Skepticism, Deception, and the Material World

Paul Russell

in The Riddle of Hume's Treatise

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195110333
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199872084 | DOI:
Skepticism, Deception, and the Material World

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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

Chapter.  11106 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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