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  • CAMBRIDGE TEXTS IN THEHISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

    HUME

    Dialogues concerning Natural Religion

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

    http://www.cambridge.org/0521603595http://www.cambridge.orghttp://www.cambridge.org

  • CAMBRIDGE TEXTS IN THEHISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

    Series editors

    KARL AMERIKSProfessor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

    DESMOND M. CLARKEProfessor of Philosophy, University College Cork

    The main objective of Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy is to expand the range,variety, and quality of texts in the history of philosophy which are available in English.The series includes texts by familiar names (such as Descartes and Kant) and also by less-well-known authors. Wherever possible, texts are published in complete and unabridgedform, and translations are specially commissioned for the series. Each volume contains acritical introduction together with a guide to further reading and any necessary glossariesand textual apparatus. The volumes are designed for student use at undergraduate andpostgraduate level and will be of interest not only to students of philosophy, but also to awider audience of readers in the history of science, the history of theology, and the historyof ideas.

    For a list of titles published in the series, please see end of book.

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

    http://www.cambridge.org/0521603595http://www.cambridge.orghttp://www.cambridge.org

  • DAVID HUME

    Dialogues concerningNatural Religion

    and Other Writings

    EDITED BY

    DOROTHY COLEMANNorthern Illinois University

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

    http://www.cambridge.org/0521603595http://www.cambridge.orghttp://www.cambridge.org

  • Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, Sao Paulo

    Cambridge University PressThe Edinburgh Building, Cambridge , UK

    Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

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    no reproduction of any part may take place withoutthe written permission of Cambridge University Press.

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    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

    http://www.cambridge.org/0521603595http://www.cambridge.orghttp://www.cambridge.org

  • For my daughter, Alexandra

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

    http://www.cambridge.org/0521603595http://www.cambridge.orghttp://www.cambridge.org

  • Contents

    Acknowledgments page ixIntroduction xiChronology xliFurther reading xlivNote on the text xlixList of abbreviations liii

    Pamphilus to Hermippus

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    Part

    vii

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

    http://www.cambridge.org/0521603595http://www.cambridge.orghttp://www.cambridge.org

  • Contents

    Part

    Part

    From Humes memoranda

    Fragment on evil

    Letter to Francis Hutcheson, March , (extract)

    Letter to William Mure, June , (extract)

    Letters to Gilbert Elliot (extracts)

    From The Natural History of Religion

    Selections from Pierre Bayle (translated by James Dye)

    Index

    viii

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

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  • Acknowledgments

    For both critical and encouraging comments on my Introduction andeditorial notes I am indebted to James King, David Raynor, M. A. Stewart,and John Wright. Thanks also to David Raynor for drawing my attentionto Edward Gibbons remark on Humes Dialogues, and to J. V. Price forpointing out to me that Matthew Prior is the source for Not satisfied withlife, afraid of death in Part of the Dialogues. I also thank the HumeSociety for accepting my paper, Humes Philosophy of Ridicule, for itsth Hume Conference in Helsinki, August, , where the discussionhelped direct my approach to the Introduction. I am grateful to DesmondClarke and Hilary Gaskin for inviting me to undertake this project andfor their helpful editorial advice. I owe special thanks to James Dye forpreparing the translations of Bayle that are part of the supplementaryreadings for this volume. Not least, I am grateful to my late afternoon teacompanions, Andrea Bonnickson, Annette Johns, and Sharon Sytsma,for their friendship and support throughout this project.

    ix

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

    Cambridge University Press978-0-521-60359-1 - David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and OtherWritingsEdited by Dorothy ColemanFrontmatterMore information

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  • Introduction

    David Humes Dialogues concerning Natural Religion () is one of themost influential works in the philosophy of religion and the most artfulinstance of philosophical dialogue since the dialogues of Plato. Someconsider it a successful criticism of rational theology, some find it a failure,others regard it as a defense of some form of natural religion, and yetothers emphasize its influence on the development of fideism, religiousbelief that disclaims rational justification. The great eighteenth-centuryhistorian, Edward Gibbon, said that of all Humes philosophical worksit is the most profound, the most ingenious, and the best written. Allreaders, regardless of their final assessments, can appreciate its penetratinganalyses as well as its entertaining wit and ironic humor.

    The topic of the Dialogues is natural religion, that is, religious belief,sentiment, and practice founded on evidence that is independent of super-natural revelation. The work presents a fictional conversation among threefriends Cleanthes, Philo, and Demea that is overheard and later nar-rated by Pamphilus, Cleanthes pupil, to his friend Hermippus. Althoughthe names of the characters come from antiquity, the temporal setting

    Translated from M. Baridon, Une lettre inedite dEdward Gibbon a Jean-Baptiste AntoineSuard, Etudes anglaises (), : [J]e ne crains pas de prononcer que de tous les ouvragesPhilosophiques de M. H. celui-ci [the Dialogues] est le plus profond, le plus ingenieux et le mieuxecrit.

    Hume probably named Philo after Philo of Larissa, Ciceros teacher. He probably named Cleanthesafter the second head of the school of Stoicism, Cleanthes of Assos (c. c. ), a religiousenthusiast. The names of the other characters may also have eponymous sources, but their ety-mological significance is more obvious. Demea, from the Greek demos, meaning people, is anappropriate name for one who defends popular or traditional religion. Pamphilus, from the Greekpan (all) and philos (friend), meaning friend of all, is appropriate for a Shaftesburean narratorwho states that opposite sentiments, even without any decision, afford an agreeable amusement.

    xi

    Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org

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  • Introduction

    is an eighteenth-century one, and the main characters represent philo-sophical or religious types. They all profess, for different reasons, that theexistence of God is evident; but Philo, a skeptic, and Demea, an orthodoxtheist, urge that the nature of God is incomprehensible, while Cleanthes,an empirical theist, dismisses their skepticism as excessive. He proposesan argument based on the systematic order in nature commonly knownas the argument from design to establish both the existence of God andhis possession of human-like intelligence. Cleanthes later adds that thebeneficial aspects of natures order provide compelling evid