Essay about Metaphysics and Existence

Submitted By ZaiahC1
Words: 897
Pages: 4

In Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Thinking it Through an Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy, Chapter 8 talks about the subject metaphysics. By definition, Appiah goes on to elaborate the metaphysical, or beyond physical, life philosophically. He does so in depth and as objective as one could possible do. In order to help the reader relate to the metaphysical in an objective fashion is by using the examples of numbers. Obviously numbers exist, as we use them on a daily basis. However Appiah used this illustration to show how philosophers in the past have attempted to either prove or disprove the existence of the metaphysical, more specifically God. Appiah’s first premise concerning metaphysics introduces God as a proper noun, or name. Here Appiah introduces Betrand Russell’s distinction of proper names. In a nutshell, Russell says that in order for a person to know another person by name, he/she must have an acquaintance or description of the subject. For example if a man is named John and I know John as the man in front of me then John is the referent, or John exists. Russell uses his theory to conclude that God does not exist, for none know God or has a definite description of who God is. However others disagree with this premise as the existence they believe the existence of God is necessary. In the following section, St. Aslem of Canterbury and Descartes team up and ultimately create the idea that God is necessary for existence. Together they show that in order for there to be any sense of perfection, a perfect must exist. Here is where God is necessary, because there is no perfect on Earth, therefore there must be a higher, unseen being that is perfect in order for the idea of perfection to exist. Therefore God exists as the perfection of all things. This is where Gaunilo, a monk, responds with a loophole famously called the “Perfect Island” objection. In this scenario, Gaunilo says that though we can think of a perfect island doesn’t mean that the island exists anywhere on our planet. Immanuel Kant later refuted the theory that God is necessary for existence, or ontological argument on the basis that “exists” is not a predicate. In Aslem’s and Descarte’s argument, the property of existence is owned like perfection is. However, Kant argues that existence isn’t owned rather “, to exist is to satisfy some open sentence (318)”. Though this idea might sound irrational, Kant goes on to prove why one cannot possess existence. The opposite of existence is non-existence, and in theory if one can possess existence, then one can possess non-existence. However, this is not true, by definition non-existence is not able to be possessed. Appiah doesn’t only offer negatives when it comes to the argument for a higher being. St. Thomas Aquinas proposed five arguments for the existence of God. The most famous and probable of these five proposals is an argument dealing with design. In short, he states that with the harmony in nature how could there not be a divine designer. His other proposals include: God being the first necessarily, God being an absolute standard for the imperfect in the world, God is a prime mover of the universe, and contingent beings imply necessary beings. However all of these proposals have responses such as modern physics and simply not “[seeming] very convincing (323). Appiah goes deeper into Aquinas’s design proposal with an entire section of…