First published in 1783, On Suicide is considered one of the most important philosophical works ever published.
It was David Hume's attempt to apply scientific methods of observation to the study of human nature, and a vigorous attack upon the principles of traditional metaphysical thought.
With masterly eloquence, Hume approaches the question of suicide from the standpoint of the advantages of the philosophical temperament over the superstitious.
He begins by suggesting that philosophy is the best antidote to superstition and false religion; many persons of great merit and achievement have lived in mental slavery, but once philosophy takes hold of the mind it inspires "juster sentiments of superior powers and the false opinions on which superstition is based must vanish."
Opposed both to metaphysics and to rationalism, Hume's philosophy of informed skepticism sees man not as a religious creation, but as a creature dominated by sentiment, passion and appetite.
Precisely when suicide might not be acceptable is a difficult question: this is where the Hume's serious moral arguments must be made.
DAVID HUME (1711-1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, best known today for his highly influential system of radical philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. A general consensus exists today that Hume's most philosophically distinctive doctrines are to be found in the A Treatise of Human Nature, begun when Hume was just 23 years old, and now regarded as one of the most important works in the history of Western Philosophy.