Analysis Of Tolstoy's My Confession

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In the scholarly journal, “My Confession,” Tolstoy believes the answer to the debate question, “What is the meaning of life?” is irrational knowledge—faith. Tolstoy uses an anecdote to describe his life before his enlightenment as mundane and meaningless, due to the fact that he was only living for fame and notoriety, his family, and his estate which will all someday fade. This lead him to a state of depression in which the sole solution was believing that life can have meaning. From observing religious groups, he gathers the meaning of life could possibly stem from religious devotion. Though he does not definitively argue religious faith gives man meaning, he does assert that there is something in faith that makes man’s life meaningful. At…show more content…
Tolstoy concludes, “Faith alone gave to humanity answers to the questions of life, and, in consequence of them the possibility of living” (673). Tolstoy writes, believing we have a purpose can lead to the discovery of meaning in our lives. Faith could come in the form of giving us hope that everything we do and everything that happens to us is all for a greater good. He believes that it is from this idea that meaning surmounts; our meaningfulness is built by the idea that our actions, though stifled by suffering and privation, are contributing to a broader picture that is beyond human reasoning. Tolstoy argues, rational knowledge cannot provide a clear answer to what is the meaning of life, because it explains that life is just a random of collections of cells forming and than passing. The randomness and purposelessness is what frightens Tolstoy, because he questions what is the point of living if he was not even specially formed for a special function. His argument is rooted in the idea that rational knowledge diminishes the sacredness of life by eliminating purpose. From his observations, he concludes life is sacred when viewed through the lens of religious faith; religious faith argues our purpose:a) is given by an omni-benevolent being, b) makes life meaningful, and c) contributes to something more than ourselves (Tolstoy 674). Tolstoy is not necessarily religious, but he…show more content…
Modern science (which he uses interchangeably with “rational knowledge”) argues, “You are what you call your life; you are temporal, accidental conglomeration of particles. The interrelation, the change of these particles produces in you that which you call life” (Tolstoy 672). Modern science tends to view humans as a collection of particles who came to be for the purpose of just allowing particles to form, interact, and cease. Modern science does not argue that there is a special purpose given to every individual; in the eyes of modern science, we are not even specially formed. Rational knowledge argues we are just by accident and life itself is our purpose. Breathing and functioning which are products of particle formation is our purpose. Our purpose is not some profound gift given to us by a God or ourselves. We are simply a body created by the coalescence of random cells who give us functionality. There is no set instructions on how to live or set explanations on what to live for; we are constructed by chance and our functionality is simply to live within the body that randomly formed us. Essentially, modern science argues we cannot be created with a distinct purpose if we were created spontaneously. Specialization cannot be obtained through random chance, so there for there is no complex answer to the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to live, and allow for the natural scientific processes that
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