Tom’s Dissertation

Uploaded a PDF copy of son Tom’s undergrad philosophy dissertation “On Incompleteness, Inconsistency and Moral Dilemmas.” By Tom Glendinning, Easter 2008, in which, after applying Godel to the problem he concludes:

“The future for moral debate … has to be concerned with the insurmountable dichotomy between complete and consistent moral systems. As we can no longer expect a unique answer to every situation, we have to decide which is more valuable.”

The End of Dialectics

Finished Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” at last … a rather disrupted read over several months … I last blogged an extract when I was less than a third of the way through back in April. Despite the lack of quality time to devote to it, I somehow sensed this was an important one to finish. Glad I did.

The final page includes this …

“In place of dialectics life had arrived, and in his consciousness something of a wholly different nature must now work towards fruition. …

 … But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.”

As Gav says, over on MoQ-Discuss highlighting that closing sentence, this is a lesson learned for “man” not just for Raskolnikov.

Overall the book is a complex study of Raskolnikov’s psychological struggle between emotional guilt and intellectual justification for the murder of “a loathsome, harmful louse, a filthy old moneylender” as an “audacious” academic exercise rather than the ostensible material motive of robbery. Some excellent passages on motives and virtues, not just Raskolinokov’s, also in the many characters and dialogues around him. More later hopefully. Three or four passages – on the psychological game-play on guessing what the other person knows and their motives in any dialogue – I will return to.

[Spoiler warning] Fresh in my mind is the final cliff-hanger (before the Eiplogue above) where we hear of Svidrigailov’s suicide and the note explaining his motives, of sound mind and body; We already know he was fully aware of and sympathetic to Raskolnikov’s higher-good intellectual motives in the “murder(s)” – does Svidrigailov’s suicide note plead the guilt, and let Raskolinikov off the hook ? No, the final confession is Raskolikov’s.