Aristotle Aquinas Kant and Anselm Views on God Essay

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Philosophy and Theology

Philosophy is the study of wisdom while theology is the study of God. Some of the earliest and best known classical philosophers are Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. They essentially laid the foundation for Western philosophy by examining such concepts as truth, goodness, virtue, and the meaning of life. Socrates made the claim that God and Truth are basically one and the same: in fact, for Socrates, God, Truth, Goodness, Beauty, and Virtue were all united and of the same essence (Plato, 2010). Theology, on the other hand, largely came into being in Middle Ages in the West thanks to Church Fathers like Augustine and Aquinas. Aquinas basically codified the science of theology in his Summa Theologica -- the Sum of Theology. This was the scholastic view of theology or of how the Medieval world thought of God: it was based on reason and on the philosophical tenets of the classical philosophers, such as Aristotle. So, in the Summa was the evidence of a strong relationship between theology and philosophy (Aquinas, 1920).

One philosophical view on God is the ontological view held by Anselm, who said that God is that than which nothing greater can be imagined. In other words, we can know of God by the fact that we are able to define God. This is somewhat based on the notion put forward by Aristotle, which is associated with cause and effect -- that we can know God by reason of the movements of reality. Aristotle states in Metaphysics that, "life also belongs to God; for the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and God's self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal. We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God" (72b). Aristotle's argument is based on the idea that we can know the causer or the mover by that which is moved. Thus, reality, the moral order (or natural law) and the existence of life tells us something about God (and not merely that He exists).

Another philosophical view on God comes from Kant. Kant's argument for the existence of God is based on the idea that man cannot know God since his own mind is finite and God is infinite. Therefore, the best man can do is surmise that God exists based on the idea that a religious community cannot act ethically otherwise. The argument is not so much a proof for God as a logical assumption based on observations of the nature of man and his propensity for both good and evil actions. Kant essentially argues that the existence of God is possible but does not offer a definitive proof. Kant (1892) argues in Critique of Judgment from the standpoint of the Highest Good, that it is…

Sources Used in Document:


Aquinas, T. (1920). Summa Theologica. UK: Fathers of the English Dominican.

Aristotle. (n.d.). Metaphysics. Internet Classics Archive. Retrieved from

Descartes, R. (2013). Meditations on First Philosophy. OR: Oregon State University.

Kant, I. (1892). Critique of Judgment. Online Library of Liberty. Retrieved from Plato. (2010). The Dialouges, vol. 1. Online Library of Liberty. Retrieved from

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