Suggestions for Thought by Florence Nightingale
Selections and Commentaries
Publication Year: 2013
Florence Nightingale is best known as the founder of modern nursing, a reformer in the field of public health, and a pioneer in the use of statistics. It is not generally known, however, that Nightingale was at the forefront of the religious, philosophical, and scientific though of her time. In a three-volume work that was never published, Nightingale presented her radical spiritual views, motivated by the desire to give those who had turned away from conventional religion an alternative to atheism. In this volume Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae provide the essence of Nightingale's spiritual philosophy by selecting and reorganizing her best-written treatments. The editors have also provided an introduction and commentary to set the work into a biographical, historical, and philosophical context.
This volume illuminates a little-known dimension of Nightingale's personality, bringing forth the ideas that served as the guiding principles of her work. It is also an historical document, presenting the religious issues that were fiercely debated in the second half of the nineteenth century. In Suggestions for Thought, one has the opportunity to experience a great practical mind as it grapples with the most profound questions of human existence.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
Florence Nightingale is best known as a woman of action: as the founder of modern nursing, a reformer in the field of public health, and a pioneer in the use of statistics. Her influence was so far-reaching that even the critical Lytton Strachey would write in 1918, ten years after her death, that "there is no great hospital today which does not bear upon it the impress of her...
"This book," Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers after Truth among the Artizans of England, was an 829-page work in three volumes that Florence Nightingale had privately printed in 1860. She affectionately referred to it as her "Stuff." Her motivation for writing her "Stuff" was to offer the artisans, or working class people of England, an alternative to atheism. Disillusioned...
SUGGESTIONS FOR THOUGHT
Chapter 1. On the Concept of God
What do we mean by "God?" All we can say is, that we recognize a power superior to our own; that we recognize this power as exercised by a wise and good will....
Chapter 2. On Universal Law
The belief of universal and invariable law has necessarily gained ground gradually, because its foundation is observation and experience. To those who in past ages had not the possibility of recognizing law, it was natural to see superhuman power chiefly in the more interesting and startling events of life, and to seek help through prayer or other means, which human...
Chapter 3. On God's Law and Human Will
To give man a will, an identity, a freedom of his own—and yet so to arrange that his will shall become freely one with the will of God, is the problem of human existence—for the will of God being the will of perfect love and wisdom, is the only will that can lead to perfect happiness. The will of man, therefore, in order to attain happiness, must be the same as the will of God....
Chapter 4. On Sin and Evil
That they should sit down satisfied with saying that "evil is a mystery,55 that "God's ways are inscrutable," appears no less extraordinary, when we consider that evil is only the essential ignorance of man's beginning, and that God has constituted us expressly to discover all His thoughts....
Chapter 5. On Family Life
We want to give that which the family promises to give and does not. We want to extend the family, not annihilate it....
Chapter 6. On the Spiritual Life
Our religious creed consists in this—belief in an omnipotent eternal spirit of love, wisdom, righteousness, manifesting itself by calling into existence, by definite laws, beings capable of the happiness of love, wisdom, righteousness,— capable of advancing themselves and each other in divine nature—living in an universe in which, by definite law, the means and...
Chapter 7. On Life After Death
There is nothing final in the universe of mind or of matter—all is tendency, growth....
Appendix 1: Guide to the Text
Appendix 2: Chronology