A Religion without Talking: Religious Belief and Natural Belief in Hume's Philosophy of Religion

A Religion without Talking: Religious Belief and Natural Belief in Hume's Philosophy of Religion

A Religion without Talking: Religious Belief and Natural Belief in Hume's Philosophy of Religion

A Religion without Talking: Religious Belief and Natural Belief in Hume's Philosophy of Religion

Excerpt

In the Treatise of Human Nature,Hume claims that we are determined to hold certain unavoidable and necessary beliefs, in spite of the inability of either reason or the senses to provide a justification for the fact that we do hold them. These beliefs in causal power, the external world and the self have been termed 'natural beliefs' in the literature. This book is concerned with establishing whether or not this classification can be extended to the belief in an intelligent designer.

This task is undertaken in two stages: First, drawing upon Hume's discussions in the Treatise of what have come to be called 'natural beliefs', I identify four conditions that are required in order for us to hold and acquire these beliefs. My concern, then, is with the 'processes and propensities' which account for our beliefs in the external world, causal power and the self. Central to these conditions is the faculty of imagination, with its ability to associate ideas and its propensity to effect an uninterrupted movement along a train of related ideas.

Second, I turn to Hume Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion to show the kind of belief in an intelligent designer that is assented to in that work, as Hume does not discuss religious belief in the Treatise. I argue that Philo, the character who is generally regarded as speaking for Hume in the Dialogues, expresses a belief in an intelligent designer in Part 12 which is the result of an irregular argument, while the analogical Argument from Design presented by Cleanthes is a regular argument. In order to establish the classification of Philo's belief, I apply the conditions identified earlier for the acquisition of such beliefs. I determine that the 'processes and propensities' that are apparent with respect to the beliefs discussed in the Treatise are also evident with respect to the belief in an intelligent designer. This allows us to conclude that this belief . . .

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