Hume's "On Suicide"

OK, so I read David Hume’s “On Suicide.” Maybe I’m missing something here, but my question is this: is he trying to write a satire?

Take the closing paragraph:

As I’m reading this, I’m thinking, he can’t be serious. If this really is a joke, then this is a wonderful satire of Swiftian proportions. Normally, you don’t expect sarcasm from a philosopher (except maybe Voltaire), but there you go.

Hume can be quite sarcastic, check the personal identity bit, where he sarcasticly allows that other philosophers may be able to perceive a constant entity behind their changing perceptions. Sounds like he’s serious there though…I don’t think he expects anyone to actually follow this advice, as it would go against our overriding passions. Give the quote some context…what do you think he’s saying with the whole piece?

thats…odd… hes kind of like…encouraging it :astonished: …you dont see that too much except from some angst filled adolescent youth. I dunno what to think of that. Maybe its just his opinion…or he really feels that way? i dunno…im thrown


I read this recently and would suggest that Hume is using hyperbole to demonstrate his support of suicide. From reading through the short essay, it seems that Hume supports suicide /euthanasia in the sense that if we are no longer able to live pleasurably then our life becomes useless to ourselves and those around us.

Actually, confucianism, if I’m not mistaken espouses the same idea–suicide as a way to end misery or suffering. Of course, there are other ways, but there are conditions which nothing could alleviate except by ending one’s existence.

it is the ultimate expression of free will…

to be or not to be, and choosing not to be…


But the choice of ‘‘not being’’ becomes irrelevant once you make that choice. Let’s assume you choose to die and then you are killed within seconds of making that choice. What would be the point in making a choice that you wont live to see? You choose to ultimatley ‘‘not be’’ but that choice as i said becomes irrelevant. I personally think that making the actual choice itself as a pointless choice, surely choices etc can only matter for as long as you ‘‘are’’?

and many times choices don’t even matter while you are…


Atleast you will live to see the result of your choice IMP. Isn’t that the purpose of choice? Why make a choice if you will be no longer?

that is the point… it is the ultimate choice…


But the question is absurd.

no, existence is absurd…


Hehe…and people wonder why Hume influenced the existentialists so much. From what I can remember having read the piece, Hume is quite serious about the rationality of sucide. However this is funny, considering in other works (The treastise), he claims that human beings are irrational by nature…