Journal of Philosophical Research 20:431-449 (1995)
AbstractLike Hume scholars today, Hume’s 18th century critics recognized his use of literary devices in his religious writings. Indeed, the early commentaries on Hume’s religious writings are dominated by attempts to identify and decode Hume’s concealed religious views. Little work has been done in Hume scholarship to understand the nature and scope of this aspect of his early critics. The purpose of the present essay is to resurrect the discussions of the “Natural History” and the Dialogues in which Hume’s 18th century critics attempt to uncover his concealed meanings. I begin by discussing the limited value of 18th century anecdotes about Hume’s personal religious views. After examining Hume’s general strategy of concealment in his religious writings, I catalog and interpret individual passages from Hume’s critics which acknowledge Hume’s technique of concealment. I conclude by noting that their overall assessment of Hume’s concealed religious views was more skeptical than the assessment of many contemporary commentators
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