That Anselm’s God Exists and Gaunilo’s Island Does Not

  • Richard CampbellEmail author
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 30)


Scholars were greatly indebted to Max Charlesworth for publishing in 1965 the Latin text of Anselm’s Proslogion, together with his own translation and commentary. The intense discussion this argument has received since then has, however, clarified a number of points about the logic of this argument. Its first premise is not a definition of God, and that identification is one of the conclusions of a three-stage argument. Also, the much-discussed issue of the relation of Chap. 3 to Chap. 2 has now been clarified: that the premise with which Anselm begins Chap. 3 is entailed by the conclusion of Chap. 2. For that reason, substituting a description of anything other than God for Anselm’s formula, such as Gaunilo’s Lost Island, entails that that thing both can and could not be thought not to exist. So, no such substitution is legitimate.


Max Charlesworth Ontological argument Proslogion, translation of Karl Barth Peter Geach 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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