GAUNILO AND ANSELM
GAUNILO had two objections:
1. *We cannot really have the idea of being than which a greater cannot be thought in our minds. (not in our textthough suggested). Anselm responded that That than which nothing greater can be thought is not so much a conception of God in the sense that this is WHAT God is; it is more a way of pointing to the concept of God, through our own understandings of less perfect things.
2. You cannot infer the reality of something from our ability to conceive of it.
Gs first reason. Conceiving of what a thing is just imagining or getting a clearer picture of what we are talking about, it should not be understood as going outside of the mind.
Anselms Response [II]: If [That than which a greater cannot be thought] only exists in the mind, then it cannot be that than which a greater cannot be thought. So logically, that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot exist in the mind alone. Notice how this is phrased. Gaunilo phrases it positivelyjust because I think of (imagine) x, I cant say that x exists in reality; Anselm say that if I can think of that than which a greater cannot be thought, I cannot say that it only exists in my mind! HAS ANSELM A POINT?
Gs second reason. We may be able to understand the description of the most excellent island. But it seems to be a clever wordplay or at best a joke to say that this most excellent island must really exist, for the reason that if it did not, some lesser but actually existing island would be more excellent than it, and so the first island then would be what you initially conceived it to be, the most excellent island.
In other wordsAnselm, your argument is this: the lost island couldn't be the most excellent island unless it existed, therefore it exists. DID ANSELM DO THIS??
Anselms Response: this argument is unique, only works for one concept. There can be only one that than which a greater cannot be conceived. Applied to islands, etc., it will be a bad argument. But that is because of the example!
Gs third reason. Saying that that than which a greater cannot be conceived cannot be thought to not exist, is merely saying that such a thing would possess such a property; I can still meaningfully deny that such a thing (a thing that cannot be thought to not exist) really is. [Mixing of the conceptual use of "is" and the existential use of "is"]
Anselms Response: no you cant, because we already proved that in Chapter Two.
Has Anselm got Gaunilo and us?
Saying this is easy: I agree that God (if he exists) must be a NECESSARY BEING, but I deny that a NECESSARY BEING exists.
But saying this isnt: I agree that God (if he exists) is something that cannot be thought to not exist, but I do not think that a thing that cannot be thought to not exist exists. [Is that ok? Sounds like I am contradicting myself.]