ARLT100.1 - Patricia Lee ARLT 100g Existentialism Death and...

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Patricia Lee ARLT 100g: Existentialism, Death, and Meaningless Tuesdays and Thursdays @ 12:30 am Professor McCann Spring 2006 Tuesday, February 7, 2006 Essay #1: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov : Atheism and the Grand Inquisitor In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov the recurring influence of God is omnipresent. From the devoted followers and believers to the doubtful- in order to deny the existence of God one is acknowledging his existence however different the “existence“ is defined. The Brothers Karamazov seem to showcase this spectrum reflecting the existence of God. There is Alyosha, the devoted, at one end and Dmitry on the other- denying the existence of God therefore “everything is permitted.” In the middle seems to sit Ivan, who believes in the existence of God but disagree with his teaching of universal love. Like many he does not “understand how I was possible to love one’s neighbors” (p. 314). He does not understand the why God allow for the suffering of humans and questions God’s choices during the three temptations. His criticism of God’s choices and allowance for suffering has allowed the Roman Catholic Church to manipulate God’s preaching to gain power over their fellow men. His criticism at the institution “created” by God in the Grand Inquisitor advances the argument for atheism that is started in Book V, Chapter 4, ‘Rebellion’. It exposes the deception of the institution in which takes advantage of the weakness and fear of men in promising redemption from sins and salvation from suffering in exchange for the freedom given by God. Atheism roots from the weakness of faith in God due to the apparent suffering of mankind. Ivan limits the scope of his argument in ‘Rebellion’ to only account for children “as a tenth of the total [human suffering in general]” (p. 315) as the restriction is not only to his advantage but also “in the first place, it is possible to love children” but not adults at a close
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quarters. Besides adults have something to compensate for their suffering as they have eaten the fruit of knowledge and know good and evil but children are not guilty of anything for they have not had the time for such consumption. (p. 316) Ivan understands suffering as a punishment for sins but questions the punishment and suffering of children. Children, he stated in ’Rebellion”, did not have the chance to sin and eat the fruit of knowledge therefore should not be subjugated to suffering. For Ivan “can understand the solidarity in sin and also solidarity in retribution. But how can there be solidarity in sin with small children? And if it is true that children share the responsibility for the sins committed by their fathers” (p. 325) which seems to imply an eternal damnation of the human race.
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