Notes from Underground: Binding Limits Essay

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In Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, the underground man struggles between two beliefs. The first acknowledges that his fictional existence is predetermined, subject to his author’s conduct. The second opposes that, insisting the underground man can only live in an undetermined world that extols free will, situating it within the human. For a remedy, the underground man turns to writing, hoping to probe into this duality and to not reject any truth that comes forth, horrifying or not. Through this, he understands that his self awareness gives him no control he has over his actions. Even though he doesn’t possess it, the underground man continues to believe in free will. The reader’s acknowledged on the book’s final page when the…show more content…
Moreover, to believe two times two is four and that the outcome of four is unchangeable within the distance future, is something that the Underground man refutes. For one’s life to have meaning and validity, actions must be understood as non-robotic; an answer to this question must not only be unknown, but more importantly, undecided. He then goes on to say that “consciousness, for example, is infinitely higher than two times two” (pg 33). As we continue to read, the underground man’s consciousness which desires to rid itself from the notion of determinism produces an ironic situation. As readers, we understand through words and upcoming chapters, his story has already been decided. The underground man can not make conscious decisions because the author has already done so: the underground man is crafted solely from the author’s literary experience. This revelation marks the shift from part one of the book to part two. In part two the underground man writes about his past (20 years ago) as an experiment designed to gain understanding about his true nature and the logic that governs it. His hope is to realize where his path took a wrong turn and what, if anything, can be learned from it. In “Apropos of the Wet Snow,” the underground man describes his time spent reading as an attempt to
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