Monday, November 28, 2011

Notes from Underground: I.iv-vii


The toothache and moaning wickedly, not as is necessary, but so as to make others miserable. Self-conscious of the effect, the irritation of others.

Now, it is in all these consciousnesses and disgraces that the sensuality consists.


How can a man of consciousness have the slightest respect for himself?1


Working up offense or love, playing at it results in the real thing, even as one is conscious that one is playing at it.

Men of action identify secondary causes as primary and feel at ease in acting. The man of conscience probes deeper, which results in constant doubt.

If the man of conscience sees past all secondary reasons/causes, and cannot fix upon a single primary reason/cause, he acts for the sake of action or not at all—offense, love, revenge—all out of “wickedness” instead of an underlying reason. Nothing done directly, but from a remove. Action separated from meaning.

Laziness as a positive quality, as a source of action. He would act as the progressive do (my statement)—praising Ge paintings and drinking to the “beautiful and lofty.”


Dostoevsky gets down to the point which the u.m. has been illustrating until now: man does not act according to his profit because there is another, overriding profit for which a man would act against every other—“One’s own free and voluntary wanting…”

Also, D. writes of how the laws of nature will be catalogued and all human behavior will be calculated—

Q: how doe this relate to today’s ideas about human behavior and the brain, biological chemistry, etc.? I.e. the age-old question—Is man’s will free or determined (by nature, here, but this is a merely a particularity)?

Q: What merit has the thought—As a man acts, so will he think? How does this relate to Biblical concepts? Where a man’s treasure is…

  1. Notes from Underground, Part I, Chapter 4. trans. Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky

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