Select a quote or small passage from Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky that reveals something of what this man feels to be true about himself and or human nature. Think of his overall...

Select a quote or small passage from Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky that reveals something of what this man feels to be true about himself and or human nature. Think of his overall point about man's inherently selfish and irrational nature and the many examples and views he uses to prove what he is saying.

1 Answer | Add Yours

durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In trying to pinpoint the complexity of being a whole person, honest to oneself, Fyodor Dostoevsky in his Notes from (The) Underground, examines various types of people, numerous reasons for particular behavior and the supposed logic behind mankind's actions. The passage below indicates that the writer, a self-confessed "babbler," seeks contentment but every time he approaches it, he finds some reason to discount it.   

I should claim respect for doing so. I should persecute anyone who would not show me respect. I should live at ease, I should die with dignity, why, it is charming, perfectly charming! And what a good round belly I should have grown, what a treble chin I should have established, what a ruby nose I should have coloured for myself, so that everyone would have said, looking at me: "Here is an asset! Here is something real and solid!"

Dostoevsky challenges his own reasoning and confirms man's selfish need for self- satisfaction. He suggests that, in establishing the "laws of nature," man will find an excuse for any kind of behavior and there will be no accountability as all things will be statistically measured and rational thought will override all else - perhaps even to the point of boredom.

Mankind should be warned that even freedom of choice is in danger of becoming measured and not a "choice" at all as the capacity for reason is not sufficient to lead a worthwhile life. Sooner or later, even those "moral and rational persons, sages and lovers of humanity" are "false," even to themselves. Man does many things out of "spite" and in order "to gain his point" and there is little purpose in what he does except that it reveals that he is in control and is not governed by the need to make only rational decisions. 

"Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness" according to Dostoevsky and mankind will therefore never settle and as much as it is despised by man, man also thrives on misfortune. Where is the challenge if man has to "bottle up your five senses and plunge into contemplation."

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,917 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question