Chapter

The end of empire and the death of religion

Moritz Baumstark

in Philosophy and Religion in Enlightenment Britain

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199227044
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739309 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199227044.003.0012
The end of empire and the death of religion

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This chapter reconsiders David Hume’s thinking on the fate of the British Empire and the future of established religion. It provides a detailed reconstruction of the development of his views on Britain’s successive attempts to impose or regain its authority over its North American colonies and compares these views with the stance taken during the American crisis by Adam Smith and Josiah Tucker. Fresh light is shed on this area of Hume’s later political thought by a new letter, appended to the essay, which at the same time provides an illuminating glimpse of his abiding preoccupation with the future of established religion. It is argued that this evidence of Hume’s privately held views belies the notion that his thinking on political and religious matters was fundamentally opposed to that of his friends among the philosophes. It is consequently misleading to regard Hume as an opponent of the more radical wing of the Enlightenment.

Keywords: American Independence; anti-colonialism; empire; Enlightenment; established religion; David Hume; political thought; religion; Adam Smith; Josiah Tucker

Chapter.  15624 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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