Tolstoy eventually turned to the ascetic morality advocated in Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation as the appropriate spiritual path for the upper classes after reading that work. He writes in 1869: “Do you realize the significance of this summer for me? Constant raptures over Schopenhauer and a whole series of spiritual delights which I’ve never experienced before. … no student has ever studied so much on his course, and learned so much, as I did this summer”.
Tolstoy cited Schopenhauer’s closing sentence in Chapter VI of A Confession. It illustrates how a complete rejection of oneself only results in a seemingly meaningless nothingness. The idea that the ascetic renunciation practiced by Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus was the way to holiness struck Tolstoy. The Russian nobleman decided to live in poverty and formally deny his will after reading passages like the ones that follow, which are abundant in Schopenhauer’s ethical chapters:
But the Savior’s statement in Matthew 19:24, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” also expresses the necessity of forced suffering (by the poor) for eternal redemption. Therefore, individuals who were really concerned about their eternal salvation and had been born into money by fate chose voluntarily to live in poverty. Thus, Francis of Assisi, the founder of the mendicant orders, was asked as a young boy at a ball where the daughters of all the notables were seated together, “Now Francis, will you not soon make your choice from these beauties,” and he replied, “I have made a far more beautiful choice!” Buddha Sakyamuni was born a prince but voluntarily took to the mendicant’s staff. “Whom?” “La povert (poor)” prompted him to quickly give up everything and begin wandering the countryside as a mendicant.
Tolstoy freely acknowledged his Christian convictions in a book he authored titled What I Believe in 1884. The Sermon on the Mount and the instruction to turn the other cheek, which he interpreted as a “commandment of non-resistance to evil by force” and a concept of pacifism and nonviolence, were particularly influential on him. He maintained his conviction in Jesus Christ’s teachings. He reveals in his book The Kingdom of God Is Within You that he thought the Church’s philosophy was flawed since they had “perverted” Christ’s teachings. Aside from letters from American Quakers, Tolstoy also learned about the nonviolent writings of Quaker Christians like George Fox, William Penn, and Jonathan Dymond through these letters. Tolstoy thought that in order to be a Christian, one had to be a pacifist; as a result, he is regarded as a philosophical anarchist because he believed that governments will inevitably wage war.
Later, different editions of “Tolstoy’s Bible” were released, highlighting the verses on which the author most frequently relied, particularly the purported statements of Jesus.
In This Article...
What is Leo Tolstoy’s life philosophy?
Tolstoy comes to the conclusion that the purpose of life cannot be found in philosophy, science, or art because death is the sole certainty in life. Their rational understanding of faith is the only source of life’s significance.
- Give a philosophical and psychological analysis of Tolstoy’s “arrest of life”.
- Tolstoy offers a number of definitions of “truth” in this reading. He first defines “truth” as “daily existence,” then he adds “death,” and last he comes to the conclusion that “truth” is “faith.” Explain what each term of “truth” implies before pointing out the similarities and differences between it and the other definitions Tolstoy provides. Which of these definitions, if any, do you believe the majority of people would concur is the “reality” of their lives?
- Why, in each situation, cannot knowledge of the areas of knowledge (science), abstract science (mathematics and metaphysics), or speculative knowledge (philosophy) produce a meaningful life, according to Tolstoy? Do you concur with his evaluations?
- Why does the average individual with the least amount of theoretical knowledge and a job have no doubts about the purpose of life? How does Russell’s description of the practical person compare to Tolstoy’s description of this kind of person?
- Describe Tolstoy’s understanding of religion in detail. How does Tolstoy define “faith” in relation to “truth”? Is “irrational knowledge” a meaningful concept from a philosophical perspective?
- Russian novelist, moral philosopher, and religious reformer Leo Tolstoy (18281910).
- He established the Russian realistic novel as a literary genre that rivals Elizabethan theatre and classical Greek tragedy in importance and influence. The works of other novelists can be judged by the standards set by his finest works, according to appreciation for them.
- He emphasized the moral and ethical aspects of Christianity but rejected the idea of a personal contact with God, departing from Russian Orthodoxy.
- He was profoundly moved by the Sermon on the Mount’s teaching on love.
- The division of labor, capitalism, and private property were all criticized by him.
- He was an early proponent of passive resistance and nonviolent protest. These concepts had an impact on Mohandas Gandhi after he read Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You. Gandhi established “Tolstoy’s Farm,” an experimental commune, and exchanged a few brief letters with Tolstoy.
- Tolstoy had a strong interest in youth development and education.
- He developed the lifelong habit of maintaining a diary or notebook of his thoughts, goals, and deeds starting in college.
- His entire life was spent on a strict self-study regimen.
- On the basis of his theories, some of his adherents constructed utopias.
- His philosophy of simplifying life caused issues with his wife once he made all of his writings available to the public. He passed away while traveling to a monastery to spend his final years.
- Ideas from A Confession by Tolstoy to Consider
- Notes on the passage “Only Faith Can Give Truth” from Tolstoy’s A Confession in Reading for Philosophical Inquiry are organized in answer to the questions listed below.
- Here is a man who had everything going for him, including fame as a brilliant novelist, fortune, and national esteem. He claims that these prevented people from considering the purpose of life.
- The way Tolstoy depicts his life is strikingly similar to Bertrand Russell’s portrayal of the practical man: “…teaching what was for me the only truth, namely, that one should live so as to have the best for oneself and one’s family.”
- Tolstoy went through what he refers to as “An arrest of life” in which he was unsure of how to proceed. The purpose of existence had become meaningless.
- The same concerns apply: Why (do this)? So what if I do, then? And if I don’t, what happens? The queries partly remind me of the phrase, “Is that all there is?”
- To argue that Tolstoy was only going through a “mid-life crisis” would be psychologizing from a psychiatric standpoint.
- Tolstoy had no idea how to behave or how to live. He also conveys a feeling of “beingness towards death.” (See the entry on Albert Camus about the “midpoint of life curve”).
- Tolstoy also captures Camus’s feeling of being “undermined” in the following words: “I felt that what I had been standing on had fallen and that I had nothing left under my feet.”
- But he had complete control of his mental faculties.
- Tolstoy, once more, predates Camus’s sense of the absurd: “My life is a dumb nasty prank played on me by somebody.” For Tolstoy, neither a single deed nor his entire life had any rational significance.
- The parable “The Well of Life,” which is taken from the Hindu text “The Mahabharata,” illustrates the peril of life in vivid detail. (Note that the allegory’s references to authorship and family are meant to represent what Albert Camus will later refer to as “eluding” from life.)
- Tolstoy first says, “…teaching what was for me the only truth, namely, that one should live so as to have the best for oneself and one’s family,” as was previously mentioned. Financial and literal success made his poor opinion of the worth of his work more difficult to see.
- Simply said, “the truth” is that I shall pass away. The reality is death.
- This fact is the one certainty in life, according to Tolstoy. We will pass away, as well as the people we care about.
- In chapter one of his book Barry Lyndon, William Makepeace Thackeray succinctly stated, “…good or bad, rich or poor, beautiful or uglythey are all equal today.”
- Tolstoy claims, “Living is made possible by faith. Although I continued to find faith to be as irrational as before, I was forced to acknowledge that it is the only thing that provides mankind with an answer to the big problems of life and, as a result, is what makes life possible.” Even though Tolstoy was a Christian, it is important to note that he is not evangelizing for it. He makes the point that a religion’s superstitions are not necessary for that faith. Faith involves a subjective perception of God or the infinite rather than reason.
- First, Tolstoy says that art is a means of adorning, distracting from, or eluding life.
- The concept of a decoy is to persuade or attract us into a trap.
- Poetry and art are a reflection of reality rather than an exact picture of it. (Consider this concept in light of Plato’s theory of the good.)
- Think about the common example of the relevance of watching a movie as opposed to living your own life. Anyone can get up, leave the theater, and declare, “I have my own life to live.”
- Tolstoy observes in terms of science that the acknowledgment of our significance is destroyed by the fact that we are a part of the infinite. His account is consistent with how the levels of phenomena in the world today are understood, as well as how these levels attempt to explain the human situation. The Different Phenomenal Levels
What renown does Leo Tolstoy enjoy?
The two longest novels by TolstoyWar and Peace (186569) and Anna Karenina (187577)are widely recognized as two of the best books ever written. For many readers and reviewers, War and Peace in particular seems to practically define this style. The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), one of Tolstoy’s lesser works, is frequently recognized as one of the best novellas ever written. Tolstoy gained international recognition as a moral and religious teacher, particularly in the latter three decades of his life. Gandhi was significantly influenced by his nonresistance to evil teaching. The respect for Tolstoy’s religious beliefs has diminished with time, but interest in his life and personality has, if anything, grown.
What does Tolstoy believe?
What is the meaning of art? What constitutes good art and what is true art? In his most thorough essay on the idea of art, “What is Art? (1897), Leo Tolstoy provided a response to these queries. The beauty of Tolstoy’s notion is quite extensive. He regards art as a technique of expressing emotion with the intention of fostering understanding between people. We can successfully exercise empathy by being more aware of one another’s emotions, and then we can work together to advance the well-being of all human beings.