In Behalf Of The Fool
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In the first chapters of the ontological argument, Anselm, the archbishop of Canterbury, attempts to provide a complete, irrefutable proof on the existence of god. Later in the book, Gaunilon, one of the Benedictine monks, provides several objections to Anselms proof. In this paper, I will explain one of Gaunilons objections to the proof and describe how Anselm responds to the objection. In the last paragraphs of my paper, I will show that even if GaunilonÐs argument makes sense to a certain extent, it cannot be paralleled to Anselms proof. I will end the paper by showing that Anselms proof is complete and Gaunilons argument is not strong enough to refute it.
In an effort to show that Anselms proof has a big flaw, Gaunilon draws a parallel to Anselms proof, in order to reach an absurd conclusion and conclude that Anselm is definitely wrong. He introduces an imaginary island that is greater than any other island. In short, such an island is one “than which no greater island can be conceived”. Because of either its complexity or its greatness, no one has been able to walk it, or at least locate it. It is indubitable that anyone can understand such an island and conceive of it. Because anyone can understand that island, it follows that such an island exists in the understanding. Because by definition, that island is the greatest island that can be conceived, Gaunilon claims that such an island must exist not only in the understanding, but also in reality. He supposes that it does not exist in reality, which implies that it exists only in the understanding. However, it is true that another island of the same qualities but which exists in reality can be conceived of. It follows that by definition, the island than which none greater can be conceived is an island that some greater island can be conceived, which itself is a nonsensical claim. Thus, he concludes that if someone tries to convince him