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The Logic of Laceration in The Brothers Karamazov David Banach Department of Philosophy St. Anselm College.

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Presentation on theme: "The Logic of Laceration in The Brothers Karamazov David Banach Department of Philosophy St. Anselm College."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Logic of Laceration in The Brothers Karamazov David Banach Department of Philosophy St. Anselm College

2 The Crucible of Doubt  Those blockheads have never even conceived so powerful a rejection of God as exists in the Inquisitor and the preceding chapter, to which the whole book will serve as an answer.  I do not believe in Christ … as a child but my hosanna has passed through the great furnace of doubt.  (Notebooks, Ralph Matlaw (1976), trans., 770)

3 I. Faith Gives Rise to Miracles  I fancy that Alyosha was more of a realist than anyone. Oh! no doubt, in the monastery he fully believed in miracles, but, to my thinking, miracles are never a stumbling-block to the realist. It is not miracles that dispose realists to belief. The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognised by him.  Faith does not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith.  (I, v. 19-20)

4 Miracles  Fyodor: It's impossible, I think, for the devils to forget to drag me down to hell with their hooks when I die. Then I wonder- hooks? Where would they get them? What of? Iron hooks? Where do they forge them? Have they a foundry there of some sort? The monks in the monastery probably believe that there's a ceiling in hell, for instance. Now I'm ready to believe in hell, but without a ceiling.... And, after all, what does it matter whether it has a ceiling or hasn't? But, do you know, there's a damnable question involved in it? If there's no ceiling there can be no hooks, and if there are no hooks it all breaks down, which is unlikely again, for then there would be none to drag me down to hell, and if they don't drag me down what justice is there in the world? Il faudrait les inventer, those hooks, on purpose for me alone, for, if you only knew, Alyosha, what a black-guard I am." (I, iv. 18)  Peasant Women and Zossima: Nikita will come home. (II, iii. 42)  Dimitri: "No fear. I am sending you to father, and I know what I'm saying. I believe in miracles." "In miracles?" "In a miracle of Divine Providence. God knows my heart. He sees my despair. He sees the whole picture. Surely He won't let something awful happen. Alyosha, I believe in miracles. Go!" (III, v, 110)  Smerdyakov: Faith so as to move mountains (III, vi, 118)  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  Alyosha: Odor of Corruption  Zossima: Heaven on Earth

5 II. Faith Requires Active Love  By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbour actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain. (II, iv. 48)

6 III. If There is No God then All is Permitted ... if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism. (II, vi. 60)  "Is that really your conviction as to the consequences of the disappearance of the faith in immortality?" the elder asked Ivan suddenly. "Yes. That was my contention. There is no virtue if there is no immortality." (II, vi. 60)  I asked him, 'without God and immortal life? All things are lawful then, they can do what they like?' 'Didn't you know?' he said laughing, 'a clever man can do what he likes.... (XI, iv. 558)  ACTIVE LOVE REQUIRES FAITH

7 The Vicious Circle  Faith give rise to Miracles  Faith Requires Active Love  Active Love Requires Faith

8 Ivan’s Dilemma  "You were not altogether joking. That's true. The question is still fretting your heart, and not answered. But the martyr likes sometimes to divert himself with his despair, as it were driven to it by despair itself. Meanwhile, in your despair, you, too, divert yourself with magazine articles, and discussions in society, though you don't believe your own arguments, and with an aching heart mock at them inwardly.... That question you have not answered, and it is your great grief, for it clamours for an answer."  "But can it be answered by me? Answered in the affirmative?" Ivan went on asking strangely, still looking at the elder with the same inexplicable smile.  "If it can't be decided in the affirmative, it will never be decided in the negative. You know that that is the peculiarity of your heart, and all its suffering is due to it. But thank the Creator who has given you a lofty heart capable of such suffering; of thinking and seeking higher things, for our dwelling is in the heavens. God grant that your heart will attain the answer on earth, and may God bless your path." ((II, vi. 61)

9 The Logic of Laceration  Laceration (nadryv): The exacerbation of an evil that hides a greater guilt or evil.  The person you hate most is not the one who has done you wrong, but he to whom you have done wrong.  The fact that you rebel against something shows that you care about it.

10 Lacerations  Fyodor’s buffoonery: He feels himself to be evil and inferior and hides it by exacerbating his foolishness on purpose.  Father Ferapont’s Devils.  Ilyusha and the wisp of tow.  Dimitri and Katerina: They punish each other out of laceration for the guilt of the baseness of the 3 thousand and the bow.  The Little Demon: Lisa punishes herself and is in love with evil as laceration for her sexual guilt and her indifference to suffering. (Pineapple compote)

11 The Fundamental Laceration Life’s Paradox  Infinite Impotent Will: Our wills are infinite in the scope of their love, but finite in the scope of their power.  Once one takes responsibility to all for all, one finds there is more to care about then we can do justice too.  Yet we cannot abstain from caring without lacerating our soul, or destroying our capacity for active love.  Love God but cannot accept the world.  Trade the suffering of one child to forever establish paradise.

12 Expressions of the Fundamental Laceration.  Fyodor cannot abandon the values that condemn him. (hooks)  Dimitri and the idol of the Madonna and the Idol of Gomorrah  The sticky little leaves of Spring and the suffering of innocents.  The innocence of children and loving one’s neighbor as oneself.  Destinies of 3 Brothers in second half.

13 The Solution Syllogism  Giving an Onion allows one to overcome Laceration  Overcoming Laceration allows one to take Responsibility to all for all.  Taking Responsibility to all for all creates a heaven on earth (Miracles)

14 Giving an Onion allows escape from Laceration  "I shall begin to cry, I shall," repeated Grushenka. "He called me his sister and I shall never forget that. Only let me tell you, Rakitin, though I am bad, I did give away an onion." (VII, iii. 330)

15 Other Onions  Zossima in Alyosha’s Dream (VII, iv)  Dimitri and the Babe (IX, viii)  Ivan and the Peasant (XI, viii)  One good deed from childhood (Epilogue, iii)

16 Taking Responsibility to all for all creates a heaven on earth (Miracle)  Zossima’s brother: All are responsible to all for all. I have sinned against all and everything for I did not love them enough, yet all forgive me, and that is heaven. One day is enough for man to know happiness. (VI, iia)  Zossima at duel: Look around you at the gifts of God, the clear sky, the pure air, the tender grass, the birds; nature is beautiful and sinless, and we, only we, are sinful and foolish, and we don't understand that life is heaven, for we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep.... All are responsible for all. (VI, iic)  Mysterious Stranger: Life is Paradise. It is hidden in all of us if we but will to reveal it.... And that we are all responsible to all for all, apart from our own sins, you were quite right in thinking that, and it is wonderful how you could comprehend it in all its significance at once. And in very truth, so soon as men understand that, the Kingdom of Heaven will be for them not a dream, but a living reality. Before we realize this we must go through a period of isolation. (VI, iic )

17 The Fundamental Laceration in Ivan  Cannot Affirm or Deny God  Loves Life more than Logic (than the meaning of it)  Rebellion  The Devil’s temptation and Jesus’s kiss  Geological Cataclysm and Nihilism  The quadrillion miles.

18 The argument boiled down  The power of love takes us beyond the limits of our being, yet we cannot abandon it. Holding true to love in the face of this produces miracles.  Nihilism is a self-defeating laceration. You stop caring only because you care.  You can’t torture an innocent child because you love children.  You can’t kill yourself because you love life.  It is enough to be on your way. The falling away of laceration in an authentic good action is itself a miracle.  "Ah, children, ah, dear friends, don't be afraid of life! How good life is when one does something good and just!"

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