Johan Robeck

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Johan Robeck (1672–1739) was a Swedish-German philosopher who wrote an essay allowing suicide from a theological point of view. His essay started a debate among Europeans of his time, especially after he himself committed suicide by drowning in the river Weser near Bremen, Germany.

Robeck's argument is based upon the idea of life as a gift, given by God, who therefore gave up for his rights in the gift. Anyone can destroy a gift, according to Robeck's argument; therefore, suicide is legitimate.

In popular culture[edit]

Robeck's suicide is referenced in the old woman's story at the end of chapter XII in Voltaire's Candide. "...but I have met only twelve who have voluntarily put an end to their misery—three negroes, four Englishmen, four Swiss, and a German professor called Robeck."

Further iterated later within Candide a date is specified as 1739 "Robeck was a historical Person who argued that loving life was ridiculous and sought to prove his point by drowning himself in 1739".


  • Timothy J. Demy, Gary Stewart (1998). Suicide: a Christian response : crucial considerations for choosing life. Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2355-4. 
  • RÓISÍN HEALY (2006). "Suicide in Early Modern and Modern Europe". The Historical Journal (Cambridge University Press; National University of Ireland, Galway) 49: 903–919. doi:10.1017/S0018246X06005577.