The calming effect of the ontological argument

I’m currently reading through all the texts I’ll be teaching this fall, and yesterday’s text was Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. I always find Descartes to be a relaxing and enjoyable read, and the same holds for Anselm as well, whose Proslogion is on the docket for today. Whatever one might think of the value of the ontological argument for the existence of God, then, I think it’s indisputable that it is conducive to a very readable and calming writing style.

In other Descartes-related news, I was struck, as always, by how unconvincing and confusing the wax analogy is — but thankfully, John Holbo has done some research into the weird reasons Descartes wanted to use it. (You can probably skip down to the heading “The Wax and the World,” and skim much else besides, given his verbose and digressive writing style.)

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5 Responses to “The calming effect of the ontological argument”

  1. Craig McFarlane Says:

    I remember Descartes’s wax analogy as being called “the worst metaphor in the history of philosophy” in my first year philosophy class. Seems about right.

  2. Matt Frost Says:

    Nice link. “Verbose and digressive” — he writes like he’s lecturing. Or like it’s dictation. At any rate, very different than writing to be read.

  3. Matt Frost Says:

    Which causes me to wonder — Descartes was certainly writing to be read, but Anselm was not — but we translate him to be read.

  4. Matt Frost Says:

    Bah, ignore me, I’m mostly wrong. Perhaps the something of ease in the writing style has to do with the logic, not just of the argumentation, but of arguing in written terms?

  5. Hill Says:

    I strangely awoke this morning thinking about the ontological argument. It was a nice morning.


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