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A summary of Gaunilo’s perfect island objection to Anselm’s ontological argument . argument for the existence of the perfect island in his On Behalf of the Fool. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers’ criticism of Anselm’s ontological argument present in his On Behalf of the Fool. From On Behalf of the Fool, Gaunilo, a Monk of Marmoutier 1. IF one doubts or denies the existence of a being of such a nature that nothing greater.

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And hence it is truth itself, just as thou art; no other truth than thou; and thou art of so simple a yaunilo, that of thee nothing can be born other than what thou art. A discussion of Gaunilo’s argument, that any unreal beings can be understood in the same way, and would, to that extent, exist VII.

Thus, he adds, much is wanting to the ability of inferring its existence from the finding of such an image in the spirit. Moreover, what is composed gaunklo parts can be dissolved in concept, and be non-existent.

Gaunilo of Marmoutiers – Wikipedia

But how art thou compassionate, and, at the same time, passionless? Thus we see that the celebrated Leibnitz is far from having achieved what we thought he had, namely, to understand a priori the possibility of so sublime an ideal Being.

But it now appears that this being than which a greater is inconceivable cannot be conceived not gauunilo be, because it exists on so assured a ground of truth; for otherwise it would not exist at all.

It is proved, therefore, by the fact that what he understands must exist not only in his understanding, but in reality also.

For, when thou punishest the wicked, it is just, because it is consistent with their deserts; and when, on the other hand, thou sparest the wicked, it is just, foll because it is compatible with their deserts, but because it is compatible with thy goodness.

If he does not conceive, he does not conceive of the non-existence of that of which he does not conceive.

Philosophy of Religion

Doubtless they shall rejoice gauunilo as they shall love; and they shall love according as they shall know. Now I promise confidently that if any man shall devise anything existing either in reality or in concept alone except that than which a greater be conceived to which he can adapt the sequence of my reasoning, I will discover that thing, and will give him his lost island, not to be lost again.


It is not a paralogism, but it is an imperfect demonstration, which assumes something that must still be proved in order to render it mathematically evident; that is, it is tacitly assumed that this idea of the all-great or all-perfect being is possible, and implies no contradiction.

Or, is what it has seen both light and truth; and still it has not yet seen thee, because it has seen thee only in part, but has not seen thee as thou art?

And he who thoroughly understands this, assuredly understands that this being so truly exists, that not even in concept can it be non-existent. For that which cannot have come into existence by any creative agent, or from any matter, or with any external aids, seems either to be nothing, or, if it has any existence, to exist through nothing, and derive existence from nothing.

When he is assured in the first place that this being gaunulo so great that its non-existence is not even conceivable, and that this in turn is proved on no other ground than the fact that otherwise it will not be greater than all things, the fool may make the same answer, and say:. Heart of man, needy heart, heart acquainted with sorrows, nay, overwhelmed with sorrows, how greatly wouldst thou rejoice, if thou didst abound in all these things!

In what way dost thou transcend those beings which will have behal end?

Philosophy of Religion » Gaunilo’s Perfect Island

For what can be more just than this? And if, before I eat, I sigh, grant, even after sighs, that which I may eat.

But it is my prayer and earnest entreaty, that if any shall wish to copy this work, he shall be careful to place this preface at the beginning of the book, before the body of the meditation itself. If what is greatest did not exist, then what is greatest would not be, and it is not impossible that that which is greatest of all conceivable things should not be. For it is altogether inconceivable that anything should not exist by virtue of something.


Online Library of Liberty

If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. In hunger I have come to thee; let me not go unfed. But as to whatever can be conceived, but does not exist — if there were such a being, its non-existence, either in reality or in the understanding, would be possible. And assuredly without inconsistency: Help me, just and compassionate God, whose light I seek; help me to understand what I say. But it is not conceived as by one who knows what is generally signified by the word; by whom, that is, it is conceived according to a reality and in true conception alone.

For we conceive of the non-existence of many objects which we know to exist, in of the existence of many which we know not to exist; not by forming the opinion that they so exist, but by imagining that they exist as we conceive of them. The believer does not seek to understand, that he may cool, but he believes that he may understand: But this by Prop. Or, behald such a man is found, not only ought his words to be rejected, but he himself should be contemned.

When wilt thou enlighten our eyes, and show us thy face? For, whatever is not this is less than a thing which can be conceived of. Although I often and earnestly directed my thought to this end, and at some times that which I gaunnilo Edition: BUT, you say, it is as if one should suppose an island in the ocean, which surpasses all lands in its fertility, and which, because of the difficulty, or the impossibility, of discovering what does not exist, ggaunilo called a lost island; and should say that the be no doubt that this island truly exists in reality, for this reason, that one who hears it described foo understands what he hears.

If any of these arguments is sound, it fpol, then they must all be sound.

If it is one, then we have what we are looking for: