Anselm and Berkeley on God’s Necessary Existence
20 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2012
Date Written: January 12, 2004
In this paper, after outlining some general remarks on the nature of faith and reason in Anselm, I will proceed to explore a key aspect of his thought concerning the necessity of God’s existence. In particular, I will concentrate on his Proslogion, and subject his ‘ontological argument’ for the existence of God to a line of critique directed mainly at its Neo-Platonic pre-suppositions. In the second part of my paper, I turn my attention to the thought of George Berkeley. I argue that, appearances notwithstanding, there are some interesting parallels to be drawn in a comparison of these two thinkers. Both are orthodox Christians and seek to understand the Christian God as a God of Faith and Reason. Berkeley, as with Anselm, wishes to argue for the necessary de re existence of the Christian God by the use of reasoned lines of argumentation. Berkeley sees his task as offering a proof for the existence of God, accessible to the plain man, a variation on the Fool of the Psalms. Contra Berkeley, I will argue that his immaterial realism ultimately fails in its quest to justify the necessary existence of the Christian God. His ‘universal perceiver’ is gravely undermined by the specter of solipsism and by the implausibility of his notion of spiritual substance.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation