'If there is no god then I am a god': Dostoyevsky vs atheism

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Ninteenth Century Philosophers
  3. » 'If there is no god then I am a god': Dostoyevsky vs atheism

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 10:58 pm
Let me paraphrase dostoyevskys argument against atheism:

Imagine you could achieve all of your greatest desires. You could become as rich, famous, or idolized as you like, whatever you want. All you have to do to achieve it is this one thing: kill someone. You are 100% guaranteed that no-one will ever find out, and no-one will ever know you did it. Worried about your own guilt? No matter, lets pretend that after you've committed the act you have your memory wiped, so that even you wont know you've done it. Just a simple act of 'stepping across'.

If you are an atheist you are very likely to accept, if you are religious and you believe in a higher power before whom/which you are accountable (and someone who genuinely believes, not someone who merely pays lip service to their faith) then you likely will not. This is basically dostoyevsky's argument, and this, and how this attitude can manifest itself in all sorts of ways in the life of an atheist, largely forms the starting point of his great novels. The point is the religious person believes in 'that which is greater than himself' before whom he is accountable, and before whom he WILL BE HELD accountable, and the atheist doesnt - the atheist considers HIM/HERSELF god. Ie morality cannot be founded on purely humanist grounds, and any attempt to do so must disintegrate eventually.

Also bear in mind, in the 1860s and 70s, he predicted, stunningly prophetically, that the european intelligentsia's general abandonment of religion would lead to the rise of countless different ideologies, and never before seen cataclysmic events, and needless to say in the first half of the 20th century he was proven frighteningly correct.

So, in short: CAN morality be founded upon purely humanist grounds?
 
IntoTheLight
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 11:26 pm
@richard mcnair,
Interesting post. Welcome to the forum. =)

I don't believe that Atheists think they "are god", but certainly they typically believe that they are not bound by any accountability to a god.

However, that doesn't mean that all atheists seem themselves as above any conception of morality. The argument you've presented seems to suggest that since Atheists don't feel accountable to a god, then they have no accountability whatsoever.

If that's your premise then I disagree. Many atheists feel an accountability to themselves and their own personal code of morals and ethics.

You ask: Can morality be founded on purely humanist grounds?

Morality is a neutral concept; often the implication is that morality must be "just" or "good" (whatever those mean) but that is by no means certain. Someone could have a moral code that allowed them to murder others and see it as justified in their own personal code.

To answer your question, I think the answer is 'yes' because belief in a God is not neccessary for someone to have a conception of morality.

-ITL-
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 11:42 pm
@IntoTheLight,
Morality is founded on compassion and empathy not on reason and science.
Empathy and compassion are not limited to the religious.
I do see a problem in that without any notion of the divine it is hard to justify the notion of transcendent ideals or values as oppossed to ideals and values being merely human constructs (moral relativism).
 
richard mcnair
 
Reply Thu 26 Nov, 2009 11:57 pm
@IntoTheLight,
IntoTheLight;106263 wrote:
Interesting post. Welcome to the forum. =)

I don't believe that Atheists think they "are god", but certainly they typically believe that they are not bound by any accountability to a god.

However, that doesn't mean that all atheists seem themselves as above any conception of morality. The argument you've presented seems to suggest that since Atheists don't feel accountable to a god, then they have no accountability whatsoever.

If that's your premise then I disagree. Many atheists feel an accountability to themselves and their own personal code of morals and ethics.

You ask: Can morality be founded on purely humanist grounds?

Morality is a neutral concept; often the implication is that morality must be "just" or "good" (whatever those mean) but that is by no means certain. Someone could have a moral code that allowed them to murder others and see it as justified in their own personal code.

To answer your question, I think the answer is 'yes' because belief in a God is not neccessary for someone to have a conception of morality.

-ITL-

thank you :bigsmile:

Dostoyevsky was certainly a full blown eastern orthodox christian and believed in the dead letter orthodoxy, and a personal god, but I dont think his argument is merely confined to a personal god. I think basically he meant that people who believe in 'nothing', ie people who believe that you're born, you live, you die and that is it, nihilists shall we say can never have any sound morality, and that any construct of morality thought up by such a person can only ever be self-casuistry, and that eventually that self casuistry must disintegrate. So basically such a persons philosophy (we're born, we live, we die, and thats it) if really thought through to its ultimate conclusion, can only eventually come to the neo-nietszchean, and also perhaps nazi view, that compassion and kindness is actually in reality only weakness to be overcome.
 
IntoTheLight
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 12:33 am
@richard mcnair,
richard_mcnair;106276 wrote:
thank you :bigsmile:


You're quite welcome. It's nice to meet another educated philosopher. Some of the people we get on this forum don't know Nietzsche from Elvis.
Glad you're not one of those. =)

Quote:

Dostoyevsky was certainly a full blown eastern orthodox christian and believed in the dead letter orthodoxy, and a personal god, but I dont think his argument is merely confined to a personal god. I think basically he meant that people who believe in 'nothing', ie people who believe that you're born, you live, you die and that is it, nihilists shall we say can never have any sound morality, and that any construct of morality thought up by such a person can only ever be self-casuistry, and that eventually that self casuistry must disintegrate.


That follows. Many people who are adherents to religious orders have a very difficult time understanding that those who do not share their beliefs are not void of morality/ethics and introspection.

Quote:

So basically such a persons philosophy (we're born, we live, we die, and thats it) if really thought through to its ultimate conclusion, can only eventually come to the neo-nietszchean, and also perhaps nazi view, that compassion and kindness is actually in reality only weakness to be overcome.


Well said. I think that many Nihilists are those who sink into despair over poor life circumstance and come to adopt that philosophy - not because they really believe it - but because it seems to be the only way to make sense of their personal situation.

-ITL-
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 12:35 am
@richard mcnair,
It is not so much compassion or kindness, but rather pity. If you think about what pity does to the pittier or the pittied, nothing good comes out of it. Thus, it is truly a weakness to be overcome.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 12:44 am
@richard mcnair,
richard_mcnair;106250 wrote:
Let me paraphrase dostoyevskys argument against atheism:

Imagine you could achieve all of your greatest desires. You could become as rich, famous, or idolized as you like, whatever you want. All you have to do to achieve it is this one thing: kill someone. You are 100% guaranteed that no-one will ever find out, and no-one will ever know you did it. Worried about your own guilt? No matter, lets pretend that after you've committed the act you have your memory wiped, so that even you wont know you've done it. Just a simple act of 'stepping across'.

If you are an atheist you are very likely to accept, if you are religious and you believe in a higher power before whom/which you are accountable (and someone who genuinely believes, not someone who merely pays lip service to their faith) then you likely will not. This is basically dostoyevsky's argument, and this, and how this attitude can manifest itself in all sorts of ways in the life of an atheist, largely forms the starting point of his great novels. The point is the religious person believes in 'that which is greater than himself' before whom he is accountable, and before whom he WILL BE HELD accountable, and the atheist doesnt - the atheist considers HIM/HERSELF god. Ie morality cannot be founded on purely humanist grounds, and any attempt to do so must disintegrate eventually.

Also bear in mind, in the 1860s and 70s, he predicted, stunningly prophetically, that the european intelligentsia's general abandonment of religion would lead to the rise of countless different ideologies, and never before seen cataclysmic events, and needless to say in the first half of the 20th century he was proven frighteningly correct.

So, in short: CAN morality be founded upon purely humanist grounds?



What on Earth justifies Dostoyevsky's belief that the atheist will murder the person, and that the only thing holding him back is the fear of getting caught? Just because the believer does not murder because he fears God (and what is the evidence for that?) how does it follow that the atheist will murder? Dostoyevsky's view (if it was his view) is cynicism. That people are do not do evil things out of fear. What is his evidence for that?
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:48 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;106286 wrote:
It is not so much compassion or kindness, but rather pity. If you think about what pity does to the pittier or the pittied, nothing good comes out of it. Thus, it is truly a weakness to be overcome.
I do not think compassion and empathy are the same as "pity". I think it is more identification of self with other (except for the hand of fate there go I). In any event I think empathy and compassion are the basis of morality not a "weakness" to be overcome. Those who completely lack empathy and compassion we call "sociopaths" and with good reason. One can provide help and assistance without "pity" and without destroying self worth and self reliance.

---------- Post added 11-27-2009 at 12:56 PM ----------

richard_mcnair;106250 wrote:
If you are an atheist you are very likely to accept, if you are religious and you believe in a higher power before whom/which you are accountable (and someone who genuinely believes, not someone who merely pays lip service to their faith) then you likely will not. ..... The point is the religious person believes in 'that which is greater than himself' before whom he is accountable, and before whom he WILL BE HELD accountable, and the atheist doesnt - the atheist considers HIM/HERSELF god. Ie morality cannot be founded on purely humanist grounds, and any attempt to do so must disintegrate eventually.

So, in short: CAN morality be founded upon purely humanist grounds?
I think that premise is quite false.

There are many things other than god which people regard as greater than themselves "parents protecting children, soldiers protecting countries, matyrs dying for freedom, truth, civil rights, etc". The willingness to sacrifice ones own interest in puruit of a greater cause is not confined to religious notion.

Furthermore, declining to act for fear of future punishment is not really acting on "moral grounds" at all. It is a form of self service. Religious people who only behave morally on hope of future reward or fear of future punishment are actually less "ethical" than the individual who self sacrifices without those incentives.
 
richard mcnair
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 10:30 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;106288 wrote:
What on Earth justifies Dostoyevsky's belief that the atheist will murder the person, and that the only thing holding him back is the fear of getting caught? Just because the believer does not murder because he fears God (and what is the evidence for that?) how does it follow that the atheist will murder? Dostoyevsky's view (if it was his view) is cynicism. That people are do not do evil things out of fear. What is his evidence for that?


Well, I am paraphrasing a bit. I don't think its all 'atheists' his arguments refer to, because for instance, you could be a buddhist, believe in a cycle of reincarnation and karma, and still call yourself an atheist, but in the above example be classed as someone who believes in god. I think the above argument really refers to just the nihilistic atheists - the ones who think all life is a biochemical fluke, everything is without any purpose, and think you're born you live and you die and that is it. I don't think it is cynical, I think that what you believe in surely has a massive impact on your morality, and if you believe in nothing, then perhaps deep down you have no morality. Why would a nihilistic atheist as I have described above NOT kill in the situatuion I described in my opening post?

---------- Post added 11-28-2009 at 04:37 AM ----------

prothero;106431 wrote:

I think that premise is quite false.

There are many things other than god which people regard as greater than themselves "parents protecting children, soldiers protecting countries, matyrs dying for freedom, truth, civil rights, etc". The willingness to sacrifice ones own interest in puruit of a greater cause is not confined to religious notion.

Furthermore, declining to act for fear of future punishment is not really acting on "moral grounds" at all. It is a form of self service. Religious people who only behave morally on hope of future reward or fear of future punishment are actually less "ethical" than the individual who self sacrifices without those incentives.


Well exactly if you read my second post I think, I think I say that it isnt just confined to a personal god, and in fact perhaps I should have used the word nihilist, or nihilistic atheist, rather than atheist. Although I think that dostoyevsky's argument was that if you believe in nothing of a religious or transcendent nature (not necessarily a personal god), and merely base something which you regard as 'that which is greater than yourself' in the world of experience only, than you are really just kidding yourself, and your philosophy if taken to its logical conclusion can only become nihilism.

Also I don't think that the religious person refuses in the example in the OP purely because he fears a personal god.

---------- Post added 11-28-2009 at 04:45 AM ----------

Also imagine a further scenario, where the person to be killed in the OP is not merely a random person, but someone who is actually a very bad person indeed. Imagine she is an old woman, who is a usurer, causes misery for countless people in her community, and also continually beats her sister who is her only friend and companion. There you now actually have the basic premise of the novel 'crime and punishment'. A further point is one against utilitarianism. If you think about the situation from some notion of 'quantity of happiness'; if you could make yourself deliriously happy, and at the same time rid the world of someone who makes lots of others desperately unhappy, could you perhaps even convince yourself that it is your positive duty to kill?
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 06:56 am
@richard mcnair,
Your making assumptions about the nihilist, even if he believes there is no purpose in life, he may still see the reasoning for personal ethics. Empathy does not die with the death of optimism.

If you choose to make unethical choices or kill for gain, the choice is yours. If you need an excuse, then as they say, your only kidding yourself. I think your intent on proving the atheist void of any real moral fibre and lacking any empathy for his fellow man. Good try, but a bit too obvious.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 09:30 am
@richard mcnair,
richard_mcnair;106250 wrote:
If you are an atheist you are very likely to accept,
Assuming athiests would rather be rich and famous than innocent of murder - which I doubt many actually are.

Besides, it's a false dichotmy due to the "You are 100% guaranteed that no-one will ever find out, and no-one will ever know you did it" clause. Many theists think this an impossibility, as "no-one" exlcudes many concepts of divinity, and most deities are defined as such, at least in part, through omniscience.
Quote:
if you are religious and you believe in a higher power before whom/which you are accountable (and someone who genuinely believes, not someone who merely pays lip service to their faith) then you likely will not. This is basically dostoyevsky's argument, and this, and how this attitude can manifest itself in all sorts of ways in the life of an atheist, largely forms the starting point of his great novels. The point is the religious person believes in 'that which is greater than himself' before whom he is accountable, and before whom he WILL BE HELD accountable, and the atheist doesnt - the atheist considers HIM/HERSELF god. Ie morality cannot be founded on purely humanist grounds, and any attempt to do so must disintegrate eventually.

An athiest is more likely, statistically speaking, to refrain from crime and build a stable marriage than a theist. There is no corrolation in reality with godlessness, even nihilism, and actual poor behaviour.

For every atheist who has seemed to behave abominably under the belief of there being no God, therefore he or she can be a god - there is a theist who behaves abominably under the belief that there is a god who prescribes the behaviour.

I think I'm being generous with the equivalency, really.

Quote:
Also bear in mind, in the 1860s and 70s, he predicted, stunningly prophetically, that the european intelligentsia's general abandonment of religion would lead to the rise of countless different ideologies, and never before seen cataclysmic events, and needless to say in the first half of the 20th century he was proven frighteningly correct.

Even if the was simply the case (and I don't think it is) since 1940 western and northern europe have grown even more secular - and have enjoyed internal peace, and peace with one another, for a length of time almost unprecedented in european history. In the part of europe I live in a spate of murders directly exacerbated by religious friction has more or less stopped - in part because the religious differences have become increasingly irrelevent.

Russia and it's former ambit remain an area of rather arbirtary morality and governance, insofar as I see, and remains so despite the reassertion of the orthodox church (which supported Stalin's regime - though perhaps that was understandable given the fate of those who didn't).
 
richard mcnair
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 08:05 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;106610 wrote:
Assuming athiests would rather be rich and famous than innocent of murder - which I doubt many actually are.

Besides, it's a false dichotmy due to the "You are 100% guaranteed that no-one will ever find out, and no-one will ever know you did it" clause. Many theists think this an impossibility, as "no-one" exlcudes many concepts of divinity, and most deities are defined as such, at least in part, through omniscience.


Well I did actually refine my example to just the nihilistic atheists, and not all atheists, and also part of the example was that you would have your memory wiped afterwards, so part of the point is that TO YOU, you would be innocent of murder.

Quote:
An athiest is more likely, statistically speaking, to refrain from crime and build a stable marriage than a theist. There is no corrolation in reality with godlessness, even nihilism, and actual poor behaviour.

For every atheist who has seemed to behave abominably under the belief of there being no God, therefore he or she can be a god - there is a theist who behaves abominably under the belief that there is a god who prescribes the behaviour.

I think I'm being generous with the equivalency, really.


Yes well this is nothing to do with dostoyevskys argument really... although I'm not sure where you pluck your 'stable marriage' fact from, I'm sure that's certainly not true.


Quote:
Even if the was simply the case (and I don't think it is) since 1940 western and northern europe have grown even more secular - and have enjoyed internal peace, and peace with one another, for a length of time almost unprecedented in european history. In the part of europe I live in a spate of murders directly exacerbated by religious friction has more or less stopped - in part because the religious differences have become increasingly irrelevent.

Russia and it's former ambit remain an area of rather arbirtary morality and governance, insofar as I see, and remains so despite the reassertion of the orthodox church (which supported Stalin's regime - though perhaps that was understandable given the fate of those who didn't).

Once again this doesnt have anything to do with dostoyevskys argument...
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 09:16 pm
@richard mcnair,
It was Stavrogin in The Possessed who put that general notion into Kirollov's mind, but Stavrogin influenced another friend, Shatov, in the opposite direction. The title of the novel hints that such ideas (for the novel offers many) are the demons in question. Stavrogin hangs himself at the end of the novel, after publishing a confession of his sins and his spiritual bankruptcy.

But the idea involved is this (by my light): the absence of God leaves man at the top of the food chain, and the individual man that can free himself from moral prejudice is at the top of the intellectual food chain. He's still a mortal man, but he at least has the pleasure of looking down on everything.

Nietzsche has moments like this. It connects with the Satanic-Byronic hero of Romanticism. Nietzsche and probably Dostoevsky read Byron. Probably all of them read Milton, whose Satan is a classic (and I mean classic) example of this. Of course the character Satan believes in God but he questions his eternity and omnipotence.

The Possessed is an amazing book.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 08:14 am
@richard mcnair,
richard_mcnair;106754 wrote:
Yes well this is nothing to do with dostoyevskys argument really... although I'm not sure where you pluck your 'stable marriage' fact from, I'm sure that's certainly not true.

Browse at your leisure:

atheists divorce - Google Search

Quote:
Once again this doesnt have anything to do with dostoyevskys argument...

Technically you're right, but it was you who originally extrapolated something significant about 20th Century european history from his character's words.

So I think it's very relevent to point out that for most of the 20th century - most of (old) europe underwent an unprecedented period of internal peace - despite growing abandonment of religion.
 
richard mcnair
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 09:20 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106765 wrote:
It was Stavrogin in The Possessed who put that general notion into Kirollov's mind, but Stavrogin influenced another friend, Shatov, in the opposite direction. The title of the novel hints that such ideas (for the novel offers many) are the demons in question. Stavrogin hangs himself at the end of the novel, after publishing a confession of his sins and his spiritual bankruptcy.

But the idea involved is this (by my light): the absence of God leaves man at the top of the food chain, and the individual man that can free himself from moral prejudice is at the top of the intellectual food chain. He's still a mortal man, but he at least has the pleasure of looking down on everything.

Nietzsche has moments like this. It connects with the Satanic-Byronic hero of Romanticism. Nietzsche and probably Dostoevsky read Byron. Probably all of them read Milton, whose Satan is a classic (and I mean classic) example of this. Of course the character Satan believes in God but he questions his eternity and omnipotence.

The Possessed is an amazing book.

The phrase 'If there is no god than I am a God' comes from 'the devils'/'the possessed' etc, but the scenario I have drawn up is extrapolated from the main plot of 'crime and punishment' and 'the brothers karamazov.

---------- Post added 11-30-2009 at 04:15 AM ----------

Dave Allen;106847 wrote:
Browse at your leisure:

atheists divorce - Google Search


All of those websites stating than in america the divorce rate amongst atheists are lower than amongst the religious are taken from one survey if you look, carried out by the christian evangelical group 'the barna group' it was then (rather typically) pounced upon by the militant atheists and of course shouted from the rooftops. The Barna Group - New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released this is the adress of the actual survey. Also if you look, only 269 atheists or agnostics actually took part in the survey, and I'm sure that number contains far more agnostics than atheists. And also if you look, people who describe themselves as 'liberals' have the very highest divorce rate amongst anyone.

Also it clearly states that atheists are far less likely to get married in the first place, so all in all, ONE rather supect survey carried out in ONE country, (the country that has one of, if not the highest divorce rate in the world anyway) still does not back up your statement that 'atheists are more likely to be in stable marriages' does it?

Nevertheless, it may even be true for america, where atheists are a very small minority, and almost exclusively come from wealthier more educated backgrounds who would have lower divorce rates anyway.

I can find no divorce rates that compare relious beliefs for the UK or europe, where the demographic for people who have religious beliefs is far different than for the united states. But how exactly could you possibly dispute the fact that the growing secularisation in europe over the last century which you refer to has nothing to do with the simultaneous disintegration of the institution of marriage as a whole, and also of the instituation of the family? Just think about - to a genuinely religious person marriage is a deep sacred vow, and this was what most people considered it 100 years ago. Now, because so few people are religious it means very little indeed. If you can find me statistics for europe or the UK, then I'm willing to be proved wrong, but I don't think I will be - you can just look at the history, and of the present condition of the institution of marriage and the family in general.

A case of lies, damn lies, and statistics I'm afraid.



Quote:
Technically you're right, but it was you who originally extrapolated something significant about 20th Century european history from his character's words.

So I think it's very relevent to point out that for most of the 20th century - most of (old) europe underwent an unprecedented period of internal peace - despite growing abandonment of religion.
Dostoyevsky's novel 'the devils' is about some nihilistic atheists who are attempting a revolution in russia. The novel has widely been described as tremendously prophetic:
Devils (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature): Amazon.co.uk: F.M. Dostoevsky: Books
for instance read the product description...
Also near the end of 'crime and punishment' we also get a stunning moment of prophecy. Let me give a short synopsis of the novel first.

A student Raskolnikov, dreams to himself that he can become a great man. In his mind he has an image of Napoleon. He is a student, and tremendously poor, so poor he cant even afford to go back to his university and continue his studies. He knows a vicious old pawnbroker woman, who is a nasty usurer, and who beats her simple-minded sister who lives with her, is her only friend and carer. Raskolnikov convinces himself, that if he were to kill her, get back to university and sorts himself out with the money he steals, not only will he be ridding the world of a nasty 'louse', but when he becomes a 'great man' the amount of good he will be able to do would easily balance out any wrong his action might cause. So he does it, and then basically falls ill, treads the borders of insanity wondering around petersburg for the rest of the novel in a state of near madness before deciding to hand himself in, realising that his atheistic utilitarian ideas were just wrong. The first person he tells his crime to, is a destitute prostitute who is a christian, whos story we also follow through the novel, who has been forced into it, to help her family. At the end Raskolnikovs journey to the police station mirrors that of christ carrying his cross to golgotha, complete with the mary magdelane character following from a distance (the prostitute sonya).
In the epilogue when he is serving his time in prison in siberia, we see him turning over his ideas in his head, and to cut the story short, he basically decides to turn his back on his old nihilistic ideas, and even picks up a copy of the new testament, and ponders over becoming more like sonya, and adopting her view of the world. But at this time he also has a dream, which has been quoted in any quarters as being a stunning prophecy of the 20th century:
'He was in the hospital from the middle of Lent till after Easter.
When he was better, he remembered the dreams he had had while he was
feverish and delirious. He dreamt that the whole world was condemned
to a terrible new strange plague that had come to Europe from the
depths of Asia. All were to be destroyed except a very few chosen.
Some new sorts of microbes were attacking the bodies of men, but these
microbes were endowed with intelligence and will. Men attacked by them
became at once mad and furious. But never had men considered
themselves so intellectual and so completely in possession of the
truth as these sufferers, never had they considered their decisions,
their scientific conclusions, their moral convictions so infallible.
Whole villages, whole towns and peoples went mad from the infection.
All were excited and did not understand one another. Each thought that
he alone had the truth and was wretched looking at the others, beat
himself on the breast, wept, and wrung his hands. They did not know
how to judge and could not agree what to consider evil and what
good; they did not know whom to blame, whom to justify. Men killed
each other in a sort of senseless spite. They gathered together in
armies against one another, but even on the march the armies would
begin attacking each other, the ranks would be broken and the soldiers
would fall on each other, stabbing and cutting, biting and devouring
each other. The alarm bell was ringing all day long in the towns;
men rushed together, but why they were summoned and who was
summoning them no one knew. The most ordinary trades were abandoned,
because every one proposed his own ideas, his own improvements, and
they could not agree. The land too was abandoned. Men met in groups,
agreed on something, swore to keep together, but at once began on
something quite different from what they had proposed. They accused
one another, fought and killed each other. There were conflagrations
and famine. All men and all things were involved in destruction. The
plague spread and moved further and further. Only a few men could be
saved in the whole world. They were a pure chosen people, destined
to found a new race and a new life, to renew and purify the earth, but
no one had seen these men, no one had heard their words and their voices.'
voices.'

If you look under 'symbolism' and then 'the dreams' you'll find stuff about this passage:
Crime and Punishment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 29 Nov, 2009 11:00 pm
@richard mcnair,
I should have answered your question. Sorry. Now I will.

Most would do it, say yes. I would. We kill in indirect ways all the time. We let them starve. We vote against welfare. I think humans are clever animals, essentially hungry, horny, and status seeking, but spectacularly inventive.

But if a person DOESN'T do it out of fear of eternal consequences, this is just prudence. When the cat's away the mice will play. And if they don't play because the cat is not away, it doesn't earn them many points.

I used to believe in a personal god, and reflecting on the problems of evil and free will -- as well as exposure to a rich and persuasive agnostic culture -- terminated this conception of god. I still relate to visions of God such as Spinoza and Nicholas of Cusa offer, but I think of them more as valuable myths.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 05:12 am
@richard mcnair,
richard_mcnair;106982 wrote:
...A case of lies, damn lies, and statistics I'm afraid.

I openly admitted it was a case of statistics.

Whilst there are various hypotheses about why the stats might point to lower divorce rates among the non-religious, it doesn't mean that stats are lies.

They might be misleading, or might not. But they're the figures.

Quote:
But at this time he also has a dream, which has been quoted in any quarters as being a stunning prophecy of the 20th century:

If you think "there will be more war and suffering and contention between humans" is a stunning prophecy - then yes, this is a stunning prophecy.

But it's a prophecy that could have applied to Russia almost any century of its existence.

And I imagine such a prophecy, applied to Western Europe and Russia this next century, could produce some eerie parallels.

But I don't think it's in strong support of a hypothesis of "the abandonment of objective morality necessarily leads to war and suffering".

Nor does it show that the nihilistic character of late 19th Century Russian revolutionaries was anything more to do with atheism than despair at the arbitrary manner in which russian authorities, both secular and religious, have treated the average Russian since time immemorial.
 
richard mcnair
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 05:53 am
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;107029 wrote:
I openly admitted it was a case of statistics.

Whilst there are various hypotheses about why the stats might point to lower divorce rates among the non-religious, it doesn't mean that stats are lies.

They might be misleading, or might not. But they're the figures.


'Lies, damn lies, and statistics' is a famous phrase I was using rhetorically, I didn't mean you were actually lying...


Quote:
If you think "there will be more war and suffering and contention between humans" is a stunning prophecy - then yes, this is a stunning prophecy.

But it's a prophecy that could have applied to Russia almost any century of its existence.

And I imagine such a prophecy, applied to Western Europe and Russia this next century, could produce some eerie parallels.

But I don't think it's in strong support of a hypothesis of "the abandonment of objective morality necessarily leads to war and suffering".

Nor does it show that the nihilistic character of late 19th Century Russian revolutionaries was anything more to do with atheism than despair at the arbitrary manner in which russian authorities, both secular and religious, have treated the average Russian since time immemorial.
How can nihilism have nothing to do with atheism? Can you be a theistic nihilist? Well.. perhaps you can, but the nihilism that lead to the foundation of the various different ideologies - communism, socialism, fascism, etc were all due to the abandonment of the old religious order of things.

---------- Post added 11-30-2009 at 12:03 PM ----------

xris;106582 wrote:
Your making assumptions about the nihilist, even if he believes there is no purpose in life, he may still see the reasoning for personal ethics. Empathy does not die with the death of optimism.

If you choose to make unethical choices or kill for gain, the choice is yours. If you need an excuse, then as they say, your only kidding yourself. I think your intent on proving the atheist void of any real moral fibre and lacking any empathy for his fellow man. Good try, but a bit too obvious.

I'm not intent on trying to prove atheists are void of any moral fibre, or empathy, and neither is dostoyevsky. Quite the opposite in fact, in 'the brothers karamazov', and 'crime and punishment' from which I've drawn my scenario, the two atheist characters, whose ideas draw them into murder, one of them becomes delirious with guilt, as soon as hes commited the crime, and suffers so much at the recognition of what he has done wrong, he nearly kills himself, before handing himself in, and in the other the atheist actually goes insane and starts having visions of having a conversation with the devil himself, before going mad, and ending the novel on a precipice between life and death - unconscious suffering from encephalitis.
What dostoyevsky is trying to say is not that atheists are somehow inherently bad people, quite the opposite, (dostoyevsky himself was an atheist for a large portion of his life) but that atheistic and nihilistic ideas can corrupt the goodness that is in all human beings.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 06:36 am
@richard mcnair,
Can, is the operative word many theists show the same signs. Fundamentalists who act out the commands of god as they see scriptures are completely void of empathy or compassion. Eye for an eye. Its the singer not the song.

Goodness lies within us all and it can be destroyed by many things. These philosophical terms for despair or a lack of optimistic attitude can inflict any one of us, faith holds no power to avoid these manic attitudes.
 
richard mcnair
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 06:42 am
@richard mcnair,
Yes, fair enough - I'm certainly no supporter of fundamentalists...
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Ninteenth Century Philosophers
  3. » 'If there is no god then I am a god': Dostoyevsky vs atheism
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 05/19/2019 at 01:33:18