Reading Hume's Dialogues

Reading Hume's Dialogues

A Veneration for True Religion
William Lad Sessions
Distribution: World
Publication date: 8/23/2002
Format: paper 296 pages, 1 index
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21534-5
Bookmark and Share
 $24.95  $14.97 

 Add to Wish List 

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


“. . . establishes the literary and philosophical greatness of the Dialogues in ways that even its warmest admirers have been unable to do before.”
—Terence Penelhum

In this lively reading of David Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, William Lad Sessions reveals a complex internal hermeneutic that gives new form, structure, and meaning to the work. Linking situations, character, style, and action to the philosophical concepts presented, Sessions finds meaning contained in the work itself and calls attention to the internal connections between plot, character, rhetoric, and philosophy. The result avoids the main preoccupation of previous commentaries, namely, the attempt to establish which of the main characters speaks for Hume. Concentrating on previously unexplored questions of piety and theology, Sessions asks important questions in the philosophy of religion today—what is the nature of true religion, what is the relationship between theology and piety, and how should we actively engage with God?

Author Bio

William Lad Sessions is Ballengee 250th Anniversary Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Washington and Lee University. He is author of The Concept of Faith.


"According to Sessions (Washington and Lee Univ.), the purpose of this book is to provide a full-scale commentary on the Dialogues, a task that has not been undertaken before. In doing so, Sessions provides an internal interpretation . . . a close reading of [the] text on its own terms. Sessions argues that, when taken as a whole, the work has far fewer contradictions and inconsistencies than it would when isolated arguments are examined. For example, when one distinguishes natural religious thinking (theology) from natural religious practice (piety), one finds that Hume is more concerned with the latter, which in turn helps explain Philo's apparent backsliding in part 12 of the Dialogues. Sessions also largely succeeds in exploding many unwarranted assumptions about this text, such as the idea that Hume's personal views are to be found in it. Sessions's approach is refreshing in this age of isolated textual analysis, and this book will appeal to all who are interested in Hume and theology. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty." —W. F. Desmond, Black Hawk College , 2003apr CHOICE

"Philosophers and students of philosophy alike will be glad to have this commentary at hand as they read or reread Hume's
Dialogues. The list of sources will be a welcome guide to locating other voices in the conversation, many of them hidden away in philosophical journal" —Journal of Religion

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Scene Setting
3. Pamphilus to Hermippus
4. Part 1
5. Part 2
6. Part 3
7. Part 4
8. Part 5
9. Part 6
10. Part 7
11. Part 8
12. Part 9
13. Part 10
14. Part 11
15. Part 12
16. Conclusion
List of Sources