Ontological Argument

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Chuck G

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Annie Oakley's Objection
« on: October 28, 2011, 09:19:09 pm »
Annie:  Anything you can conceive, I can conceive better; I can conceive of anything better than you!

St. Anselm:  No you can't!

Annie:  Yes I can!

St. Anselm:  No you can't!


Okay, okay.  I actually am trying to preface a serious question here, as I'm interested in everyone's stance.

Is there something to the objection that the attributes of intellect and potency have no intrinsic maximum?  Is it, for instance, really possible for a being to be so intelligent, that it's inconceivable that s/he learn anything further?  If so, why dismiss Gaunilo's island as some misappropriation of the word "greatest"?  For if maximal intellect is possible, then why not a maximal island?



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Annie Oakley's Objection
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2011, 12:00:50 am »
I suppose if an island were to be maximal in all it's properties, it would be omnipresent. This seems to be identical to the idea of a possible world in which only this island exists, and no other material entity exists. If we were to make a distinction between the island, and anything else material, we would seem to be limiting one in terms of the other. However, if we can call the universe, 'omnipresent', in the sense that the maximal quantity of presence in constrained by the limits of the universe, it seems that there is a possible world in which an 'island' is all that exists, which is to say that the universe is an island, without properties which we ordinarily prescribe to islands, ie. being surrounded by water. If the universe were to be surrounded by water, why not say that the water is part of the univrse, and that the island is a part of the universe, but not the whole of it? The island would then be limited by the water, in which case it wouldn't seem to fulfull the definition of maximal. Maybe there is a minimal amount of water which could surround an island, but that would depend on the size of the island itself, in which case if it were maximal, what would the term 'maximal' mean? The only possible meaning of 'maximal' I can conceive of, is the idea that there could be no counterfactual universe, given that the universe is just an island, in which the counterfactual island is greater. There would have to be an island, from which there can be no greater island in comparison. Because the term 'maximal' would apply to measurement with respect to material entities, the concept of a maximally great island seems as coherent as the concept of a maximally great number.

If there can be no maximally great number, then there might not be a maximally great number of propositions, and therefore, if maximal intelligence means, "belief in the maximum number of true propositions", there can be no maximal intelligence. This can be circumvented, seemingly easily because a number of propositions can be reconstructed into a single proposition. Maximal intelligence wouldn't be belief in the maximal number of true propositions, but maximal correspondence of belief, to truth. This would simply mean that all beliefs are true, and all beliefs are comprehensive, accounting for every fact.

kind regards
“Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ” -- John Calvin.
“I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels” -- John Calvin