Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kierkegaard and Tolstoy

I'm part way through my first real encounter with Tolstoy, through his book The Kingdom of God is Within You. Perhaps some important quotes will venture their way onto the blog in the coming days and weeks.

However, and I might be the last person in the world to pick up on this, the resemblance between Kierkegaard and Tolstoy are striking, even just in this book alone. Kierkegaard's three spheres of life are tremendously similar to Tolstoy's three philosophies of life. Similar, but not identical.

With a little hand-waving, one could make them superimpose on each other, but the more interesting approach is to find how they inform and critique each other. And more interesting still is that they both advocate a relentless pursuit of the teachings of Christ. Christ is, for both of them, the teacher par excellance, who instructed people how to live as though God was king of this world, and that if we are to take Christianity seriously, then it must be immediately (and militantly, if we invoke Badiou) obeyed by the individual, and not enveloped in the mists and shrouds of sacramental observances.

The rest of the book, and maybe some other Tolstoy work, await me.


Anonymous said...

lol that's because Tolstoy did read some Kierkegaard that his friend translated from Danish into Russian.

Andrew Smith said...

Hardly surprising, but what changed in the movement from Kierkegaard to Tolstoy? It's never the same.

Anonymous said...

What do people like Tolstoy, Kierkegaard and Smith all have in common?
Affluent people, self-deceived into believing they speak for the non-affluent, full of condemnation for the society that in reality they couldn't bear to live without.

Andrew Smith said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. I don't see how it has any bearing on the post in question, though. It just looks like a personal attack. Leave a comment if you like, but keep it on topic.

Hilary Chaney said...

Agree that we need a more personal experience with the spiritual, and I've had it. I’ve just started blogging about my own manic break and hospitalization. It’s about recovery and treatment, but more importantly about discovery of a new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner. A wild and triumphant ride.