Part I: Underground (Chapters 1−11)
1. Research the nineteenth-century philosophy of utilitarianism. Define it. Identify its most outspoken thinkers and theorists. Then pose the arguments against utilitarianism that the narrator of Notes From Underground presents in the novel. Conclude with your opinions as to which argument is the stronger of the two. Which one is at work in social development in U.S. society today? Do you believe it is successful? How would you improve on it?
2. What is determinism? Find a comprehensive definition for determinism from nineteenth-century philosophers as well as from a contemporary source. Research some of the arguments against determinism, showing how the narrator in Notes From Underground aligns his thoughts with these arguments. Provide your own conclusions at the end of the essay by answering this question: is determinism a viable philosophy for the successful evolution of society?
3. The narrator in Notes From Underground often refers to the idea that he feels as insignificant as an insect or a mouse. Franz Kafka (1883–1924) is said to have been greatly influenced by Dostoevsky’s writing. Read Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a story about a man waking up to discover that he is a cockroach. Then write an essay about the similarities you find between Kafka’s and Dostoevsky’s novels. Do you believe that their fundamental ideas and the thesis of their works are similar? Do you think the two writers had similar beliefs about people and society?
4. The narrator defines and discusses two different types of man in the first part of this novel. Define these two types in as much detail as the narrator provides. How are they similar? How do they differ? Which type of man is the narrator? What types are the other male characters in the story?...
(The entire section is 797 words.)
The Underground Man Essay
971 Words4 Pages
Notes from the Underground is a novel written by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In this book, Dostoyevsky illustrated his ideals through the words of his literary protagonist, the Underground Man. The Underground Man strikes the readers as a person
, and one of the things that he abhors was the way in which progressive thinkers of his era worship reason. This was amusing because at the same time, he does not entirely reject reason. From analyzing the text, it is apparent that the Underground Man values reason, but he also sees it as incomplete and an underestimation of the power of free will. The Underground Man’s is not extreme, but quite moderate, because he does see values in reason, and he constantly exhibit logical thinking…show more content…
The Underground Man did not criticize reason as much as he criticized the use of reason by his rationalist and utopian contemporaries. One of the things he criticized about them was their glorification of reason, which was not uncommon at the time. The Underground Man said, “but reason is nothing but reason and satisfies only the rational side of man’s nature,” (Dostoyevsky, 19) This absolute remark showed the Underground man’s though on the limitations of the power of reason, which the rationalists and utopians of his time ignored. Additionally, he said: “I, for instance, quite naturally want to live, in order to satisfy all my capacities for life, and not simply my capacity for reasoning, that is, not simply one twentieth of
Qiao 3 my capacity for life” (Dostoyevsky, 19) By using himself as an example, and describing reason as only “one twentieth” of a person’s capabilities of life, the Underground Man emphasized the small role that reason plays.
Another thing that the Underground the little understanding of psychology at the time. In another example, the Underground Man states: “If, for instance, some day they calculate and prove to me that I made a long nose at