Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

"A nihilist is a person who does not take any principle for granted, however much that principle may be revered." (5.57)

Based on the different discussion of nihilism throughout the book, does Arkady seem to have a good understanding of what nihilism is? In what way does this make nihilism similar to the scientific method? Does it seem, in any way whatsoever, to be a practical philosophy? Is it supposed to be?

Quote #2

"We base our conduct on what we recognize as useful," Bazarov went on. "In these days the most useful thing we can do is to repudiate – and so we repudiate." (10.58)

Is there a contradiction in Bazarov's explanation of his life philosophy? How is repudiation useful? Does the word "do" seem like an overstatement? Can inactivity be useful?

Quote #3

"Nihilism's a panacea for every ill, and you – you are our saviors and heroes. Very well. But why do you abuse other people, even other accusers like yourselves? Aren't you just talking like all the rest?" (10.96)

Is Pavel's caricature of nihilism unfair? Is it accurate? Is nihilism a position that can be defended in argument? If they decide only to do what is useful and if they don't deem talking useful, then how can they expect to be able to defend their position while talking? Doesn't nihilism apply a certain silence on behalf of its proponents?

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