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About the Author

Jennifer Michael Hecht is a historian of science and culture and a poet. She has written seven books, including the best-selling Doubt: A History, the story of unbelief across the world.
Image credit: Jean Jenesque (Wikipedia)

Obras por Jennifer Michael Hecht

Associated Works

The Best American Poetry 1999 (1999) — Contribuidor — 208 exemplares
The Best American Poetry 2005 (2005) — Contribuidor — 176 exemplares
The Best of McSweeney's {complete} (1800) — Contribuidor — 141 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Nome canónico
Hecht, Jennifer Michael
Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
Glen Cove, New York, USA
Locais de residência
Glen Cove, New York, USA
Adelphi University (BA)
Columbia University (Ph.D|1995)
The New School
Nassau Community College

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Jennifer Michael Hecht holds a Ph.D. in the history of science/European cultural history from Columbia University and has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and the New School in New York City. She has published in many peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of the History of Ideas and The Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. She gives lectures at universities isuch as Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Cal Tech, as well as at The Zen Mountain Monastery, Temple Israel, St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, and other institutions. She's been featured on many radio programs, including On Being with Krista Tippet, the Leonard Lopate Show, the BBC, Talk of the Nation, and Brian Lehrer, and on television, including Hardball on MSNBC, the Discovery Channel, and The Morning Show. In 2010, she served as one of the five nonfiction judges for the National Book Award. She is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Her 2003 book Doubt: A History, was a bestseller. Subsequent books include The Happiness Myth (2007) and Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It (2013).



A lot of interesting discussions about how suicide was viewed in classical times and through European history, especially by philosophers. The author is earnest in her call against suicide, and I agree with much of what she says. But I wish there had been more discussion about the approach to suicide in non-European areas, and I wish there had been a little more in the way of numbers - is suicide a bigger problem now than 50 or 100 or 500 years ago? And how do suicide rates vary from culture to culture?

Also, she distinguishes between "despair suicide" (she wants to lessen it as much as possible) and suicide for those suffering from painful terminal illnesses (she's not sure that even should be called suicide, and she's pretty much ok with it). But she doesn't address where exactly the boundary is between those kinds of suicides, and I think that's an interesting question.
… (mais)
steve02476 | 3 outras críticas | Jan 3, 2023 |
Hecht's examination of how doubt has always lived alongside faith since the earliest times is a fascinating work of scholarship. She takes us from the beginnings of philosophy which grew alongside the earliest recorded organised religions, where the act of questioning and doubting was fundamental to the process of philosophy. This unfaith runs like a bright silver thread through history, although many times religion has sought to obscure the fact and expunge it from the records, or recast the proponents of doubt in a way that portrays them as faithful.

She takes us forward from the Greeks and through Rome, taking in the Jewish tradition - both ancient and medieval - to Gnosticism and throughout the growth of Christianity, branching on the way to bring in the beliefs of Asia and how they had approaches that differed but often embraced doubt far ore strongly than the tradition in the West.

She shows us how the explosion of unbelief that was the Enlightenment was built partly on this questioning, and the gradual acceptance that a lack of faith was not only correct and acceptable amongst the intellectual elite but also held no dangers for the masses. Finally, she shows how the meeting of Western Enlightenment and Eastern enlightenment in the 19th and 20th centuries brought yet more strength to those who doubt, and recaps how the great thinkers and writers who have pushed against or broken outside of the bounds of religion have built upon each other, and managed to find the kernels of wisdom in earlier thinkers time and again, despite the best efforts to obscure or marginalise those dangerous thought.

A wonderful book which has given me far too many new threads to chase down and consume.
… (mais)
Pezski | 13 outras críticas | Jun 21, 2020 |
“One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” ...”(Sisyphus) is superior to his fate. He is Stronger than his rock.” – Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It by Jennifer Michael Hecht is a history of suicide and the historical views of suicides though time. Hecht earned her PhD in the History of Science from Columbia University and studied at the Universite de Caen and Universite d' Angers. She teaches poetry and philosophy in the Graduate Writing Program of The New School. Hecht has published three other books on history and two books of poetry along with numerous articles.

This is a book that I wanted to read but still harbored some hesitation about reading. Like the author, I lost a close friend through suicide just over six years ago. It is something that changes your views and begin to question many previously held ideas. I makes you think, “How could I have not seen this coming.” and makes you second guess many things. The reason I chose to read this book was on the expectation that a favorite writer's work would be included: Albert Camus's Myth of Sisyphus. Ironically, I first picked this book up at the library on March 14th. It would be a few days later I found out my friend killed herself that same day.

Suicide has been around since man has been around. From Socrates choosing to to drink hemlock before the state forced him to do so, to (although not covered in the book) a soldier diving on a grenade to save his colleagues lives in Iraq; it can be considered heroic. Other times it is viewed as a weak and cowardly act. Seldom it it viewed as a neutral act. Religion has played a role in stopping suicide. Islam expressly forbids it. Christianity has never embraced it except for a few instances. Martyrs who kept their faith rather than denying it and living were embraced. Augustine and later Aquinas both debated that Jesus' death was in fact suicide, since he could have saved himself at any time but chose to give up his spirit. Otherwise suicide is considered stealing from God; God gave you life and only he has the right to take it away. Jews typically forbid suicide, but Masada is an exception. There always seems to be exceptions.

There are more suicides worldwide than murders. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. More people take their own lives than are murdered, but the news and TV drama shows are filled with stories of murder, but rarely suicide. When suicide is in the news it is usually a celebrity, which in turn causes a spike in suicides. Suicide Clusters are seen in sociological studies. Where one suicide takes place there is an increase in suicides nearby. There is also a link inside families. Sylvia Plath killed herself and forty-six years later her son killed himself. Likewise, Ernest Hemingway's father killed himself, in 1961 Hemingway killed himself and in 1996 his granddaughter, Margaux took her own life.

Suicide is an issue that although most people, philosophers, and religions find wrong, there are always loopholes. No matter how hard we try to understand or just out right ban suicide, it is still with us. We seem no closer to finding a solution. In fact suicide rates are on the rise; 30% from 1999 to 2010. Hecht brings together some of the great thinkers and religions to bring rational thought to an act that most of us cannot understand and could not go through with. The writing is clear and well documented. Most importantly, she reminds the reader that no matter what, first chose to stay.

… (mais)
evil_cyclist | 3 outras críticas | Mar 16, 2020 |
I loved the concept of this book: look back at past conceptions of how best to live to get perspective on how arbitrary some of out current proscriptions are. Lots of delicious rebellion against modern mores: why not take more drugs, avoid strenuous exercise, stop trying to "eat clean" and be so productive all the time? It might just make you happier. However, the execution didn't live up to the promise; I wanted more examples and less hand-waving. Some of the theoretical links were sketchy in the extreme. Felt dated at 13 years old, which lends credence to her argument about the relentless churn of fashion. Someone needs to apply this analysis to the matter of gluten!… (mais)
libraryhead | 7 outras críticas | Jan 30, 2020 |



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