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"If there is not immortality, then everything is permitted." How can you explain that...

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sue42 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:35 PM via web

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"If there is not immortality, then everything is permitted." How can you explain that in reference to "The Brothers Karamazov"?

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted March 20, 2009 at 6:09 AM (Answer #1)

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What the character is saying is that if human life ends at death, and there is no afterlife, then there is no reason for having moral standards. This idea also addressed in several of Nietzsche's books including "The Will to Power". One theme in "The Brothers Karamazov" considers human behavior and purpose. The characters of faith behave in a certain way because they believe they will be judged by God for their choices and behavior. Others do not believe in an afterlife. Because of this, there is no reason to behave in any certain way.

 

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted March 22, 2009 at 7:25 AM (Answer #2)

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That's a good answer, but the statement made in the novel also implies a corollary.  If there is no afterlife, does this mean that there is no reason at all to have personal morality in the way we treat one another?  Or is there a value in this life to behavior which relates to the good of others?  This is an issue we find repeatedly implied in this author's works.

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austin-greg | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2010 at 2:43 PM (Answer #3)

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I haven't finished reading the book yet, but I believe both of the above answers are correct; no life after death, no moral standards to follow and abide by.

In reference to the book, Fyodor Karamazov lives by this statement. He does not believe in an afterlife, therfore he is not a God fearing man and goes upon his vices without feeling remorse. His belief in this philosophy makes him capable of being such a loathsome and horrible father.

 

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vanajas | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 4, 2011 at 7:41 PM (Answer #4)

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I don't ,like Ivan,believe in immortality but at the same time I do believe in everlasting existence of beings.Till the universe exist I do have to exist one way or the other,either as an ant or anelephant.In both ways it makes no difference to the being . Till date I never could find the real difference between good and bad vice and virtue.It's not because of any fear of punishment or god's wrath that I don't commit a crime but being ashamed of doing it . More clearly,one has to exist whether he/she likes it or not. My fater didn't create me to be what I am now.He didn't had any idea what I would be or how I am gonna survive.Everything ,all moments ,are eternal.No moments are alike and for the same reason each moment is uniqe .It has it's very birth and death at the very moment it's born.It is neither born or dead-both happens at the same moment.

Till date I never could find the real difference between good and bad vice and virtue.It's not because of any fear of punishment or god's wrath that I don't commit a crime but being ashamed of doing it.The shme of it.Maybe I am afraid of losing my false image I have created in the society .I don' know .I have know idea of anything but still I take much pain to teach the students. I know It's a crime what I am doing now-Teaching B.A and M.A lit students when I have not yet completed any degree in my life.Feeling quite guilty I've asked all my pals ,most of them graduates and post graduets,about my situation and they said it is my ability to teach that counts not the degree. I love teaching and most ,almost all,students are like my friends.I have revealed my secret to some of my students too who thought I was joking.

What do you think ? Have immortality and virtue any connection with my present existencxe.  

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vanajas | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 4, 2011 at 7:51 PM (Answer #5)

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I don't ,like Ivan,believe in immortality but at the same time I do believe in everlasting existence of beings.Till the universe exist I do have to exist one way or the other,either as an ant or anelephant.In both ways it makes no difference to the being . More clearly,one has to exist whether he/she likes it or not. My fater didn't create me to be what I am now.He didn't had any idea what I would be or how I am gonna survive.Everything ,all moments ,are eternal.No moments are alike and for the same reason each moment is uniqe .It has it's very birth and death at the very moment it's born.It is neither born or dead-both happens at the same moment.

Till date I never could find the real difference between good and bad vice and virtue.It's not because of any fear of punishment or god's wrath that I don't commit a crime but being ashamed of doing it.The shme of it.Maybe I am afraid of losing my false image I have created in the society .I don' know .I have know idea of anything but still I take much pain to teach the students. I know It's a crime what I am doing now-Teaching B.A and M.A lit students when I have not yet completed any degree in my life.Feeling quite guilty I've asked all my pals ,most of them graduates and post graduets,about my situation and they said it is my ability to teach that counts not the degree. I love teaching and most ,almost all,students are like my friends.I have revealed my secret to some of my students too who thought I was joking.

What do you think ? Have immortality and virtue any connection with my present existencxe as a teacher.

  While editing I have made some mistakes the one I submitted prior to this answer.             vanajas.

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zahraamousawe | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted September 13, 2011 at 6:35 PM (Answer #6)

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This notion, according to the novel, is the one that motivated Smerdyakov to murder Fyodor Karamazov, yet I find it complicated a liitle bit for it is really dubious that why would Smerdyakov choose to kill Fyodor on the basis of this notion from many other things permitted, the statement is almost absolute it  gives no exception. everything is permitted!

This mentality is really dangerous and Dostoevsky favors a life with faith over a life filled with such complexities and over-intellectualizing.

 

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sesmith5 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 2, 2013 at 8:15 PM (Answer #7)

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It also implies through the actions of Dmitri and Ivan that there are at least two possible routes to take if there is no immortality and thus no morality.  One can, like Dmitri, follow one's libido and pursue that which seems to feed the passion of the moment.  In Dmitri's case, this is the pursuit of Grushenka.  Or, like Ivan, who seems to be a nihilist, one can entertain oneself by manipulating others beliefs and ideas through playing devil's advocate.  Ivan publishes articles supporting ideas that he, himself, doesn't believe in.  At times it appears that ideas are as meaningless or contradictory to Ivan as life is.  It must be noted that both of these characters are unhappy.  Dostoevsky painted both Ivan and Dmitri as tormented and miserable.  If happiness is the measure of a good life, neither is living it.  There is one other character who speaks to this idea, Rakitin.  He says that man will pursue virtue without immortality because he values liberty, equality and brotherhood.  This is ironic because Rakitin, who unlike Ivan is sincere, is a spiteful and vicious character who feels nothing but envy for what others have. 

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