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19. AN 'INCONVENIENCE' OF ANTHROPOMORPHISM In Part II of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Cleanthes maintains that the similarities between the works of nature and those of human contrivance, namely, the presence of means to ends relations and a coherence of parts, are sufficient to enable us to reason analogically to the conclusion that the cause of the design of the world resembles human intelligence. Cleanthes insists in Part IV that the ideas which -we have of mind are 'just and adequate and correspondent' to God's nature. Philo, who throughout the discussion has insisted on 'the adorable mysteriousness ' of the divine nature, responds to Cleanthes by saying that he will endeavour to show the inconveniences of that anthropomorphism, which you have embraced; and shall prove, that there is no ground to suppose a plan of the world to be formed in the divine mind, consisting of distinct ideas, differently arranged; in the same manner as an architect forms in his head the plan of a house which he intends to execute. (D160) It is the aim of this paper to explicate this 'inconvenience of Cleanthes' anthropomorphism. Philo begins by claiming that nothing is gained by Cleanthes' position whether it is assessed by 'reason' or by 'experience'. The judgment of reason is that a mental world or universe of ideas requires a cause as much as does a material world or universe of objects ; and if similar in its arrangement must require a similar cause. For what is there in this subject, which should occasion a different conclusion or inference? In an ahi: L ra.-t view, they are entirely alike; and no difficulty attenda the one supposition, which is not common to both of them. (D160) Similarly, experience cannot perceive any material difference in this particular, between these two kinds of worlds, but finds them to be governed by similar principles, and to depend upon an equal variety of causes in their operations . (D16ÌÌ 20. Philo concludes that the type of argument employed by Cleanthes leads to an infinite regress: How therefore shall we satisfy ourselves concerning the cause of that Being, whom you suppose the Author of nature, or, according to your system of anthropomorphism , the ideal world, into which you trace the material? Have we not the same reason to trace that ideal world into another ideal world, or new intelligent principle. (D161) He then suggests, as though it will prove to be more satisfactory , that we should not go beyond the material world itself: But if we stop, and go no farther; why go so far? Why not stop at the material world? How can we satisfy ourselves without going on in infinitum? And after all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression? ... If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other; and so on, without end. It were better . . . never to look beyond the present material world. (D161-162) In suggesting that it is better never to look beyond the material world, what precisely is it that Philo is 2 advocating? George Nathan maintains that "Cleanthes is unaware that Philo is trying to eliminate only the externality of the cause. He is not trying to deny its intelligence ". (Chappell 410) Pike, on the other hand, interprets Philo' s position as eliminating the requirement for a causal account of the order present in the world: If we introduce an ordered mind in an effort to explain the existence of an ordered world, must we not provide a similar explanation of the ordered mind? But if we accept this demand, we shall have to introduce yet another intelligent being as the creator of the first. This explanatory chain can end only in an infinite regress. We would probably do better to assume that order in the material world is an ultimate fact that does not require explanation. Once we take the first step down the explanatory trail we are committed to go on forever. (Pike 157) 21. I will now examine critically the interpretations suggested by Nathan and Pike. Certain questions suggest themselves regarding Nathan's position. First, what does Nathan mean by the intelligence of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 19-42
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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