Homeworks writing service

The themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment

The text argues that Raskolnikov is largely an agent of Left Hegelianism created by Dostoevsky to illustrate a philosophy that the author opposed. That philosophy, Left Hegelianism, held that ultimately all reality is subjectable to rational categorization, an idea that grew into a movement that was partially responsible for rampant atheism, anarchism, and terrorism in 19th century Russia.

Although scholars have explored many of the themes in Crime and Punishment, almost all have overlooked Hegelianism as a major source of inspiration for Dostoevsky. This research is important because one of the essential sources of inspiration for an incredibly influential author is mostly absent from analytical texts.

This the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment illuminates one largely unexplored area of thought from a major source of our modern culture. Petersburg, and the mental anguish that tortures Raskolnikov as he comes to terms with his crime. Like most of Dostoevsky's work, this novel includes an underlying moral message and reveals facets of the author's own psyche and history.

This paper explores one of those facets: Georg Hegel's influence on Dostoevsky's thought. Dostoevsky first began exploring Hegelianism in association with his intense interest in German Romanticism. Shortly thereafter, in 1849, the Russian government strictly enforced its stance on potential terrorist groups and Dostoevsky was exiled to a Siberian prison.

Ultimately, as a result of association with these groups and his experiences both during and directly following his incarceration, Dostoevsky came to sympathize less with leftist progressivism and to rely more on a Christian moral foundation. Crime and Punishment was both Dostoevsky's response to Hegelian sentiments of the 1840s and warning to the radicals of the 1860s about the possible negative influences of their ethics.

This paper will begin with the historical context of Dostoevsky's work in connection with Hegelian philosophy, so that the reason for Dostoevsky's critique may be more fully understood.

It will continue with a juxtaposition between Hegel's philosophy and the key sections of Crime and Punishment that parallel Hegelianism, so that the reader may clearly see the correlations. Finally, it will end with an examination of those views opposing the idea that Crime and Punishment represents a reaction to Hegelianism, offering a case for why these views, while understandable, are inaccurate.

Dostoevsky's encounters with Hegelian social groups early in his career allowed him to explore his fascination with German Romanticism, but he later found Christianity more engaging following his incarceration in Siberia.

One of the first and most influential philosophical leaders with whom Dostoevsky engaged was Vissarion Belinsky, a well-known critic of Russian literature at that time. However, during this time Belinsky was swiftly adopting the very values of German Romanticism that discomforted Dostoevsky: Although Dostoevsky wrote that he viewed Belinsky as an impassioned philosophical guide who effectively indoctrinated him into new Socialist thought, the author soon found Belinsky's ethics troubling.

Whereas Socialism was potentially compatible with Christian morals, Left Hegelianism encouraged anti-Christian sentiments, which Dostoevsky opposed. Dostoevsky disliked Belinsky's philosophy; however, he disliked Mikhail Petrashevsky's form of Left Hegelian atheism even more. Belinsky impressed Dostoevsky, who viewed the critic's negative outbursts as genuine concern for Russian people, but Petrashevsky's cold sarcasm and scorn contributed to Dostoevsky's further move away from ideologies such as Hegelianism to an aggressively Christian moral code.

Initially, Dostoevsky held several reasons to shift from Belinsky's social circle to Petrashevsky's. Neither the Petrashevsky circle nor Petrashevsky himself satisfied Dostoevsky's intellectual or ethical appetites. But Dostoevsky's experience with the Petrashevsky circle ultimately facilitated his decision to oppose Russian progressivism, especially in association with Left Hegelianism, for another reason.

Association with the Petrashevsky group resulted in his Siberian incarceration two years later, after the government executed a raid versus radical groups in 1849. It was during Dostoevsky's time in Siberia, from 1849 to 1854, that the author rejuvenated the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment empowered himself with Christianity.

Dostoevsky strengthened his Christian faith while he was imprisoned in Siberia and, soon after his release, the author began to systematically examine philosophical texts. Many of Dostoevsky's experiences in Siberia may be gleaned from House of the Dead, but one may also discover how Siberia influenced Dostoevsky from his other books. Because of the environment and events in prison, Dostoevsky's relationship with Christianity evolved tremendously.

After reinforcing his Christian foundation in a Siberia prison, Dostoevsky began a philosophical survey while staying in a town named Omsk. During the early 1850s, Dostoevsky embarked on an intellectual journey to examine some specific earlier philosophical movements, especially Hegelianism.

Dostoevsky the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment his brother about acquiring some philosophical texts. My entire future is tied up with that'. On the contrary, Malcolm Jones, the former President of the International Dostoevsky Society, argued that the deficit of evidence to the contrary indicates that Dostoevsky did not achieve thorough comprehension the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment Hegelianism solely during association with Young Hegelian groups of the 1840s.

So Dostoevsky must have studied Hegelianism later in his life, and historical documents indicate that the most likely time for research would have been directly following his incarceration since he deliberately requested the texts of Georg Hegel while living in Omsk. Dostoevsky's experiences with Hegelianism during the 1850s supported the substantial parallelism between the vision of his negative heroes and Left Hegelian views.

Raskolnikov attempts to transcend humanity based upon his theory of extraordinary individuals and by arguing that these gods or supermen among ordinary citizens were capable of righteously committing negative acts. Deluded by his perception of righteousness, Raskolnikov murders a pawn broker, leading him down a self-destructive path that lasts mere days before its conclusion. Shadowing Dostoevsky's experiences, Raskolnikov later finds redemption in suffering and Christianity while incarcerated, according to Dostoevsky's own ethos.

Echoing the Hegelian sentiments of men like Belinsky, Raskolnikov is an effective negative hero, but not a Hero in the Hegelian sense.

Georg Hegel wrote in Philosophy of History that Heroes are great people who naturally further the teleological, or progressive, world by contributing an idea that is simultaneously uniquely their own and the best of their time.

Essentially, there are notable cases of Heroes and there are unremarkable cases of mundane individuals, everyone else in society. Hegel wrote about several differences between Heroes and mundane people. A mundane group of people seeks to establish and secure a community in order to facilitate its own ends, which usually includes a focus on comfort. Furthermore, these people work toward building harmony, establishing permanency, and generally upholding the rules given to them by their predecessors.

This is not the role of Heroes. According to Hegel, Heroes inspire and fulfill a radical shift in society during the period with which they are associated. Heroes are passionate agents who derive their vocation from themselves and gather enough power to shape the world in the image of their own interests. Ultimately, these individuals produce significant, changing conditions that reflect their personal concerns.

Once they glean this characteristic, all further aims are intended toward nothing else. Although Heroes are interested in private gain, they derive their larger success from an unconscious impulse that Hegel called geist, or Spirit. Unfortunately, this central characteristic of Hegel's argument is also fairly elusive. One may define geist as an Idea, or historical medium, transmitted through the process of Nature to the Spirit within a Hero that interprets the message. But to understand how this idea connects with Crime and Punishment, one must understand the relationship between Hegel's terms: Idea, Nature, and Spirit.

In a historical context, the ultimate goal of Nature is the progression of Spirit, which results in civilization, laws, and modernity.

In essence, it is from this that Heroes derive their master passion, which leads them to will and accomplish great things. Using Spirit, Hegel justified how Heroes may commit monstrous acts, such as mass murder.

But extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way just because they are extraordinary. Raskolnikov further commits himself to the position as a Hegelian agent by the way in which he illustrates his example of Napoleon. Raskolnikov comments that extraordinary people may commit some criminal acts justly. He begins by commenting that all world leaders the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment criminals because they depose old, sometimes sacred laws for their new ones and, the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment some cases, even commit bloodshed.

Hegel argued from the position of good will, which holds that criminal acts may or may not be justifiable. Hegel wrote that nothing can inform an individual about what is right except for one's own conscience. Therefore, murdering for the sake of murder, for personal gain, or for sadistic pleasure are wrong actions because they are not intended to be good. But murder for the purpose of relieving or preventing suffering, or to save an innocent life can be good if the conscience deems that it is so.

Since they are Heroes, they are driven by the Spirit, and so their acts are justified by the conscience, which understands the acts to be good and inviolable.


This particular theory served as a strong base from which the character of Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment was created. However, Raskolnikov argues the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment a crime is still punishable regardless of what class of individual committed the act. Raskolnikov states that an individual who commits a crime is subject to punishment.

He reveals this position during the initial conversation regarding his theory. Raskolnikov says that everyone who commits criminal acts suffers, even those who have the right to do so. They will impose various public acts of penitence upon themselves with a beautiful and edifying effect. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth. This theory is very telling about Raskolnikov's own state of mind during both the stages leading up to the murder and his illness and rage following the act.

But the idea of a criminal demanding his own punishment is not a unique idea; Hegel made the same argument in Philosophy of Right. Hegel wrote a very strong parallel argument to Raskolnikov's position in Crime and Punishment. The nature of the crime, no less than the private will of the criminal, requires that the injury initiated by the criminal should be annulled. This might be part of the reason why Hegel argued that it is unnatural for Heroes to be happy.

This anxiety leads to another state Raskolnikov suffered in Crime and Punishment. Raskolnikov feels unhappy and anxious as he is moved by what he perceives to be an invisible power to kill the pawnbroker.

10 Recent Bestsellers People Tried to Ban (and Why)

Leading up to the murder, he feels that the desire was both stronger than him and somehow natural. But the state was simultaneously stressful and filled Raskolnikov with despair, as if approaching his doom.

During this time, Raskolnikov undergoes similar trials and negative life experiences as Heroes from Hegel's History of Philosophy. Furthermore, the force that Raskolnikov believes guided him to commit the crime resembles that sense of Spirit that Hegel argued moved men to act. Lastly, Raskolnikov admits that the categories utilized to divide people into ordinary and extraordinary are fairly arbitrary. Raskolnikov's essay is the clearest Hegelian argument from Crime and Punishment, but it is not the only one in the text.

Toward the beginning of Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov overhears two gentlemen discussing the moral properties of killing the pawnbroker who Raskolnikov later murders. The themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment student and an officer discuss several characteristics of the pawnbroker, especially her negative qualities, including how coldly she treats late payments, the interest she charges, and the abuse of her sister.

As the student grows more heated, the officer interrupts him by asking if the student could actually kill the pawnbroker. The student corrects himself by replying that he was arguing whether or not the act was just, but that he could not kill her. The student's conscience signals the themes of human motivation and moral reasoning in fyodor dostoevskys crime and punishment it was not a just act, so he answered that he would not commit murder.

This conversation also alludes to Raskolnikov's later ethical issues following the murder. From these examples, the parallels between Hegel and Dostoevsky are fairly clear. But some scholars have argued that one can make no distinctive connection between the two authors.

Furthermore, Jones argued that many of those examples in Crime and Punishment cited as Hegelian ideas were different enough that they fail to substantiate the claim. Jones cites three specific differences between the two texts, including the role and ideas of Heroes.