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Elitism and Prideful Disdain

In Dostoevsky’s Nasty Story, we follow the dreadful evening of a prideful bureaucrat. The story follows Ivan Ilyich Pralinsky, as he decides to crash his subordinate’s wedding reception. His reason for doing so, whether he admits it or not, is his pride. And, that’s what I want to discuss today: how elitism leads people to pride and a disdain for “common people.”

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What is Elitism?

Basically, elitism is the idea that a group of wealthy, powerful people deserve their wealth and power. Even if the elites are born into it, they still feel deserving. And, if they’re deserving, then the common people they look down on did something to be undeserving. So, it turns out to create a sort of social, political, and financial caste system. The problem is, the self-proclaimed elites aren’t always deserving of the praise they seek. So, it can go wrong for them.

Humbling the Elites

In the past, I’ve reviewed Dostoevsky’s work, and discussed the neuroticism of his characters. Ivan Ilyich Pralinsky is no exception. Throughout this story, he has this inner dialogue where he’ll be held up as a hero of the people. But, the story doesn’t go the way he planned it. In the end, he is humbled terribly and it shows that the higher one holds himself up, the further he can fall. Pralinsky’s elitist attitude blinded him from reality just as our elites are today. If you want to read it, you can find it for free here. For more book reviews and discussions like these, check out my library.

“What sort of heroism? This sort. Consider: in the existing relations of the various members of society, for me, for me, after midnight to go in to the wedding of my subordinate, a registration clerk, at ten roubles the month—why, it would mean embarrassment, a revolution, the last days of Pompeii, a nonsensical folly. No one would understand it. Stepan Nikiforovitch would die before he understood it. Why, he said we should break down. Yes, but that’s you old people, inert, paralytic people; but I shan’t break down, I will transform the last day of Pompeii to a day of the utmost sweetness for my subordinate, and a wild action to an action normal, patriarchal, lofty and moral.

An excerpt from A Nasty Story by Fyordor Dostoevsky

236. Materialism & The Human Person | The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly - Conversation of Our Generation

According to Wikepedia, "Materialism is a form of philosophical monism that holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental states and consciousness, are results of material interactions. According to philosophical materialism, mind and consciousness are by-products or epiphenomena of material processes (such as the biochemistry of the human brain and nervous system), without which they cannot exist. This concept directly contrasts with idealism, where mind and consciousness are first-order realities to which matter is subject and material interactions are secondary." Valid Concerns and Good Points At first, it seems to make sense. Much of what we encounter is material. Our food, light, furniture, etc. is all material. It would be easy at first glance to think everything boils down to what is material. But, does that really comport with what we experience and know? Errors of Materialism Materialism leaves out a large chunk of the human experience. First, it fails, like naturalism, to fully account for the supernatural and the spiritual. And, in doing so, it denies free will and many other parts of our experience that are products of the spirit. Also, materialism doesn't allow for the abstract truths we know to be. Moral truths, natural laws, beauty, and even some mathematical truths can't exist if everything is material. So, materialism fails to explain all that we know about the world. Corrections There is more to the world than just the material. It doesn't fit with our understanding of the world. We experience more than just the material in art and music, as well as abstract concepts. We also experience the phenomenon of free will, which is impossible in a materialist world. In order to fully comport with reality, we need to take into account more than material things. In order to fully experience the world, we have to take account for the non-material parts of our lives. Related Episodes in this Series What is Objective Reality? What is Subjective Reality? Unity of Subject and Object The Golden Mean for Understanding Objective and Subjective Reality Naturalism & The Human Person | The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/conofourgen/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/conofourgen/support
  1. 236. Materialism & The Human Person | The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
  2. 235. Naturalism & The Human Person | The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
  3. 234. The Golden Mean for Understanding Objective and Subjective Reality
  4. 233. Is Patriotism Good? | Reflections on the 4th of July
  5. 232. Unity of Subject and Object
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