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The Riddle of Hume's TreatiseSkepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion$
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Paul Russell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195110333

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195110333.001.0001

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Skepticism, Deception, and the Material World

Skepticism, Deception, and the Material World

(p.167) 13 Skepticism, Deception, and the Material World
The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Paul Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In the early eighteenth century context there was an intimate connection between problems concerning the existence of the material world and problems of natural religion. Two issues are of particular importance for understanding Hume's irreligious intentions in his discussion of the external world, as presented in the section entitled “Of scepticism with regard to the senses." First, if we are unable to establish that we know that the material world exists, then all arguments for the existence of God that presuppose knowledge of the material world (i.e. its beauty, order, design, etc.) are placed in doubt. Second, if we are naturally disposed to believe in the existence of body, but this belief is false, then it seems to follow that God must be a deceive—or does not exist. Hume's arguments in 1.4.2 are finely crafted to present both these irreligious challenges to the orthodox view.

Keywords:   Andrew Baxter, George Berkeley, body, Rene Descartes, external world, immaterialism, Nicolas Malebranche, perception, primary/secondary qualities, skepticism

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