Free Will In Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

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Freedom, a word often used but seldom understood, lies at the center of the lives of all who have lived and will live. Humans define themselves and others by their actions, and our actions create the image by which we recognize ourselves and others. Dostoevsky was obsessed with freedom, with rules and boundaries, the theme recurs throughout his corpus, but nowhere is it better expressed than in The Brothers Karamazov, his last, and perhaps greatest novel. In the novel, a dialogue between two brothers, Ivan and Alyosha, takes place in the form of a story, the tale of The Grand Inquisitor. In it, a Cardinal Grand Inquisitor encounters what appears to be Jesus Christ, upon meeting him, he has the man imprisoned, after dark he explains himself, …show more content…

The Inquisitor, and by the extension the Church, then chose to use the three things Christ did not in providing salvation “miracle, mystery, and authority” with these tools, they undermine the free will of the people. This is perhaps one of the most interesting philosophical points ever made, as Dostoevsky makes one of the few cogent and complete arguments against what is historically one of the most effective arguments against the existence of god, The Problem of Evil. To summarize, the problem of evil is an argument against most monotheistic religions, its base assumptions are derived from the claims that God is inherently good and that he exists. According to advocates of the problem of evil, the current state of the world with all its woes is proof that god either is not good or he does not exist. The typical line of reasoning from theists is that God offered us free will and that this is the source of all evil. This argument isn’t very sound, as there are many obvious causes of pain and suffering that have nothing to do with human choices. Dostoevsky however, using a very interesting and intelligent interpretation of scripture, arrives to an argument in a very similar vein. His, however, displays a level of subtlety and …show more content…

By rejecting the powers wielded by men, he has drawn a line and shown what he values above all else, faith born from freedom. Christ, in Dostoevsky’s eyes, sees freedom and faith as being two inextricably linked concepts. You cannot truly have faith in another without making a choice, but if that choice has no struggle than it was hardly a choice, it was merely convenience. This is where the Grand Inquisitor is confused. He claims that Christ wishes to burn the tens of millions who cannot be as he in exchange for the tens of thousands, not recognizing that it is his influence that helps make it so difficult to truly arrive to the divine. That those who would take earthly powers and use them to take control over one another are the chief cause of the difficulty found in reaching the divine. The Inquisitor states that he, and a hundred or so thousand more, are sufferers of the true knowledge of good and evil and in this statement he proves Christ right in his decision to deny turning the desert to loaves. He has the knowledge of good and evil, he has the knowledge of the divine, or heavenly bread, and yet like all men of greeD he does not share it amongst his fellow man. So despite his grand claims at correcting the failure of Christ, despite believing that he has saved millions who could have never been what Christ desired for true disciples, he has done them no

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