A summary of Gaunilo’s perfect island objection to Anselm’s ontological argument . argument for the existence of the perfect island in his On Behalf of the Fool. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers’ criticism of Anselm’s ontological argument present in his On Behalf of the Fool. From On Behalf of the Fool, Gaunilo, a Monk of Marmoutier 1. IF one doubts or denies the existence of a being of such a nature that nothing greater.

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And so, Lord, do thou, who dost give understanding to faith, give me, so far as thou knowest it gahnilo be profitable, to understand that thou art as we believe; and that thou art that which we believe.

What shall thy servant do, anxious in his love of thee, and cast out afar from thy face? How far have I come?

Gaunilo of Marmoutiers

Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy London, Nor do I concede to it any other existence than this if it should be called existence which it has when the mind, according to a word merely heard, tries to form the image of an object absolutely unknown to it. Gaunilo criticised Anselm’s argument by employing the same reasoning, via reductio ad absurdumto “prove” the existence of the mythical “Lost Island”, the greatest or most perfect island: A History of Philosophy.

Surely it is just that thou shouldst be so just that thou canst not be conceived more just; and this thou wouldst in no wise be if thou didst only render goods to the good, and not evils to the evil For, he who requiteth both good and evil according to their deserts is more just than he who so requites the good alone.

The non-existence, then, of that than which a greater cannot be conceived is inconceivable. But, if two, or three, or many more, had the same joy, thou wouldst rejoice as much for each one as for thyself, if thou didst love each as thyself. Why did he shut us away from the light, and cover us over with darkness?

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But everything that is in any way bounded by place or time is less than that which no law of place or time limits. On the other hand, he cannot revenge himself on man for his offended honor; for sin is an offence of infinite degree, and therefore demands infinite satisfaction; which means that he must either destroy humanity or inflict upon it the eternal punishments of hell.

That is certainly true: God, or substance, consisting of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality, necessarily exists.

But if thou art not compassionate, whence cometh so great consolation to the wretched?

Shall we say that God is omnipresent and eternal? Thinking, therefore, that what I rejoiced to have found, would, if put in writing, be welcome to some readers, of this very matter, and of some others, I have written the following treatise, in the person of one who strives to lift his mind to the contemplation of God, and seeks to understand what he behalc.


For I can conceive of the man according to a fact that is real and familiar to me: For what did not exist brhalf, and exists to-day, as it is understood not to have existed yesterday, so it can be apprehended by the intelligence that it never exists.

For we conceive of the non-existence of many objects which we know to exist, and of the existence of many which we know not to exist; te by forming the opinion that they so exist, but by imagining that they exist as we conceive of them. But, at any rate, this very fool, when he gaunklo of this being of which I speak—a being than which nothing greater can be conceived—understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his understanding; although he does not understand it to exist.

Let my soul recover its strength, and with all its understanding let it strive toward thee, O Lord. Again, you say that when you hear of a being than which a greater is inconceivable, you cannot conceive of it in terms of any real object known to you either specifically or generally, nor have it in your understanding.

For instance, what derives existence from matter, and exists through the artificer, may also be said to exist through matter, and to derive existence from the guanilo, since it exists through both, and derives existence from both.

Therefore, God justly pities. And hence, that which is greater than all, already proved to be in the understanding, must exist not only in the understanding, but also in reality: The existence of this being is proved, in the first place, by the fact that he himself, in his doubt or denial regarding this being, already has it in his understanding; for in hearing it spoken of he understands what is spoken of.

So that this metaphysical argument already gives a morally demonstrative conclusion, which declares that according to the present state of our knowledge we must judge that God exists, and act in conformity thereto.

Philosophy of Religion

Doubtless they shall rejoice according as they shall love; and they shall love according as they shall know. But, just as it has been proved that there is a being that is supremely good, since all goods are good through a single being, which is good through itself; so it is necessarily inferred that there is something supremely great, which is great through itself.

So, then, when one is said to have the power of Edition: But that would give us what we had in the first case, an absolute unitary cause. Hence we are compelled to believe in a being which is the cause of every existing thing, without being caused by anything itself, and which for Edition: Assuredly more than a creature can conceive.

Gaunilo of Marmoutiers – Wikipedia

He is eager to find thee, and knows not thy place. In what way all other beings exist through gaunilk Nature and derive existence from it. Similarly, Alvin Plantinga tendered a reply gaunllo Gaunilo’s remonstrance by arguing that the concept of ” that than which nothing greater can be conceived ” is not applicable to an island, or any other object, in the special way that it is applicable to God.


Consequently, were that, a greater than which cannot be thought, existent in mere intellect, the thought quo majus cogitari non potest would at the same time be quo majus cogitari potest, which is impossible. There is nothing to thhe one’s saying ineffablealthough what is said to be ineffable cannot be spoken of.

How, then, O Lord, art thou all these things? Or, if at some times its existence is denied, because only to a certain extent is it understood, and that which is not at all understood is the same to him: Hence, your example of the painter who already has in his understanding what he is to paint cannot agree with this argument. Let the love of thee increase, and there let it be full, that here my joy may be great in hope, and there full in truth. Spare, in mercy; avenge not, in justice. A bibliography also has been compiled.

I fell before my mother conceived me. Plainly for this reason, that it is an immediate certainty that what is greatest, most beautiful, most worthy is not a mere thought, but must be a reality, because it would be intolerable to believe of our ideal that it is an idea produced by the action of thought but having no existence, no power, and no validity in the world of reality.

He desires to seek thee, and does not know behaalf face. French Benedictines Scholastic philosophers 11th-century Gaunilk writers Philosophy of religion French male writers Empiricists 11th-century Latin writers.

But thou art so truly a unitary being, and so identical with thyself, that in no respect art thou unlike thyself; rather thou art unity itself, indivisible by any conception.

But that which is greatest of all, and through which gaunulo whatever is good or great, and, in short, whatever Edition: But it cannot be said that a being than which a greater is inconceivable, if it exists, is not a being than which a greater is inconceivable; or that if it existed, it would not foop a being than which a greater is inconceivable. For, these goods of body and soul will be such as eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has the heart of man conceived Isaiah lxiv.

Furthermore, if one observes the nature of things he perceives, whether he will or no, that not all are gaujilo in a single degree of dignity; but that certain among them are distinguished by inequality of degree. Lord, if thou art not here, where shall I seek thee, being absent?