Nil by mouthBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b680 (Published 18 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b680
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Do philosophers choose their philosophy, or do their philosophies choose them? Did Hume die an equable death, for example, because of his philosophy, or did his famous even temperedness lead him to his philosophy of ironic stoicism with which his death was consonant?
One philosopher whose thought seems to have been determined by her temperament was Simone Weil (1909–43). She was a brilliant pupil and student, and one of those intimidatingly gifted children who master ancient Greek at a very early age (another was John Stuart Mill, who famously said in his autobiography that he thought it would have been better if he had learnt less Greek and …