Monday, May 31, 2010

The Ontological Proof of Mr. Darcy's Existence

Michael Frayn on the ontological proof:

The ontological argument for the existence of God (God is defined as having all possible qualities, or as being perfect; and one of these qualities, or one aspect of his perfection, must be existence) has an engaging boldness. There's something about its breathtaking cheek that reminds me of the plea offered by the man convicted of murdering his parents ... who throws himself upon the mercy of the court because he's an orphan. And it does catch something of the self-creatingness and self-containment of religious belief, its ability to suspend itself in space by its own bootstraps. It might indeed usefully adapted to demonstrate the existence even of more modest characters in fiction. I have only to describe the characters in my next novel as having all possible qualities, or as being perfect - and lo! there they are in the real world. Do we even need such elevated characteristics? Nowhere, as far as I can recall, does Jane Austen make the same claim of Mr Darcy, for example. But she does describe him as having a fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and reportedly ten thousand a year, which must surely imply his existence just as clearly, because it's difficult to see how anyone can have a fine, tall person and all the rest of it unless he exists. If God is summoned into being by words then so is Mr Darcy. And indeed they both are so summoned. This is the truth - the truth of fiction.

1 comment:

  1. That's great! It sure beats the standard Greatest Possible Island rebuttal []