The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov Judgment and Justice Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.
"What has just been said is also true, that if, indeed, the judgment of the Church came, and in its full force – that is, if the whole of society turned into the Church alone – then not only would the judgment of the Church influence the reformation of the criminal as it can never influence it now, but perhaps crimes themselves would indeed diminish at an incredible rate." (2.5.26)
Zosima suggests that without the moral guidance provided by religion, criminals have no incentive to give up a life of crime.
"They hope to make a just order for themselves, but, having rejected Christ, they will end by drenching the earth with blood, for blood calls to blood, and he who draws the sword will perish by the sword." (6.3.g)
Zosima cites Matthew 26:52 to explain why it will be impossible to create a just society on earth without religious influence. Without religion, man has no morals and no notion of universal love, without which he has no incentive to stop killing his fellow man.
"Remember especially that you cannot be the judge of anyone. For there can be no judge of a criminal on earth until the judge knows that he, too, is a criminal, exactly the same as the one who stands before him." (6.3.h)
The other problem with the judicial system, according to Zosima, is that it falsely assumes that the judge is somehow a better human being than the criminal. Zosima stresses again a fundamental equality between all human beings that goes beyond even the democratic notion of equality, which still establishes a hierarchy between criminals and non-criminals. Put another way, it's possible to exclude somebody from a secular democratic society if he breaks the laws of that society. Zosima's notion of Christian community is so broad that nobody can be excluded, no matter what law they may break, because everybody is an equal before God.