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Discussion 3 to Talk Back 12
Saint Anselm's Circle is Squared.

by Teofilo Contreras

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I don't agree with everything you said Ian. And yes, your proposition is indeed interesting and thought provoking, thanks.

I'll start with my biggest conflict: That then which nothing greater can be conceived. That implies a limit. That one's ability or capacity to conceive is somehow limited. But what happens if such an ability is not limited, if it is infinite? In other words, what if there is always something greater that can be conceived and you can never stop conceiving greater and greater things?

Infinity lies at the heart of all discussions about god, because if the universe is infinite and mostly if it is eternal, then maybe there is no need for a god to have created it. It was already there. And then again since time and space may only be the way we humans see things, maybe there is need for a cause after all, even for an infinite and eternal universe, but that's no sufficient proof. So we don't know, and we may never will, it might all be tied to the question of whether the universe is infinite or not, but it might not be.

There is still one more option. That god is the universe and created himself along with it or has always been there in eternity. Yeah  why not, but that effectively eliminates god as a moral being with need for prayers and mass on Sundays. Or maybe not, because we  all part of god and the universe, and at least we humans, have notions of morality, so perhaps the whole universe works that way. In my opinion, we are very far from being able to prove anything with absolute certainty.

Now let's say that we're past point 1. TTWNGCBC exists in intellectu so in order to be the very greatest thing it must exist in re also. But who said that intellect is not re? The concept of a triangle exists in intellectu, is that no re? Are our thoughts not physical? Do we know enough about the way our brain works? Plus, is the concept of a triangle not included within triangular things and therefore present in re already? It gets complicated, I'm not saying you're wrong I'm just saying that Anselm seems to take several things for granted that are very dubious at best.

The square circle is interesting. Can there be a completely incoherent concept? Could it be that (like some have said) everything is relative and therefore it depends? For example "an object with four equal sides and all points equidistant from the centre" could be a circle in which each quadrant is called a "side" or four equal lines on the surface of a sphere and each is defined as a side. Are only coherent concepts valid for existence in intellectu or is any concept eventually coherent given the right interpretation and therefore always possible in re? But mostly (again) is not intellectu a part of the whole of re, even in the case that some concepts were not physically possible?

You say that you have never heard this argument disproved to your satisfaction. I have, years ago, abandoned the pretentious idea that I could prove or disprove anything to anybody's satisfaction. So I don't hope to have proved or disproved a thing, but if my ramblings show anything, it is that Anselm has not proved anything to my satisfaction either. In any case all my babble might show that we lack ability or information or both to prove these sort of things. A simple example: understanding a triangle implies that you accept the inner angles to add 180, as you said. Except that this is only true for some triangles, in non-flat surfaces, the inner angles can add more or less than 180. With this new information, at least one of your sentences crumbles.