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 It is also an historical document, presenting the religious issues that were fiercely debated in the second half of the nineteenth century.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
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Florence Nightingale is best known as a woman of action: as the founder ofmodern nursing, a reformer in the field of public health, and a pioneer inthe use of statistics. Her influence was so far-reaching that even the criticalLytton Strachey would write in 1918, ten years after her death, that "there isno great hospital today which does not bear upon it the impress of her...
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Many years ago, I had a large and very curious acquaintance among theartisans of the North of England and of London. I learned that they werewithout any religion whatever—though diligently seeking after one, prin-cipally in Comte and his school. Any return to what is called Christianity"This book," Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers after Truth among the...
SUGGESTIONS FOR THOUGHT
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I come to you not to declare the truth; I come to ask you (if subjects ofmoral truth have an interest with you) to join in seeking it with thosecapabilities which God has given to us. I offer the result of my ownendeavors, and what I am able to gather from the endeavors of others.The object of our desire is to be Truth. All should have their faculties...
Chapter 1. On the Concept of God
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What do we mean by "God?" All we can say is, that we recognize a powersuperior to our own; that we recognize this power as exercised by a wiseNightingale begins by commenting on the state of religion and, morespecifically, the Anglican Church in the mid-nineteenth century. Shedescribes an age of spiritual uncertainty when some, fearing that scien-...
Chapter 2. On Universal Law
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The belief of universal and invariable law has necessarily gained groundgradually, because its foundation is observation and experience. To thosewho in past ages had not the possibility of recognizing law, it was natural tosee superhuman power chiefly in the more interesting and startling eventsof life, and to seek help through prayer or other means, which human...
Chapter 3. On God's Law and Human Will
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In accordance with God's law, human consciousness is tending to becomewhat God's consciousness is—to become one with the consciousness ofTo give man a will, an identity, a freedom of his own—and yet so to arrangethat his will shall become freely one with the will of God, is the problem ofhuman existence—for the will of God being the will of perfect love and...
Chapter 4. On Sin and Evil
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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 weconsider that evil is only the essential ignorance of man's beginning, andthat God has constituted us expressly to discover all His thoughts.WHAT was God's purpose in creating us? Some say He created us for His...
Chapter 5. On Family Life
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We want to give that which the family promises to give and does not. WeFrom Nightingale's point of view, society should be in harmony with theessence of religion, which is "the tie, the binding, or connexion be-tween the Perfect and the imperfect, the eternal and the temporal, theinfinite and the finite, the universal and the individual/'1 Society should...
Chapter 6. On the Spiritual Life
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Unless you make a life which shall be the manifestation of your religion, itOur religious creed consists in this—belief in an omnipotent eternal spiritof love, wisdom, righteousness, manifesting itself by calling into existence,by definite laws, beings capable of the happiness of love, wisdom, righ-teousness,—capable of advancing themselves and each other in divine...
Chapter 7. On Life After Death
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There is nothing final in the universe of mind or of matter—all is tendency,Nightingale's philosophy revolved around a Spirit of Right, a PerfectBeing possessing a wise and benevolent will. She was therefore com-pelled, like the great minds throughout the ages, to formulate an es-chatology that did not contradict her concept of God. She never seems...
Appendix 1: Guide to the Text
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Appendix 2: Chronology
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Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Studies in Health, Illness, and Caregiving