Dostoevsky the Thinker: A Philosophical Studyby James P. Scanlan
Pub. Date: 05/01/2002
Publisher: Cornell University Press
For all his distance from formal philosophy, Fyodor Dostoevsky was one of the most philosophical of writers. In works from fictional masterpieces to little-known nonfiction prose, he grappled with the ultimate questions about the nature of humankind. His novels are peopled by characters who dramatize the fierce debates that preoccupied the Russian intelligentsia
For all his distance from formal philosophy, Fyodor Dostoevsky was one of the most philosophical of writers. In works from fictional masterpieces to little-known nonfiction prose, he grappled with the ultimate questions about the nature of humankind. His novels are peopled by characters who dramatize the fierce debates that preoccupied the Russian intelligentsia during the second half of the nineteenth century. What was the philosophy of Dostoevsky? How does reading this literary giant from a new perspective add to our understanding of him and of Russian culture?
In this remarkable book, a leading authority on Russian thought presents the first comprehensive account of Dostoevsky's philosophical outlook. Drawing on the writer's novels and, more so than other scholars, on his essays, letters, and notebooks, James P. Scanlan examines Dostoevsky's beliefs. The nonfiction pieces make possible new interpretations of some of the author's most controversial works of fiction, including Notes from Underground. Dostoevsky's thought, Scanlan explains, was shaped above all by its anthropocentrism, its struggle to define the essence of humanity. All of the subjects the writer addressedincluding religion, ethics, aesthetics, history, the state, and the Russian nationprovided clues to the mystery of what it means to be human. Scanlan demonstrates conclusively that Dostoevsky's philosophical views were more solidly grounded and systematic than have been imagined and cannot be dismissed as the notions of an irrationalist.
Scanlan also discusses the flaws and weaknesses in Dostoevsky's thought, in particular his controversial notion that Russia is the one "God-bearing" nation. This beliefthat Russia has a messianic role to play in world historyhas gained renewed popularity among its citizens, for whom Dostoevsky has long been regarded as a thinker of supreme importance.
- Cornell University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Table of Contents
Introduction: Dostoevsky as a Philosopher
1. Matter and Spirit
2. The Case against Rational Egoism
3.The Ethics of Altruism
5. "The Russian Idea"
Conclusion:Dostoevsky's Vision of Humanity
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