Dostoevsky and Pascal: the paradox of two abysses

Daria Farafonova


There are, in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s work, evident signs of his interest in Blaise Pascal’s paradoxical thought, especially regarding the cognitive effort of the reason defeating itself, which is synthetised in Pascal’s formula désaveu de la raison and is so consonant with Dostoevsky’s spiritual research. The ‘spiritual affinity’ between the two great writers was acknowledged by Lev Shestov, Nikolaj Berdjaev, Vasilij Rozanov, Leonid Grossman. Nevertheless, there is a need for a systematic and accurate textual analysis of the numerous allusions to Pascal’s conceptual horizon, which can be individuated in some of the crucial points of Dostoevsky’s prose, especially those pertaining to the criticism of reason based on revealing its abyssal contradictory nature. In the present article, I will try to fill this gap at least partly, demonstrating how some of the French philosopher’s central ideas and especially the form of his argumentation were contemplated in depth and reframed in Dostoevsky’s creative ‘laboratory’.

Keywords: Dostoevsky; Blaise Pascal; Reason; Paradox; Comparative analysis

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