The Dispassionate Sceptic
In any substantial discussion of Hume’s critique of religion two questions cannot be entirely ignored. These are: What were Hume’s personal beliefs about religion and what are the shortcomings of his critique? The first question, which has attracted a great deal of attention at various times, can, despite Cicero’s warning, be answered much more completely than most of Hume’s commentators seem willing to allow. It is, however, caught up with two tangled and interdependent subsidiary questions both of which have inflamed such protracted controversy as to be in danger of becoming tedious. The first of these subsidiary questions is: who speaks for Hume in the Dialogues. The second asks whether the Dialogues are concerned with what can be known about god (his nature) or with the existence of god (his being).
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