Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion / Edition 1

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Overview

David Hume is one of the most provocative philosophers to have written in the English language. His skeptical accounts of the causes and consequences of religious belief are expressed most powerfully in "The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" and "The Natural History of Religion." "The Dialogues" ask if belief in God can be inferred from the nature of the universe or whether it is even consistent with what we know about the universe. "The Natural History of Religion" investigates the origins of belief, and follows its development from harmless polytheism to dogmatic monotheism. Together they constitute a most formidable attack upon the rationality of religious belief.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879755270
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1989
  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 114
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.31 (h) x 0.28 (d)

Meet the Author

David Hume (1711 -1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist. Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In stark opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behavior, saying famously: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions." A prominent figure in the skeptical philosophical tradition and a strong empiricist, he argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding instead that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. He developed the position that mental behavior is governed by "custom"; our use of induction, for example, is justified only by our idea of the "constant conjunction" of causes and effects. Without direct impressions of a metaphysical "self," he concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self. Hume advocated a compatibilist theory of free will that proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. Hume also examined the normative is-ought problem. He held notoriously ambiguous views of Christianity, but famously challenged the argument from design in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). Kant credited Hume with waking him up from his "dogmatic slumbers" and Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent philosophy, especially on utilitarianism, logical positivism, William James, philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, and other movements and thinkers. The philosopher Jerry Fodor proclaimed Hume's Treatise "the founding document of cognitive science." Also famous as a prose stylist, Hume pioneered the essay as a literary genre and engaged with contemporary intellectual luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith (who acknowledged Hume's influence on his economics and political philosophy), James Boswell, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
A Note on the Texts
Select Bibliography
Chronology
My Own Life 3
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section XI 11
A Letter Concerning the Dialogues, 10 March 1751 25
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 29
An Abstract of the Dialogues 131
The Natural History of Religion 134
Hume's Notes to The Natural History 186
An Abstract of The Natural History 194
Explanatory Notes 197
Descriptive Index of Classical Names in Hume's Texts 216
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