Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 October 2021
Chapter 8 treats the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and provides a close reading of his work Notes from Underground. While Dostoevsky was never one of Hegel’s students in Berlin, he was influenced by Hegel’s thought and fits well with the general trajectory of European thinking in the nineteenth century that the present work traces. The underground man is portrayed as suffering from the disease of reflection, which is characteristic of the modern age. He offers a criticism of the modern scientific worldview, specifically rationalism and materialism. The influence of Hegel can be seen in the fact that the underground man’s relations to others can be characterized as based on the need for recognition. The underground man plays the role of the slave with some and the master with others. The theme of self-alienation is also very much present. The underground man knows full well that he is a coward and a morally depraved person, and in his moments of transparency he admits this. He can be seen as a symbol of modern alienation.
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