The Ontological Argument

Brian Leftow

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195331356
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Ontological Argument

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The term “ontological argument” was Kant's name for one member of a family of arguments that began with Anselm of Canterbury. These arguments all try to prove God's existence a priori, via reasoning about the entailments of a particular description of God. The description almost always involves God's greatness or perfection. Where it does not, the argument has a premise justified by God's greatness or perfection. So these arguments might better be called arguments from perfection. This article deals with the main arguments from perfection and criticisms thereof in historical order. It first explicates Anselm's key phrase “something than which no greater can be thought” and then takes up his reasoning, then the question of whether its premises are true.

Keywords: ontological argument; Kant; Anselm of Canterbury; God's greatness; God's existence; reasoning

Article.  15639 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Religion ; Metaphysics

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