On Suicide

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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The Scottish philosopher and pivotal figure of the Enlightenment David Hume?s essay On Suicide is an attempt to support the alleged right of people to end their lives through suicide. Hume addressed many core issues in the debate over the fundamental concept of human dignity and generates a specific understanding of the role of a divine being in the world. Hume?s argument supporting the right to suicide is based on sound reasoning; through showing that suicide neither offends one?s obligation to God nor society.

Hume recognizes that the core of the case against the right to end one?s life is that it would be a rejection of an obligation to God. He breaks this argument down into parts and refutes then independently, ultimately showing that it is irrational to fear suicide for religious reasons. One case against suicide for religious reasons is the idea that it would be rebellion against God?s will.

This is based on the idea that God desires certain actions and that we must not oppose them, and one of these is the complete survival of humans until death is inevitable. Hume claims that the manner in which God goes about enacting his will is through the ?immutable laws that have been established from the beginning of time.? Often people view these laws as solely inanimate principles, such as laws of motion and regulation, yet there is another aspect of animate principles such as passion, and judgment that help bring about God?s will. Through both these animate and inanimate principles all actions are controlled. Animate principles motivated by our desire for ease, happiness, and preservation can cause us to alter inanimate principles as far as our power extends. An example of this can be seen in the animate principle of desire for ease...