St. Thomas’s first refutation of the Ontological Argument

The first thing that St. Thomas says about the Ontological Argument is that its definition of God is not true, since some people think God is a body. In other words, God is not that than which nothing greater can be thought (with stress on thought), because some thoughts about God are mistaken and there’s no reason why a mistaken thought about God might not see him as inferior to something.

For example, Germain Grisez argues against what he calls “the restless heart fallacy”, or the Augustinian idea that God suffices for a complete human happiness (since he believes we need bodily and social goods, in addition to beatitude, in order to be fully blessed). Grisez’s theory appears to be an instance of someone thinking of something greater than God, sc. the complex of goods including God, bodily goods, and social goods. I’ve never confirmed the rumor that St. Teresa said that chocolate and God is better than just God, but if one took the statement in earnest it would be a case of thinking about something greater than God, even if, in fact, the thought is mistaken.

One response is that  mistaken thoughts are not kinds of thoughts. A thinker has a mistaken thought only in the same way that a surgeon might kill someone, and just as killing isn’t a sort of surgery so mistake-making isn’t a sort of thought.

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1 Comment

  1. Arakawa said,

    August 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I’m not sure if chocolate and God is greater than God alone, but you would have a hard time arguing that God alone is greater than God plus chocolate.

    Another conclusion one can make is that God entails chocolate, and a host of other things, in purely incidental fashion.


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