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Morality above Metaphysics: Philo and the Duties of Friendship in Dialogues 12

Morality above Metaphysics: Philo and the Duties of Friendship in Dialogues 12 , pp. 131-147 : Philo and the Duties of Friendship in Dialogues 12 In part 12 of Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion,1 Philo famously appears to reverse his course. After slicing the Argument from Design into small pieces throughout most of the first eleven parts of the Dialogues, he suddenly seems to endorse a version of it: One great foundation of the Copernican system is the maxim, that nature acts by the simplest methods, and chuses the most proper means to any end; and astronomers often, without thinking of it, lay this strong foundation of piety and religion. The same thing is observable in other parts of philosophy: And thus all the sciences almost lead us insensibly to acknowledge a first intelligent Author; and their au- thority is often so much the greater, as they do not directly profess that intention. (DNR 214-15) Even more amazingly, Philo then asserts that the difference between an atheist and a theist is merely verbal (DNR 217-19), and he concludes by asserting that his form of skepticism is a prerequisite for becoming a "sound, believing Christian" (DNR 228). The reversal is so remarkable that it has prompted considerable speculation about what Hume http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

Morality above Metaphysics: Philo and the Duties of Friendship in Dialogues 12

Hume Studies , Volume 28 (1) – Jan 26, 2002

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Abstract

, pp. 131-147 : Philo and the Duties of Friendship in Dialogues 12 In part 12 of Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion,1 Philo famously appears to reverse his course. After slicing the Argument from Design into small pieces throughout most of the first eleven parts of the Dialogues, he suddenly seems to endorse a version of it: One great foundation of the Copernican system is the maxim, that nature acts by the simplest methods, and chuses the most proper means to any end; and astronomers often, without thinking of it, lay this strong foundation of piety and religion. The same thing is observable in other parts of philosophy: And thus all the sciences almost lead us insensibly to acknowledge a first intelligent Author; and their au- thority is often so much the greater, as they do not directly profess that intention. (DNR 214-15) Even more amazingly, Philo then asserts that the difference between an atheist and a theist is merely verbal (DNR 217-19), and he concludes by asserting that his form of skepticism is a prerequisite for becoming a "sound, believing Christian" (DNR 228). The reversal is so remarkable that it has prompted considerable speculation about what Hume

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Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 2002

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