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Posted by on May 8, 2008 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hume’s Atheism: Peter Millican provides textual evidence

Peter Millican, who edits Hume Studies, has responded to some sceptical comments about David Hume on Mark Vernon’s weblog (stimulated by Peter Millican’s interview on Philosophy Bites). Millican provides some interesting textual evidence to support the contention that Hume was an atheist rather than, as sometimes claimed, an agnostic (or even some kind of deist). His key point is that the famous phrase that Hume puts in the mouth of Philo:

“that the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence”

is echoed by an earlier comment in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion:

“a certain degree of analogy among all the operations of nature … the rotting of a turnip, the generation of an animal, and the structure of human thought [are] energies that probably bear some remote analogy to each other”.

And this phrase ‘remote analogy’ occurs nowhere else in Hume’s writings. If they were meant to be read together, as seems very likely, then it would be very hard to conclude that this is evidence for Hume being a theist!

Peter also gives a robust response to Vernon’s other reservations about Hume. QED?

Read Peter Millican’s comments on Hume’s atheism here (the point about atheism is discussed in the second paragraph).

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