Discernment of Good and Evil in Dostoevsky’s Novels: The Madman and the Saint

European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (4):117-137 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This article discusses madness and saintliness in Dostoevsky’s novels and investigates how the madman and the saint discern between good and evil. I first explore the metaphysical, spiritual, and moral universe of Dostoevsky’s characters by drawing on William Desmond’s philosophy of the between. Second, I argue that the madman’s misconstrual of reality can be grasped as an idolatrous, divisive, and parodic imitation of the good. Third, I reflect on disembodied discernment. In some cases, due to the weakness of the moral agent, the good cannot be properly embodied in space and time, even if a person exhibits ethically sound discernment. Fourth, I look at examples of holy discernment and examine how, through love, the genuinely good person is able to transform idolatry into a universal and cosmic sacramentalism.

Similar books and articles

Fyodor Dostoevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche: power/weakness.Ekaterina Poljakova - 2017 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 78 (1-2):121-138.
The Reality of the Devil. [REVIEW]W. G. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 26 (3):523-523.
The Reality of the Devil. [REVIEW]G. W. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 26 (3):523-523.
Evil and moral detachment: further reflections on The Mirror Thesis.Alfred Archer - 2016 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 24 (2):201-218.
Moral Discernment and Doubt in the Human Journey.Perry Hamalis - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (4):175-190.
Fools for Christ.Jaroslav Pelikan - 1955 - Philadelphia,: Muhlenberg Press.


Added to PP

505 (#37,280)

6 months
187 (#15,433)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Ressentiment.Max Scheler - 1994 - Milwaukee, Wis.: Marquette University Press. Edited by Manfred S. Frings.
God and the Between.William Desmond - 2008 - Wiley-Blackwell.

Add more references