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Waiting for Godo… and Godan: Completing Rowe’s Critique of the Ontological Argument

Roslyn Weiss


In his critique of Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s existence, William Rowe introduces the concepts of “magico” and “magican”—defining “magicos” as magicians that do not exist, and “magicans” as magicians that do exist—to help diagnose what may have gone wrong in Anselm’s argument. As I made my way through Rowe’s intriguing article, I found myself waiting for “Godo”—and for “Godan.” I expected Rowe to invoke these counterparts to his “magico” and “magican”—a non-existing God to correspond to his non-existing magician, and an existing God to correspond to his existing magician—to complete his argument. Alas, like Vladimir and Estragon, I waited in vain: neither Godo—nor Godan—ever appeared. In what follows I shall argue that their inclusion in Rowe’s argument would have settled the matter against Anselm far more decisively than do Rowe’s forays into the murky waters of question-begging.

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