- Series: Oxford World's Classics
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; New edition edition (January 28, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192838768
- ISBN-13: 978-0192838766
- Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.5 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,438,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dialogues and Natural History of Religion (Oxford World's Classics) New edition Edition
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About the Author
He is also the author of Hume's Philosophy of Religion (1988) and Varieties of Unbelief (1989).
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Hume, an 18th century Scottish philosopher, and one of the greatest philosophers ever, is known as an Atheist, though it is difficult to come up with that conclusion from reading these particular materials. Sure, he may have been, but he seemed to avoid any type of label, preferring to "suspend judgment" with regard to things that are ultimately unknowable. With that perspective, it would be reasonable to consider him an Atheist, in the sense of not having a belief in a god. It would also mean he was Agnostic, not knowing whether there was a god or not, and reserving judgment on such matters, but that term would not be used for such views until T.H. Huxley.
This wonderful book put out by Oxford University Press, edited by J. C. A. Gaskin, contains "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" and "The Natural History of Religion." The first is a dialogue set up in the tradition of Cicero, with three persons arguing from different points of view, and the latter is simply a straightforward treatise on its subject.
In addition to an excellent introduction by Gaskin, there are also other minor additions:
1. My Own Life -- a brief summary by Hume.
2. Section XI of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, one of his greater philosophical works -- a section related to religion.
3. A letter concerning the Dialogues -- from Hume to Gilbert Elliott, requesting input for the dialogue portion of one of the "believers," Cleanthes.
This is a fairly good introduction to Hume, at least with regard to his religious and nonreligious thoughts, and I wish more people, both believers and nonbelievers, would challenge themselves with reading such as this, rather than resorting to some of the inane, superficial hype put out by both sides in recent years.
In addition to the 'Dialogues' and 'The Natural History of Religion' is an excerpt from 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding' and a short autobiographical missive written shortly before Hume's death.
It is quite a bother to try to imagine the way religion and government depended upon each other prior to the birth of our own flash bang gravy train pulling a monetary net. Our fate was already in the works in 1774 when John Adams told Jonathan Sewall: "the die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon. Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country was my unalterable determination."
The first edition of the Natural History of Religion (1757) by David Hume was quite Christian in declaring, "The savage tribes of America, Africa, and Asia are all idolaters. Not a single exception to this rule." Civilized religion is pictured as worship of "that perfect being, who bestowed order on the whole frame of nature. We may as reasonably imagine, that men inhabited palaces before huts and cottages, or studied geometry before agriculture; as assert that the deity appeared to them a pure spirit, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, before he was apprehended to be a powerful, tho' limited being, with human passions and appetites, limbs and organs."
Pride in philosophy is often show by asserting wit. In the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), Philo is a character using irony against the positions put forth by those who were concerned about social matters. David Hume died in 1776 after directing that the manuscript be published within a few years. Kant's great critical works appeared in 1781, 1783, 1787, and 1790. By insisting on universal maxims as a basis for morality, Kant backed the kind of ethics contained in the Ten Commandments soon after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Demea in the Dialogues takes the position:
"To season their Minds with early Piety
is my chief care.;
and by continual Precept and Instruction,
and I hope too, by Example,
I imprint deeply on their tender Minds
an habitual Reverence
for all the principles of Religion."
Having a flash bang gravy train pulling a monetary net as the prime example of how power is exercised in this world is like the mention by Philo of "this profane and irreligious Age." Pride is described by Philo:
Those, who enter a little into Study and Enquiry,
finding many Appearances of Evidence in Doctrines
the newest and most extraordinary,
think nothing too difficult for human Reason;
and Presumptuously breaking thro all Fences,
profane the inmost Sanctuaries of the Temple.
But Cleanthes will, I hope, agree with me,
that, after we have abandoned Ignorance,
the surest Remedy,
there is still one Expedient left
to prevent this Profane Liberty.
Let Demea's Principles be improved and cultivated:
Let us become thoroughly sensible
of the Weakness, Blindness, and narrow Limits of human Reason:
Let us duely consider its Uncertainty and endless Contrarieties,
even in subjects of common Life and Practice:
Let the Errors and Deceits of our very Senses
be set before us; the insuperable Difficulties,
which attend first Principles in all Systems;
the Contradictions, which adhere to the very ideas of Matter,
Cause and Effect,
and in a word, Quantity of all kinds,
the Object of the only Science,
that can fairly pretend to any Certainty or Evidence.
Kant took this set of aims hook, line, and sinker, to produce the basis for German philosophy extended by Hegel to justify the State as rational and by Marx to mythologize collective people as a new Prometheus in world history. The sociology of knowledge continues to assume a proper regimentation for uniformity as the basis for social systems to dominate as a flash bang gravy train must in order to continue to exist.
Most recent customer reviews
This work is dynamite.
Hume walks right in and starts slaying every Sacred Cow in the place.Read more