The Ontological Argument

27 Sep, 2012 100 Philosophy

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Ontological Argument. In the eleventh century St Anselm of Canterbury proposed that it was possible to prove the existence of God using reason alone. His argument was ridiculed by some of his contemporaries, but was analysed and improved by later thinkers including Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. Other philosophers have been less kind, with the Enlightenment thinker David Hume offering one possible refutation. But the debate continued, fuelled by interventions from such heavyweights as Immanuel Kant and Kurt Godel; and it remains one of the most discussed problems in philosophy.

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  • John Haldane 8 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews
  • Peter Millican 5 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford
  • Clare Carlisle 2 episodes
    Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at King's College London

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In the late 11th century, a man called Anselm, an Italian prior at a monastery in northern France who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, started to wrestle with a philosophical problem.