This book explores Hume's concern with the destructiveness of religious factions and his efforts to develop, in his moral philosophy, a solution to factional conflict. Sympathy and the related capacity to enter into foreign points of view are crucial to the neutralization of religious zeal and the naturalization of ethics. Jennifer Herdt suggests that Hume's preoccupation with religious faction is the key which reveals the unity of his varied philosophical, aesthetic, political and historical works.
• A comprehensive re-evaluation of the eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, David Hume • Provides an interpretation of Hume's moral philosophy which shifts the emphasis from epistemology to concrete social and political concerns • Challenges the standard history of modern moral philosophy and religious thought
Abbreviations; Preface; Introduction; 1. Setting sympathy's stage; 2. Displacing providence; 3. 'Poetical systems' and the pleasures of tragedy; 4. Sympathetic understanding and the threat of difference; 5. Religion and irrationality in history; Conclusion; Bibliography.