Ontological argument  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An ontological argument for the existence of God attempts the method of a priori proof, which uses intuition and reason alone. The argument examines the concept of God, and states that if we can conceive of the greatest possible being, then it must exist.

In the context of the Abrahamic religions, ontological arguments were first proposed by the Medieval philosopher Anselm of Canterbury (in his Proslogion). Important variations were developed by later philosophers like René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz, Norman Malcolm, Charles Hartshorne, and Alvin Plantinga. A modal-logic version of the argument was devised by the mathematician Kurt Gödel.

The differences among the argument's principal versions arise mainly from using different concepts of God as the starting point. Anselm, for example, starts with the notion of God as a being of which no greater can be conceived, while Descartes starts with the notion of God as being totally perfect, and Leibniz with something having all "perfections".

The ontological argument has been a controversial topic in philosophy. Many philosophers, including Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, St. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, have openly criticized it.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ontological argument" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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