I read this book without much research other than hearing the premise of the novel and continuing my binge on Russian literature. The only fact I knew was that it involved 3 brothers, each different in their own rights, contemplating religious faith. The philosophy of religious faith as contemplated from multiple perspectives was enough for me to read it; however, I must admit I thought the author would allow atheism to triumph as Ivan is painted as the character of philosophical insight.
The book was completely opposite to what I expected since religious faith was deemed the champion to shaping ones’ character, happiness, reputation and fate. While Doestovsky was too idyllic in painting pictures of faith triumphing as skeptics saw their demise through death or suicide, I could heed a bit of what he was saying: That humanity needs to believe in the unbelievable and faith is not merit-based. Faith allows the means for people to live happily and peacefully without having to find answers to every gaping hole.
Coupled with a lot of reading of Christopher Hitchens, the most outspoken person against faith, I feel a bit disheveled after letting The Brothers Karamazov digest. The person I most identified with in the novel was Ivan, who goes insane after discovering a serious flaw in his philosophy that he is in fact partially responsible for his father’s murder. His demeanor is one of detachment from humans, attempting to keep humanity at a distance due to his skepticism, which I also identify with at times.
While Doestovsky’s novel spoke volumes to me and reminded me certain people of faith are some of the best people I know (similar to Alyosha), I can’t help but let my thinking fall into the fate of well, my own thinking. Novels like these, while insightful, do little to sway me from my endeavor to discover what’s true. If it leads to my personal insanity like Ivan, so be it. If it puts me back on a track of faith due to the ignorant happiness it can bring despite defying logic, so be it.