Notes from Underground
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Contributed by Jennefer Ruano
Chapter 7

The UM more clearly focuses his assault on Chernyshevsky’s "golden dreams" in this chapter, where he asserts that man is an inherently irrational creature (he cites human history, including the American Civil War, which was in progress during the time he was writing), and therefore does not always act in his own self-interest.  Indeed, the Underground Man asks, "And what if it turns out that man’s advantage sometimes not only may, but even must in certain circumstances, consist precisely in his desiring something harmful to himself instead of something advantageous?" Freedom to act against the laws of nature, against the crystal palace of reason, is the advantage the UM sees above all others.  The UM goes on: "Man needs only one thing-his own independent desire, whatever that independence might cost and wherever it might lead."

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