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Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2014 / No. 1

Gorelov A. A. The Existential Foundations of the Spiritual Birth of Leo N. Tolstoy

(The Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Abstract ♦ The article examines the determinants of the “spiritual birth” of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. The author analyzes the connection between new views of the writer and psychological foundations, which led to the creation of a new doctrine called Tolstoyism (despite of Tolstoy’s will). The author considers his story “Notes of a Madman”. It narrates about cases of horror, melancholy and despair, which Leo Nikolaevich felt unexpectedly a few times. After the first case in Arzamas, Tolstoy began to go to church and pray, but this did not help him. The cases of horror disappeared only when the great writer suddenly felt that all people are brothers, children of one Father, as it is told in the Gospel. Therefore, Tolstoy's new views were the result of an intuitive clarification, but not of a rational reflection. His thoughts of suicide were a consequence of his perception that he was alienated from other people. Nevertheless, the fear of death prevented the desire for suicide. Tolstoy could overcome these feelings only when he had created his doctrine. Certainly other factors mattered as well: 1) both parents and two brothers of the writer died early; 2) there was a rational component manifested in the form of the influence of philosophers (most notably of I. Kant and J.-J. Rousseau); 3) Tolstoy had a moral dissatisfaction with life in his early and middle years and after his marriage. However, the main reason of the spiritual birth of Tolstoy was the existential experience of horror. Tolstoy had gained this experience just before he developed his system of views. This system is not a myth as some researchers think, but it is a religious philosophical doctrine of the great thinker.

Keywords: Leo N. Tolstoy, existence, spiritual birth, death anxiety, Tolstoyism.


Gorelov Anatoly Alekseevich, Doctor of Science (philosophy), chief research fellow, the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Postal address: 14 Volkhonka St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 119842. Tel.: +7 (495) 697-91-28. E-mail: evolepis@iph.ras.ru

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Citation: Gorelov, A. A. (2014) Ekzistentsial'nye osnovy «dukhovnogo rozhdeniia» L. N. Tolstogo [The Existential Foundations of the “Spiritual Birth” of Leo N. Tolstoy]. Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, no. 1, pp. 142–152. (In Russ.).

Submission date: 10.12.2013.

RUSSIAN VERSION


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