Leo tolstoy and the meaning of life

After his parents died during his childhood, [14] Tolstoy and his siblings were brought up by relatives. His time there was not a success however, with teachers describing him as "both unable and unwilling to learn. Tolstoy served as a young artillery officer during the Crimean War and was in Sevastopol during the month-long siege of Sevastopol in —55, [15] including the Battle of the Chernaya.

Leo tolstoy and the meaning of life

One possibility is that provided by faith: This is a possibility I reject on rational grounds, as did Leo Tolstoy, the author of this text, until he abandoned rationality for faith as a way of escaping the existential anguish that results almost unavoidably from considering the full implications of life in a universe without God.

However, I believe that abandoning this struggle for the comforts of religious doctrine is not the ideal way to handle the problem. I know nothing about Leo Tolstoy other than that he was a 19th century Russian novelist who wrote War and Peace, so I can not pass judgment on whether accepting the Christian faith was right for him but I believe that people in general should avoid this course of action.

I agree that faith can give life meaning, but it is ultimately a false meaning, and humanity can have no future if it continues to cling to false ideas about its existence. In my opinion it is better to believe that life is ultimately meaningless than to believe its meaning can be found in ancient documents allegedly written by the creator of the universe.

Some people may need such beliefs in order to have any peace of mind, but if one does not believe, it is better for that person to find a way to achieve peace of mind in spite of this disbelief rather than accepting a lie as the truth simply for the sake of such comfort.

At first there appear insignificant symptoms of indisposition, to which the patient pays no attention; then these symptoms are repeated more and more frequently and blend into one temporarily indivisible suffering.

As long as he did not know why he was living, he found he could not do anything. Why pursue wealth and property? Why have an education or provide your children with one? Why attempt to become a famous, world- renowned author?

By what principles can anyone live by? Upon what foundation can anyone stand?

Observation makes a huge difference.

The fact that Tolstoy himself had every reason to be happy—a loving family, wealth, and fame—he could not escape the anguish. The joke is that everything we do, every effort we exert, every task we accomplish, is ultimately for nothing.

Everything shall eventually pass away and cease to exist. Tolstoy writes that a person can live only so long as he is drunk, but as soon as he sobers up he can not help but see that everything in life is a deception—and a stupid one at that.

To better illustrate this condition, Tolstoy recounts the Eastern tale of a man running from a beast who jumps into a well with a dragon at the bottom. He grabs onto a twig growing in the cleft of the wall, and knows that whether he climbs out of the well or lets go and falls to the bottom, he will be eaten.

He sees two mice, one white and the other black, circling the twig and gnawing at it, so he knows that his death is inevitable.

Leo Tolstoy - Wikipedia

In the tale, the man notices some drops of honey hanging on the leaves of the twig, and he finds that it is the sweetest honey he has ever tasted. Tolstoy, however, writes that he finds no pleasure in the taste of the honey; that he can not turn his glance away from the mice that bring him closer and closer to the inevitable.

Now I cannot help seeing day and night, which run and lead me up to death. I see that alone, because that alone is the truth. To those who would say that the simple pleasures of life are enough—that life does not require a meaning to be worth living—the man in the true grips of the existential crisis replies that even these pleasures are empty.

Death does not make the honey taste sweeter, but quite the opposite: It shows that all pleasures, all things that seem to have inherent value, actually have none.

This is what Tolstoy means when he writes that death is the only truth, and everything else is a lie. Even his family, who share the same condition of either living with the deception or seeing the horrible truth, has no value.

Why should he love and care for them? For a long time he believed that art and poetry could transcend meaninglessness, but he ultimately found that these too were merely adornments or decoys of life. He felt as though he was lost in a forest, climbing the trees in search of houses but finding only more forest stretching as far as the eye can see.

To come across just one house in the wilderness—one purpose or explanation that could provide life with meaning—would be enough to resolve the entire crisis.

Unfortunately, the sciences mostly seem to provide answers to questions he did not ask, such as the chemical composition of the stars or the origin of species. The interrelation, the change of these particles, produces in you that which you call life.

This explanation not only renders life meaningless, but actually strips it of all possibility of having meaning. The speculative sphere of knowledge is only slightly less unsatisfying, saying only that life is an incomprehensible part of an incomprehensible all.

Life may have meaning but we can never understand what it is. All men, he believed, either 1 lived in ignorance of the problem, 2 ignored the problem and focussed instead on the pursuit of pleasure, 3 acknowledged the problem and committed suicide, or 4 lived aimlessly, lacking the fortitude to take their own life.

But upon closer inspection, he realised that the masses did not actually fit into these categories. They are not ignorant of the problem of the meaning of life, they just have their own answers.

They do not relentlessly pursue pleasures; indeed their lives are mostly characterised by constant suffering. They regard it as evil to kill themselves.Death and the Meaning of Life - by Leo Tolstoy. In my writings I advocated, what to me was the only truth, that it was necessary to live in such a way as to derive the greatest comfort for oneself and one’s family.

Trace the life and writing career of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, author of the acclaimed novels War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Struggling to uncover the meaning. Leo Tolstoy discovered the meaning of life, through the influence of the faith of simple, uneducated peasants. Hazel Barnes's view of the meaning of life was influenced by.

One of Tolstoy's greatest gifts — and also a source of torment — was his addiction to the question of the meaning of life. He never ceased asking himself why and how he should live, and what was the point of all his money and fame. Leo Tolstoy, "Only Faith Can Give Truth" Abstract: In recognition of the fact that death is the only certainty in life, Tolstoy concludes the meaning of life cannot come from art, science, or philosophy.

Leo tolstoy and the meaning of life

A Confession (Aziloth Books): Leo Tolstoy and the meaning of Life by Leo Tolstoy, Aylmer Maude Leo Tolstoy was much more than a writer of world famous novels. An avid social thinker, he was a supporter of ‘Georgism’ a revolutionary economic theory that advocated the abolition of all taxes except those on land ownership (see Progress and Poverty, Aziloth Book).Price:

Tolstoy and the search for the meaning of life - OpenLearn - Open University