Sachchidananda 'The Life Divine' Book I,Ch.9, 10, 11, 12 (The Mother Insitute of Research - MIRA) - Track 208

All arguments according to Aristotle, which are true, are nothing but statements in which predicates are shown to be part of the subject and therefore in a certain sense all of them are tautologies or identities, therefore they are true. This is one of the best ways of finding out whether argument is valid or not. In any case, there are certain predicates, which are absolutely identical with the subject in which I say all men are men, the predicate is exactly identical with the subject, but there are certain predicates which are not completely identical with the subject, but which are part of the subject. If I say that all crows are black. It is not that black is equal to all crows that is not true, but blackness is a part of all the crows. In other words a predicate should be either identical with the subject or it should be a part of the subject, but even if you show it is identical, it does not necessarily prove.

If I say simply say ‘God is God’ does it amount to the proof of existence of God, proposition is true, God is God. The predicate is God, subject is God, does it prove the existence of God? So mere tautology is not a proof, it may be true. It only means that the word God is a word God that is all, it proves; it does not prove that God exists. Therefore all those who believe in ontological argument they say that ‘existence’ is a part of God. You will see all the argument. I gave you the example of Anselm and Descartes, perfection is that which includes everything, existence is something, therefore existence must be part of God, therefore God exists. Anselm’s argument also examines the same thing in which the existence is shown to be a predicate, is a part of God.

God is then whom greater cannot be conceived. God, who is only an idea, is lesser than the God who is also as existence that means ‘existence’ is a part of God, therefore God exists. In both the arguments, you will find that existence has been treated as a predicate. Predicate in a sense, it is a part of the subject. Kant pointed out that the very nature of existence is such that existence can never be a predicate. If he can prove this statement then the whole argument falls, if existence can never be a part, cannot be a predicate. You remember, I started this whole discussion of this argument in the second part of my exposition. My first part of exposition was ‘nothing exists’. Second statement was ‘existence is not only what can be conceived but is the only thing that can be conceived’, and then asked the question let us examine the nature of existence and then I came to these arguments. My purpose was to examine the nature of existence and this is the crucial point, which we have now come to, when Kant says ‘existence’ is not a predicate. His famous example was $100 in imagination are not less than $100 in existence. When $100 come into existence do they become 101. If existence was a predicate it would have added something. Predicate is something which adds to the subject. So, he says $100 in imagination are also 100, $100 in existence are also 100, this shows existence is not a predicate. Existence is something quite different, so if existence is not a predicate the whole argument is demolished.

Unfortunately Kant did not tell us what is existence? If it is not a predicate, he should have told us what it is then. And that was our question with which we started that what is existence? Therefore, the history of argument regarding God has remained incomplete in the Western thought.

After Kant there have been some criticism of the ontological argument, Bertrand Russell for example – he has taken up this very question and follows basically Kant in showing that existence is not a predicate, but what is existence itself? What is the nature of existence that has not been discussed further and that is where the Western thought is still resting over there, you might say in an inconclusive state. Many philosophers of west may not think that it is a resting point at an inconclusive stage; they may think that they have debunked the philosophy of God and that is the end of the matter.

The argument which was placed before the mankind to prove the existence of God has been proved to be wrong and that ends the matter therefore, don’t discuss about God because this is not proved. But the examination of the nature of existence – what is existence? There have been many new theories which have come up into which I will not take you because it is a very complicated matter and not very necessary for our purpose. The only answer is, existence is that which alone can be conceived.

Existence is such a thing, existence is that which alone can be conceived, the rest cannot be conceived at all. The statement with which I started ‘Nothing exists’ existence is not only that that can be conceived but is the only thing that can be conceived is now being reiterated. In other words my statement is ‘existence is not a predicate’, it is true. Existence is the only subject, not only subject but the only subject. The idea of proving God by regarding existence as a predicate of God is not on the right lines, you should say existence is God, not God exists. Existence is God, what is God? God is not something which is apart from existence. That whole idea that God may be apart from existence and therefore existence can be proved of God is itself a wrong process. Existence itself is God, and existence is that which alone can be conceived therefore rationally proved that God is the only thing that can be conceived, therefore rationally proved. This is you might say one of the basic elements in chapter number nine. It was only to clarify that I took you to this abstract and difficult terrain.