Self-imposed isolation of man

The problem of “today’s” world for one of Dostoevsky’s characters in Brothers Karamazov is the self-imposed isolation of man, which “is prevalent everywhere now, especially in our age, and which has not yet come to an end, has not yet run its course. For everyone nowadays strives to dissociate himself as much as possible from others, everyone wants to savour the fullness of life for himself, but all his best efforts lead not to fullness of life but to total self-destruction, and instead of ending with a comprehensive evaluation of his being, he rushes headlong into complete isolation. For everyone has dissociated himself from everyone else in our age, everyone has disappeared into his own burrow, distanced himself from the next man, hidden himself and his possessions, the result being that he has abandoned people and has, in his turn, been abandoned” (p. 379-380 in the Oxford edition).

Self-imposed isolation is an epistemic problem. In knowledge, a human is alone, for he must detach himself from all things around him so that he can know them. Isolation disappears when knowledge is replaced by knowledge as love. I cannot love from the outside, but only from within the world, and this love (embrace) is experienced as knowledge of the other who is already part of my world, prior to me knowing it.

Zosima’s perspective embraces all people, including Ivan. Zosima does not reject the problem of evil: he embraces it. And, what may sound outrageous, it also embraces the general who murdered the child before his mother’s eyes. Just as in the unilateral contradiction that Constantin Noica theorizes, evil may reject the good, but the good embraces it.

Perhaps the only one responsible for bringing heaven on earth is “me,” because I am the one who is called to offer love as gift. Offering love is equivalent with regaining that which already is part of me and, at the same time, precedes me. Loving the world, I regain the world as it was meant to be because I cancel isolation. And so the presence of love, regardless of external circumstances, transforms any reality into heaven.