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This paper examines how the idea and concept of suicide changed and developed along with other ideas of the Enlightenment. The author illustrates how before the Enlightenment, suicide was the worst sin imaginable and by the end, it was seen as a lesser evil than masturbation. The writer looks at the views and ideas of numerous philosophers.
From the Paper:"Before the Enlightenment, suicide was a non sequitur - since the church opposed it so concretely and the Church held the highest authority; it was never considered a morally or socially acceptable option. Even when the Enlightenment began, suicide in itself is such a radical idea or act that, when everything else was being called into question, suicide was still not discussed. Saint Augustine, in his City of God, discussed suicide and where the church stood. His views and ideas were greatly shared by other clergy and thus provide a good indication of popular belief in pre-Enlightenment Europe. His main argument was that the commandment " "Thou shalt not kill" has no addition and it must be taken that there is no exception, not even the one to whom the command is addressed" (Augustine 24). Since suicide is not mentioned, then it must never be practiced, and is abhorrent to God. [I find this argument particularly amusing since none of the Ten Commandments have additions to them.] His discussions are fine for a while until he gets into the sticky part of martyrs, saints, and heroes who all killed themselves and still were morally acceptable to society and to God. He says that the commandment forbidding murder was not broken by the Crusaders or "when representing the authority of the State in accordance with the laws of the State, the justest and most reasonable source of power" (Augustine 25). Does this mean that if suicide were legal, that it would also be morally acceptable? I think it was some of the writings of St. Augustine and other clergymen that prompted the eventual discussion of suicide during the Enlightenment Era."
Cite this Essay:
Suicide (2003, April 01) Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/essay/suicide-23291/
"Suicide" 01 April 2003. Web. 18 April. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/essay/suicide-23291/>