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Excerpt Rom Philosophy Book Essay

5191 words - 21 pages

One of the main themes of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is the problem of evil. In this chapter Ivan makes the cases that God could not possibly exist given the suffering in the world. Well, not exactly but something along those lines, you’ll have to read it to see exactly what he says. This is a useful piece to read as it takes us beyond the intellectual discussion of the logical compatibility or incompatibility of certain claims and forces us to actually confront the suffering, feel it, and struggle with how hard it is to reconcile the suffering in the world with the existence of a loving God.
Part II.
Book V: Pro and Contra
Chapter 4: Rebellion
“I MUST make one confession” Ivan ...view middle of the document...

He was God. But we are not gods. Suppose I, for instance, suffer intensely. Another can never know how much I suffer, because he is another and not I. And what’s more, a man is rarely ready to admit another’s suffering (as though it were a distinction). Why won’t he admit it, do you think? Because I smell unpleasant, because I have a stupid face, because I once trod on his foot. Besides, there is suffering and suffering; degrading, humiliating suffering such as humbles me — hunger, for instance — my benefactor will perhaps allow me; but when you come to higher suffering — for an idea, for instance — he will very rarely admit that, perhaps because my face strikes him as not at all what he fancies a man should have who suffers for an idea. And so he deprives me instantly of his favour, and not at all from badness of heart. Beggars, especially genteel beggars, ought never to show themselves, but to ask for charity through the newspapers. One can love one’s neighbours in the abstract, or even at a distance, but at close quarters it’s almost impossible. If it were as on the stage, in the ballet, where if beggars come in, they wear silken rags and tattered lace and beg for alms dancing gracefully, then one might like looking at them. But even then we should not love them. But enough of that. I simply wanted to show you my point of view. I meant to speak of the suffering of mankind generally, but we had better confine ourselves to the sufferings of the children. That reduces the scope of my argument to a tenth of what it would be. Still we’d better keep to the children, though it does weaken my case. But, in the first place, children can be loved even at close quarters, even when they are dirty, even when they are ugly (I fancy, though, children never are ugly). The second reason why I won’t speak of grown-up people is that, besides being disgusting and unworthy of love, they have a compensation — they’ve eaten the apple and know good and evil, and they have become ‘like gods.’ They go on eating it still. But the children haven’t eaten anything, and are so far innocent. Are you fond of children, Alyosha? I know you are, and you will understand why I prefer to speak of them. If they, too, suffer horribly on earth, they must suffer for their fathers’ sins, they must be punished for their fathers, who have eaten the apple; but that reasoning is of the other world and is incomprehensible for the heart of man here on earth. The innocent must not suffer for another’s sins, and especially such innocents! You may be surprised at me, Alyosha, but I am awfully fond of children, too. And observe, cruel people, the violent, the rapacious, the Karamazovs are sometimes very fond of children. Children while they are quite little — up to seven, for instance — are so remote from grown-up people they are different creatures, as it were, of a different species. I knew a criminal in prison who had, in the course of his career as a burglar, murdered whole families,...

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