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Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment$
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Ryu Susato

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699803

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699803.001.0001

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Taming ‘the Tyranny of Priests’: Hume’s Advocacy of Religious Establishments

Taming ‘the Tyranny of Priests’: Hume’s Advocacy of Religious Establishments

(p.131) 5 Taming ‘the Tyranny of Priests’: Hume’s Advocacy of Religious Establishments
Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment

Ryu Susato

Edinburgh University Press

For Hume, how to cope with the possible eruption of religious and political frenzies is one of the most crucial issues. He criticises any types of false religion throughout his writings, while supporting religious establishments as a way to tame ‘the tyranny of priests’ or the priestcraft. This chapter traces the origins of Hume’s essay ‘Of Superstition and Enthusiasm’ and demonstrates that his criticism of the clergy and his arguments concerning religious establishments were much influenced by Mandeville and Shaftesbury’s discussions. Although Hume’s endorsement of religious establishment in his History of England has been cited as evidence for the view that he became more conservative with his advancing age, this chapter provides a more coherent and consistent understanding of his criticism of the clergy and practical solution for religious strife. This chapter also delineates how Hume’s ironical defence of Erastianism differs from the position of Voltaire and other thinkers, and how Adam Smith sophisticated Humean countermeasures against false religion, despite their alleged and seeming dissimilarities in religious policy.

Keywords:   Erastianism, superstition, enthusiasm, religious establishment, priestcraft, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, Voltaire, Smith

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