The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.
"[...] the enlightened world of today [...] has proclaimed freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs: only slavery and suicide! For the world says: 'You have needs, therefore satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the noblest and richest men. Do not be afraid to satisfy them, but even increase them' – this is the current teaching of the world. And in this they see freedom." (6.3.e)
Zosima attacks another notion of freedom, this time the idea of freedom inherited from the Enlightenment, which asserted that all men were born free and equal. Zosima points out that inequalities still exist in society (between the rich and the poor), and Enlightenment philosophy is no solace to the poor, who don't feel any more free than in the days of serfdom.
"Obedience, fasting, and prayer are laughed at, yet they alone constitute the way to real and true freedom: I cut away my superfluous and unnecessary needs, through obedience I humble and chasten my vain and proud will, and thereby, with God's help, attain freedom of spirit, and with that, spiritual rejoicing!" (6.3.e)
Zosima explains here that in giving up one's will to the rigors of monastic life, one will actually become even more free because one is free of delusions and material desires. One can finally experience true joy.
"[...] since God and immortality do not exist in any case, even if this period should never come, the new man is allowed to become a man-god, though it be he alone in the whole world, and of course, in this new rank, to jump lightheartedly over any former moral obstacle of the former slave-man, if need be. There is no law for God! Where God stands – there is the place of God! Where I stand, there at once will be the foremost place . . .'everything is permitted,' and that's that! It's all very nice, only if one wants to swindle, why, I wonder, should one also need the sanction of truth? But such is the modern little Russian man: without such a sanction, he doesn't even dare to swindle, so much does he love the truth . . ." (11.9.95)
At this late point, the novel completes its ironic characterization of Ivan's skepticism. The devil here parrots Ivan's views back to himself. Ivan's notion of a "new man," who sets his own morality – "everything is permitted" – is shown to be ridiculous through the contrast between the grandiose aspirations of the "new man" and the very humble and shabby appearance of the devil himself.