmenides would have it. This proves that than which nothing greater can be thought, alright- it's everything else which fails to exist!
So you really do come upon an absurdity, when you deny that qualified existence points to unqualified existence by denying that we grasp qualified existence. However, it is possible, qualified being must be possible, otherwise *only God* exists.
Gaunilo is mock-arguing for a physical island, not an ideal island.
We don't really know more about him, but he very well might have actually believed that there is a form of Island in the divine intellect. However, he'd say that we have to demonstrate the existence of such a form and such an intellect using a different means than Anselm's ontological argument.
God is the ultimate cause. But how could the cause have any effect if nothing is there to experience the cause?
>Do you think it's necessary that something has consciousness in order for it to experience?
Typically that's what is meant by 'experience.'
If you mean 'experience' as a synonym for 'affected,' then since nothing has being in and of itself except through God's willing it, everything 'experiences' God.