The Mark of Cain: Studies in Literature and Theology

Babbage, Stuart Barton

Eerdmans, 1966

pp. 18-20

Dostoevsky knew “that within every man, even enlightenment man, there is a strange streak of perversity, a strain of stubborn irrationality, an impulse of destructiveness.” 19-20 Quotes Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground: A man will discourse with others about the “normal interests of man; with irony he will upbraid the shortsighted fools who do not understand their own interests, nor the true significance of virtue; and, within a quarter of an hour, without any sudden outside provocation, but simply through something inside him which is stronger than all his interest, he will go off on quite a different tack, that is, act in direct opposition to what he has just been saying about himself, in opposition to the laws of reason, in opposition to his own advantage, in fact, in opposition to everything.” Man’s “worst defect is perpetual moral obliquity.” Man “everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chooses and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictate.”