Scientific Materalism V. Crime And Punishment

2273 words - 9 pages

Author of Crime and Punishment, Feodor Dostoevsky, uses the text to subtly exhibit factors which aid in disproving the idea of scientific materialism. He aims to prove that there must be another explanation for our complexities, unlike the opposing one in which everything is believed to be made or conducted by matter. Regardless of extensive scientific experimentation, there are still many aspects of the human mind and body that remain unclear. Crime and Punishment relays some extreme qualities possessed by humans which are argued by many to be valid proof of our creation by a higher power. The fact that humans are emotional beings and that emotions are not classified as matter creates the opportunity for philosophical debate. Dostoevsky feeds on this uncertainty and assists in the argument of refuting scientific materialism by providing examples of human emotions such as shame, pity, compassion, love, and guilt. He also attempts to refute scientific materialism by suggesting the existence of a human conscience, free will, self sacrifice, and pure evil.
Crime and Punishment revolves around main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, and the physical, mental, and spiritual repercussions he endures after he commits murder. In other words, “the whole novel is built around the unique process of disintegration in the hero's soul” (Bem 2). When we first meet Raskolnikov, we learn he is a relatively young ex-student who has fallen into the poverty stricken slums of St. Petersburg, Russia. He has become unhealthily anti-social and bitter towards humanity and is now trapped within and tortured by his own thoughts. It is revealed that he is struggling internally with the idea of murdering a pawnbroker, Alena Ivanovna, with whom he had recently conducted business. After much mental torment and with the help of many lucky coincidences, he finally goes through with the murders and ends up killing both Alena and her step-sister, Lizaveta. Although he immediately regrets the murders, it is too late and his punishment of physical and mental sickness begins. Ultimately, Raskolnikov confesses, goes to jail for the crime, and supposedly becomes a new man. However, between the crime and the punishment, we embark along a psychological journey in which we get inside the minds of Raskolnikov and the other characters in the novel and find out what it is that makes us human. Dostoevsky writes the story with so much emotion that it would be impossible to find a scientific explanation behind every instance. Like Raskolnikov, each character in the novel is shown to have the same combination of good and evil inside them and there are many instances which portray both sides of the characters. These fictional moments are a reflection of the real world in which positive interactions and random acts of kindness, along with negative interactions and random acts of hatred also exist. If the world were only to be judged by the characteristics of scientific...

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