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The Concepts of Utilitarianism and Nihilism within the Context of the Novel Crime and Punishment - Research Paper Example

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This paper seeks to examine the philosophical concepts of utilitarianism and nihilism, within the context of the novel Crime and Punishment¸ in an effort to understand the criminal mind. Dostoyevsky’s novel, Crime, and Punishment has its setting in mid 19th century St. Petersburg.  …
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The Concepts of Utilitarianism and Nihilism within the Context of the Novel Crime and Punishment
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Download file to see previous pages The main character in Dostoyevsky’s fictitious work is portrayed as an amoral individual, who perpetrates heinous crimes out of a personal belief that he is above the rules and regulations that bind his fellow countrymen. Raskolnikov is opposed to blind faith in religious morals, instead opting to chart his own path in rational or utilitarian principles, and in a nihilistic stance to societal ethics. Dostoyevsky’s novel builds on the paradox of Raskolnikov’s belief system, which becomes even more contradictory when the protagonist starts giving thought to religious faith and piety despite his utilitarian and largely nihilistic attitude. It is only after accepting religion that Raskolnikov eventually gets redeemed from his wrongdoings. This paper seeks to examine the philosophical concepts of utilitarianism and nihilism, within the context of the novel Crime and Punishment¸ in an effort to understand the criminal mind.

Dostoyevsky’s novel, Crime, and Punishment has its setting in mid 19th century St. Petersburg. This is an environment characterized by rampant poverty, destitution, sadness, and desperation, which makes vices like prostitution and criminal acts inescapable. As the novel commences, Raskolnikov is in a dark and musty bar. In the bar is another character, Semyon Zakharovitch Marmeladov, who is a habitual drunkard. The latter is accustomed to spending money senselessly on alcohol and prostitutes. He completely disregards the welfare of his own family and seeks refuge from life’s sorrows in his moral weaknesses. The extent of prevailing desperation becomes evident when Zakharovitch laments that “hopelessness is the state of existence, where there is nowhere else one can go” (Dostoevsky 12). The drunken man continues to say that even though compassion has been crushed by science and society in general, there is still a way to escape, “For every man must have somewhere to go” (Dostoevsky 12). It appears as though the drunkard is trying to justify the possibility that his excessive drinking is a form of escape.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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