CHAPTER III
REPUTATION

1. Isolation an Impossible Human Status.

We have taken it as an axiom of conduct that no man can rid himself of the company of his neighbor. The Stoic's attempt to set the soul in an insulated area untouched by the currents of social or political thought was doomed to failure. The pages of history are filled with schemes for the consolidation of particular interests into a distinct community--a Pantisocracy, a Utopia, a Brook Farm--all of them proving to be without the necessary power to live. Viability does not depend on scientific formula, but on the essential properties of the organic body. It is no doubt true that the experience of isolation is often needed to inculcate in men's minds the purpose and scope of social responsibility. The principle has been concisely stated by Dostoevsky:

For everyone strives to keep his individuality as apart as possible, wishes to secure the greatest possible fullness of life for himself; but meanwhile all his efforts result not in attaining fullness of life but self-destruction; for instead of self-realization he ends by arriving at complete solitude.1

But when a man or nation reaches such an abnormal status,' the conviction emerges that it is not authoritative or final. This observer of Russian society argues that the "terrible individualism" of his day could not persist. Both the passion for personal spiritualization and the desire for private economic stability will inevitably melt away in the under-

____________________
1
"The Brothers Karamazov," trans. by Constance Garnett, Vol. I, p. 313.

-459-

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