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Underground1

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Published on December 6, 2007

Author: Javier

Source: authorstream.com

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Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the Beginnings of Existentialism:  Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the Beginnings of Existentialism Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821-1881 Russia’s greatest novelist (shhh, don’t tell Tolstoy!) :  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821-1881 Russia’s greatest novelist (shhh, don’t tell Tolstoy!) Notes from the Underground (1864) Crime and Punishment (1866) The Idiot (1868) The Possessed (1880) The Brothers Karamazov (1880) Dostoyevksy and Christ:  Dostoyevksy and Christ Dostoyevsky believed that the world was divided into “Christ” and “Evil” “The Grand Inquisitor” has become one of the great Christian parables of all time. The most important aspect of Dostoyevsky’s belief is the human freedom to choose. Existentialism:  Existentialism The most significant philosophical movement of the 20th Century counts Dostoyevsky as one of its founders. Existentialism is the opposite of “ESSENTIALISM,” or the belief that reality, meaning, and significance precede individual actions and choices. ESSENTIALISM = To BE is to DO EXISTETNIALISM = To DO is to BE Principles of Existentialism “Human beings are condemned to be free,” J. Paul Sartre:  Principles of Existentialism “Human beings are condemned to be free,” J. Paul Sartre Human beings are totally free—no predispositions constrain our actions We are entirely defined by the choices that we make Choices are only meaningful if they result in action Those who choose not to act, in effect, do not exist Notes from the Underground:  Notes from the Underground The first and shortest of the five great novels A dramatic monologue—the Underground Man is NOT Dostoyevsky Enormously influential in the development of existentialism in the 20th century Two independent sections “Underground” is the philosophical meditation of a nameless “Underground Man” “Apropos of Wet Snow” is an actual narrative of events in the UM’s life The Underground Man:  The Underground Man An acknowledged liar whose story is riddled with contradictionsm (1307) A man living, both literally and mentally, “underground” ( 1327, 1328) A man who considers himself more intelligent than all around him (1310) A man whose contemplations have paralyzed him into inaction (1316) UM is, at different times, both the target of Dostoyevski’s satire and the voice of his own opinions Key Idea: Intelligence vs Action:  Key Idea: Intelligence vs Action Intelligence and contemplativeness are a sickness (1309) Men of intelligent are usually unable to act (1310) and men of action are usually stupid (1311) The UM understands that he has been paralyzed by thought and is in danger of being “nothing” (1316). Key Idea: The Futility of Enlightenment:  Key Idea: The Futility of Enlightenment Dostoyevsky (like Swift) did not believe that human “progress” resulted in the improvement in human conditions He saw his own, enlightened time riddled with war and cruelty (1318) He believed that “progress” just gave us more efficient ways to kill each other (1319) These ideas strongly anticipate post WWI Modernist angst Key Idea: The Necessity of Irrationality:  Key Idea: The Necessity of Irrationality The most important fact in Dostoyevsky’s personal philosophy was that human beings are free to choose and to act The thrust of science, for the UM, was to reduce human beings to mathematical formulas (1321) Modern science increasingly conceives of humans as “piano keys” (1323) This kind of formula goes directly against the notion of free will (1323) 2x2 = 4 is not life, but death (1324) Humans have both a predisposition and a duty to act irrationally to preserve their ability to choose freely

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