Organized religion epitomizes man's need to give order and meaning to his life. Philosophy represents his effort to rationalize the principles of his faith and conduct. Acceptance of God or an all-powerful supreme being who governs the universe remains the cornerstone of most major religions, but the fate of civilization depends upon the actions of the individual. Yet, people often invest too much of themselves in their personal philosophies. Allowing one's beliefs to determine his behavior may prove spiritually beneficial, but allowing those morals to dictate his emotions minimizes the human experience. Adherence to a strong belief system denotes weakness of character.
In the novel Fathers and Sons, inflexibility of beliefs leads to self-destruction
[...] Bazarov cannot find the strength within his nihilistic philosophies or character to love his parents in the same selfless manner in which they love him. His mother cries, son's cut off from us .I'll always remain the same for you for ever and ever, just as you will for (136). While she realizes that she has no relationship of substance with her son, Bazarov's pride does not allow him to admit to a failed relationship with his parents. Therefore, he makes no attempt to improve the situation—another sign of weakness. [...]
[...] Anna cannot look past the similarities of their beliefs and, consequently, misses the path her heart seeks to follow. Her mind clashing with her emotions, she cedes control of her destiny. Her weakness lies in her passivity. Instead of making an effort to align logic and love--to understand that love cannot be as rational as a scientific formula--she gives up completely, standing back as Bazarov pulls away. In addition, Bazarov's unyielding passion for nihilism renders him a slave to his beliefs. [...]
[...] Since he cannot accept his loathing for Bazarov, he proposes a duel to the death, announcing, I say things so that I may be understood .Your words relieve me of a certain sad necessity. I have decided to fight a duel with you.” (p. 149). Hate-filled and unable to think clearly, Pavel cannot reconcile the two opposing philosophies. He envisions death as the sole savior, failing to comprehend that his own demise would constitute the ultimate self-destruction while Bazarov's death would diminish his character and reputation. [...]
[...] However, soon he can no longer ignore the gulf between them. the first time he was clearly aware of the rift between him and his son. He had a foreboding that with each passing day it would become greater and greater . feel like they've got something we haven't, some sort of superiority over us (p.57) Nikolai realizes that his son's arrogance will widen the generation gap. Arkady has been independent of his father for so long that Nikolai knows that trying to assume a position of authority in Arkady's life cannot succeed and contradicts his son's faith in nihilism. [...]
[...] his love for Anna ultimately crushes the self-righteousness that drives his ego. No loophole exists in this philosophy to justify his feelings for Anna. Instead of leaving his comfort zone to question his belief system, he simply removes himself from situations provoking the discomfort. Accordingly, when Anna requests that he stay and talk with her, Bazarov declines the invitation, voicing distress in being in her company, I find that I've already spent too long in a sphere that is foreign to me. [...]
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