Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion - David Hume

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The dialogues is one of Hume's classic works, and takes the form of a dialogue between three individuals, Cleanthes, Philo and Demea.

In the book it is not hard to find Hume's own views on religion, as he attacks the majority of traditional arguments for the existence of God. Emphasising that we can only really know by experience and extrapolate on this basis, he weakens the power of most traditional arguments in logical terms.

For instance, we know a lot about common objects which are created, and about the properties of whatever created them, but with worlds we know very little. This is the only one we know. How can we possibly therefore claim to know much about the creators of worlds? It is just as likely there are lots of creators, or that this is a botched job creation.

The voice of Hume in this book is the character Philo, who argues against the possibility of deriving the moral attribute of God from the nature of the world. The conclusion of the dialogue he deems to be pretty insignificant and not necessarily in favour of theism at all, being as it is 'that the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence'.

Hume is incredibly sceptical and it comes across strongly - yet the dialogue has good flow and is an interesting read. Mill called Hume 'the profoundest negative thinker on record' and it is easy to see why.

This book is an interesting introduction to the philosophy of religion, and Hume's take on it, and is surprisingly accessible for all. It is by no means a long or arduous task to read this book, and anyone with an interest in this area will enjoy this book by one of Britain's greatest philosophers.

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

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