A Platonized Ontological Argument

19 Feb 2024 01.00 PM - 02.30 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Andrew Forcehimes

Ever since its first iteration in Anselm’s Proslogion, the ontological argument for God’s existence has continued to perplex philosophers. Nowadays, it is typically formulated as a modal argument, in which the necessity of a perfect being is inferred from its possibility. This modal approach traces back to Leibniz, and it is widely assumed to be the most promising. Malebranche, one of Leibniz’s contemporaries, took the argument in a different direction, however. His version of the argument takes the existence and knowability of the immutable realm of forms - or ‘archetypes’ as he calls them – as its starting point, rather than the possibility of a perfect being. Specifically, it moves from the existence of ‘divinity’ as an instantiable form, to its instantiation in a concrete divine being. Simply put, divinity is not the sort of form that can remain unexemplified. I offer a reconstruction of this thoroughly Platonic argument, before assessing its merits. 

Christophe de Ray obtained his PhD in Philosophy in 2021 from King’s College London. After a couple of years teaching theology and philosophy in a school in London, he moved to Singapore last Summer, and joined NTU as a lecturer in the philosophy department. His research interests include philosophy of religion and philosophy of science.