Back to David Hume: A Commitment

On May 1, 1970, after finishing my Master’s Program and upon being admitted into the Ph.D. Program, I immediately started working on what I intended to be my Ph.D. Dissertation: Hume’s Critique of Religion. It was. I finished the Ph.D. two years, three months and eight days after that, on August 8, 1972.

I never published the Dissertation as such – but published small pieces of it, mostly in Portuguese (in Brazil, my home country and where I went back to work in July 1974.

Today, May 1, 2019, 49 years, on the day, since I started working on my Dissertation, I decided to go back to work on it, totally revising, recasting and updating it, and expanding its scope.

I hope to have the work finished by May 1, 2020, when I should be celebrating (Deo volente) the Golden Jubilee of the Conclusion of my Master’s Program and 50 Years of the start of my work on my 1970-1972 Dissertation.

Below the title, I spell out the plan I presently intend to impose on my work:

David Hume’s Critique of Theology and Religion:

Its Significance for Modernity and for the History of Christian Thought

Introduction: A Systematic Critique, Involving Two Types of Criticism

Part I: Hume’s Destructive Critique

  1. The Background: Faith & Reason
    • Theism, Deism, and Atheism
    • Cognitivism, Fideism, Agnosticism, and Skepticism
    • Theism I: The Syntheses – Thomas Aquinas & John Locke
    • Theism II: The Sola Fide – Martin Luther & John Calvin
    • Deism: Sola Ratione– John Toland & Martin Tindal
    • Fideism: An Alternative Form of Sola Fide – Pierre Bayle
    • Skepticism: Nec Fides, Nec Ratio – The Radical Pyrrhonists
    • Atheism: Thomas Hobbes’ Materialism
  2. Hume’s Empiricism vs Materialism, or Epistemology vs Ontology
  3. Hume’s Empiricism & Hume’s Skepticism
  4. Hume’s Skepticism with Respect to Sensory Perception
  5. Hume’s Skepticism with Respect to Reason or Logical Ratiocinations
  6. Hume’s Quasi Atheism in the Argument from Evil
  7. Hume’s Critical (“Mitigated”, Moderate) Skepticism

Part II: Hume’s Constructive Critique

  1. Hume’s Naturalism and the Natural Explanation of Religion
  2. Hume’s Naturalism and the Grounding of a Secular Ethics
  3. Hume’s Ideal of Wisdom and Reasonableness – not Truth and Certainty
  4. The Testimony of a Coherent Reasonable, Moral, and Thoroughly Secular life

Part III: Hume’s Contributions

  1. To the History of Modernity
  2. To the History of Christian Thought

Conclusion: The Enlightenment, not the Reformation, as Decisive Break in the History of Christian Thought

I will do this “revising, recasting, updating and expanding” of my 1972 work in English. The original Dissertation had 616 pages and at this time in my life it is too much work to translate significant portions of that work into Portuguese. Also, I intend to be in the United States when I finish the work.

That is my intention, such is my hope. I know that God sometimes laughs when he takes cognizance of our plans… but so be it: I will seek to do what is in my power.

São Paulo, May 1st, 2019

Eduardo CHAVES
© Copyright by Eduardo Chaves

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