He that is to govern a whole nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but mankind. Leviathan is both a magnificent literary achievement and the greatest work of political philosophy in the English language. Permanently challenging, it has found new applications and new refutations in every generation. This new edition reproduces the first printed text, retaining the original punctuation but modernizing the spelling. It offers the most useful annotation available, an introduction that guides the reader through (...) the complexities of Hobbes's arguments, and a substantial index. (shrink)
Hume's doctrine of natural belief allows that certain beliefs are justifiably held by all men without regard to the quality of the evidence which may be produced in their favour. Examples are belief in an external world and belief in the veracity of our senses. According to R. J. Butler, Hume argues in the Dialogues that belief in God is of this sort. More recently John Hick has argued that for some people it is as natural to believe in God (...) as to believe in an external world. I shall first inquire what Hume understands by reasonable belief and by natural belief. I shall then use the results of this investigation to argue, against Butler, that belief in God is not a natural belief; and against Hick, more briefly, that his thesis is not viable in as far as it depends upon Hume's doctrine of natural belief. These discussions are important to the philosophy of religion since by means of natural beliefs it could be urged that belief in God is something justifiable without reference to reason or evidence: a position which would be of immense value to the theist. (shrink)
ONE OF HUME’S ARGUMENTS IN "OF MIRACLES" CONCLUDES (A) THAT MIRACLES IN DIFFERENT RELIGIONS ARE CONTRARY FACTS, AND (B) THAT ANY MIRACLE IN FAVOR OF ONE RELIGION IS EVIDENCE AGAINST ALL OTHERS. I ARGUE THAT WHILE (A) IS ABSURD, (B) IS APPLICABLE TO CHRISTIANITY IN VIRTUE OF ITS EXCLUSIVIST CLAIMS. IT WAS ACCEPTED BY THE EARLY FATHERS AND STILL HAS TO BE ASSUMED BY ALL BUT THE MOST DIFFIDENT CHRISTIANS.
David Hume is one of the most provocative philosophers to have written in English. His Dialogues ask if a belief in God can be inferred from what is known of the universe, or whether such a belief is even consistent with such knowledge. The Natural History of Religion investigates the origins of belief, and follows its development from polytheism to dogmatic monotheism. Together, these works constitute the most formidable attack upon religious belief ever mounted by a philosopher. This new edition (...) includes Section XI of The Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and a letter by Hume in which he discusses Dialogues. (shrink)
Epicureanism theorizes an infinite universe of moving particles, with no divine purpose and no life after death. Happiness depends on simple needs satisfied to provide tranquility of mind. This volume presents a comprehensive collection of the surviving works and wise sayings of Epicurus together with the great systematic account of Epicurean natural science in Lucretius's ON THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE.
David Hume is the greatest and also one of the most provocative philosophers to have written in the English language. No philosopher is more important for his careful, critical, and deeply perceptive examination of the grounds for belief in divine powers and for his sceptical accounts of the causes and consequences of religious belief, 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 the most formidable attack upon the rationality of religious belief ever mounted by a philosopher. This edition also includes Section XI of The Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and a letter concerning the Dialogues, as well as particularly helpful critical apparatus and abstracts of the main texts, enabling the reader to locate or relocate key topics. (shrink)
Dr Ian Ramsey has made considerable use of the word ‘disclosure’ in what he has to say about religion and in his attempts to give an account of the meaning of religious language. He sometimes speaks of ‘discernment’ or ‘insight’ but ‘disclosure’ is the word he normally favours. In what follows I shall ask: what a disclosure is, to what extent Dr Ramsey's use of the notion leads to confusions, and what questions have to be faced in order to resolve (...) these confusions. (shrink)
THERE ARE TWO CONCEPTS OF MIRACLE: AS (A) THE VIOLATION OF A NATURAL LAW, AND AS (B) A STRIKING COINCIDENCE WITHIN NATURAL LAW. DIFFICULTIES IN (A) HAVE BEEN WIDELY DISCUSSED, E.G., BY R SWINBURNE. THOSE IN (B) HAVE NOT. I ARGUE THAT IF DIFFICULTIES IN (A) FORCE A RETREAT TO (B), THEN A PLACE MUST BE FOUND FOR A GOD TO ACT TO PRODUCE (B). SEVERAL POSSIBILITIES ARE CONSIDERED; NONE ARE FOUND SATISFACTORY EXCEPT POSSIBLY THE GOD INFLUENCING UNNOTICED AN ANIMATE (...) OBJECT. I CONCLUDE WITH A NEW AND FAVORABLE LOOK AT HUME’S CONTRARY MIRACLES ARGUMENT. (shrink)
Collections of essays and conference papers are always liable to two defects. One is that the essays are not all of the same quality. The other is that the collection is ad hoc with no structural unity or organized purpose. The present collection—arising from the 1997 Claremont conference on the philosophy of religion—almost unavoidably exemplifies the first defect. I myself would pick out the contributions of Simon Blackburn, D. Z. Phillips R. W. Beardsmore, Jane McIntyre, Antony Flew, and Peter Jones (...) as the most interesting. Many of the others are well worth the attention of Hume scholars, but two or three are turgid, over-annotated examples of argument by authority of the sort “Wittgenstein tells us...” compounded with emotive appeals to what is alleged to be Hume’s insufferable moral narrowness. But as I say, the uneven quality of contributions is a standard hazard of conference collections. The second hazard—lack of structure—is much less in evidence. There is a real coherence of subject and purpose in the eighteen sections that make up this book, and an effort has been made to relate the articles to each other. An odd omission is, however, the absence of any standard system of reference to agreed editions of Hume’s works. It happens, for example, that most contributors refer to the Selby-Bigge edition of the Enquiries, but this is an accident of common usage not a virtue of editorial policy. There is a general index. (shrink)
In an article in Philosophy R. G. Swinburne set out to argue that none of Hume's formal objections to the design argument ‘have any validity against a carefully articulated version of the argument’ . This, he maintained, is largely because Hume's criticisms ‘are bad criticisms of the argument in any form’ . The ensuing controversy between Swinburne and Olding 1 has focused upon the acceptable/unacceptable aspects of the dualism presupposed in Swinburne's defence of the design argument; upon whether any simplification (...) is achieved by reducing scientific explanation to agent explanation; and upon the problems which arise from taking a man's acting upon his body as the analogy for understanding a disembodied agent acting upon matter. In this article I shall refer to the Swinburne-Olding controversy when appropriate but my main concern is to return to Swinburne's original article and argue, seriatim , that Hume's individual criticisms of the design argument are for the most part a great deal more powerful than Swinburne allowed. I shall contend that cumulatively they destroy the design argument as any sort of rational foundation for theistic belief. But first I shall indicate briefly the character of the argument together with one or two of the distinctions and refinements in terms of which it has been found helpful to carry on the discussion in recent years. (shrink)
Thomas Hobbes was the first great philosopher to write in English. His account of the human condition, first developed in The Elements of Law, which comprises Human Nature and De Corpore Politico, is a direct product of the intellectual and political strife of the seventeenth century. It is also a remarkably penetrating look at human nature, and a permanently relevant analysis of the fears and self-seeking that result in the war of `each against every man'. In The Elements of Law (...) Hobbes memorably sets out both the main lines of his general philosophy, later augmented in De Corpore, and the moral and political philosophy later made famous in Leviathan. Copies of Human Nature and De Corpore Politico, until 1889 printed as separate works, are rare antiques or scarcely less rare scholarly texts; this is the first complete popular edition. It is here supplemented by chapters from De Corpore and Three Lives, two from Hobbes's original Latin. These have never before been published together in English. (shrink)