August 29, 2009
Tolstoy on “The Meaning of Life”
When Leo Tolstoy began to seriously consider his own mortality and what that meant to him, he was bereft of any reason to live but to find the meaning of life. He first turned to math and science to answer his questions on life. He concluded from his studies that science destroys the meaning of life when he writes, “I want to know the meaning of my life, but the fact that it is a particle of the infinite not only gives it no meaning, but even destroys every possible meaning” (597). I disagree completely with his estimate on science’s value in its role on human kind’s meaning of life. The term biology is defined as the study of life i.e. science defines life. Disappointed in science he turns to philosophy for answers but is once again dissatisfied when he deduces that philosophically the question of life is unsolvable. At last, Tolstoy examines the strength of the working class and accredits their faith in the Christian religion for their vigor for life, he writes, “…the people of our circle, who struggled and murmured against fate because of their privations and their suffering, these people accepted disease and sorrows without any perplexity or opposition, but with the calm and firm conviction that it was all for good” (600). Once again I disagree with Tolstoy’s conclusions. I do not believe religion provides any answers to any of life’s questions. In my opinion, the less fortunate hold onto religion and faith stronger than the rest (in most cases) because they have nothing else but hope. They have found no way to improve there life other than by placing it in the hands of superstition. I believe that humans created religion for two reasons: one so government could control its citizens and two to ease the fear of death. People don’t want to believe that one day they will cease to exist, to become nothing. Contradictory to Tolstoy’s prediction that “without faith one can not live…” (599), I have...