Was Gaunilo Right in his Criticism of Anselm? A Contemporary Perspective

Jan Woleński


Gaunilo argued that Anselm could prove the existence of many perfect objects, for example, the happiest island, that is, happier than any other island. More formally, Gaunilo’s arguments were intended to show that the sentence “God exists” does not follow from premises accepted by Anselm. Contemporary versions of the ontological proof use the maximalization procedure in order to demonstrate that God exists as the most perfect being. This paper argues that this method, which is based on maximalization, is not sufficient to prove God’s existence. Thus, a “contemporary Gaunilo” can repeat objections raised by his ancestor.

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