Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is patterned after Roman philosopher Cicero’s work on the same subject, De natura deorum (44 b.c.e. Course Hero, Inc. As a reminder, you may only use Course Hero content for your own personal use and may not copy, distribute, or otherwise exploit it for any other purpose. However, the two immediately pass over Leibniz's argument and continue to discuss the general misery that inflicts all humans and animals. Given how frail human reason is, he contends, it is ill-advised to try to apply it to matters as difficult and important as theology. While all three agree that a god exists, they differ sharply in opinion on God's nature or attributes and how, or if, humankind can come to knowledge of a deity. Upload them to earn free Course Hero access! These questions are at the heart of the endeavour of natural religion (known today as natural theology), and so are the subject David Hume’s posthumously published Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Study Guide." Through dialogue, three philosophers named Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes debate the nature of God's existence. Given the background knowledge concerning Hume's other skeptical argument, it is interesting to try to figure out what Philo's response to this objection might have been. People should be made aware of the "weakness, blindness, and narrow limits of human reason." Any contention that a better world could have been selected comes from the limited perspective of human beings. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Study Guide. Demea favorably quotes ancient philosophers who said, "Students of philosophy ought first to learn logics, then ethics, next physics, [and] last ... nature of the gods." He states that Cleanthes is once again going against all the history of religious thought by insisting that the world and humanity are fundamentally—or even for the most part—happy and good. Reason does not prove that the sun will continue to rise tomorrow, because according to Hume, reason can only prove something by showing that to deny it leads to contradiction (and thus reason cannot be used to prove any matters of fact), and there is no logical contradiction in the statement, "the sun will not rise tomorrow." Another key premise Philo states is that if God can prevent evil but doesn't, then this shows God is evil rather than good. The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Community Note includes chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author biography and quizzes written by community members like you. When Philo expresses surprise that Demea teaches his children religious principles so late in their lives, Demea replies that he meant specifically the scientific study of religion. The most famous of his skeptical arguments is his argument concerning causal reasoning. If human reason is good enough to justify theoretical scientific theories, in other words, it is good enough to justify theological theories. . Log in here. Pyrrhon of Elis is reputed to have taken the principle of suspending belief to such extremes that he would ignore impending dangers. Demea argues that theology should only be taught to a mature mind: a student should first study logic, ethics, and physics, and only then should they turn to theology. Download a PDF to print or study offline. Philosophers who argue that suspension of judgment is the correct attitude to take toward claims of knowledge have historically been referred to as Pyrrhonian skeptics, named after 4th-century Greek philosopher Pyrrhon of Elis.


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