David Hume – Criticism of the Ontological Argument
b.1711– d.1776 (aged 65)
In his work, Treaties on Human Nature, he provided to parts to his argument
1) Not possible to take ideas in your mind, apply logic to the idea, and reach a conclusion that is based entirely in the observable universe. – It’s one thing to imagine something existing, it’s another thing to link that existence in mind to reality
Your mind is different to reality – If it can’t be proven with empirical evidence, it’s just a theory and nothing more
2) He argued that existence cannot be treated as a predicate that something can have or not have. To think Gods is in your mind, and then to think of him as in reality is the same thing.
But Hume states, it is merely that, thinking. – Doesn’t provide a base for God’s existence
'To reflect on anything simply, and to reflect on it as existent, are nothing different from each other.' - Treatise on Human Nature, 1739
The only way to prove something a priori is if its opposite implies a contradiction:
(1) If something implies a contradiction, then it is inconceivable.
(2) Everything can be conceived not to exist.
(3) Nothing can be proved to exist a priori.
* To find out whether a statement can be proved a priori, we try to imagine that it is false.
* If we are able to imagine that it is false, then we may infer that it cannot be proved a priori; empirical investigation will be necessary in order to discover whether the statement is true or false.
* To find out whether God is a necessary being, therefore, we must try to imagine that he does not exist. We are able to do so, his non-existence is possible.
* No amount of abstract reasoning will be able to establish his existence, therefore, because only necessary truths can be proved a priori.