May 2, 2006


Rob posted today, and in his post he referenced Anselem's Ontological Argument. While I'm never very good at remembering the names of specific philosophers or the names of the arguments they made, this is in fact one of my favorites. Here is the concluding statement of the argument:
Therefore, if that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone, the very being than which nothing greater can be conceived is one than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence there is no doubt that there exists a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality.

If it's your first time reading that, it may take some rolling around in the head to really get what it's saying, but once you get it, the point is really quite logical. I've only taken one philosophy class (and might I add that I made an A), but I am very fascinated with most of what I learned. I wish I had had the opportunity to take more classes. I love the logic used in philosophy... that is, after all, the point of it. Additionally, I like writing using very structured methods. Our exams in my philosophy class were written essays arguing our stance on a given issue. We were taught to respond using the "point, counter-point, rebuttle" method, wherein you make your point, give the converse argument (the counter-point), and then disprove the counterpoint, making clear the "accuracy" of your first point. Oh, how I love structure like that! (Okay, so I'm a dork.) Anselem, in his Ontological Argument, sort of mixes things up. He goes more like "counter-point, rebuttle, point." That sounds illogical, but really it makes a lot of sense:
Anselm now employs a form of reasoning called reductio ad absurdum. This is a very useful technique. In a proof of this sort, we begin by assuming the opposite of what we want to prove. Then we derive a contradiction or an absurdity from this supposition. And from this we conclude that our original assumption was false.

I love this stuff! Yeah, I'm definitely a dork. Anyway, there's no point to this post. Just writing what I was thinking about. Later.

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