A MoralPhilosophical Analysis of Dostoyevskys The Dream of the Ridiculous Man



Dostoyevsky’s ridiculous man is one who is more morally aware than the rest of his society. He is taken for a madman for having foolish ideas, but in actuality, has a higher comprehension of life that his society does not understand. The story shows a basic struggle between logic and man’s natural instinct toward the whimsical. Positivism, or logical reasoning, is regarded negatively in this story, a common feature in many of Dostoyevsky’s literature. Dostoyevsky opposes the popular usage of positivism by many of his counterparts and instead he focuses more on the metaphysical aspect, or man’s natural tendency toward the whimsical. The metaphysical aspect is based upon the psychology of love and religion as well as the concern with the ultimate nature of existence. Dostoyevsky uses the metaphysical, as opposed to positivism, to criticize a society laden with suffering and morally deficient people, and to show that true happiness can be found though pure love, but that love can never be truly attained by all.
The ridiculous man attempts positivism, but he is unsuccessful. Positivism is first seen when he is trying to analyze his feelings after meeting the young girl and feeling sorry for her. The emotions that this little girl stirred in the ridiculous man tormented him. He knew that if he felt pain for this girl, then he was still human. Knowing this, he
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understood that if he were to die, the world would stop existing for him. This notion soon created many new thoughts about life. He tried to find a way to rationalize what he was feeling and thinking and his only accomplishment was confusing himself more. In this aspect, Dostoyevsky discredits the rationality of positivism, portraying it as a useless tool for understanding. Logical thinking was not what the ridiculous man needed to solve his problems and he learns this in his truly inspirational dream. The ridiculous man himself states the fact that he “began to accept things without question” (212) in his dream. This is a very anti-positivism statement. He stopped trying to rationalize and just accepted the information he was receiving. This type of thinking is the true key to the understanding of life for the ridiculous man. He finds Truth through this dream, finding it all through feeling and acknowledging the fact the he could not understand everything the people on this new planet had to offer. In not understanding everything the people had to offer, the ridiculous man rejects logic. He “realized even then that many things in them [the people on this new Earth] were beyond [his] grasp” (216). By accepting the fact that logical thinking is not always applicable, he had learned the Truth for which he had been searching his whole life.
Dostoyevsky uses the metaphysical, the psychology of love and religion, showing it as the only way to truly understand. In the first sense, Dostoyevsky uses the metaphysical to demonstrate the psychology of love. The ridiculous man is considered ridiculous by society because his beliefs are incomprehensible to them. He is found to be ridiculous, as is established in the end, because he is trying to preach love for all. This concept is so foreign to most people in his society that they cannot accept it. Even the
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ridiculous man could not accept this concept of unconditional love until he went to an unattainable, utopian, new Earth that he could only find in his dreams. When the ridiculous man arrived at this new Earth he found love emanating from everything: the plants, the animals, the sea, and the people. This concept of ubiquitous love was so foreign to him that he could not believe it at first. The world from which he came people "can truly love only with suffering and through suffering” (215). At first, this concept of absolute love was so unfathomable to the ridiculous man that he refused it. However, after he experienced this unique love he realized that love could occur without suffering, but only in a unique society like the one he had found in his dreams. The ridiculous man found that in an already corrupted society like his own he could not find that special love. The invasion of science and