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Skepticism And Religious Belief In A Treatise Of Human Nature

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author examines the Treatise of Human Nature's naturalistic explanation of religious beliefs. In more than one sense, the author's approach is guided by Richard Popkin's: it sets faith or religion within a broader epistemic framework, and it discerns intermediate shades between belief and disbelief. In Popkin's view, oscillation, unsteadiness, and the ensuing perplexity are features of Hume's own mind. In the philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, naturalistic analyses of religion often culminate in the reduction of worship to natural causes. Hume's theory of mind is more thorough and more comprehensive after the analysis of religion. The concept of 'belief' is refined through the distinction between vivacity, vehemence, and strength.

Keywords: Hume; religious belief; skepticism; Treatise of Human Nature



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