Making Nothing of “Almighty Space”

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI:
Making Nothing of “Almighty Space”

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This chapter argues that one of Hume's principal objectives in his discussion of space and time is to discredit the Newtonian doctrine of absolute space and time, which had recently been given a prominent and influential defense by Clarke in his famous correspondence with Leibniz. The significance of this, however, reaches well beyond the immediate issue of space and time. Clarke employed the Newtonian doctrine of absolute space and time as a key part of his “argument a priori.” Considered from this perspective, Hume's critique of Clarke's Newtonian doctrine of absolute space and time serves the deeper purpose of discrediting core features of Clarke's (dogmatic) theological system. So interpreted, Hume's discussion of space has intimate links with his general philosophical system and is an essential component of his wider irreligious intentions.

Keywords: Samuel Clarke; cosmological argument; God (attributes); ideas (abstract); infinite (divisibility); G. W. Leibniz; necessary‐existence; Isaac Newton; plenum; space and time; substance and mode

Chapter.  7200 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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