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Dostoevsky's Crime and PunishmentPhilosophical Perspectives$
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Robert Guay

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190464011

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190464011.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 February 2021

Raskolnikov Beyond Good and Evil

Raskolnikov Beyond Good and Evil

(p.149) Chapter 6 Raskolnikov Beyond Good and Evil
Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

Randall Havas

Oxford University Press

Crime and Punishment is, among other things, a long meditation on the authority of the moral law. In insisting that his main character, Raskolnikov, is guilty of a heinous crime, however, Dostoevsky does not take that authority for granted. At the beginning of the story, Raskolnikov is portrayed as a kind of skeptic about morality, indeed about humanity, who thinks that moral imperatives are binding on us only as a matter of convention or of mere calculation and that the exceptional person is free to “step beyond” them altogether. As the novel progresses, however, it becomes clear that the authority of morality is, in Dostoevsky’s view, a function of a particular kind of human community. His skepticism, then, is a failure of a certain kind of desire, not simply an intellectual error; but it is a failure to which Dostoevsky thinks his reader is prone. Although Raskolnikov’s talk of stepping beyond morality may appear to resemble Nietzsche’s injunction to the “higher man” to live beyond good and evil, I will argue that Dostoevsky and Nietzsche actually agree on the necessity of an antecedent mutuality as a foundation for morality.

Keywords:   Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, alienation, authority, law, Platonism

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