Notes From Underground Questions and Answers Part I: Underground (Chapters 6−11)

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Questions and Answers Part I: Underground (Chapters 6−11)

Questions
1. How does the narrator respond to the philosophy that states if man were enlightened, he would no longer commit ruthless acts and would become good and noble and that all enlightened men would understand that it was in their best interests to be good?

2. According to the narrator, how do the scientific theories about man’s behavior define “advantage”?

3. According to scientific theories, civilizing people will make them want to work only toward the good. How does the narrator dispute this? What does he say about how man continues to fight wars?

4. What does the narrator say would happen if people were relegated to acting only according to a book of prescribed rules, which are supposed to be based on the laws of nature, at least as the scientific theories define them?

5. The narrator argues against living in a world dominated by reason. How does he say he prefers to live?

Answers
1. The narrator mocks this philosophy. He asks, “Who has ever, in all these millennia, seen men acting solely for the sake of advantage?” Then he asks what is to be done with all the millions of people who act otherwise, against their own interest, people who do this knowingly, with full awareness and with free will? They do this, the narrator states, as if they merely wanted to reject the road they know they should be following. They are stubborn. They seek a difficult, and often absurd, road. The reason men seek something that may not be in their best interest is that something has pleased them more than any advantage might.

2. According to the scientific formulas, the narrator says, advantage lies somewhere in the realm of prosperity, wealth, freedom, peace of mind, and so forth.

3. The narrator contends that the process of civilizing does not rid man of his thirst for blood. It “merely develops man’s capacity for a greater...

(The entire section is 585 words.)