The Underground Man By Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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In Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the underground man is a man who is “living out [his] life in a [his] corner” (2) and is paralyzed by consciousness. The underground man proposes the example of revenge as a way to examine the differences between himself and the man of action; the man of action being a man who can act as opposed to the paralysis of the underground man. The man of action can act, but his position is inconsistent. The underground man thinks he will be miserable regardless of acting or not acting; his belief in determinism causes this and he reasons incorrectly that determinism is true. The man of action and the underground man are determinists who believe all they do is predetermined. They do not believe that they have the ability to commit an action free of any predetermination or influence. All acts that happen are not by the choice of men; instead, the laws of nature are the source of the action. The underground man states “the laws of nature, the deductions of natural science, mathematics” (8) form a stone wall which cannot be broken. The laws of nature do not require the consent of himself, the underground man thinks, “it is a case of twice two makes four!” (8). To the underground man the man of action is happy and stupid, whereas the underground man is unhappy and intelligent. The underground man then presents what act necessitates revenge: the act of being slapped in the face. The case of the man of action is then presented. The
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