Hume's Philosophy of Irreligion and the Myth of British Empiricism

In Alan Bailey & Dan O'Brien (eds.), The Continuum Companion to Hume. Continuum. pp. 377-395 (2012)
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This chapter outlines an alternative interpretation of Hume’s philosophy, one that aims, among other things, to explain some of the most perplexing puzzles concerning the relationship between Hume’s skepticism and his naturalism. The key to solving these puzzles, it is argued, rests with recognizing Hume’s fundamental irreligious aims and objectives, beginning with his first and greatest work, A Treatise of Human Nature. The irreligious interpretation not only reconfigures our understanding of the unity and structure of Hume’s thought, it also provides a radically different picture of the way in which Hume’s philosophy is rooted in its historical context. By altering our understanding of the fundamentals of Hume’s philosophy in this way, the irreligious interpretation also challenges the adequacy of the familiar and entrenched framework of “British Empiricism.”

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Paul Russell
Lund University


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