Hume Texts Online

Of Suicide and Of the Immortality of the Soul

Of Suicide prepared by Amyas Merivale

Of the Immortality of the Soul prepared by Peter Millican

The two essays Of Suicide and Of the Immortality of the Soul were briefly planned for publication in a projected 1755 collection called Five Dissertations, but Hume decided to withdraw them prior to publication. They were replaced with Of the Standard of Taste, and the collection appeared in 1757 under the name Four Dissertations. The suppressed essays were eventually published posthumously and anonymously in 1777, but the text here—like the standard edition of Miller (1987)—follows instead the 1755 version, of which a proof-copy exists in the National Library of Scotland with some corrections in Hume’s handwriting.

The main departures from that copy are precisely these handwritten alterations. Hume seems to have been systematically changing the printed abbreviation “’tis” to “it is”, but he did not change every instance. We presume this was simply because he didn’t catch them all, and accordingly we have favoured the latter throughout (this was his preference generally in his later publications).