Monday, July 16, 2007

Kierkegaard & Dostoevsky

Yesterday, during our biweekly perusal and discussion of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, the discussion turned to the nature of, or rather the need for, religious faith.
We were at the point in the book where Ivan narrates his story of The Grand Inquisitor and we dwelt upon this question in addition to the nature of freedom and other topics. But our discussion continually returned to the issue of faith versus reason. I was reminded of Kierkegaard's argument for a 'leap of faith' as a requirement for true belief. In Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling he goes even farther describing faith as "the highest passion in man". In Dostoevsky we see the contrast between the simple faith of Aloysha and the somewhat complex apparent unbelief of Ivan. This in spite of , or perhaps in addition to, their shared 'baseness' in the Karamazov blood. Regarding the need for faith, while I am impressed by the pervasiveness of belief throughout history I ultimately side with reason and science. This is not to say that we have all the answers to the ultimate questions, but that we are seekers and that the source of the answers will be found with the use of reason and science. That does not keep me from reading and discussing the works of Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, but it does lead me to different answers to the questions which they raise.

A Kierkegaard Anthology, Robert Bretall, ed. Princeton University Press, 1973.
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Ralph E. Matlaw, ed. W. W. Norton, 1976.

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