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This unit examines Hume's reasons for being complacent in the face of death, as these...
This unit examines Hume's reasons for being complacent in the face of death, as these are laid out in his suppressed essay of 1755, ‘Of the immortality of the soul’. More generally, they examine some of the shifts in attitude concerning death and religious belief that were taking place in Europe at the end of the eighteenth century, through examination of this and other short essays.
Having studied this unit, you should gain:
- familiarity with debates in the late Enlightenment concerning suicide, immortality, the nature of evidence, the existence of God and related topics, plus some experience of participating in these debates;
- acquaintance with some characteristic shifts and continuities in the move from Enlightenment ideals towards Romantic ones, including the new respect for sentiment; the increased emphasis on individualism, privacy and personal response; new conceptions of nature, including human nature; the continuing fascination with non- European cultures;
- confidence that study can transform a centuries-old text into an enjoyable, informative, articulate and reasoned discussion of a familiar topic, even if at first that text seems obscure or arcane;
- direct experience of this transformative process, through careful examination of the set readings and appreciation of some necessary background information.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Prelude: Hume's death
- 2 From enlightenment to romanticism
- 3 The intellectual background
- 4 Hume on life after death
- 5 Hume on suicide
- Next steps
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This unit examines David Hume's reasons for being complacent in the face of death, as these are laid out in his suppressed essay of 1755, ‘Of the immortality of the soul’. More generally, they examine some of the shifts in attitude concerning death and religious belief that were taking place in Europe at the end of the eighteenth century, through examination of this and other short essays.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 17th October 2013
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