Dostoevsky on the naivety of mankind

Post Philosophy
3 min readFeb 13, 2023

“As a general rule, people are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are too.”

In Dostoevsky’s time there were no TED talks, that was probably a good thing. But on the other hand, people didn’t need TED talks since they could say whatever they wanted and preach after consuming a considerable amount of the cheapest Vodka known to mankind. But of course, in order to be noticed in such a setting, one has to climb up a table and preach loudly. After a long cold day in Saint Petersburg, Dostoevsky was there, standing proudly on one of the tables of Bazarov Bar and preaching as such:

“Nothing is more irritating than being moderately wealthy, coming from a decent family, having a charming presence, having a fair education, being kindhearted and ‘not stupid,’ and yet having no talent whatsoever, no originality, not even a single idea of one’s own — being, in other words, ‘just like everyone else.’ There are countless numbers of these people in the world — far more than it might first appear. They can be separated into two classes: those with low intellect and those with significantly greater intelligence. The happier of these two groups is the first. Nothing is easier for a commonplace man with little intelligence than to think of himself as an original character and to take great pleasure in that conviction without even the least doubt. Many of our young women have decided it’s suitable to cut their hair short, wear blue glasses, and identify as nihilists. They have successfully convinced themselves that they have acquired new views of their own without any further difficulty as a result of doing this. Even a small act of kindness toward one’s fellow human being can convince some that they are the only ones in the van of enlightenment and that no one else has the same compassion as they do. Others only need to read someone else’s concept for them to instantaneously internalize it and think it originated in their own head. While they were soaked with the desire to be original from head to toe, the so called class of people of ‘significantly greater intelligence’ is far less joyful than the class of limited intellect as I mentioned earlier. Because the ‘clever commonplace’ person harbors a deathless worm of doubt in his heart, even though he may think himself to be a man of brilliance and originality, but this uncertainty and doubt sometimes causes a clever man to despair. In general, however, nothing tragic occurs; over time, his liver suffers some damage, but nothing more serious. Such men battle hard to maintain their ambitions after originality, and while being good people in their own right and even contributors to humanity, have even sunk to the level of criminals in the pursuit of originality! I think that’s all I have to say to you.”

And then Dostoevsky stepped down the table clumsily and went back to rot on the bar stool.

A man sitting next to him asked: “Is this why you’re drinking?”

Dostoevsky replied: “Drinking has multiple purposes, as for me, the more I drink the more I feel it. I try to find sympathy and feeling in drinking. And sometimes I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!”

The man asked again: “I see, I was eager to ask who do you think is of significant intelligence?”

Dostoevsky looked the man in the eyes and told him: “As a general rule, people are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are too. But I will tell you one thing: If you destroy my desires, eradicate my ideals, and show me something better, I will follow you.”



Post Philosophy

Philosophers lives matter. For existential purposes and failure in getting rich, I am overclocking my liver to refurbish Filosophy. A page for all and none.