The protagonist of Notes from Underground takes his stand on “contemplative inertia,” having reached the conclusion that the best thing to do is to sink into a state of inactivity.

Contemplative inertiais the ultimate negation of the real world which has become scientific and rational, a world governed by the iron laws of nature . Science, resolves everything, including all that is human, into the mechanical world . As the protagonist of the Notes says:


Although I do not feel like approving natural laws and the

fact that two times two makes four, what about those laws of

nature and arithmetic? Of course I don’t try to hit my head

against a wall because I don’t have the necessary strength, yet

I can’t feel like approving of the wall simply because it is

standing in front of me and I am unable to push it down .


The real world confronts us with the ” stone wall” of absoluteM”mathematical” law, and tries to dissolve me into the world and thereby to negate me. For my part, I cannot negate the world in any way, nor can I escape from it; but neither can I approve of it.


The ultimate solution, wherein I could negate the world which negates me and forces me into the corner, is contemplative inactivity. Traditional metaphysics opened up an ideal, transcendent world and the standpoint of contemplation of that world in order to escape from the real world . This is now no more than a dream, the world of ideals having since disappeared . What exists is simply a real world obediently following mathematical formulas. It is not the kind of world one can breathe in. The world imagined to lie beyond it has vanished, but, in Nietzsche’s words: “one cannot endure this world, which one yet does not want to negate .,


Out of this situation emerges the standpoint of underground contemplation. On

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