Analysis Of Suicide By David Hume

1259 words - 5 pages

Analysis of Of Suicide by David Hume

"I believe that no man ever threw away life, while it was worth keeping." In David Hume's essay "Of Suicide," the philosophical argument of justified suicide is pursued. However, the underlying argument focuses on the injustification of the government and society condemning and forbidding such an action and the creation of superstitions and falsehoods of religion and God.
Hume argues that the last phases that a person goes through before taking his life is those of "disorder, weakness, insensibility, and stupidity," and that those traits, when obvious to the mind, doom him to a death by his own decision. He states that no being in any facet of life can continue life when "transferred to a condition of life very different from the original one, in which it was placed."
I wish that Hume had argued this point more because I think that he is right, and its probably universal knowledge, that the traits a person acquires before suicide are those described. However, the latter part of the argument suggests that a drastic change in one's life, a change in condition so different in condition from the original, would thereby lead one to the condemned phases, as listed above. This argument holds water to only those who choose suicide from change. Is it not heat that makes that which is cold, hot (Sorry, I had to throw that Socratic argument in there somewhere)? Seriously though, what of a person born into poverty and misery? Are they too doomed to the arms of suicide? One who is born into poverty and misery was "originally" in a place of comfort, where disorder, stupidity, etc. where not phases nor traits that were known or felt. Isn't this also considered a transfer of condition of life very different from the original? It would follow then that everyone born into poverty and misery are destined to choose death by their own hand rather than of involuntary nature.
It could be argued then that those in the womb are not able to suffer neither pain nor happiness. Then take for example another opposite of the original argument. How would the rule follow if one were already in the final stages of a tormented life and suddenly won the lottery? If his misfortunes and tragedies in life were attributed to money, wouldn't he then be transferred again into a state of mind so different from the original? Would this cause him to take his own life, beforehand destined to recycle the condemning symptoms before suicide?
Another point Hume discusses is the injustice in ruling suicide as criminal. He describes this point reducing all things to their basic nature in reality. "…two distinct principles of the material and animal world, continually encroach upon each other, and mutually retard or forward each others operations." In essence, what Hume is saying here is that man depends upon the "inanimate," in ways of direction and hindrance, and the inanimate consequently is directed by man. Even...

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