Analyze Cleanthes' argument from design and Philo's critique of it. After reading both, do you find the argument from design convincing?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Cleanthes and Philo are two characters from "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" by David Hume, one of the most significant philosophers of the Enlightenment. It is notable that there are three main protagonists in this debate, who each represent different perspectives. Between the two aforementioned, Cleanthes is an avowed theist and, moreover, one who is arguing for a rational God who can be understood in human terms. Philo, on the other hand, argues that God is something so far beyond human understanding as to make any knowledge claims thereof impossible.

Cleanthes's argument for design is one that both results in and follows from that fundamental assumption—God is rational and, moreover, intelligible by human terms. Ultimately, it derives from the observation that the world seems to have a certain order to it. In a very Enlightenment-minded comparison, Cleanthes compares the world to a kind of machine, where everything seems perfectly balanced to the point where one has to...

(The entire section contains 690 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team