How the Brothers Karamazov Unleashes the Furies
He [Alyosha] was beginning to understand Ivan’s illness. The anguish of a proud determination. A deep conscience! God, in Whom he did not believe, and his truth were overcoming his heart, which still did not want to submit.”
“Oh! He [Ivan] has a deep, deep conscience.” Katerina Ivanovna
It was said by those who knew Ivan Karamazov well that he had a deep conscience. So what is this conscience and how is it different from what we normally call conscience? It is important to distinguish the difference between deep conscience, which is knowledge, and a more shallow or surface conscience, which is belief. The first is underived, as J. Budziszewski, author of What we Can’t Not Know describes it, and the second is derived from experience, teachers, parents, the church, religion, etc.
This surface conscience may be associated with a duty to do right, or an ethic as touched upon by Kierkegaard, or in Nietzsche’s admonition to go beyond good and evil. Both authors may have called upon the readers to find the deeper conscience which is not found in experience but in a “leap of faith,” or in the will. But “will to power” is successful only with surface conscience. The will arbitrates, negotiates, and wrangles the furies of conscience, it is powerless against what Budziszewski calls the avenger, “who punishes the soul who does wrong, but refuses to read the indictment (140).”
Deep conscience contains the moral laws that are written on the heart of every man as described in the Bible. They are not made by man, but are a priori, not derived from experience. Deep conscience is solid, it won’t be mocked and it can’t be circumvented. E. Michael Jones explains in Monsters from the Id, that even when we think that we “will” not speak of it [a wrong done], we precisely “will” speak of it because God demands it. Of Mary Shelley’s reluctance to write of the horrors of the French Revolution that she witnessed, Jones states that Shelley could not “not talk about it. The monster speaks the unspeakable for [her](Preface: x).” Thus was born Continue reading