Blind Men before a Fire

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI:
Blind Men before a Fire

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This chapter argues that Hume's theory of ideas has deep roots in Hobbes's account of the nature and origin of our ideas, as presented in both Human Nature and Leviathan. Although Hume modifies Hobbes's theory in various ways, using material taken from other thinkers, his theory employs the general framework that was provided by Hobbes. The immediate and obvious significance of this, as Hume would well know, is that Hobbes employed his empiricist principles to defend (deep) scepticism about any knowledge of God. Considered from this perspective, Hume's near silence, throughout the Treatise, concerning our idea of God speaks loudly not for his lack of interest in this subject but for his (thinly veiled) irreligious intentions.

Keywords: analogy; copy principle; theory of ideas; Ralph Cudworth; empiricism; God (attributes); Thomas Hobbes; John Locke; skepticism; theological representationalism

Chapter.  8834 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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