Matter, Omnipotence, and Our Idea of Necessity

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI:
Matter, Omnipotence, and Our Idea of Necessity

Show Summary Details


This chapter's particular concern is to identify and describe the way in which Hume's discussion of our idea of necessity (T,1.3.14) is intimately and intricately related to a number of theological issues and controversies that were of considerable interest and importance for Hume and his contemporaries. Not only does Hume present a skeptical challenge to the fundamental theological doctrines of omnipotence and Creation, he also suggests a comprehensive, integrated naturalism in respect of the causal relations governing matter and thought—doing away with the suggestion that spiritual agents are the only possible source of real activity in the world. In pursuing these various irreligious themes Hume is following a tradition and pattern of “atheistic” thought that was readily identified by his own contemporaries. These specific lines of argument are entirely consistent with the wider irreligious program that Hume pursues throughout the Treatise as a whole.

Keywords: Andrew Baxter; causal necessity (power); Samuel Clarke; Creation; John Locke; Nicolas Malebranche; matter; occasionalism; Omnipotence; vis inertiae

Chapter.  11342 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.