Continuing from part one on Dostoevsky’s 1880 novel, we respond to some objections to the Christian arguments that the characters Alyosha and Zosima put forward (either explicitly or just through their behavior) to respond to Ivan’s “problem of evil”-type arguments previously revealed via the “Rebellion” and “Grand Inquisitor” arguments.
While the first objection comes from Seth, we then brought in our live audience to chime in: Is Dostoevsky’s solution simply irrational? Is he recommending some unobtainable, sage-like ethical goal (taking responsibility for everyone), or is it truly attainable? Does Dostoevsky have a good argument that there can be no morality without religion? Are we (and Dostoevsky) missing something about the Resurrection that would have helped his response to atheism and rebellion?
Is this sort of analysis where we already know Dostoevsky’s philosophical views (through his letters and other work) the best way to deal with a multi-faceted novel like this? Or is it better to just let the characters speak and not stack the deck against one view or another by attributing it to the author?
Next episode: We’re talking more about this book, as the live show was rather too short to cover this lengthy novel adequately. If you’d like to get ready for #318/319, start reading Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man. Read the Stanford summary.