Remarkable Prose: And It All Comes From Lying- Lying To Others And To Yourself

September 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

THE ELDER ZOSIMA TO FYODOR KARAMAZOV:

“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize the truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself as well as for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal, in satisfying his vices.

And it all comes from lying- lying to others and yourself.”

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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From Sparknotes, regarding this particular quotation:

“Zosima makes this speech to Fyodor Pavlovich [Karamazov] in Book II, Chapter 2. Many of Zosima’s comments in this section of the novel lay the groundwork for the development of the novel’s main ideas.

Here, Zosima explores the important concept that the path to virtue is through honesty with oneself. A man who lies to himself, he says, is unable to perceive the truth around him. Because his surroundings make him suspicious, and because he cannot believe in anything—not God, not other people—he ceases to respect or to love mankind and thus falls into sin.

This argument is not only a perceptive summary of Fyodor Pavlovich’s psychology, it also opens the door for many of the novel’s subsequent ideas about redemption. Later, the novel suggests that the path to redemption lies in honest self-knowledge, which can best be attained through suffering.”

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