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by Raul Corazzon | e-mail:

Selected Bibliography on History of the Ontological Argument from Suárez to Frege

Content of this Section

A Selection of Primary Authors

Legenda: P = Pro (accept the proof); C = Contra (rejected the proof); I = indifferent (take no position on the proof).

References are to the most important works where ontological argument is discussed.

  • P Francisco Suárez
  • P René Descartes
  • C Pierre Gassendi
  • P Henry More
  • P Ralph Cudworth
  • P Baruch Spinoza
  • P Nicolas Malebranche
  • P Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
  • P François Fénelon
  • P Samuel Clarke
  • P Christian Wolff
  • C David Hume
  • P Alexander Baumgarten
  • C Immanuel Kant
  • P Moses Mendelssohn
  • P Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  • P Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
  • C Ludwig Feuerbach
  • P Robert Flint
  • PFranz Brentano
  • C Gottlob Frege

Francisco Suárez (1548-1617)

Texts and translations

  1. Suárez, Francisco. 1965. Disputationes Metaphysicae. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

    The first edition was published in Salamanca (Spain) in 1597 (two wolumes) and reprinted in the Luis Vivés edition: R. P. Francisci Suárez e societate Jesu, Opera omnia - in 26 volumes (1856-1861) with two additional volumes of indexes (27-28); the Disputationes Metaphysicae are in voll. 25-26.

    The only complete translation is: Disputaciones metafisicas, edición y traducción de Sergio Rabade Romeo, Salvador Caballero Sanchez, Antonio Puigcerver Zanón, Madrid Editorial Gredos, 1960-1966 (7 voll.).

  2. ———. 2004. The Metaphysical Demonstration of the Existence of God. Metaphysical Disputations 28-29. South Bend: St. Augustine Press.

    XXVIII: De divisione entis in infinitum et finitum; XXIX: De Primo et increato Ente, an sit.

    Translated and edited with an introduction (pp. X-XXIV) by John P. Doyle.


  1. Fastiggi, Robert. 1999. "The proof for the existence of God in Suarez." In Francisco Suárez (1548-1617). Tradiçao e Modernidade , edited by Cardoso, Adelino, Martins, Antonio Manuel and Dos Santos, Leonel Ribeiro, 81-92. Lisboa: Ediçoes Colibri.

René Descartes (1596-1650)

Texts and translations

  1. Descartes, René. 1978. Méditations métaphysiques. Paris: Vrin.

    French translation by Charles d'Albert, duc du Luyne (1647).

    Œuvres complètes edited by Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, originally published 1897-1913 in 12 volumes.Vol. IX, 1.

  2. ———. 1983. Meditationes de prima philosophia. Paris: Vrin.

    Written in 1641; See the III and V Meditations.

    Œuvres complètes edited by Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, originally published 1897-1913 in 12 volumes.Vol. VII.


  1. Abbruzzese, John Edward. 2007. "The structure of Descartes's ontological proof." British Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 15:253-282.

  2. Armogathe, Jean-Robert. 1995. "Caterus' objections to God." In Descartes and His Contemporaries. Meditations, Objections and Replies, edited by Ariew, Roger and Grene, Marjorie, 34-43. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  3. Cress, Donald. 1973. "Does Descartes' 'ontological argument' really stand on its own?" Studi Internazionali di Filosofia no. 5:127-136.

    A discussion of the Gouhier-Gueroult controversy on the purpose of placing the ontological argument in Descartes' Fifth Meditation.

  4. ———. 1975. "Does Descartes have two "ontological arguments?"." International Studies in Philosophy no. 7:155-166.

    "The ontological arguments of (1) the Fifth Meditation and (2) the Principles and the Response to the Second set of Objections differ in that they have two distinct major premises. By means of a set of interlocking distinctions, I show how one might deal with the vicious circle as well as resolve the dispute between Gueroult and Gouhier on the standing of the ontological argument in the Fifth Meditation."

  5. Crocker, Sylvia Fleming. 1976. "Descartes' ontological argument." Modern Schoolman no. 53:347-377.

  6. Curley, Edwin. 2005. "Back to the ontological argument." In Early modern philosophy. Mind, matter, and metaphysics, edited by Mercer, Christa and O'Neill, Ellen, 46-64. New York: Oxford University Press.

  7. Dicker, Georges. 1993. Descartes. An Analytical and Historical Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Chapter 4. Meditation V: The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God pp. 147-176.

  8. Doney, Willis. 1991. "Did Caterus misunderstand Descartes's ontological proof?" In René Descartes. Critical assessments. Vol. II, edited by Moyal, Georges J.D., 344-353. London: Routledge.

  9. ———. 1993. "On Descartes' Reply to Caterus." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 67:413-430.

    "In Descartes' presentation of his a priori proof in the Fifth Meditation, there are three sorts of problems often passed over by commentators which will occupy me here. In each case, I will first present the problem as clearly as I can and then consider some important information found in the First Set of Objections and Replies concerning a solution of the problem." (p. 413)

  10. ———. 2003. "Objections and Replies within the Fifth Meditation." British Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 11:219-234.

  11. Dougherty, Michael V. 2002. "The importance of Cartesian triangles: a new look at Descartes's ontological argument." International Journal of Philosophical Studies no. 10:35-62.

    "In this paper, I argue that commentators have missed a significant clue given by Descartes in coming to understand his 'ontological' proof for the existence of God. In both the analytic and synthetic presentations of the proof throughout his writings, Descartes notes that the proof works 'in the same way' as a particular geometrical proof. I explore the significance of such a parallel, and conclude that Descartes could not have intended readers to think that the argument consists of some kind of intuition. I argue that for Descartes the attribute of existence is a 'second-order' attribute that is demonstrated to belong to the idea of God on the basis of 'first-order' attributes. The proof, properly understood, is in fact a demonstration. Having brought to light the geometrical parallels between the ontological and geometrical proofs, we have new evidence to resolve the 'intuition versus demonstration' controversy that has characterized much of the discussion of Descartes's ontological argument."

  12. Dutton, Blake. 1993. "The Ontological Argument: Aquinas's Objection and Descartes' Reply." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 67:431-450.

    "One might wonder what Aquinas's response would have been to Descartes' unique form of the ontological argument. He certainly would not, as Descartes seems to think, find it compatible with his own natural theology. But how exactly would he have read it? Although one can only guess, I believe he would have read it as a failed attempt to gain a supernatural knowledge of God by the natural light of reason alone. More specifically, he would have seen it as an attempt to attain a knowledge of God that is accessible only to the elect in heaven who enjoy the beatific vision.

    We have seen that Aquinas rejects the possibility of all natural knowledge which does not originate in the senses and is independent of any sense-based image. This, of course, holds true for natural knowledge of God as well. However, these conditions do not pertain to the state of beatitude. In that state, Aquinas tells us, the saints in heaven are granted an intellectual vision of the essence of God to which no created similitude is adequate. They are said to see the divine essence by an uncreated similitude which, by virtue of being uncreated, cannot be produced by the abstractive activity of the intellect upon the image. Here the intellect has a direct apprehension of its object which is not grounded in sense perception. Two features of this account should strike us as familiar; the beatific vision is an intellectual vision of the essence of God, and it is not attained by the abstraction from an image. These features are familiar because they are the very features we have found to characterize Descartes' account of clear and distinct knowledge of God. Such knowledge, Descartes claims, is of the nature of God, and as it is attained only as the mind withdraws from any presentation of the senses or the imagination, it is independent of any image.

    We may also recall that for Descartes the existence of God is immediately and evidently known because in clearly and distinctly perceiving the divine nature one also perceives that existence pertains to that nature. Aquinas, because he denies that we can have such natural knowledge of the essence of God, denies that the existence of God is self-evident. Presumably, though, this would not be the case for the saints in heaven who are not bound by dependence on the senses or reliance on images. We would expect that they, enjoying the vision of the essence of God, would have the kind of immediate and evident knowledge of the existence of God that Descartes claims for himself. And this, it turns out, is exactly what we find. Aquinas writes that "just as it is evident to us that a whole is greater than a part of itself, so to those seeing the divine essence in itself it is supremely self-evident that God exists because His essence is His being" (Summa contra Gentiles I, 11, V, 5). Once again, Descartes claims to see what Aquinas believes God has reserved only for the eyes of the beatified." (pp. 448-449)

  13. ———. 1993. "Suarezian Foundations of Descartes' Ontological Argument." Modern Schoolman no. 70:245-258.

  14. Forgie, William J. 1974. "Existence assertions and the ontological argument." Mind no. 83:260-262.

    "Many philosophers have claimed that Descartes' ontological proof rests on the assumption that existence is not a property and have then tried to attack that assumption by arguing that existence assertions are not subject-predicate assertions. I try to show that this kind of attack on Descartes is misguided. I distinguish a 'semantic' and an 'ontological' criterion of propertyhood. I argue that 1) Descartes' argument at most requires that existence be a property in the ontological, not the semantic, sense; and that 2) if existence assertions are not subject-predicate assertions it follows only that existence is not a property in the semantic sense."

  15. ———. 1976. "Is the Cartesian ontological argument defensible." New Scholasticism no. 50:108-121.

    "Consider the following traditional criticism of Descartes' ontological argument. "Either Descartes' first premiss ('God is a supremely perfect being') is a categorical assertion, in which case his argument begs the question by assuming the existence of a subject of such an assertion, or it is a disguised hypothetical assertion, in which case Descartes' conclusion --' God exists' -- will also be hypothetical and so will lack existential import." Anthony Kenny has recently argued that this criticism can be avoided by construing Descartes' first premiss as a non-question-begging, but nevertheless categorical, assertion. I consider a number of different ways of so construing Descartes' initial premiss, e.g., as an assertion about a being in fiction or (following Anselm) a being in the understanding, or an assertion about a Meinongian "pure object" (Kenny's example). I argue that construing Descartes' first premiss in any of these ways does nothing to avoid the heart of the traditional criticism."

  16. ———. 1990. "The Caterus objection." International Journal for Philosophy of Religion no. 28:81-104.

    "A successful ontological argument must meet Caterus's objection that the argument's conclusion lacks existential import. Caterus thought this was true of Descartes's argument because Descartes's conclusion was merely a hypothetical, or conditional, statement. However, it is easy -- by a device I call "subjectizing" the argument -t o produce an ontological argument with a categorical, not hypothetical, conclusion. Anselm's arguments, as well as certain contemporary modal arguments, are "subjectized" and so appear to avoid the Caterus objection. This paper examines the nature of the subjectizing process and argues that even though it yields ontological arguments with categorical conclusions it guarantees that those conclusions still lack existential import."

  17. Goudriaan, Aza. 1999. Philosophische Gotteserkenntnis bei Suárez und Descartes in Zusammenhang mit der niederlandischen reformierten Theologie und Philosophie des 17. Jahrunderts. Leiden: Brill.

    English summary pp. 308-312.

  18. Humber, James M. 2003. "The order and placement of Descartes' proofs of God in the Meditations." Philosophical Inquiry.International Quarterly no. 25:41-58.

  19. Kenny, Anthony P. 1969. "Descartes' ontological argument." In Fact and Existence, edited by Margolis, Joseph, 18-36. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Symposium with Anthony Kenny (pp. 18-36), Norman Malcolm (pp. 36-43); Terence Penelhum (pp. 43-55), comments by Bernard Williams (pp. 55-56) and Ernest Sosa (pp. 56-58) and reply by Anthony Kenny (pp. 58-62).

  20. Miner, Robert C. 2002. "The dependence of Descartes' ontological proof upon the doctrine of Causa Sui." Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia no. 58:873-886.

    "Can God be the efficient cause of Himself (Causa Sui)? It is well known that Descartes answers this question in the affirmative, but it is considerably less clear why. The main contention of the essay is that Descartes advances the causa sui doctrine because he came to think that the ontological proof of Meditation V required it. We argue these contentions through a close analysis of Descartes' initial articulation of causa sui in response to Caterus, followed by attention to the reformulation of the doctrine in response to the logical objections posed by Arnauld. Our understanding of causa sui as a move made within the horizon of the ontological proof not only illuminates why Descartes would have defended a doctrine as conceptually problematic as causa sui, but also provides an alternative to Jean-Luc Marion's view that causa sui constitutes a third, distinct proof for the existence of God."

  21. Nicolle, Jean-Marie. 2008. "The mathematical analogy in the proof of God's existence by Descartes." In Mathematics and the divine. A historical study, edited by Koetsier, Teun and Bergmans, Luc, 387-403. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  22. Nolan, Lawrence. 2005. "The ontological argument as an exercise in Cartesian therapy." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 35:521-562.

    "I argue that Descartes intended the so-called ontological "argument" as a self-validating intuition, rather than as a formal proof. The textual evidence for this view is highly compelling, but the strongest support comes from understanding Descartes's diagnosis for why God's existence is not immediately self-evident to everyone and the method of analysis that he develops for making it self-evident. The larger aim of the paper is to use the ontological argument as a case study of Descartes's non-formalist theory of deduction and his method of analysis, showing how he conceives the latter as a form of philosophical therapy."

  23. Nolan, Lawrence, and Nelson, Alan. 2006. "Proofs for the existence of God." In The Blackwell Guide to Descartes' Meditations, edited by Gaukroger, Stephen, 104-121. Malden: Blackwell.

    "We argue that Descartes's theistic proofs in the Meditations are much simpler and straightforward than they are traditionally taken to be. In particular, we show how the causal argument of the "Third Meditation" depends on the intuitively innocent principle that nothing comes from nothing, and not on the more controversial principle that the objective reality of an idea must have a cause with at least as much formal reality. We also demonstrate that the so-called ontological "argument" of the "Fifth Meditation" is best understood not as a formal proof but as an axiom, revealed as self-evident by analytic meditation."

  24. Tweyman, Stanley. 1991. "Deus ex Cartesio." In René Descartes. Critical Assessments. Vol. II, edited by Moyal, Georges J. D., 329-343. London: Routledge.

  25. Van Inwagen, Margery Naylor. 1969. Descartes' three versions of the ontological argument, University of Rochester, New York.

    Available at ProQuest Dissertation Express. Order number: 7002919.

  26. Wee, Cecilia. 2014. "Descartes's Ontological Proof of God's Existence." British Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 20:23-40.

Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655)

Texts and translations

  1. Gassendi, Pierre. 1962. Disquisitio metaphysica, seu Dubitationes et instantiae adversus Renati Cartesii metaphysicam et responsa. Paris: Vrin.

    Recherches métaphysiques, ou Doutes et instances contre la métaphysique de R. Descartes et ses réponses (Answer to Descartes' reply to Gassendi's objections published in 1644).

    Texte établi, traduit et annoté par Bernard Rochot.

  2. ———. 1983. Objectiones Quintae adversus Descartes Meditationes. Paris: Vrin.

    Written in 1644.

    Œuvres complètes edited by Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, originally published 1897-1913 in 12 volumes.Vol. VII.


  1. Forgie, William J. 2007. "Gassendi and Kant on existence." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 45:511-523.

    "In rejecting Descartes's ontological proof for the existence of God, Gassendi maintained that existence is not a property and Kant said that it is not a "real predicate". It is commonly supposed that both are making the same claim. Some have even thought that they advance essentially the same argument for that same claim. I believe none of this is correct. Gassendi and Kant offer different arguments. And they are arguing for different conclusions. These differences stem from a more fundamental one: they mean different things by existence."

Henry More (1614-1687)


  1. More, Henry. 1966. Antidotus adversus Atheismus. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

    First edition 1652.

    In: Opera omnia - Vol. I Opera theologica - Vol II - III Opera philosophica - London 1674-1679.


Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688)


  1. Cudworth, Ralph. 1966. The True Intellectual System of the Universe. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

    First edition 1678.


Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)

Texts and translations

  1. Spinoza, Baruch. 1925. Renati Cartesi Principia philosophiae - Cogitata metaphysica. Heidelberg: Carl Winters.

    First edition 1663.

    Critical edition in: Spinoza Opera, edited by Carl Gebhardt.

  2. ———. 1925. Ethica more geometrico demonstrata. Heidelberg: Carl Winters.

    First edition 1677.

    Critical edition in: Spinoza Opera, edited by Carl Gebhardt.

  3. ———. 1986. Korte Verhandeling van God, de mensch en deszelus welstand (Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being). L'Aquila: Japadre.

    Written in 1661; first edition 1854.

    Critical edition with introduction and Italian translation by Filippo Mignini: Breve trattato su Dio, l'uomo e il suo bene.


  1. Bar-On, Abraham Zvie. 1983. "The ontological proof -- Spinoza's version. In comparison with those of St. Anselm and Descartes." In Spinoza. His Thought and Work , edited by Rotenstreich, Nathan and Schneider, Norma, 101-109. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

    "My chief concern in this paper is the question : in what way, if at all, did Spinoza incorporate the Ontological Proof of the Existence of God (OP) into his philosophical system? It may be proper, however, to first consider another question : what kind of proof of the existence of God is it appropriate to call 'ontological' ? This cannot be gathered from Spinoza's writings for the simple reason that the term was coined more than a century after his death. It was done by Kant in his Transcendental Dialectic within his classification of the traditional arguments for the existence of God, each class to be refuted in its turn. (1)

    There is enough textual evidence to show that in the refutation of the OP Kant was taking issue with an argument found in Descartes's texts, first and foremost in his Fifth Meditation. Once christened `ontological', however, arguments of this pattern have been traced by post-Kantian scholars to works of philosophers both preceding and succeeding Descartes. The search for the origin led eventually to St. Anselm's Proslogion, which has been recognized as containing the classical version of the OP. Still, Descartes's rendition remained a milestone in the history of the OP, both in view of Descartes's impact upon the whole course of modern philosophy and of the importance of the OP in the Cartesian system. This is particularly relevant to our context in view of the considerable impact of Descartes upon Spinoza's philosophy.

    Under the circumstances a comparative analysis of St. Anselm's, Descartes's and Spinoza's versions of the OP will prepare the ground for dealing with my main question. In adopting this strategy I follow Harry Wolfson. (2) In my view, however, Wolfson's implementation of this method resulted in a highly objectionable conception of the OP. Let us examine Wolfson's argument to see what I have in mind."

    (1) See Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith, New York 1961, pp. 500 ff.

    (2) See H. A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of Spinoza, I, New York 1958, pp. 158 ff.

  2. Friedman, Joel I. 1982. "Was Spinoza fooled by the ontological argument?" Philosophia no. 11:307-344.

    "First, I give Spinoza's version of the ontological argument for God's existence. Then I logically reconstruct this version, showing how to avoid any first-order existence predicate, as well as any misuse of proper names and definite descriptions. Thus, I show how Spinoza may avoid objections of Kant, Frege, and Russell. However, my logical reconstruction requires the questionable premise: "every causally necessary being is logically (metaphysically) necessary". Conclusion: modal confusion is unavoidable in the ontological argument."

  3. Garrett, Don. 1979. "Spinoza's 'Ontological' Argument." Philosophical Review no. 88:198-223.

    "Spinoza's arguments for the existence of God in proposition xi of the Ethics are usually characterized as ontological, and are often said, in spite of Spinoza's argumentation, essentially to report the results of a private "rational perception." I argue that Spinoza offers four interrelated arguments which resemble ontological arguments in being essentially a priori and in relying on a definition of "God," but which resemble cosmological arguments in depending on a version of the principle of sufficient reason. These arguments are valid; if sound, they would show that a sufficiently rational being could indeed "rationally perceive" the necessary existence of God."

  4. Humber, James. 1972. "Spinoza's proof of God necessary existence." Modern Schoolman no. 49:221-233.

  5. Jarrett, Charles. 1976. "Spinoza's Ontological Argument." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 6:685-691.

    "I argue that Spinoza's ontological argument is successful when it is understood to have two premises: (i) it is possible for God to exist, (ii) it is necessary that, if God exists, he necessarily does. The argument is valid in S5. Spinoza is in a position to establish the second premise of the argument on the basis of his definitions and axioms. The first premise was assumed to be true, but, as Leibniz noted, it must be established for the conclusion of the argument to be forthcoming. This is one of the main problems with the argument, and it requires a solution to the problem of the attributes. Certain alternate interpretations of Spinoza are then argued to be deficient on textual and logical grounds."

  6. ———. 1978. "The Logical Structure of Spinoza's Ethics, Part I." Synthese no. 37:15-65.

  7. Lin, Martin. 2007. "Spinoza's arguments for the existence of God." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 75:269-297.

    "It is often thought that, although Spinoza develops a bold and distinctive conception of God (the unique substance, or Natura Naturans, in which all else inheres and which possesses infinitely many attributes, including extension), the arguments that he offers which purport to prove God's existence contribute nothing new to natural theology. Rather, he is seen as just another participant in the seventeenth century revival of the ontological argument initiated by Descartes and taken up by Malebranche and Leibniz among others. That this is the case is both puzzling and unfortunate. It is puzzling because although Spinoza does offer an ontological proof for the existence of God, he also offers three other non-ontological proofs. It is unfortunate because these other non-ontological proofs are both more convincing and more interesting than his ontological proof. In this paper, I offer reconstructions and assessments of all of Spinoza's arguments and argue that Spinoza's metaphysical rationalism and his commitment to something like a Principle of Sufficient Reason are the driving force behind Spinoza's non-ontological arguments."

  8. Marcus, Ruth Barcan. 1983. "Bar-On on Spinoza's ontological proof." In Spinoza. His thought and work , edited by Rotenstreich, Nathan and Schneider, Norma, 101-119. Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

    "Bar-On proposes to show how the ontological proof is incorporated, if at all, into Spinoza's philosophical system. Preliminary to that he wants, following Wolfson's strategy, to consider the nature of the ontological proof. Preliminary to that, in turn, he wants to show that Wolfson's claims about the ontological proofs in Anselm, Descartes, and Spinoza are "highly objectionable".

    I should like in my comments to begin by defending Wolfson. It seems to me that his claims are not "highly objectionable". They are in fact well focussed and more consistent with Bar-On's analysis than he believes them to be." p. 101

    "I should like in conclusion to say something about the uses of modal logic in our understanding of proofs which have been classified as ontological. Some and perhaps much of the recent revival of interest in such proofs stems from the revived interest in modal logic and the belief that ontological arguments can be translated into modal arguments. I do not propose to go into those various efforts with respect to Anselm's and Descartes's versions, although the extent to which those efforts succeed, fail or are misapplied is itself illuminating. I should like just to mention in passing one such attempt with respect to Spinoza. In a paper "Spinoza's Ontological Argument" Charles Jarett (*) argues that if we interpret the first part of the Ethics as claiming that

    (1) It is possible that God exists

    (2) Necessarily (If God exists then he exists necessarily) it follows in one of the strong modal systems (with some constraints on what is known as the Barcan formula) that

    (3) Necessarily God exists.

    I do not propose to discuss whether such an argument can be culled from the Ethics. A strong case has been made for it. As it and many such attempts stand, it is not an ontological argument which is being presented. It does not have the requisite epistemological features. There is no conditional which takes us from what is conceived to what is known or to what exists. There is no argument to warrant the identification of conceivable with possible. Indeed, if the modal operators are taken as operators for logical, or what Kripke has lately called metaphysical possibility and necessity, then modal arguments like Jarett's, if valid, would remain valid in the absence of an epistemological subject or an idea of God altogether. Still, modal logic is not without its uses in sorting out some of the confusions which stem from the interplay of modal and epistemic notions and in clarifying such relationships as they occur in rationalist arguments like the cogito and the ontological proofs." (p. 119)

    (*) C. J. Jarett, "Spinoza's Ontological Argument", Canadian Journal of Philosophy , VI (1976), pp. 685-691.

  9. ———. 1986. "Spinoza and the ontological proof." In Human nature and natural knowledge. Essays presented to Marjorie Grene on the occasion of her seventy-fifth birthday , edited by Donagan, Alan, Perovich, Anthony N. and Wedin, Michael V. Dodrecht: Reidel.

    Reprinted in: R. B. Marcus - Modalities. Philosophycal essays - New York, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 163-177.

    "This paper attempts to characterize the "ontological proof" for the existence of God. It discusses Wolfson's analysis of the proof and argues that his characterization is not mistaken but insufficient. It is then argued that the characterization here proposed provides a good account of Anselm's and Descartes' proof, but shows that there is no "ontological proof" in Spinoza. The paper concludes by identifying a confusion between metaphysical and epistemological notions, which conflates very different arguments under the heading "ontological proof"."

  10. Mignini, Filippo. 1990. "Per una storia dell'argomento ontologico in Spinoza. Le "prove" del "Tractatus de intellectus emendatione"." In L'argomento ontologico / The ontological Argument / L'argument ontologique / Der Ontologische Gottesbeweis , edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 203-221. Padova: CEDAM.

  11. Saccaro del Buffa, Battisti Giuseppa. 1990. "La dimostrazione dell'esistenza di Dio dall'abbozzo del 1661 e dalla Korte Verhandeling al "De Deo"." In Dio, l'uomo, la libertà. Studi su "Breve Trattato" di Spinoza , edited by Mignini, Filippo, 95-118. L'Aquila: Japadre Editore.

  12. Singer, Brent A. 1990. "Spinoza, Heidegger, and the Ontological Argument." Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology no. 21:265-273.

    "In spite of the prima facie differences between Spinoza and Heidegger, I argue that Heidegger's views in his 1929 lecture, Was ist Metaphysik? , are both consistent with, and supplemental to, the basic premise of Spinoza's ontological argument in Part One of his Ethics . According to this view, being held out into the nothing, in Heidegger's sense, is a condition without which substance can not be adequately conceived, while at the same time, being held out into the nothing does not preclude the possibility that substance, defined as an infinite being without negation, does exist."

  13. Sobel, Jordan Howard. 2000. "A 'Russell' of Spinoza's ontological argument." In The Logic Yeabook 1999 , edited by Childers, Timothy, 149-163. Praha: Filosofia.

    "Spinoza's reasoning for proposition eleven of Ethics pivots on the sentence 'The infinite substance cannot be conceived not to exist'. This sentence figures in two inferences, for one of which its description needs to have wide -- and its negation narrow - scope, whereas for the other these scopes needs to be narrow and wide respectively. That is how Spinoza managed to persuade himself that he had demonstrated from certain premises that the infinite substance necessarily exists, though in fact this conclusion is not entailed by those premises."

Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715)

Texts and translations

  1. Malebranche, Nicolas. 1962. De la recherche de la vérité. Paris: Vrin.

    First edition 1674.

    Critical edition in: Oeuvres complètes, edited by André Robinet.

  2. ———. 1962. Entretiens sur la métaphysique et la religion. Paris: Vrin.

    First edition 1688.

    Critical edition in: Oeuvres complètes, edited by André Robinet.


  1. Lardic, Jean-Marie. 1996. "Malebranche et l'argument ontologique." Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Étranger :503-519.

  2. Rome, Beatrice K. 1963. The philosophy of Malebranche. A study of his integration of Faith, Reason, and Experimental Observation . Chicago: Henry Regnery.

    Chapter III § e): God as Being. The Ontological Proof pp. 143-150.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)

Texts and translations

  1. Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. 1676. Quod ens perfectissimum sit possibile.

    C. I. Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Berlin, 1875 ss., vol. 7, pp. 261-262; critical edition in G. W. Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Leipzig-Berlin, Akademie Verlag, VI, 3, 1980, n. 79, pp. 571-573.

  2. ———. 1678. Epistola ad Hermannum Conringium de Cartesiana demonstratione existentiae Dei.

    First edition: (excerpt) Theodor Wilhelm Ritmeier, Dissertatio de praecipuis errorum causis in prima philosophia, Helmst, 1727, p. 29; C. I. Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Berlin, 1875, vol. 1, p. 188; critical edition in G. W. Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Leipzig-Berlin, Akademie Verlag, II, 1, Darmstadt 1926; second revised edition Berlin 1987, n. 162, pp. 578-584 (cfr. p. 583).

  3. ———. 1697. Animadversiones in partem generalem Principiorum Cartesianorum.

    C. I. Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Berlin, 1875 ss., vol. 4, pp. 350-392; G. W. Leibniz, Opuscules philosophiques choisis, Paris: Vrin, 1962, pp. 31-160 (with French translation).

  4. ———. 1700. De la démonstration cartesienne de l'existence de Dieu.

    C. I. Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Berlin, 1875 ss., vol. 4, pp. 401-404.

  5. ———. 1714. Monadologie.

    First edition in a German translation by Heinrich Köhler, Des Hn. Gottfried Wilh. von Leibnitz Lehrsätze über die Monadologie imgleichen von Gott und seiner Existenz, seinen Eigenschafften, und von der Seele des Menschen, Frankfurt und Leipzig: Johann Meyer 1720, pp. 1-42; Latin translation by Michael Gottlieb Hansch with the title Principia philosophiae, Acta Eruditorum, février 1721, Supplementum, T. VII, XI, pp. 500-514; first edition of the original French text by Johann Erdmann with the title La Monadologie, in God. Guil. Leibnitii Opera Philosophica quae extant Latina, Gallica, Germanica omnia, Berlino 1839, 1, 702-712.

    Critical edition by André Robinet: Principes de la nature et de la grâce fondés en raison, Principes de la philosophie ou monadologie, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1954.

  6. ———. 1684. "Meditationes de cognitione, veritate et ideis." Acta Eruditorum no. Novembre:537-542.

    C. I. Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Berlin, 1875 ss., vol. 4, pp. 422-426; critical edition in G. W. Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Leipzig-Berlin, Akademie Verlag, VI, 4, 1999, n. 141, 585-592.

  7. ———. 1701. "De la démonstration cartésienne de l'existence de Dieu du R. P. Lamy." Mèmoires de Trévoux no. Septembre:200-207.

    C. I. Gerhardt (ed.), Die philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Berlin, 1875 ss., vol. 4, pp. 405-406.


  1. Adams, Robert Merrihew. 1994. Leibniz. Determinist, Theist, Idealist. New York: Oxford University Press.

    See Chapters: 4. The Ens Perfectissimus 113; 5. The Ontological Argument 135; 6. Existence and essence 157-176.

    "The metaphysical core of Leibniz's philosophical theology has attracted less attention than its intrinsic interest deserves. In some ways it is also the core of his metaphysics. It is intricately connected with his logical doctrines and is the context for his fullest reflections about the nature of existence and of essence, and also about the most general structural relationships of the properties of things. These topics are discussed in Part II of the book, in the framework of a comprehensive study of Leibniz's treatment of the ontological argument for the existence of God, which I regard as exceptionally interesting. I do not think Leibniz's or any other version of the ontological argument is likely to convince many people of the existence of God, but a related argument, which seems to me to have more persuasive force, and perhaps to be the most promising of all a priori arguments for the existence of God, is discussed in Chapter 7. One reason for the neglect of this part of Leibniz's thought is that its fullest development, in most respects, came in his early years, and many of the most important texts were quite inaccessible until the relevant volume of the Academy edition of Leibniz's works (A VI,iii) was published in 1980. I have tried to give a full account of the most important texts." pp. 4-5

  2. Bausola, Adriano. 1981. "Die Möglichkeit des Vollkommensten Wesens und der Ontologische Gottesbeweis: die position von Leibniz." Studia Leibnitiana no. 13:1-24.

  3. ———. 2000. "Il perfezionamento dell'argomento ontologico nel carteggio Leibniz-Eckhard." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 92:241-260.

  4. Blumenfeld, David. 1995. "Leibniz's Ontological and Cosmological Arguments." In The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz, edited by Jolley, Nicholas, 353-381. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  5. Consuelo, Martínez Priego. 2000. Las formulaciones del argumento ontológico de Leibniz. Navarra: Servicio de publicaciones de la Univesidad de Navarra.

    Recopilación, traducción, comentario y notas,

  6. González, Ángel Luis, ed. 2004. Las demonstraciones de la existencia de Dios según Leibniz. Pamplona: Eunsa.

  7. Gotterbarn, Donald. 1976. "Leibniz's Completion of Descartes's Proof." Studia Leibnitiana no. 8:105-112.

  8. Hunter, Graeme. 2014. ""La plus belle proposition modale", ou commnet Leibniz améliora la version cartésienne de l'argument ontologique." In Descartes et se critiques, edited by Charles, Sébastien and Malinowski-Charles, Syliane, 53-71. Paris: Hermann.

  9. Iwanicki, Joseph. 1933. Leibniz et les démonstrations mathématiques de l'existence de Dieu. Strasbourg: Librairie Universitaire d'Alsace.

  10. Jalabert, Jacques. 1960. Le Dieu de Leibniz. Paris.

  11. Janke, Wolfgang. 1963. "Das ontologische Argument in der Frühzeit des Leibnizschen Denkens (1676-78)." Kant-Studien no. 54:259-287.

  12. Krauze-Blachowicz, Krystyna, and Kłos, Jan. 2017. "Content Analysis of the Demonstration of the existence of God Proposed by Leibniz in 1666." Roczniki Filozoficzne:57-75.

  13. Latzer, Michael. 1997. "The Proofs for the Existence of God: Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus as Precursors of Leibniz." Modern Schoolman no. 74:143-160.

  14. Lenzen, Wolfgang. 1990. "Leibnizens ontologischer Gottesbeweis und das Problem der unmöglichen Dinge." In Mathesis rationis. Festschrift für Heinrich Schepers, edited by Albert, Heinekamp, Lenzen, Wolfgang and Schneider, Martin, 285-300. Münster: Nodus.

    Nachdruck in: W. Lenzen, Calculus Universalis, Paderborn, Mentis, 2004, pp. 331-342.

  15. ———. 2017. "Leibniz’s Ontological Proof of the Existence of God and the Problem of »Impossible Objects«." Logica Universalis no. 11:85-104.

  16. Loewer, Barry. 1978. "Leibniz and the Ontological Argument." Philosophical Studies no. 34:105-109.

    "According to Leibniz, Descartes' ontological argument establishes that if God possibly exists then God exists. To complete the argument a proof that God possibly exists is required. Leibniz attempts a proof-theoretic demonstration that 'God exists' is consistent and concludes from this that 'God possibly exists is true'. In this paper I formalize Leibniz's argument in a system of modal logic. I show that a principle which Leibniz implicitly uses, 'if a is consistent then a is possibly true' is either mistaken or useless in completing the ontological argument."

  17. Look, Brandon C. 2006. "Some Remarks on the Ontological Arguments of Leibniz and Gödel." In Einheit in der Vielheit: Akten des VIII. Internationalen Leibniz Kongresses. Hannover 24-29 July 2006, edited by Herbst, Jürgen, Breger, Herbert and Erdner, Sven, 510-517. Hannover: Hartmann.

  18. Nicolosi, Salvatore. 1990. "L'argomento ontologico secondo Leibniz tra riserve e integrazioni." In L'argomento Ontologico, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 223-235. Padova: CEDAM.

  19. Riley, Patrick. 1983. "Leibniz' Unpublished Remarks on the Abbé Bucquoi's Proof of the Existence of God (1711)." Studia Leibnitiana no. 15:215-220.

    "Leibniz' critical remarks on the Abbé Bucquoi's Pensées sur l'Existence de Dieu -- written in November 1711, (1) between the publication of his Essais de Theodicée (1710) (2) and his departure for the final visit to Vienna (1712) that yielded the Monadology and the Principles of Nature and Grace (3) -- are published here, for the first time, by generous permission of the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek, Hannover. (4)

    They do not revolutionize our view of Leibniz' philosophy; but they do throw a little additional light on his doubts about Descartes' version of the ontological proof of the existence of God. (5) And they provide an opportunity to recall some of the facts about the existence of the Abbé Bucquoi - one of the liveliest philosophical adventurers of Leibniz' day."

    (1) Leibniz' unpublished manuscript is listed in Kurt Müller and Gisela Krönen (eds.), Leben und Werk von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Eine Chronik (Frankfurt am Main, 1969), p. 227. Dr. Gerda Utermöhlen, of the Leibniz-Archiv, Hannover, made it possible for me to see and transcribe Leibniz' manuscript in September 1982.

    (2) Leibniz, Essais de Theodicee sur la Bonté de Dieu, la Liberté de l'Homme, et l'Origine du Mal (Amsterdam, 1710).

    (3) See Muller and Krönert, Leben und Werk von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, op. cit., pp. 232-247.

    (4) Through the kind intercession of Dr. Gerda Utermöhlen.

    (5) For a good brief account of these doubts, see Robert Latta's edition of The Monadology and other Philosophical Writings (Oxford Press, 1898), pp. 274-277. For a brilliant but less sympathetic account, see Bertrand Russell, A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz (Cambridge, 1900), pp. 172-175.

  20. Tortolone, Gian Michele. 1990. "La trattazione dell'argomento ontologico nel carteggio Leibniz-Jaquelot (1702-1704)." Filosofia no. 41:69-101.

  21. Woltzenlogel Paleo, Bruno, Benter, Matthias, Benzmüller, Christoph, and Streit, David. 2016. "Analysis of an Ontological Proof Proposed by Leibniz." In Death and Anti-Death, Volume 14: Four Decades after Michael Polanyi, Three Centuries after G.W. Leibniz, edited by Tandy, Charles, 333-352. Ann Arbor (MI): Ria University Press.

François Fénelon (1651-1715)

Texts and translations

  1. Fénelon, François. 1990. Traité de l'existence de Dieu. Paris: Éditions universitaires.

    First edition 1713.

    Édition critique établie par Jean-Louis Dumas.


Samuel Clarke (1675-1729)


  1. Clarke, Samuel. 1998. A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God. More Particularly in Answer to Mr Hobbes, Spinoza and Their Followers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    First edition 1705.

    Reprint: A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God and Other Writings - Edited by Ezio Vailati.


Christian Wolff (1679-1754)

Texts and translations

  1. Wolff, Christian. 1981. Theologia naturalis. Pars Posterior qua existentia et attributa Dei ex notione entis perfectissimi et natura animae demonstrantur, et Atheismi, Deismi, Fatalismi, Naturalismi, Spinosismi, aliorumque de Deo errorum fundamenta subvertuntur. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

    First edition 1737.

    Reprint of the 1741 edition with introduction, notes and index by Jean École.


  1. Bissinger, Anton. 1975. "Das ontologische Argument bei Christian Wolff." Analecta Anselmiana no. 4:243-247.

  2. École, Jean. 1979. "Les preuves wolfiennes de l'existence de Dieu." Archives de Philosophie no. 42:381-396.

  3. Paolinelli, Marco. 1974. "San Tommaso e Christian Wolff sull'argomento ontologico." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 66:897-945.

David Hume (1711-1776)


  1. Hume, David. 1993. Dialogues concerning natural religion. New York: Oxford University Press.

    First edition 1779 (on the a priori arguments for the existence of God, see part IX).

    Reprinted in: Principal writings on religion including Dialogues concerning natural religion; The natural history of religion - Edited with an introduction by J.C.A. Gaskin.


  1. Stahl, Donald E. 1984. "Hume's Dialogue IX defended." Philosophical Quarterly no. 34:505-507.

  2. Stove, D.C. 1978. "Part IX of Hume's Dialogues ." Philosophical Quarterly no. 28:300-309.

Alexander Baumgarten (1714-1762)

Texts and translations

  1. Baumgarten, Alexander. 1963. Metaphysica. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

    First edition 1740.

    Reprint of the Seventh edition (1779): Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1969.

    English translation by Courtney D. Fugate and John Hymers: Metaphysics. A Critical Translation with Kant's Elucidations, Selected Notes and Related Materials, New York:

    Continuum, 2013.


Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Texts and translations

  1. Kant, Immanuel. 1979. The one possible basis for a demonstration of the existence of God. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    Translation and introduction by Gordon Treash.

  2. ———. 1998. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

    First edition 1781, second edition 1787.

    Reprint edited by Georg Mohr and Marcus Willaschek.

  3. ———. 1998. Der einzig mögliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration des Daseyns Gottes. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

    First edition 1763.

    I. Kant - Werke in sechs Bänden - Vol. II - Edited by Wilhelm Weischedel.


  1. Charles, Sébastien. 2000. "De l'utilisation critique d'un exemple monétaire en philosophie: Kant face à Buffier." Kant-Studien.Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft no. 91:356-365.

    "In this article, I establish a conceptual link between Claude Buffier, a French Jesuit of the beginning of the eighteenth century, and Immanuel Kant, pertaining to the question of the refutation of the ontological argument. By using the same 'monetary' example, the two thinkers deal with the question of exteriority and conceptualization.

    However, there are differences in their treatment of the ontological argument. After providing a detailed analysis of the relevant points in Buffier's Metaphysical Conversations and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason I argue that Buffier's work truly influenced Kant, but I deny that the Konigsbergean was guilty of plagiarism. Yet, even if they are concerned with the same problem, there are obvious philosophical differences between the French partisan of common sense and the German philosopher."

  2. Engel, Morris S. 1963. "Kant's 'Refutation' of the Ontological Argument." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 24:20-35.

  3. Everitt, Nicholas. 1995. "Kant's Discussion of the Ontological Argument." Kant-Studien.Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft no. 86:385-405.

  4. "Traditional interpretations claim that Kant criticizes the ontological argument for invoking a logically flawed concept of necessary existence. They further claim that Kant produces "good" arguments supporting this criticism. This paper claims that none of Kant's arguments support the criticism, but that he is not trying to produce such arguments anyway. His objections to the ontological argument are epistemological, not logical. He thinks that although we cannot have good reason to believe that there is a necessarily existent being, we can certainly believe or have faith that such a being exists, and hence that the concept of such a being is logically in the clear."

  5. Ferrari, Jean. 1990. "La critique kantienne de la preuve ontologique, "dite cartesienne", de l'existence de Dieu." In L'argomento Ontologico, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 247-254. Padova: CEDAM.

  6. Forgie, William J. 1975. "Kant and the question 'Is existence a predicate?'." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 5 (4):563-582.

    "Kant's arguments that existence is not a first-level property can be seen as motivated by what I call his "doctrine of isomorphism." The supposition that existence is a first-level predicate is rejected because it conflicts with this doctrine. I argue that there is no conflict provided one does not confuse "intentional" and "extensional" claims about the object of a concept. Thus Kant's arguments fail. Kant also claimed that existence "is" a "second" -level property. but his argument for that claim -- which anticipates Frege's argument for the same view -- also fails."

  7. ———. 1993. "Kant on the relation between the cosmological and ontological argument." International Journal for Philosophy of Religion no. 34:1-12.

  8. "Kant maintained that the cogency of the cosmological argument depends on that of the ontological, and that the appeal to experience in the former is therefore superfluous. I sketch a way of looking at both arguments which allows one to reject Kant's charges. Central to that sketch is regarding the common conclusion of both arguments, viz., that there (necessarily) exists an "ens realissimum" (or supreme being, or God), as a necessary, but a posteriori, proposition. The cosmological arguer can thus quite coherently reject the ontological argument and also maintain that empirical, a posteriori, premisses are indispensable in any proof of a supreme being."

  9. ———. 1995. "The cosmological and ontological arguments: how Saint Thomas solved the Kantian problem." Religious Studies no. 31:89-100.

  10. "Let us call the Dependency Theses (DT) the view, first stated by Kant, that certain versions of the cosmological argument depend on the ontological argument. At least two different reasons have been given for the supposed dependence. Given the DT, some of Aquinas' views about God's essence, and about our knowledge of God's existence, can seem, at least at first, to be inconsistent. I consider two different ways of defending Aquinas against this suspicion of inconsistency. On the first defense, based on a widespread understanding of his notion of necessary being', Aquinas' views fall outside the scope of the DT. The success of this defense is doubtful. There is, however, another defense to be found in Aquinas' work, one directed not to avoiding, but actually to rejecting, the DT. In this second defense, the DT is not a correct assessment even of those views that "do" fall within its scope. It success means that Aquinas had available a principled refutation of the DT some five hundred years before it was first formulated."

  11. ———. 2000. "Kant and Frege: existence as a second-level property." Kant-Studien.Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft no. 91:165-177.

  12. Harris, Errol E. 1977. "Kant's refutation of the ontological proof." Philosophy no. 52:90-92.

    "Kant's refutation rests on the principle that without empirical evidence no existence can be asserted, or proved, "a priori". But he himself provides a cogent argument, in Kritik der reinen vernunft A 657, B 679, why the idea of reason (which he equates with the idea of God or ens realissimum) must be affirmed as unreservedly objectively valid, because it is the indispensable a priori condition of there being any empirical evidence of the existence of anything whatsoever. And that is precisely the nub of the ontological argument."

  13. Herrlin, Olle. 1950. The Ontological Proof in Thomistic and Kantian Interpretation. Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz.

  14. Hintikka, Jaakko. 1981. "Kant on existence, predication, and the ontological argument." Dialectica no. 35:128-146.

    Reprinted in: Simo Knuuttila and J. Hintikka (eds.) - The logic of Being - Dordrecht, Reidel 1986 pp. 249-268.

    "The ontological argument fails because of an operator order switch between (1) "necessarily there is an (existentially) perfect being" and (2) "there is a being which necessarily is (existentially) perfect". Here (1) is trivially true logically but (2) is problematic. Since Kant's criticisms were directed at the notion of existence, not at the step from (1) to (2), they are misplaced. They are also wrong, because existence can be a predicate. Moreover, Kant did not anticipate Frege's claim that "is" ("ist") is ambiguous between existence, predication, identity, and class-inclusion. To restore the ontological argument, an extra premise is needed to the effect (roughly) that it is known who the existentially perfect being is. The question is raised whether Kant could have meant the failure of this extra premise by his thesis that existence is not a "real" predicate."

  15. Laberge, Pierre. 1973. La théologie kantienne précritique. Ottawa: Éditions de l'Université d'Ottawa.

  16. Logan, Ian. 2007. "Whatever happened to Kant's ontological argument?" Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 74:346-363.

  17. Marty, François. 1992. "L'argument ontologique dans l'Opus postumum et l'influence de la Critique de la Faculté de Juger dans l'Opus Postumum." Kant-Studien.Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft no. 83:50-59.

  18. Nelson, Herbert J. 1993. "Kant on arguments cosmological and ontological." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 67:167-184.

  19. "Kant's rejection of speculative proofs of the existence of God, his critique of the ontological argument, and his contention that the cosmological argument is necessarily linked to the ontological argument are familiar parts of the Critique of Pure Reason. In spite of their familiarity, however, they remain inadequately understood and appreciated in several respects.

    First, the importance of Kant's criticism of theistic arguments to the overall argument of the first Critique is sometimes overlooked. I shall argue that a necessary condition of the success of Kant's Critical enterprise is successful refutation of the theistic proofs on grounds which do not presuppose the distinctive conclusions of the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Transcendental Analytic, i.e., which do not assume the distinctive positions of Kant's Critical philosophy.

    Second, the sense in which Kant takes the cosmological argument to be necessarily linked to the ontological argument is often misunderstood, and Kant's success in establishing that link is overestimated. I shall argue that Kant fails to show that the success of the cosmological argument is tied to that of the ontological argument.

    Third, the complexity of Kant's critique of the ontological argument is often overlooked in summary invocations of the dictum that existence is not a predicate. I shall exhibit some of the dialectical complexity of that critique, and show that, even if Kant succeeds in refuting the ontological argument, he fails to discredit constitutive employment of the notion of a highest reality (ens realissimum).

    I shall conclude that Kant's critique of the theistic proofs fails to support the restrictive epistemology of the Critical philosophy, that the cosmological argument in particular emerges unscathed from Kant's attack, and that, contrary to Kant, it is the ontological argument which requires the cosmological argument as a necessary, though not sufficient, condition of its legitimacy." pp. 167-168.

  20. Sala, Giovanni B. 1990. Kant und die Frage nach Gott. Gottesbeweise und Gottesbeweiskritik in den Schriften Kants. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  21. ———. 1996. "Le vie della ragione alla ricerca di Dio secondo Kant: dall'ordine della natura all'imperativo della coscienza." In Kant e la filosofia della religione. Tomo I, edited by Pirillo, Nestore, 295-326. Brescia: Morcelliana.

  22. Schmucker, Josef. 1983. Kants vorkritische Kritik der Gottesbeweise. Ein Schlüssel zur Interpretation des theologischen Haupstücks der transzendentalen Dialektik der Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Franz Steiner: Wiesbaden.

  23. Smith, Donald P. 2003. "Kant on the dependency of the cosmological argument on the ontological argument." European Journal of Philosophy no. 11:206-218.

  24. Wood, Allen W. 1978. Kant's Rational Theology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786)

Texts and translations

  1. Mendelssohn, Moses. 1979. Morgenstunden oder Vorlesungen über das Daseyn Gottes. Stuttgart: Reclam.

    First edition 1786; reprint edited by Dominique Bourel.

    English translation by Daniel O. Dahlstrom and Corey Dyck: Morning Hours. Lectures on God's Existence, Dordrecht: Springer, 2011.


  1. Altmann, Alexander. 1979. "Moses Mendelssohn et les preuves de l'existence de Dieu." Archives de Philosophie no. 42:397-419.

    "In the XVIIIth century the ontological proof of the existence of God, together with the rational theology, was widely undervalued, Moses Mendelssohn endeavored to show the strength of the cosmological as well as of the ontological argument. He followed, and also renewed, the ontology of the Leibniz-wolff-Baumgarten school. Kant, while trying to show, in his own critique, that the dogmatic metaphysics was an illusion, acknowledged nevertheless that it reached his acme in the Morgenstunden of Mendelssohn.

    Mendelssohn was prevented by bad health from assimilating Kant's critique, but was left unmoved by the refutation of the proofs of the existence of God. He did his utmost to meet the objections of Kant. He rightly felt he was not antipodal to Kant who, though he criticized the theoretical foundations of rational theology, never gave up his faith in God." (p. 397)

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

Texts and translations

  1. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1986. Vorlesungen über die Beweise vom Dasein Gottes (1829). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

    First edition edited by Georg Lasson 1930.

    Reprint: G: W. F. Hegel - Werke in 20 Bänden mit Registerband. Vol. 17: Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion II. Vorlesungen über die Beweise vom Dasein Gottes.

  2. ———. 2007. Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Edited and translated, with introduction and notes, by Peter C. Hodgson.

    See The Ontological Proof (From the 1831 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion) pp. 187-194.


  1. Calton, Patricia Marie. 2001. Hegel's Metaphysics of God. The ontological proof as the development of a Trinitarian divine ontology . Aldershot: Ashgate.

  2. Girard, Louis. 1995. L'argument ontologique chez Saint Anselme et chez Hegel . Amsterdam: Rodopi.

  3. Lauer, Quentin. 1964. "Hegel on Proofs for God's Existence." Kant-Studien.Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft no. 55:443-465.

    Revised reprint in: Q. Lauer, Essays in Hegelian Dialectic, New York: Fordham University Press, 1977, pp. 113-135.

    "What is, perhaps, most remarkable in all this is the fact that Hegel's philosophical concern with and extensive treatment of God should have come in the immediate wake of Kant's apparently irrefutable invalidation of all philosophical "proofs" for the existence of God. On the other hand, nothing gives us a clearer insight into the character of Hegel's philosophizing than his contention--thrown in the teeth of romantics and rationalists alike--that the proper task of philosophy is to think the same content of which religion affords only a representation (Vorstellung ). In this connection it is significant that the form of argumentation to which he devotes the most time and accords the most respect is the so-called "ontological argument," which had been advanced by St. Anselm. According to Kant all arguments for the existence of God are ultimately reducible to the ontological argument and are thus equally invalid. According to Hegel all arguments must ultimately be reduced to the ontological argument and thus share its validity as a description of the human spirit's elevation to God. To understand this would require a complete grasp of the "System" in its entirety and, above all, a minute understanding of the Logic whose movement constitutes an extended presentation of the ontological argument. It would in addition require a most accurate understanding of Hegel's severe and sometimes almost violent critique of Kant, which is constantly cropping up in his writings -- nowhere more tellingly than in his introduction to "Subjective Logic" ( Wissenschaft der Logik II 213-234). In any event -- and paradoxically enough -- whether one prefers to look upon Hegel as an atheist or a theist, there is no way of grasping the movement of his philosophizing without carefully studying his treatment of the "proofs" for the existence of God." pp. 444-445.

  4. Peperzak, Adriaan. 1990. "Le Proslogion d'Anselme aprés Hegel." In L'argomento ontologico / The ontological Argument / L'argument ontologique / Der Ontologische Gottesbeweis , edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 335-352. Padova: CEDAM.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854)

Texts and translations

  1. Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph. 1966. Philosophie der Offenbarung (1841-1842). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

    First edition 1843.

    Reprint in: F. W. J. Schelling - Ausgewählte Werke voll. 8-9 (from the edition of the Sämmtliche Werke, voll. 3-4 - Stuttgart, J. G. Cotta, 1858.

  2. ———. 1968. Zur Geschichte der neueren Philosophie. Münchener Vorlesungen (1833-1834). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft,.

    First edition 1834.

  3. ———. 1992. Urfassung der Philosophie der Offenbarung. Hamburg: Felix Meiner.

    Lectures delivered in 1831-1832, as transcribed by J. M. Wachtl and published for the first time in 1992; edited by Walter E. Ehrhardt.


  1. Courtine, Jean-François. 1990. "La critique schellingienne de l'ontothéologique (Le renversement de l'argument ontologique au seuil de la philosophie positive)." In L'argomento ontologico , edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 387-404. Padova.

  2. Kinlaw, Jeffrey C. 2003. "Schelling's original insight: Schelling on the ontological argument and the task of philosophy." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 77:213-232.

    "This paper concerns the way in which the transition from negative to positive philosophy is executed in Schelling's critique of modern philosophy. Schelling's original insight is that the transition occurs within negative philosophy by means of a twofold experience within philosophical reflection:(1) recognizing the failure of the idealist project of the conceptual determination of Being, and (2) the reversal of the idealist conception of the relation between concepts and their objects. I argue that Schelling uses a form of the ontological argument, focusing on Anselm's formula aliquid, quo nihil maius cogitari potest, both in his critique of traditional formulations of the argument and to navigate the transition to positive philosophy."

  3. Tilliette, Xavier. 1963. "L'argument ontologique." Archives de Philosophie :90-105.

    Reprinted in: Xavier Tilliette - L'absolu et la philosophie. Essais sur Schelling - Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1987 pp. 162-181.

Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)

Texts and translations

  1. Feuerbach, Ludwig. 1841. Das Wesen der Christentum. Leipzig: O. Wigand.

  2. ———. 1854. The Essence of Christianity. London: J. Chapman.

    Translated by Marian Evans (George Eliot).

    Reprinted with a new introduction by Wolfgang Vondey - New York, Barnes & Noble Books, 2004.


Robert Flint (1838-1910)


  1. Flint, Robert. 1877. Theism: being the Baird lecture for 1876. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood.


Franz Brentano (1838-1917)

Texts and translations

  1. Brentano, Franz. 1929. Vom Dasein Gottes. Leipzig: Felix Meiner.

    Aus seinem Nachlasse herausgegeben, eingeleitet und mit erläuternden Anmerkungen und Register versehen von Alfred Kastil.

  2. ———. 1987. On the existence of God. Lectures given at the Universities of Wurzburg and Vienna 1868-1891. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.

    Edited and translated by Susan F. Krantz.

    Part One. Preliminar enquiries: II. The ontological argument pp. 23-50.


  1. Bausola, Adriano. 2000. "La dottrina sul giudizio di esistenza e la critica ad alcuni argomenti per l'esistenza di Dio in Franz Brentano." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica no. 92:282-294.

  2. Redmond, Walter. 2001. "Das ontologische Argument. Res, Sachverhalte und mögliche Welten." Aletheia.An International Journal of Philosophy no. 7:453-468.

    "The article is a logical analysis of Brentano's objections against St. Anselm's ontological reasoning for God's existence in the context of J. Seifert's Gott als Gottesbeweis . One Anselmian argument, which Brentano rejects, is seen to be valid when interpreted in free logic. The conclusion of Brentano's interpretation of a second argument is shown to be a key premise in various recent modal ontological arguments considered valid by many. Finally, the parallelism is pointed out between Anselm's verbum (or vox ) plus its extranea significatio and id ipsum quod res est intelligitur , Seifert's conceptual-subjective and essential-objective aspects, and propositions and states of affairs in possible worlds semantics."

Gottlob Frege (1848-1925)

Texts and translations

  1. Frege, Gottlob. 1884. Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik. Ein logisch mathematische Untersuchung über den Begriff der Zahl. Breslau: Willhelm Koebner.

    See § 53.

  2. ———. 1950. The foundations of arithmetic. A logico-mathematical enquiry into the concept of number. Oxford: Blackwell.

    German text and English translation by J.L. Austin.

    Reprint of the English translation: Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1980.

    § 53.

  3. Carnap, Rudolf. 2004. "The ontological proof of the existence of God." In Frege's Lectures on Logic: Carnap's Student Notes, 1910-1914, 79-82. La Salle: Open Court.

    Translated and edited, with introductory essay, by Erich H. Reck and Steve Awodey; based on the German text, edited, with introduction and annotations, by Gottfried Gabriel.


  1. Forgie, William J. 1972. "Frege's Objection to the Ontological Argument." Noûs no. 6:251-265.

    ""God possesses all perfections; existence is a perfection; therefore, God possesses existence, i.e., God exists." Many philosophers have claimed that:

    1) Descartes' ontological proof of the existence of God rests on the assumption that existence is a first-level, or first-order, property (attribute, quality), a property of individuals such as horses or buildings or you and me.

    Some of these same philosophers have then gone on to argue that:

    2) Existence is actually a second-level property, a property of concepts, or of properties, or even of propositional functions. (A similar claim is made by saying that the concept of existence is of second-level.)

    3) Therefore, existence is not a first-level property.

    4) Therefore, Descartes' argument fails.

    Although I do not believe claim 1) has ever adequately been made out, I shall, for the purpose of this paper, assume it to be true. I shall also assume that the inference from claim 2) to claim 3) is valid.

    To my knowledge the most elaborate defense of the idea that existence is a second-level property has been put forth by Frege. In this paper I will discuss that defense and argue that it fails."

  2. Labenz, Piotr. 2006. "Does Frege's definition of existence invalidate the ontological argument?" Sorites.An International Electronic Magazine of Analytical Philosophy no. 17:68-80.

    "It is a well-known remark of Frege's that his definition of existence invalidated the ontological argument for the existence of God. That has subsequently often been taken for granted. This paper attempts to investigate, whether rightly so. For this purpose, both Frege's ontological doctrine and the ontological argument are outlined.

    Arguments in favor and against both are considered, and reduced to five specific questions. It is argued that whether Frege's remark was right depends on what the answers to these questions are, and that for the seemingly most plausible ones -- it was not."

Bibliography on the Modern Period

  1. Dotto, Gianni. 1994. "Koyré e l'argomento ontologico." In Alexandre Koyré. L'avventura intellettuale, 471-478. Perugia: Vinti C.

  2. Herrlin, Olle. 1950. The Ontological Proof in Thomistic and Kantian Interpretation. Uppsala: Lundquistska Bokhandeln.

  3. Marion, Jean-Luc. 1990. "L'Argument relève-t-il de l'ontologie?" In L'argomento ontologico / The ontological Argument / L'argument ontologique / Der Ontologische Gottesbeweis, edited by Olivetti, Marco M., 43-69. Padova: CEDAM.

  4. Repris dans J.-L. Marion, Questions Cartésiennes. Méthode et métaphysique, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1991, Chapitre 7, pp. 221-258.

  5. ———. 1992. "Is the Ontological Argument Ontological? The Argument According to Anselm and Its Metaphysical Interpretation According to Kant." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 30:201-218.

    English translation of: L'argument relève-t-il de l'ontologie?

    Reprinted in: J.-L. Marion, Cartesian Questions. Method and Metaphysics, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999, Chapter 7 with the title: Is the Argument Ontological? The Anselmian Proof and the Two Demostrations of the Existence of God in the Meditations, pp. 139-160.

    "In order to sketch a possible answer, one would have to analyze conceptually what Kant calls the "ontological argument". This analysis should proceed in three stages: (a) determining the characteristics that Kant attributes to this concept of "ontological argument"; (b) verifying whether, and how, some of the thinkers from the metaphysical tradition announce or sanction the characteristics of the "ontological argument"; (c) deciding whether or not some of its figures -- in particular, those conferred on it by Anselm and Descartes, who do not use the qualifier "ontological" -- are exceptions to these characteristics."

  6. Micheletti, Mario. 1991. Pascal - Butler. L'argomento ontologico. Studi sul pensiero etico-religioso inglese dei secoli XVII e XVIII. Perugia: Editrice Benucci.

  7. Park, Desirée. 1983. "Berkeley's Rejection of Anselm's Argument." Anselm Studies.An Occasional Journal no. 1:103-110.

  8. Sillem, Edward Augustus. 1957. George Berkeley and the Proofs for the Existence of God. London: Longmans, Green.

  9. Tilliette, Xavier. 1962. "L'argument ontologique et l'histoire de l'ontothéologie." Archives de Philosophie no. 25:128-149.