The Riddle of Hume's Treatise : Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion [NOOK Book]

Overview

Although it is widely recognized that David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) belongs among the greatest works of philosophy, there is little agreement about the correct way to interpret his fundamental intentions. It is an established orthodoxy among almost all commentators that skepticism and naturalism are the two dominant themes in this work. The difficulty has been, however, that Hume's skeptical arguments and commitments appear to undermine and discredit his naturalistic ambition to contribute to ...

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The Riddle of Hume's Treatise : Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion

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Overview

Although it is widely recognized that David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) belongs among the greatest works of philosophy, there is little agreement about the correct way to interpret his fundamental intentions. It is an established orthodoxy among almost all commentators that skepticism and naturalism are the two dominant themes in this work. The difficulty has been, however, that Hume's skeptical arguments and commitments appear to undermine and discredit his naturalistic ambition to contribute to "the science of man". This schism appears to leave his entire project broken-backed.

The solution to this riddle depends on challenging another, closely related, point of orthodoxy: namely, that before Hume published the Treatise he removed almost all material concerned with problems of religion. Russell argues, contrary to this view, that irreligious aims and objectives are fundamental to the Treatise and account for its underlying unity and coherence. It is Hume's basic anti-Christian aims and objectives that serve to shape and direct both his skeptical and naturalistic commitments. When Hume's arguments are viewed from this perspective we can solve, not only puzzles arising from his discussion of various specific issues, we can also explain the intimate and intricate connections that hold his entire project together.

This "irreligious" interpretation provides a comprehensive fresh account of the nature of Hume's fundamental aims and ambitions in the Treatise. It also presents a radically different picture of the way in which HUme's project was rooted in the debates and controversies of his own time, placing the Treatise in an irreligious or anti-Chrisitanphilosophical tradition that includes Hobbes, Spinoza and freethinking followers. Considered in these terms, Hume's Treatise constitutes the crowning achievement of the Radical Enlightenment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198027034
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Paul Russell is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

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Table of Contents

I. Riddles, Critics and Monsters: Text and Context

1. The Riddle

2. "Atheism" and Hume's Early Critics

3. Religious Philosophers and Speculative Atheists

4. Newtonianism, Freethought, and Hume's Scottish Context

5. The Monster of Atheism: Its Being and Attributes

II. The Form and Face of Humes's System

6. A Hobbist Plan

7. Atheism Under Cover: Esoteric Communication on Hume's Title-Pages

III. The Nature of Hume's Universe

8. Blind Men Before a Fire: Empiricism and the Idea of God

9. Making Nothing of "Almighty Space"

10. The Argument A Priori and Hume's "Curious Nostrum"

11. Induction, Analogy and a Future State: Hume's "Guide to Life"

12. Matter, Omnipotence and our Idea of Necessity

13. Skepticism, Deception and the Material World

14. Immateriality, Ommortality and the Human Soul

15. The Practical Pyrrhonist

IV. The Elements of Virtuous Atheism

16. Freedom Within Necessity: Hume's "clockwork Man"

17. Morality without Religion

V. Hume's Philosophy of Irreligion

18. The Myth of "Castration" and the Riddle's Solution

19. Was Hume an "Atheist"?

20. Hume's Lucretian Mission

Appendix

Bibliography

Index

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