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86 GOING OUT THE WINDOW: A COMMENT ON TWEYMAN Whether your scepticism be as absolute and sincere as you pretend, we shall learn bye and bye, when the company breaks up: We shall then see, whether you go out at the door or the window; and whether you really doubt; if your body has gravity, or can be injured by its fall; according to popular opinion, derived from our fallacious senses and more fallacious experience. My paper is divided into two sections. In the first section I will summarize and comment on Stanley 2 Tweyman' s paper and in the second section present an alternative reading of Parts X and XI of the Dialogues. SECTION I In his paper Tweyman claims that, although Philo's argument in Parts I-IX of the Dialogues are Pyrrhonian, in Parts X and XI a major change of strategy occurs in which Pyrrhonian arguments are replaced by hypothetico-deductive ones. Recent scholarship on Hume's Dialogues has revolved around two questions: (1) the identification of the sources and personages of the Dialogues and (2) Hume's attitude toward religion. Tweyman and I agree that Philo speaks for Hume. We differ on the character of Philo's challenge to Cleanthes' experimental theism. Philo's methodological shift in Parts X and XI is said to consist in his presentation of scientific hypotheses for appraisal, in contrast to the alternative hypotheses of the earlier Parts, where sceptical arguments are used to undermine Cleanthes' position. I take it that the scientific hypotheses in question are construed realistically 87 and not instrumentally; they are supposedly true or false and permit deductions to be made from them. The first evidence of the methodological shift, we are told, occurs in Part VIII in which Philo speaks in the third and not the first person, "a clear signal to the reader ... that his Pyrrhonism ... has now been abandoned." (Tweyman, 77) I find this claim unconvincing since in the majority of instances throughout the passage Philo writes in first-person fashion (D 186). Any detectable changes here seem to me to be purely stylistic in character. Tweyman uses the terms 'scepticism' and 'Pyrrhonism' interchangeably. His account of Pyrrhonism involves two theses, the second of which is derived from the first: (1) scepticism involves suspense of judgment between alternative beliefs; and (2) Philo presents his "position in order to show that the hypothesis advanced by Cleanthes is false." (Tweyman, 76) In his sceptical mode in Parts I-IX Philo makes no truth claim for the hypotheses he sets out. But, according to Tweyman, ...this does not establish that Philo is a Pyrrhonian throughout the Dialogues, and that he always supports positions ... to argue against the hypothesis advanced by Cleanthes. (Tweyman, 76) Tweyman gives two examples of Philonian scepticism in Parts I-VIII. The first is the debate in Part IV over the deity's relation to the world. Cleanthes contends that the deity is external to his creation, and Philo questions the validity of Cleanthes' causal inferences. (D 160) The second is the argument in Parts VI and VII in which Philo argues that the available data do not support the hypothesis of an intelligent designer. I find the account at this point unexceptionable. 88 The first example in which Philo's arguments become "distinctly un-Pyrrhonian" (Tweyman, 77) is the passage in which Philo details the 'inconveniences' of anthropomorphism. Philo begins by saying: ...you can still persevere in your anthropomorphism and assert the moral attributes of the Deity, his justice, benevolence, mercy, and rectitude, to be of the same nature with these virtues in human creatures? (D 198) But, he continues, "the course of nature tends not to human or animal felicity." ( Ibid. ) Cleanthes' has asserted human happiness, a thesis which Philo denies. We are no longer dealing with an alternative hypothesis designed to undermine Cleanthes' account but with "the hypothetico-deductive method for testing Cleanthes' hypothesis." (Tweyman, 78) Part XI divides into the three sections which are each discussed to show that Philo's arguments are not Pyrrhonian. since the argument is similar in all three cases, I will remark only on the discussion of the 'indifference hypothesis,' Philo's argument that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 86-97
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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