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Nietzsche and Dostoevsky's Exceptional Man ...................LPF

  Author:  49546  Category:(Interesting) Created:(6/4/2003 5:00:00 PM)
This post has been Viewed (9855 times)

The murder story Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a prime example of Nietzsche's philosophy of man. Nietzsche stated that "God is Dead", there is no morality and that science blinds us from the truth. There is no good and evil; right or wrong, however society creates an illusion or a trap, to make us believe the opposite. Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is a clear example of a man, Raskolnikov, who is proving Nietzsche concepts true. The characteristics of the exceptional man compared by both the perspective of Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. The exceptional man can be briefly described as unusual, above average, different, strange and abnormal. Dostoevsky manipulates Nietzsche concepts of who man really is, and what man can do. The protagonist, Raskolnikov is exceptionally different. He was an outcast to society and an extremely paranoid man. His fears of society were just part of the story, he had a very strong sense of right and wrong. However his sense somewhat got blinded, he realized that man can do what they want. In other words he knows he can so he does. The knowledge of knowing that you have the ability to the unimaginable can make you go beyond reality and personal ethics, and make you go against society and do deeds of sin and anger. Raskolnikov illustrates the man in which Nietzsche describes.

Nietzsche in a whole was very intellectual, in the early age of 24 he worked as a professor of Classics at Basel University. He hated the idea of Christianity and anti-democratic ethics. He took drugs and isolated himself from society he eventually went mad . Nietzsche's philosophy of the origin of morality states that humans will to live is to achieve not life but death. In other words to want to live life, means you are going to achieve death, life itself is just the passage from birth to death. Murder according to Nietzsche is the voice of the weak turning strong. He states that humans can make their own rules, their own moral rules. He breaks down the human race into two categories the masters and the slaves. The masters are strong and do what they please, while the slaves are weak and have no right of their own .

Dostoevsky was brought up in a middle class family. In 1848 he joined a group consisting of young intellectual people led by Mikhail Petrashevsky, where there they discussed literary and political issues. During that time these groups were illegal, and they were arrested. Dostoevsky was arrested to be executed but instead he was sent to jail for four years, and once he got out he had to serve four years in the military. During his time in jail, he went through a spiritual and uplifting stage in his life. His masterpiece Crime and Punishment went through the theme of salvation through suffering. The novel illustrates nihilism, or in other words the rejection of all religious and moral principals or the theory that nothing has real existence. Dostoevsky described a man dominated by the life denying forces of nihilism.

Using both Nietzsche and Dostoevsky nihilism has a different concept or importance to both of them. Again, nihilism is the theory that nothing has real existence. Firstly, Dostoevsky proves nihilism by using his protagonist, Raskolnikov. Raskolnikov isolates himself from society and is paranoid. He fears what people think of him, and he fears what will happen to him. He convinces himself that by killing the pawnbroker he is in fact doing a favour to society. He had heard rumors that the poor old lady was mean and selfish, thus he thought by killing her, both him and society would benefit. How Raskolnikov got he to commit the murder was because he realized what he was doing had no meaning. He has the ability to do so, thus he does so. This proving that if man has the ability to do a task, all it takes is the will. Raskolnikov is a prime example of Dostoevsky that nothing has real existence. The life in which people are living is just a stage in which every human being goes through. There are two initial phases in one's existence; birth and death, while life is the will to go to death. Nietzsche states that "God is Dead"however this statement means that he must have lived in order to be dead. Nietzsche has the same point of view on life in general, that life is only to be lived if you have the will to live life.

As a youth Dostoevsky was a in Belinksky's circle, where they went against the Russian government. After his term in jail he completely changed, he went totally against religion and personal belief, just like Nietzsche. Both Nietzsche and Dostoevsky are not religious, they do not need a religious belief or god to tell them what's going to happen to them. Dostoevsky wouldn't really be considered a philosopher more of a extremely intellectual literature writer, he writes novels using his knowledge and applying it into story lines. While on the other hand Nietzsche states the truth, the reality in life. People called him exceptional or weird, because he was the only one out of everybody who could literally understand the real meaning of life and death. Him knowing this truth got him mentally mad, and he was labeled as the mad philosopher who said "God is Dead"

In Crime and Punishment the protagonist would be labeled as what Nietzsche and Dostoevsky call the "exceptional man". Nietzsche describes a person who is different or more knowledgeable someone who knows what their fate is and that they accept their fate. Dostoevsky states the exceptional man is above society even though he/she doesn't appear to be above society. Raskolnikov is the exceptional man. When he committed the murder of the pawnbroker he knew the consequences and he accepted them. He knew what his priorities were. His point of view of the murder was that he needed the money, and society would not be at a loss by the murder of the pawnbroker, thus the only one at loss of this situation would be the pawnbroker. Thus, in our society where laws and regulations are set, what Raskolnikov did should be punished to death, however if you look at it from the point of view of Nietzsche or Dostoevsky Raskolnikov was only doing good. The pawnbroker has brought nothing, generally speaking, thus she had no value.

Nietzsche's view on "crime" and "punishment" is very similar to Dostoevsky's point of view on the issue. Nietzsche describes "punishment" as an individual breaking a promise which they made to society or to the government. Dostoevsky in his novel Crime and Punishment describes "punishment" as the consequences of a wrong deed. Even though the word means one thing, Dostoevsky has a different perspective of "punishment". Nietzsche states that the meaning of punishment has become obscured and forgotten. Government and regulations have manipulated the real reason for punishment and this is where man, does what he wants, as of not what is best for society.

It can be noted that the irony in which both Dostoevsky and Nietzsche went through throughout their life time. They both state how man should understand and accept one's fate, however both Nietzsche and Dostoevsky both went crazy. Maybe that reason is they knew the truth to well, that it frightened them, and then they went mad. It will never be truly known the whole truth to the reason as to why both great historical figures both went crazy, maybe it will take another 100 years for another great philosopher to understand why man is the way they are. It has also been stated that Nietzsche was the man who influenced Nazism, in part that is true, however the Nazi's did not see it from the point of view of Nietzsche this is why the men turned evil in some way. Thus, it can be states that Nietzsche was maybe the "spark" of the Nazism, however it was man's incompetence, which made the Nazi's power mad .

Lastly it can be stated that Dostoevsky is contracting some of Nietzsche's concepts of life and death. Dostoevsky wants to make it clear the exceptional man is aware of his fate but then choose to do something completely opposite, while Nietzsche states that the exceptional man is the man who knows what his fate is and that he accepts it. The acceptance of one's fate is what differentiates between Dostoevsky and Nietzsche.

In closing it can be said that Nietzsche could have been Dostoevsky influence in some of his writings, since it seems as if most of his ideas, morals and themes seem to be very similar to Nietzsche, they also contradict some of his philosophies however in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment it can said that Dostoevsky is proving Nietzsche view of man and death. The exceptional man is a man who understands beyond the common man, they know what their fate is and they accept it, this is the main key characteristic in which is used to differentiate between the common man and the exceptional man.

How it changed my life:

This is my ISP (Individual Study Project) for my English class ...this is only my rough draft! Any input is WELCOME!! It didn't Change My Life, I just didn't know what category to put this is!

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Date: 6/4/2003 6:22:00 PM  From Authorid: 54987    I remember reading Crime and Punishment as a youngster. I found it most fascinating, although I couldn't have been able to philosophize as you have done at that age. I won't pretend to understand his intellect, but I could well believe that Nietzsche could have influenced the nazis. Nazism is Nietzsche gone wrong! Thanks for that short essay.  
Date: 6/12/2003 3:51:00 AM  From Authorid: 30575    I don't know anything about Crime and Punishment (since I haven't read it), but this was very good!   

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