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On Suicide (Penguin Great Ideas) [Paperback]

David Hume
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Book Description

25 Aug 2005
Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are. One of the most important thinkers ever to write in English, the Empiricist David Hume liberated philosophy from the superstitious constraints of religion; here, he argues that all are free to choose between life and death, considers the nature of personal taste and succinctly criticises common philosophies of the time.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141023953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141023953
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 10.6 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 192,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

David Hume was born in Edinburgh in 1711, and by his death in 1776 had become one of Britain's greatest men of letters, equal in stature to Voltaire and Rousseau and described by Boswell as 'the greatest Writer in Brittain'. As well as his Essays, which were republished and expanded throughout his life, he wrote A Treatise of Human Nature (later recast as Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and concerning the Principles of Morals) and a History of Britain.

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First Sentence
[ . . . ] Let us here endeavour to restore men to their native liberty, by examining all the common arguments against Suicide, and showing that that action may be free from every imputation of guilt or blame, according to the sentiments of all the ancient philosophers. Read the first page
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical thought at its best 27 Mar 2007
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
In Of Suicide Hume attacks ecclesiastical authority, its dogma and prejudices, by aiming his criticism at the moral objectors to suicide who adhere to the sanctity-of-life argument. This position opposes suicide on the grounds that to take one's life is a transgression of an individual's duty to God. In response Hume argues that no part of the universe is free from divine providence so committing suicide does not transgress our duty to God. Hume uses philosophical argument to cut through the `pestilent distemper' of institutional religion. He offers the reader a reasonable theological perspective based on a benevolent God who is duly accountable for all of space and time, every action being `important in the eyes of that infinite being'. This view, an important factor throughout the essay, is a direct attack on theological doctrine, which considered human action to be outside of divine providence, as did Rousseau. Although I consider Hume's argument in the essay to be a good one, there remains the problem of evil. I suggest, however, that if we agree with Hume's deist stance, particularly that God created the best of all possible worlds with no further need for divine intervention, then evil is as much part of human actions as goodness. And as we cannot know the purpose of God's creation beyond `sympathy, harmony, and proportion', we can only conclude that evil, or for that matter a terrible earthquake, has some part to play in God's plan regardless of how cruel and contradictory this appears to be. In Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding (1748), referring to `all the actions of men', Hume states to `free the Deity from being the author of sin, has been found ... to exceed all the power of philosophy'.
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