PHI2204 Week 4 Reading Assignment
Two of the philosophers I hold in highest esteem are John Stuart Mill and David Hume, not only for
their usually impeccable logic and insights, but for the eloquence and power of their prose.
The excerpt below is one of my favorite set of passages in philosophy because,
I think it
and is too negative and pessimistic, it captures an extremely important aspect about the
meaning of life that you never, ever hear in public life, except on the bumper sticker that says
essentially that life is often hard and sometimes cruel and then you die.
I believe that it is an issue
that everyone should address, and know that they are not alone in addressing it -- in order to
determine what it is that makes life worthwhile, or that would make life worthwhile.
I also think there
might be many answers that are interesting about what it is that makes life worthwhile in the face of
all the unhappiness, sorrows, and even misery that human beings experience and face.
The part of the
in which this occurs is about God's role in the creation of life that leads to abject suffering
for so many people.
But as potential parents who can also create life, it seems to me one must also
address this question in order to justify doing so. In most, but not all, of the debate about abortion
(and in part in the debates about euthanasia), life is often assumed to be a valuable and good thing.
That assumption gives Don Marquis' point its force in his essay "Why Abortion is Immoral"
he says the reason murder is wrong is because it robs someone of their most important thing -- their
future and all the things they would do and experience in it
But is life, and one's future, a valuable
and good thing? And if it is, what makes it so? Hume challenges the view that life is all that great.
The question is whether Hume is right or not and what he may be missing if he is not.
But even if
Hume is wrong, or partly wrong, would that imply that Marquis is right, that the future should not be
taken from someone because it is a good and valuable thing?
So, the following is from David Hume's
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
, first published
posthumously in 1779.
"Natural religion" meaning the understanding we might be able to have of
God and/or creation from the evidence of nature, not revelation.
It is basically what we today might
call religion based on scientific knowledge of, say, the intricacies of the universe that seems to show
My favorite part of this is the part I have put in bold below (copied from
http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/dnr.htm, but also available in paperback):
And why should man, added he, pretend to an exemption from the lot of all