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Hume Studies Volume XXV, Numbers 1 and 2, April/November 1999, pp. 193-205 "Aiding the Ascent of Reason by the Wings of Imagination": The Prospect of a Future State BERYL LOGAN In this paper, I will focus on two sections of otherwise extensively studied Humean texts that have received little or no attention in the scholarly literature . A substantial part of Part 12 of the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion1 and Section XI oÃ- An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding2—also written in dialogue form—are concerned with similar doctrines: that the prospect of a future state, or afterlife, acts as the motivating influence on our earthly moral behaviour. I will show that these two sections taken together fill out Hume's criticisms of religious principles. The importance to human morality of the principle of the prospect of a future state is supported by Cleanthes in the Dialogues and by the opponents of Epicurus in the Enquiry. Philo in the Dialogues and the unnamed speaker in the Enquiry argue that the inference to the future state is not a legitimate one, and in doing so they contribute to the devaluing of the principles of organized religion to human lives. Support is given by these two speakers for the value of natural inclinations as a sufficient motivation or influence on our behavior, and Hume completes this proposal in the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. My argument is as follows: I am claiming that there is a connection between the Dialogues and Enquiry sections that consists in their representing a two-pronged attack on the arguments for the prospect of an afterlife as a moral motivator. This attack is directed at both the form of the argument (i.e., Beryl Logan is at the Division of Humanities, University of Toronto, Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail, Scarborough, Ontario MlC 1A4, Canada, e-mail: logan@scar.utoronto.ca 194 Beryl Logan its formal structure) and the content of the argument (i.e., its evidence). I maintain that this is the format of the attack that occurs in the Dialogues, and so my first task will be to discuss the format of the criticisms that Philo directs at Cleanthes' s Argument from Design in Parts 2 and 4 to 8 of the Dialogues, showing that Philo criticizes both the form and the content of that argument. I then turn both to the arguments offered by Cleanthes (in Part 12 of the Dialogues) and by the opponents of Epicurus (in Section XI of the Enquiry) in support of the value of religious principles in motivating behaviour and to the counterarguments of Philo and Epicurus. I refer to the form and content of these arguments to show that the two sections together follow the format of Philo's two criticisms of the design argument in the Dialogues: first, the inference is not a just one, because its form contravenes the rules for correct argument form; and second, its content does not permit the inference from premise to conclusion. Finally, I point out that in the process of arguing for the prospect of a future state as a motivator, Cleanthes makes the claim that the Deity's nature includes the feature of being just, in addition to the features of being intelligent and benevolent. Because we are told in the Introduction to the Dialogues that the debate being reported is concerned with the nature of the Deity, it is important to recognize all of the features for which Cleanthes argues. Part I. Form and Content in the Dialogues In the Dialogues, Philo criticizes Cleanthes's Argument from Design in two ways. In Part 2, he tells Cleanthes that his argument does not meet the requirements for analogical arguments: that is, his argument fails on its form. In Parts 4 through 11, it fails as to its content, as the data do not permit the conclusion drawn by Cleanthes.3 Cleanthes's analogical argument states that the world resembles a machine of human design, and just as machines have intelligent human designers, so too the world has an intelligent divine designer. The requirements for such arguments are constant conjunction, or repeated experience, and similarity of items compared.4 The design...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 193-205
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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