Volume 11, 1998
Maria de Lourdes Borges
Hegel and Kant on the Ontological Argument
I intend to present Kant's refutation of the ontological argument as confronted by Hegel's critique of Kant's refutation. The ontological argument can be exposed in a syllogistic way: everything I conceive as belonging clearly and distinctly to the nature or essence of something can be asserted as true of something. I perceive clearly and distinctly that existence belongs to the nature or essence of a perfect being; therefore, existence can be stated as true of a supremely perfect being, that is, perfect being exists. I intend to argue that Kant criticizes both the major and minor premises. To the major premise, he objects that there is an unqualified passage from the logical to the ontological level. To the minor premise, he objects that existence is not a concept predicate. Finally, I will show how Hegel criticizes Kant's refutation. To the former, Kant's critique is naïve as he could prove that existence is not inherent to a finite being's concept, which is not the concept of God.