Monday, April 19, 2021

The Wisdom of Dostoevsky

The notion that man is born free, that total freedom is his natural state, and that all rational men want to be free is a myth that got developed in the Age of Enlightenment by French philosophers who hoped that their philosophy would inspire the rise of a new kind of human material which is untainted by the belief in God and cultural traditions and would be ready to fight and die for a new atheistic utopia of reason and science. These philosophers believed that God and cultural traditions are the two major forces which hinder people from being free. 

Since the Age of Enlightenment, this myth of total freedom and the hope of an atheistic utopia has been perpetuated by several powerful schools of modern philosophy. 

Most people (who are not obsessed with philosophy and utopian politics) want to be part of religious and cultural groups which can give them a sense of belonging and security. In Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, the character called Ivan Karamazov says: “I tell you, man has no preoccupation more nagging than to find the person to whom that unhappy creature may surrender the gift of freedom with which he is born. But only he can take mastery of people's freedom who is able to set their consciences at rest.”  

Dostoevsky was not a utopian like the Enlightenment philosophers and their modern counterparts—he was a man of wisdom.

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