Mar 3, 2012

The aesthetics of ontological arguments


Gödel's ontological proof of God's existence, using modal logic.

I don't understand modal logic, but think that's amazing & beautiful on its own, w/o even an explanation. Just aesthetically. In one of the libraries at the University of Tübingen, there's a bridge over a creek from one part of the library to another (it's a big library), & the walls are all glass with classic texts written on them. I could see this written there.

Or in stain glass. Maybe in a chapel with Rothko paintings.

From the explanations I read, the crux of Gödel's proof is:

IF it is possible for a rational omniscient being to exist THEN necessarily a rational omniscient being exists.

No one, interestingly, seems to argue that the logic itself doesn't work. That is, the conclusions follow from the premises, & if you accept the premises then the results logically follow.

Which leaves one with the leap of accepting the premises or not: is it possible for a rational omniscient being to exist? What do each of those terms mean, "rational," "omniscient," "exist," etc.? How is possibility to be determined?

If it does work, tho., then what?

What interests me most about ontological arguments, Gödel's, Anselm's, etc., is how, no matter how much they work, they still don't work. They're not enough, even if one's convinced. There's something more than "proof" necessary for the existence of something that can be called God to matter, even if it's true & necessarily true & there's some consensus def. of "exists," & the proof is a good, sound proof. Even if one is logically convinced of the proof's conclusion, the gut response that rises up seems to be ... so?

Unless there's something else.

A leap?

A leap of recognition of that which is called "God," that which is greater than which none can be conceived? Like the leap inside one's heart on seeing a loved one long unseen?

An aesthetic response, maybe? Like seeing a piece of art & responding, w/o analysis, with awe & amazement & a desire to just sit & gaze.

Which is kind of how I respond to ontological arguments, actually. I have an aesthetic response to them, w/o analysis or anyway before analysis, how I responded to Pollock's paintings, 1st time I saw them in person, a response of recognition jumps up in my chest & I just want to look & look.