Thoughts from Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky is a famous Russian writer often called the founder of existentialism. He was Christian and let some of his beliefs shine through in his works. I came across a few quotes from his writings today that I found interesting (these can all be found on Wikiquote):

From The Brothers Karamazov:

  • If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up.
  • The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.
  • A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying-to others and to yourself.

The first of his quotes that I found today seemed particularly powerful:

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

We become in life and in eternity what we make of ourselves. Our thoughts become desires, which lead to actions. Actions lead to habits, which in turn determine our character.


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