Home Forums Newcastle Reading Group May 19th 2020 – Descartes & the Ontological Argument – (5th Meditation)

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    “…existence can no more be separated from the essence of God, than the idea of a mountain from that of a valley, or the equality of its three angles to two right angles, from the essence of a rectilinear triangle; so that it is not less impossible to conceive a God, that is, a being supremely perfect, to whom existence is awanting, or who is devoid of a certain perfection, than to conceive a mountain without a valley.” Descartes, 5th Meditation


    Please see Mike’s “Descartes” and “Ontological Arguments” powerpoint slides attached

    John G

    Yes, I have now read Mike’s chapter. Apologies, Mike, for not reading it before.
    Looking at the notice on the bus, and the argument, I realised that in spite of attending classes longer than I can remember, I did not understand the terms. So I Googled “necessary being” and the answer was GOD, and “necessary truth” which gave the answer “maths”. Armed with this information I formulated these questions
    1. Does GOD need to be a necessary being, or can she be contingent?
    2. Does a necessary being require necessary truth about it, or can contingent truths also inform it?
    3. Can probability apply to a necessary being?
    4. If a necessary being applies to all possible worlds, what happen if one of them does not exist? Then the quick answer is that it is no longer a possible world. But who knows?

    I get Mikes proof from the premises and assumption, but do not fully understand these.

    I also like the description of St Anslem’s time, when God was believed in. He really needed a reasoned underpinning to his belief. Each generation, including ours, believes we know better. Room for reflection here!

    Finally as an aside, in each generation there are differences, which are not resolved by debate. Once we fix our views, we use reasons to reinforce them.


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