Dostoevsky's "The Grand Inquisitor": Adding an Ethical Component to the Teaching of Non-market Entrepreneurship

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The premise of this essay is that the study of ethics is an essential component in teaching all forms of “non-market entrepreneurship,” that is, all forms of entrepreneurship not undertaken

The premise of this essay is that the study of ethics is an essential component in teaching all forms of “non-market entrepreneurship,” that is, all forms of entrepreneurship not undertaken solely for commercial purposes. In non-market entrepreneurship, such as arts entrepreneurship, social enterprise, or social entrepreneurship, at least one other purpose instead of or in addition to profit motivates acting entrepreneurially. In this essay we show how we add an ethical component to teaching social entrepreneurship in a discussion-based seminar in an American university. The thrust of our effort is to require students read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor” and the Father Zossima portions from The Brothers Karamazov, originally published in Russian in 1863 as a seminal work in the golden age of Russian literature. Through the instructor’s structured and directed discussion of the text, students are presented with the argument that a personal ethic of “loving humility” as embodied in the character of Father Zossima might serve as an appropriate ethical guide for non-market entrepreneurship.