Ideas of Community in the Thought of Pierre Leroux and of Feodor Dostoevsky: Agape, Philia and Eros

Title: Ideas of Community in the Thought of Pierre Leroux and of Feodor Dostoevsky: Agape, Philia and Eros
Authors: Simitopol, Anca Eliza
Date: 2012
Abstract: In this thesis I compare Pierre Leroux, a French utopian socialist (1797 – 1871), with Feodor Dostoevsky, the well-known Orthodox Russian novelist (1821 – 1881). I argue that both authors reacted against what they considered to be the dissolution of the social order, brought about by the increasing nineteenth-century bourgeois individualism. On the other hand, they reacted as well against the opposite phenomenon, the idea of a universal socialist state, which was, in fact, according to them, the outcome of bourgeois individualism. My purpose is to bring close and to compare Leroux’s republican socialism with Dostoevsky’s Christian socialism, and to explore to what extent the two authors give similar answers to a common problem. In order to better explain their thought, I divide my thesis into three chapters. The first analyzes and compares Leroux’s and Dostoevsky’s critiques of individualism. If Leroux reaches the conclusion that the ultimate expression of individualism is Malthusianism, Dostoevsky argues that individualism ends in nihilism. The second chapter analyzes the type of socialism against which Leroux and Dostoevsky reacted, as well as the critiques of the two authors. I argue here that Saint-Simonian socialism – the main object of Leroux’s critique – and the socialism of the Grand Inquisitor – a Dostoevskyan character – are the expression of a certain utopian thought which considers the requirement for freedom incompatible with the requirement for unity. In the last chapter, I analyze the ideas of community of Leroux and of Dostoevsky, which are centered on philia, in the case of the former, and on agape, in the case of the latter. Philia and respectively agape are the expression of organic social relations, through which the two requirements, of freedom and unity, are made compatible, and which create unity in multiplicity. Their ideas of community appear as active utopias, grounded on the life of relation in a spontaneous, organic community.
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