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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

The main character of Fathers and Sons, Bazarov, does not want to occupy a philosophical position. Yet nihilism, whether he likes it or not, is a philosophy, a philosophy of destruction and renunciation. Bazarov is such an intellectual character that throughout the novel we see him struggle to understand each new situation in which he is put. Yet, from his intellectual point of view, he renounces romance and many other human values that make life worth living. Part of the drama of the novel is watching how Bazarov can go on living with his philosophy.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints

  1. What do you think of nihilism as a philosophical viewpoint? Does it make sense? Is it consistent?
  2. What does nihilism borrow from and have in common with the scientific method? What happens when you only approach life "scientifically"?
  3. What is the relationship between philosophy and human happiness? What is the good of a particular philosophy if it does not promote human happiness?
  4. Is Vassily Ivanych's romanticism a type of philosophy or is it inherently opposed to philosophy?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Bazarov's philosophy is inconsistent because, though it renounces everything, it does not have the capacity to call itself into question.

Though Bazarov perceives romanticism as the opposite of philosophy, what we learn by the end of the novel is that romanticism – a sense of human value – is exactly what is missing from Bazarov's own nihilistic philosophy.

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