Melancholy Duty: The Hume-Gibbon Attack on Christianity by Stephen Paul Foster (auth.)

By Stephen Paul Foster (auth.)

This publication experiences the complementary positive factors of the concept of David Hume and Edward Gibbon within the entire variety of its war of words with eighteenth-century Christianity. the 10 chapters discover the iconoclasm of those philosophical historians - Hume because the top-rated thinker, Gibbon because the consummate historian - as they worked to `naturalize' the examine of Christianity, relatively with awareness to its social and political dimensions. No different paintings bargains as comprehensively or completely with the test of philosophical history's problem to Christianity. trust in miracles and the afterlife, the size of fanaticism and superstition, and the character of non secular persecution have been the subjects that occupied Hume and Gibbon within the making in their critique of Christianity. This e-book makes a worthwhile contribution to scholarship in a few fields together with the background of principles, non secular reports, and philosophy. it is going to be of curiosity to philosophers of faith, historians of rules, eighteenth-century highbrow historians, students of the Scottish Enlightenment, and Hume and Gibbon scholars.

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90 Proper religion strengthens social traditions by giving them the vestments of respect. In what sense, if any, can we say that Hume and Gibbon were personally "religious"? Both, I believe, had completely rejected Christianity which they saw as a long historical vacillation between fanaticism and superstition. They doubted away, as we shall see, Christianity's miracles and were generally skeptical about the claims of revealed religions. , 332) Any theism attributed to Hume should be rigorously qualified so as to account for what is essentially an agnosticism with regard to any possible knowledge of God.

104 "[T]he 'French' or Romance style, whether in the fonn of the doctrine of the Encyclopaedist, in Comtian positivism, or in its prolonged later addiction to Marxism, is drawn precisely to some such counter-doctrine and counter-church. "105 Thus, the characterization of Burne (and Gibbon, as we will see) as conservative is perhaps best argued and appropriately understood in the context of the ideological climate of the French Revolution and its historical aftermath. 106 Conservatism, as Livingston argues, "is not a timeless disposition to defend the status quo but a historically limited movement that appears on the scene only to defend a certain sort of value and to combat a certain sort of enemy.

Letters-H, II, 269) Hume had identified himself morally with the pagan skeptics, rejected the religion of his countrymen, and spent his life writing philosophical and historical works that were critical of it. He understandably was an object of abuse for his efforts and, again, was understandably resentful. "Thus, Hume was an angry man in the mid1770s-angry, above all, with English 'zealots' such as Johnson and other members of the London literary-intellectual world. "x2 Hume was hostile to and uncomprehending of the transcendental and otherworldly orientation of Christianity.

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