I have been wondering about the ontological argument - isn't this a confusion on the part of its proponents regarding the use of the word attribute (or property) as opposed to a state? If we look at an example, say Water in this case, we find the following.
Water has many properties or attributes. It can be very hot or very cold. It has material weight, it is generally transparent and can bond to other elements on the periodic table in the right conditions (there's more, but I don't need a laundry list here). However, existence is not an attribute of water, it is a state that a given amount of water may or may not be in at a given moment. Water can be in the state of a solid, for example, when cold enough - yet being solid is not an attribute of water - it is a result of one of the expression of an attribute. Existence is also a state in the same vein; a body of water (like any object one can imagine) may or may not contain the state of existence. Direct or indirect evidence would be required to affirm or deny the object as containing that state.
Applied to the ontological argument, we find that the attempt here is to make perfection an attribute of a god entity and then attach existence as a part of that property. However, in both cases, these are "states" and not "properties" of items. A glass of water may be "perfect" if it meets an arbitrary set of conditions or states that we desire (it is clear, in liquid form, devoid of odor, etc). Thus, the Water, through an expression of properties that it possesses, may be in a state of perfection. Applied to a god, there must be an expression of the entities attributes for the state of perfection to be applied. That, of course, requires that these attributes become manifest, requiring that it exist. But existence is not an expression of a property and it is not one that is automatically achieved via word-smithing or definitions. Thus, the argument fails.
Am I overthinking this? (Unsigned comment written by Kijuteras 09:22, 22 June 2008)
- No, I think it's a good point, and it's kind of similar to what I was trying to get across in the proof that unicorns exist. I built "and exists" into the definition of a unicorn, thereby defining one into existence. Your explanation would probably be worth a section in the article. --Kazim 10:35, 22 June 2008 (CDT)
- Are you shure that this is the ontological argument? Because (1) this argument has much more things on it than just that 3 statements. Look to Wikipedia and you will notice that this argument requires a much greater explanation. (2) For what I remember of the argument, it not exactly like this. (3) there is no reference on this page...
- Momergil 06:30, 5 December 2009 (CST)
- No, this is the ontological argument. I just checked the different versions on wikipedia like you suggested. Although they use some different wording and add extra steps into the process, they all follow the same basic format as the three point argument at the top of the iron chariots page. And the main counterargument to those three points still applies to the different versions on the wikipedia page. However you choose to write it, just because you choose to linguistically/semantically define something as existing, doesn't actually mean it exist in reality.
- As for your point about the references, you're right. Being an argument that rests on pure semantics and logic (ie, there aren't really any empirical real world facts in the argument that have to be, or can be cross checked) i don't think references are quite as important as they would be on say, an historical article about the Jefferson bible for instance, but it would be nice if there were perhaps some references to apologetics sites which use the argument. Feel free to add them. As long as you aren't trolling or vandalizing, no body here will have a problem with that.--Murphy 01:18, 6 December 2009 (CST)
I have a different version of the ontological argument which was propounded by Descartes. I don't know if this is worth mentioning or not; if it is, maybe it should be mentioned on a seperate article. Descartes found that in his mind there is the notion of a perfect being, and somehow concluded that God exists.
1. I exist
2. I have in my mind the notion of a perfect being
3. An imperfect being, like myself, cannot think up the notion of a perfect being
4. Therefore the notion of a perfect being must have originated from the perfect being himself (from 2 & 3)
5. A perfect being would not be perfect if it did not exist.
6. Therefore a perfect being must exist (from 4 & 5)
--wissam hemadeh 06:07, 6 April 2010 (CDT)