The end of the 19th century saw great change in the way people perceived themselves in the bigger picture of things. The notions of Enlightenment thinking, man's perfectibility and the formation of the utopian societies were crumbling, while hubris amongst people was growing. The exploration into what was deemed irrational thinking was beginning and was noted by the famous writings of Charles Darwin and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Charles Darwin published his second book, The Descent of Man in 1871. Within this book he applied his previous theories of natural selection and variation to describe the evolution of man. Darwin's finding led him to conclude that man was the ancestor of an ancient monkey type creature. From here Darwin was able to trace the evolution of man all the way back to a larval stage. As Darwin predicted in his writing many people did find his work "distasteful" to say the least.
Selling out on the first day of print, "The Descent of Man" was read by all. The reactions were full of shock, how could some one claim that man, is the descendant of some Old World monkey let alone a unicellular marine larva. The uproar over Darwin's book only grew when it came to the religious aspect. Darwin claimed that religion wasn't something that was universal and innate. It was only through man's growing reason and curiosity that religion and God himself was formed from a simple spiritual belief. People couldn't believe what they were reading; everything that they once believed in was now in question.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author infamous for his book "Crime and Punishment" was one of the first to openly oppose the ideas of the Enlightenment. In Notes from the Underground the narrator is discussing what he believes to be the primary desire for man.