Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

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Part IX of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, presents an a priori rendition of the cosmological argument through Demea: a conservative theist who sparks discourse with his claims. The majority of this discourse consists of Cleanthes (another fictional character) presenting several objections to Demea’s argument. Cleanthes begins his array of objections by striking the core of Demea’s argument, this being that it is based upon a priori knowledge. Cleanthes argues that it is absurd to believe that a priori arguments are capable of demonstrating a matter of fact,( as they only concern abstract thought and ideas.) Cleanthes’s argues that for something to be demonstrable, it’s opposite must be impossible due to a contradiction. Since nothing that is conceivably existent involves a contradiction (impossible to believe in something that has a contradiction), and since everything conceivably existent can be equally conceived as non-existent, there is no contradiction in denying its existence (leaving both existence and non-existence possible). Putting this into the context of arguing that God’s existence is not demonstrable, Cleanthes states that: everything we can conceive to exist, we can also conceive not to exist. Either one of these options is possible (not…show more content…
Cleanthes’s second objection rests on the rationale that even if everything in Demea’s argument is sound, it is still not enough to conclude the existence of God. Cleanthes grants the fact that Demea’s argument is sound in proving the existence of a necessarily existing being. But who’s to say this necessity is god? Why not the material universe for example? Cleanthes argues that we are clueless in knowing anything about the qualities and mechanics of necessary existence and therefore by no means have the authority in giving priority to God being the necessary cause over something
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