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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  3,363 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Hume's brilliant and dispassionate essay "Of Miracles" has been added in this expanded edition of his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, which also includes "Of the Immortality of the Soul", "Of Suicide", and Richard Popkin's illuminating Introduction.
Paperback, 129 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Hackett Publishing Company (first published 1779)
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The Republic by PlatoThus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich NietzscheBeing and Time by Martin HeideggerCritique of Pure Reason by Immanuel KantPhenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
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All the New Atheists I've come across cite the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, most recently A.C. Grayling in his horrible The God Argument. But I wonder how carefully they read it; more and more often I feel they are metamorphosing into their creationist enemies, diligently mining out-of-context quotes to support their claim that there is no God and they can prove it. Hume would never have said anything so silly, though I doubt he'd be surprised at the way he is now used: he gives the im ...more
Parmi les œuvres philosophiques du célèbre Marcus Tulius Ciceron, la La Nature Des Dieux est l'un de ceux qui m'ont le plus marqué. Trois amis disputaient sans acrimonie, mais en toute franchise de leurs visions respectives de la religion, en fonction de leurs appartenance à telle ou telle école philosophique, alternant les rôles de thuriféraires et de contempteurs des différentes opinions. Ces anciens se laissaient une grande latitude sur les possibilités de la nature des dieux, mais ils ne per ...more
I thought, you know, that the idea of an imaginary "dialogue" was cheesy and overdone. But Hume is a riot. He is such a devastatingly skilled debater--so insightful, careful, witty, and unafraid of going waist-deep in his (numerous, varied) convictions--that I've been left in quiet awe of him. And what struck me too was the even-handedness with which Hume dealt all sides, giving equal credence to the voices of his three characters, Philo, Cleanthes, and Demea.

Cleanthes--well, okay so his argumen
In almost every aspect of his thinking, David Hume was a man ahead of his time. His views on the nature of causality and induction—the foundation of the scientific method—are still relevant, unsolved problems in philosophy. His views on morals, however simple-minded they may seem, do presage the sociobiological explanation of ethical behavior by pointing to an innate sense. His Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion are perhaps more relevant still, as it seems the debate over evolution vs. intell ...more
The Scottish philosopher David Hume finished writing this work in 1776, shortly before his death.

Cleanthes argues in Part I that religious persons use whatever approach, rational or anti-rational, in their arguments, whatever approach will support and buttress their own preexisting convictions. Demea, on the other hand, in Part II takes the position of Job, that God exists but is so far beyond us that it is not only futile but inappropriate for us to try to understand God’s essence or characteri
Bob Nichols
In these Platonic-like dialogues, Hume uses three characters to lay out three views on religion. In one, God transcends all human attributes and is incomprehensible. In another, God is modeled after humans, focusing on intelligence in a super-human sort of way. The third view, articulated by Philo, takes Hume’s empiricist approach to argue that we cannot establish the existence or non-existence of God. Philo’s ambivalence on the issue of God is palpable and in the end he lands on a deist approac ...more
I just finished reading Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by David Hume. What a magnificent piece of philosophical inquiry! Considering the time it was written, this short book offers an impressive and accessible survey of its subject. Hume disposed of the Argument from Design a century before Darwin.
Mar 18, 2014 Lobstergirl added it
Shelves: own
When I read this the cover was brown. Books have to be so sexy now!
John Yelverton
One of the worst books that I was ever forced to read in college.
Erik Graff
Jun 30, 2015 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Cornel West
Shelves: philosophy
I read this book for Cornel West's course on Hume & Kant during my last semester at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. This and his Treatise of Human Nature are my favorite books by Hume, one of my favorite philosophers.

It struck me today whilst thinking back upon Hume that his critique of necessity in evidentiary cases of causality, the spark that set off Kant's revolution in philosophy, might be a salutory read for those, like Einstein, who've been troubled by developments in mic
David Wells
This is a posthumously published work by the late great Scottish philosopher David Hume. It can be difficult to read as the language is a bit archaic, but if you can get past the 5 dollar words, like "pernicious", it is a wonderful read. Hume takes on and accomplishes the philosophical dialog with flying colors.

The dialog takes place between 3 characters, each representing a different point of view with regard to the subject matter discussed; and the topic is (as the title states) Natural Religi
Tarp Jones
There is something analogous in Hume’s characters of Cleanthes, Philo, Demea, and their pursuit of natural religion to the workings of a dog track. In order to get the dogs to run in a circle, a metal, rabbit-shaped animal—often given a cute name like “Sparky”--appears in front of the pack just when the starting gate is lifted. The dogs, driven by natural instinct, catch sight of Sparky and begin the race. Sparky, driven by an intelligently designed mechanism that surpasses the speed of even th ...more
I have a small addiction to late night talk shows. When I say small, I mean that I am constantly searching for who is on so that I know when to record which program. A long time ago, Cornell West was on the Craig Ferguson show and somehow they started talking about David Hume. As an agnostic, I am always searching for a thought-provoking read. Inevitably, I end up re-reading Voltaire or random op-ed articles/journals. So when Cornell West said that this was the greatest piece of literature ever ...more
It was interesting to read philosophy in a dialogue format that isn't Plato. It was a different and altogether more realistic dialogue in which the characters continued to disagree with each other, or held the same beliefs but for completely different reasons, and one character ended up leaving the conversation in disgust. Lots of interesting questions are raised and various objections are made to traditional arguments about God. It is interesting for the content and also to try to decipher what ...more
Zach Toad
Wow wow wow! Hume is genius. His writing is very accessible despite being a 18th century philosopher of the classic western cannon. In this work, Hume inveighs against the intelligent design argument, and does so quiet convincingly, methodically, and forcefully. Philo, the character with whom Hume's views are most closely aligned, is an 18th century Sam Harris! It was particularly illuminating for me to learn more about the history of the design argument, how many sound responses there are to it ...more
Abdul-mohsen Al-Qasabi
I think this was a good summary to whatever philosophy presents nowadays in the field of theology

I really enjoyed it & i don't think this is the last time i'm going to read this beautiful peace of thought
“To be a philosophical skeptic is, in a man of letters, the first and most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian,” (139).

Some may see this treatise as a meticulous deconstruction of reason-based Christian thinkers. However, it can be argued that it more effectively denounces complacency in theism, and ushers one towards a wonderful blend of skepticism and formed theology (through revelation).

Through the dialogues we find that natural theology allows one to draw any number o
Michael A
This would easily be five-star work without the last chapter.

I recently read a book by Simon Blackburn and it motivated me to seek out some of the original texts he based his philosophical discussions on. This was one of a short list I have. Since it deals with a topic I find very interesting, I selected it instead of other possible candidates like Descartes, Russell, and Kant.

You can read synopses of this in a lot of places. It analyses and breaks down various kinds of arguments in support of
این کتاب بحثی درباره ی برهان نظم که یکی از برهان های وجودی خدا هست رو شروع میکنه و به روشی گفت و گو مانند مطلب رو شرح میده ، دو شخصیت موافق وجود خدا بر طبق استدلالشان بر اساس برهان نظم و فیلو شخصیتی که برهان نظم رو به چالش میکشه ، کتاب پر است از جدل های گفتاری که طبیعته چنین مناظره هایی است و بسیار جالب و هیجان انگیز است ، بحث پیرامون وجود خدا از نظر هیوم فراتر از توانایی بشر است و به همین دلیل برهان نظم رو با منطق هایی محکم و شکست ناپذیر رد میکنه و نشون میده که این برهان تا چه اندازه در اثبات و ...more
Adam S. Rust
A classic of the philosophy of religion, David Hume's posthumously published "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" is well worth a read not only for its refutations of traditional arguments for God, but also for the interest of how philosophers argued against the argument for God from design prior to the advent of the theory of evolution. The book's conceit is that it is the recording of a dialogue between three characters: Philos, Demea, and Cleanthes. The choice of the dialogue format gave H ...more
Rowland Bismark
Hume's skepticism was the result of more than his strong commitment to the Enlightenment ideal of the supremacy of reason; it was also largely the result of his equally strong commitment to the philosophical principles of British Empiricism. Following in the footsteps of George Berkeley, Hume believed that all factual knowledge derives from experience. In contrast to the rationalists, such as Rene Descartes and Nicolas Malebranche (both influential for Hume), who believed that knowledge of matte ...more
Declan O'mahony
I've read parts of Hume's Dialogue's before and promised to treat myself to the rest. Hume's Dialogues are for those who want to explore the very idea of God, the possibility or even the probability of his existence, and his alleged nature as a good, perfect, omniscient, omnipotent Supreme Being. Hume challenges incisively the basis of such commonly-held beliefs - one's we often absorb from our cultures, but should we believe or credit them?. Written before Darwin, Hume nonetheless effectively c ...more
David Hume is a fundamental influence to my views on existence, so it should come as no surprise (unless you're a skeptic) that I really like this book. What sets it apart, and I think recommends it even to an audience generally disinterested in heady philosophizing, is the accessible and rather convivial tone, which is greatly facilitated by the Socratic dialogue, of which form the various philosophies herein are presented. Hume even cites in his introduction that he deliberately chose to avoid ...more
Zach Freeman
Oct 15, 2007 Zach Freeman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Philosophers...
I bought this book for a class, and although we were only required to read sections of the book I ended up reading the entire thing, including the extra two essays (Immortality of the Soul & Suicide). The entire thing was extremely well-written and thought-provoking, even to a novice philosopher such as myself.

This isn't a book you can fly through. Hume requires the reader to slow down and really think about what is being said. The main section of the book (Dialogues Concerning Natural Reli
Hume's Dialogues stands as his scathing critique of natural theology, one that deals heavy blows to the arguments for God's existence and popular solutions to the problem of evil. It is an incredible challenge to understand what Hume is promoting in the book; in many ways, the character Philo, a skeptic-mystic, argues and sounds like Hume, and yet at the end of the book Hume has his characters say some surpising things (I won't spoil it for you).

This book changed my opinion of Hume's religious v
Adam Jacobs
Hume shows how anything past "deism" transcends the bounds of rational thought.
This is the agnostic bible, and still as relevant as when it was published.

Quick side note: Hume was afraid to publish this text while he was still alive.
How sad is it that institutions have existed (and continue to exist) which suppress the intellectual growth and advancement of the species?

Happy reading!
Definitely not a bad read. As a student taking Intro to Philosophy, Hume's work was more entertaining and easier to understand than a few others I've had to read.

I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters. Philo was the most interesting, as he played Cleanthes and Demeas into getting to his conclusion.

Disclaimer: our class did not read the whole thing, we read part 1, 2, 5, 10, 11.
"To be a philosophical Sceptic is, in a man of letters, the first and most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian."

Hume advances his version of theistic skepticism, embodied by Philo in this dialogue, and denounces the superficial and unscrupulous way in which the great majority of self-proclaimed Christians merely assert their beliefs without logical foundation. Demea serves as the archetype of blindly religious, and Cleanthes is most complex and appears most akin to Hu
WT Sharpe
This classic book by one of the eighteenth century's greatest thinkers is a must read for anyone who desires to contemplate the eternal questions of existence. Seldom has an examination of such weighty matters as the author investigates been made so palatable to the lay reader. I recommend most highly this extremely quotable and enjoyable work.

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  • Principles of Human Knowledge & Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonius
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
  • Our Knowledge of the External World
  • Discourse on Metaphysics & Other Essays
  • Theological-Political Treatise
  • Word and Object
  • Naming and Necessity
  • Language, Truth, and Logic
  • On Certainty
  • A Letter Concerning Toleration: Humbly Submitted
  • Philosophical Fragments (Writings, Vol 7)
  • Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
  • A History of Philosophy Volume 1: Greece and Rome, From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus
  • The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
  • Principia Ethica (Philosophical Classics)
David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish historian, philosopher, economist, diplomat and essayist known today especially for his radical philosophical empiricism and scepticism.

In light of Hume's central role in the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the history of Western philosophy, Bryan Magee judged him as a philosopher "widely regarded as the greates
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“How can we satisfy ourselves without going on in infinitum? And, after all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression? Let us remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant. It was never more applicable than to the present subject. If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other; and so on, without end. It were better, therefore, never to look beyond the present material world.” 15 likes
“All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance
and obscurity, is to be sceptical, or at least cautious, and not
to admit of any hypothesis whatever, much less of any which is
supported by no appearance of probability.”
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