Philosophy – Philosophical Ontology – Study of Existence
Table of Contents
Ontology deals with the understanding of existence. Philosophical ontology is a branch of metaphysics that deals with the study of being, existence, and reality. It explores questions related to what exists, what kinds of things exist, and how these entities relate to each other. Ontology seeks to understand the fundamental nature of existence and the underlying structure of reality.
Ontology explores some of the following basic questions concerning reality:
- What is being (existence)
- Why do things exist, rather then not exist
- What is the meaning and nature of reality
- What is the underlying principle of things that exist
- What is nothing
The word for ontology comes from two Greek words: ontos which means being and logos which is the study of something.
The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God
Various philosophers over the centuries have developed ontological arguments for the existence of God. Ontological arguments for the existence of God is based on the concepts of the essence or nature of God. The argument follows as you think about God, that you can logically deduce that a being like that must exist. These arguments are explored below.
St. Anselm of Canterbury
The First ontological argument was developed by St. Anselm of Canterbury England, in the 11th century a.d. He argued that if it is possible that God exists, then it follows logically that God does exist. His argument follows:
- It is possible that a maximally great being exists
- A maximally Great Being exists in some possible world
- If a Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
- If a Maximally Great Being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
- A Maximally Great Being exists in the actual world
- Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
Rene Descartes was a 16th century philosopher, scientist and mathematician and is widely considered a seminal figure in the emergence of modern philosophy. He made the statement in his 5th mediation:
But if the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it, is not this a possible basis for another argument to prove the existence of God? Certainly, the idea of God, or a supremely perfect being, is one that I find within me just as surely as the idea of any shape or number. And my understanding that it belongs to his nature that he always exists is no less clear and distinct than is the case when I prove of any shape or number that some property belongs to its nature (AT 7:65; CSM 2:45).
In Rene Descartes concluded Gods existence through the following ontological proof in this argument:
- Having all of the perfections is part of God’s essence
- Existence is a perfection
- Therefore, existence is part of God’s essence
- Therefore, God necessarily exists.
This argument follows the same type of reasoning that concludes the essence of a triangle.
- Having 3 sides is part of a triangles essence
- All polygons with 3 sides have 3 angles
- Therefore, having 3 angles is part of a triangle essence
- Therefore, a triangle necessarily has 3 angels
New Ontological Arguments – Dr. Josh Rasmussen
Dr. John Rasmussen has taken the development of the ontological argument into our modern world with some further development. He takes the seed idea about the existence of God; which is stating that God’s existence is so great, that the concept of God could not exist only in your mind, or in the world of the imagination, but it must exist in all reality.
The detail of the expanse of his argument can be found in the references below.