Dostoevsky: Demonic Rationalism

The Soul of the East

In his work Dostoevsky and the Metaphysics of Crime, sociologist Dr. Vladislav Arkadyevich Bachinin analyzes the only seemingly contradictory correlation between Enlightenment rationalism and the rise of infernal forces in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s work Demons. Translated by Mark Hackard.

The Immoral Reason of a Living Automaton

Pyotr Verkhovensky, the cold-blooded cynic who easily transgresses any moral obstacles, represents a special type of criminal, to whom is applicable the philosophical metaphor of “man the machine.”

In 1748 France, Lematrie’s book under that title was released. Its author cast man as a self-winding machine moving along perpendicular lines. In Lametrie’s conception a human being was the direct likeness of a watch or harpsichord, and at the same time subordinated to natural necessity. But possessing instincts, feelings, and passions, he is deprived of a soul. Lametrie assumed that the soul was a term lacking any essential substance whatsoever.

The world in which the machine-man dwells is…

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1 Comment on Dostoevsky: Demonic Rationalism

  1. Thanks, Jay. Lately, though, when I read even an esp. good critique of rationalism, I can’t help thinking of the atheist’s retort, i.e., that there were no “good old days” pre-Enlightenment, seeing how ethics based on religion was never an effective brake on man’s destructive urges. Indeed, religion has been used much longer to justify all sorts of crimes against humanity. At this point, I’m not sure there is an effective brake. We may be worse off now, but that doesn’t inspire nostalgia. Here’s a little essay from the NYT, offering another perspective on the problem:

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