Friday, November 17, 2006

The Ghost of Dostoyevsky

The Ghost of Dostoyevsky: With the publication of Crime and Punishment in 1866, Fyodor Dostoyevsky became one of Russia's most prominent authors in the nineteenth century. And as such, he has been labeled one of the founding fathers of the philosophical movement known as existentialism. In particular, his Notes from Underground (1864) has been depicted as a founding work of existentialism. For Dostoyevsky, war is the rebellion of the people against the idea that reason guides everything. And thus, reason by itself, cannot be a guiding principle for either history or mankind. In a sense, then, there must be something (Faith) beyond reason, which man cannot fully comprehend, that drives human actions. Having been exiled to the city of Omsk (Siberia) in 1849, many of Dostoyevsky's writings entail notions of suffering and despair. Perhaps his best known existentialist work is "The Grand Inquisitor." As a subsection of his larger novel, The Brothers Karamazov (1880), Dostoyevsky sought to uncover people's reactions when Christ returned to Earth. Set during the fifteenth-century Spanish Inquisition, Christ is arrested by Church officials and told that the free will He gave to man through His death on the Cross was the most profound injustice of all. And ultimately, that's because the vast majority of mankind could never be expected to handle a mental burden as heavy as free will.

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