Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion/The Natural History of Religion (Oxford World's Classics)
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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion/The Natural History of Religion (Oxford World's Classics)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  426 ratings  ·  29 reviews
David Hume is one of the most provocative philosophers to have written in English. His Dialogues ask if a belief in God can be inferred from what is known of the universe, or whether such a belief is even consistent with such knowledge. The Natural History of Religion investigates the origins of belief, and follows its development from polytheism to dogmatic monotheism. To...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 28th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1757)
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Buck
I’m pretty sure I brushed up against Hume in university, but I was too busy getting high and watching Cops to read him properly. Not that I regret watching Cops, which was an education in itself, but I probably should’ve paid more attention to things like—oh, I don’t know—the freaking Western canon. Just for starters.

Once you get past the genteel diction, Hume’s skepticism still seems pretty hardcore, and I can only wonder how it struck his original readers, some of whom must have had their mind...more
Beli_grrl
Aug 10, 2007 Beli_grrl rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: philosophers and religious fanatics alike
I did my thesis on Hume last year and whenever anyone asks me which Hume they should read, this is what I recommend. Both are reasonably easy to read and comprehend; both have held up over the centuries. His other major works are far more difficult, and, at times, more dated, although they were revolutionary in the eighteenth century and have been influential in philosophy since then.

The Dialogs, in particular, makes what is still the most compelling and rational argument against the existence o...more
Ali Nazifpour
You have to read this book. Hume has always been my favorite philosopher of all time, I have a picture of him on my wall, and to me he was the wisest human who ever lived. Here he tackles the question of religion. He does so with such insight, mental veracity and flexibility, and genius. Once you get the handle on the syntax it won't read much differently from a modern text, although the absence of evolution is quite serious, one could feel how it could shape entire conversations. But still he h...more
Trevor
Jul 11, 2007 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: god botherers
Shelves: philosophy, religion
The fact that Hume only published this book after he died says much about how far we have come.
Thomas
The Dialogues are well worth reading. I can't say the same for his essay on the Natural History of Religion.

When Hume represents his views as a dialogue you can perceive the schisms within himself; Cleanthes the orthodox, Demea the romantic and Philo the passionate enquirer. Hume himself a spectator to the discussion.
In the Dialogues I felt the force in which each actor used the arguments of the other as a leaver for his own view an admirable scene to have played out in the mind of one man! And...more
Shinynickel
Dec 28, 2010 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Off this review:

Whereas Hume is very sceptical about the degree to which anything can be rationally understood at all, isn’t he? Including why or if the sun will rise tomorrow—to say nothing of the nature of God.

Yes, the difficulty of demonstrating rationally anything much about God is the focus of my second book, which is Hume’s "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion". This was published almost a hundred years after Spinoza’s "Tractatus"—again, it was published posthumously, because even in th...more
Patrice
Written in dialogue form Hume says some pretty radical things for the time, or any other time. If I understand what he is saying, there just isn't enough evidence to say that God is a fact. We have no experience of Him therefore we cannot know for certain that He exists. Seems pretty simple when I write it that way but he makes it much more complicated! ;-)

He thinks that God, rather than being a rational idea, is an emotional response to the terrors of being alive. We turn to God more often when...more
William Ramsay
I have decided to read David Hume. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is the first work in the anthology I bought even though it was one of the last things he wrote. Hume is one of the easier philosophers to read - his writing is clear and precise. That is not so say that he is light - he is one of the most influential philosophers of the modern era. This work is posed as a dialog between three friends who attempt to determine the place of religion in the education of the young man who is nar...more
Charles
Makes a great sedative. Listen, I understand the importance of Hume in his time, however reading about the cosmological argument or the argument from design in a pre-Darwinian, pre-modern astrophysics context just makes me cringe. If you are looking for better arguments against dogmatic Monotheism in favor of deism, which Hume is putting forth, just read The Age of Reason. Paine's arguments stand up better, even in the light of modern biblical criticism which actually serve to strengthens his po...more
Matko
I gave this book five stars firstly because of its historical importance. There has never been more destructive criticism of natural theology. Next to Kant, it was the sole reason why natural theology was shaken to its core and wasn't rehabilitated till the last century's sixties.

Contemporary philosophers of religion made most of its arguments obsolete. Read it for the language.
David Mcdowell
I find the dialogue style a little difficult to get into at first but once in the mindset I appreciated some of the killer reasoning that Hume puts in the mouth of Philo.

The natural history was also interesting, and in both I enjoyed seeing how Hume had to tie hiself in knots to appear to be an upstanding godfearing member of the community.
Paul

In the Natural History of Religion Hume doesn't so much speak against religion as he speaks against the ignorant believers of all the major religions in history. At the very least his critique is equal opportunity, spending as much time speaking against the devotions of the Romans and Greeks as he does the Catholics and Egyptians.
Philip
Peter van Inwagen once called Hume's Dialogues a "masterpiece of devastating philosophical criticism." I consider it to be one of the finest works of philosophical theology ever written. Reading this book (the Dialogues as well as the Natural History) literally changed my life, both personally and philosophically.
Filbert Lam
The eloquence of David Hume is astounding. Beautifully written, and clearly ahead of his time. I was primarily interested in Philo's formulation of the problem of evil and suffering, because that inspired Paul Draper's own argument based on a "Hypothesis of Indifference".
Timothy
Hume successfully counters most philosophical arguments for the existence of God in this slim book. The dialogue format can get a little trying after a while and the prose doesn't exactly grip you. The substance, however, is worthwhile.
Nathanael (Boehm) Coyne
This guy is confused. A novel approach to writing and narration which can be a little hard to follow but makes for an interesting read. Just don't get too caught up in Hume's meanderings or you might end up confused too!
Lucas
Interesting. I found the Dialogues deeply insightful and interesting. The Natural History was fascinating as proto-sociology, but seems overly interested in anecdote and rhetoric. I was disappointed.
Danielle
Read for TRELIG235 (Religion in the Modern World) at University of Washington Tacoma. I am still not a fan of Hume, though he makes some comments about polytheism with which I am inclined to agree.
Rhianna
I wasn't interested in it enough, and I've been far too busy to give myself enough time to read it closely enough to comprehend any of it.
Kathy
2.5 Stars While I don't necessarily agree with Hume, at least he is more coherent than Nietzsche.
Mike Stanley
Hume had a skewed view of religion which led me to undermind some of his more drastic arguments.
Hollis
Forget 'The God Delusion': this is the real classic of atheist thinking.
Eric
Everyone says this work is tops, but I found it hard to get excited about.
Dennis
Better than the xenophobic rantings of Christopher Hitchens.
Peter Broady
A classic...had a big impact on me in college.
Dane
It's Hume. Haven't read him in a while, though.
John
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David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian. He is an important figure in Western philosophy, and in the history of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Hume first gained recognition and respect as a historian, but academic interest in Hume's work has in recent years centered on his philosophical writing. His History of England was the standard work on English history for many years, unt...more
More about David Hume...
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding A Treatise of Human Nature An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding/Concerning the Principles of Morals

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