Date of publication: 2017-08-29 02:17
I hope, therefore, to make it appear, that all men have ever agreed in the doctrine both of necessity and of liberty, according to any reasonable sense, which can be put on these terms and that the whole controversy has hitherto turned merely upon words. We shall begin with examining the doctrine of necessity.
The many instances of forged miracles, and prophecies, and supernatural events, which, in all ages, have either been detected by contrary evidence, or which detect themselves by their absurdity, prove sufficiently the strong propensity of mankind to the extraordinary and the marvellous, and ought reasonably to beget a suspicion against all relations of this kind. This is our natural way of thinking, even with regard to the most common and most credible events. For instance: There is no kind of report, which rises so easily, and spreads so quickly, especially in country places and provincial towns, as those concerning marriages insomuch that two persons of equal condition never see
Were one to go round the world with an intention of giving a good supper to the righteous and a sound drubbing to the wicked, he would frequently be embarrassed in his choice,
A month ago appeared a new work on Commerce entitled Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en g x55E9 n x55E9 ral in a fairly large duodecimo volume. This book has not been translated from the English, as is stated with design upon the title page. It is a work originally composed in French by an Englishman, M. de Cantillon, a man of condition, who finished his days in Languedoc, where he had retired and had lived many years. *68
II. Let us now consider the moral arguments, chiefly those arguments written insertion in Hume's hand derived from the justice of God, which is supposed to be farther interested in the farther punishment of the vicious, and reward of the virtuous.
What man, who has not met with personal provocation (or what good natur’d man who has) could inflict on crimes, from the sense of blame alone, even the common, legal, frivolous punishments? And does any thing steel the breast of judges and juries against the sentiments of humanity but reflections on necessity and public interest?
That Suicide may often be consistent with interest and with our duty to ourselves , no one can question, who allows, that age, sickness, or misfortune may render life a burthen, and make it worse even than annihilation. I believe that no man ever threw away life, while it was worth keeping. For such is our natural horror of death, that small motives will never be able to reconcile us to it. And tho’ perhaps the situation of a man’s health or fortune did not seem to require this remedy, we may at least be assured, that any one, who, without apparent reason, has had recourse to it, was curst with such an incurable depravity or gloominess of temper, as must poison all enjoyment, and render him equally miserable as if he had been loaded with the most grievous misfortunes.
It is universally allowed, that nothing exists without a cause of its existence, and that chance, when strictly examined, is a mere negative word, and means not any real power, which has any where, a being in nature. But it is pretended, that some causes are necessary, some not necessary. Here then is the advantage of definitions. Let any one define a cause, without comprehending, as a part of the definition, a necessary connexion with its effect and let him
We shall here endeavour briefly to explain the great difference in human understandings: After which the reason of the difference between men and animals will easily be comprehended.
There arise, indeed, in some minds, some unaccountable terrors with regard to futurity: But these would quickly vanish, were they not artificially fostered by precept and education. And those, who foster them what is their motive? Only to gain a livelihood, and to acquire power and riches in this world. Their very zeal and industry, therefore, are an argument against them.
Kindly forgive the arid style of the Essai convinced that, in treating of this subject, one can scarcely go far enough in suppressing one's imagination so as to proceed step by step, and at the same time lacking confidence in my ability to act accordingly, I went to the opposite extreme. May I add that this is but a short excerpt from a longer and complete treatise, but, having jettisoned the greater part in order to get finished, I have disrupted the continuity of the work. However, it had to be brief, and if there is any point, which you would wish to pursue in detail, you know the author.
The meaning of a typical proposition is that the thing(s) denoted by the subject has the attribute(s) connoted by the predicate. In sentences like “Eleanor is tired” and “All men are mortal,” though the subjects pick out their objects differently (through a proper name and through an attribute, respectively), Mill’s basic story about the meaning of propositions holds.
This narrow limitation, indeed, of our enquiries, is, in every respect, so reasonable, that it suffices to make the slightest examination into the natural powers of the human mind, and to compare them with their objects, in order to recommend it to us. We shall then find what are the proper subjects of science and enquiry.
Do you imagine that I repine at providence or curse my creation, because I go out of life, and put a period to a being, which, were it to continue, would render me miserable? Far be such sentiments from me. I am only convinced of a matter of fact, which you yourself acknowledge possible, that human life may be unhappy, and that my existence, if farther prolonged, would become uneligible. But I thank providence, both for the good, which I have already enjoyed, and for the power, with which I am endowed, of escaping the ill that threatens me 5 originally 'a' footnotes have been numbered for ease of reference 7 a . To you it belongs to repine at providence, who foolishly imagine that you have no such power, and who must