Home | Bibliography

Tolstoy and Death

Note: the topic of this page is Tolstoy's belief that death tells mankind how it should live its life, but in the background these are "logic of language" (Wittgenstein's form of expression, but as defined in my jargon) studies and remarks.

Outline of this page ...

From which side is the door to Philosophy barred?

"But does He exist? What if I am knocking at a door fastened from outside? The bar is on the door for all to see." (Tolstoy, Father Sergius, v, tr. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

That is important -- not here apropos of Tolstoy's story but only of his metaphor -- the question of which side the door is fastened on. If, as Wittgenstein says (and, as is demonstrable in some cases), philosophy is "a battle against the bewitchment of our intellect by means of language" (PI § 109), then (at least in some cases) the door is fastened from the side of the door on which we are knocking, because it is our misunderstanding of the logic of our language that is the bar on that door. (As the doorman said to Alice, "There's no use knocking on that door, because we're both out here.")

The door is fastened on the outside. The bar is there for all to see. But no one saw it before Wittgenstein saw it (although Pascal in his critique of Rationalism and Russell in his Theory of Descriptions had seen it in part). (Note: that account won't do, however, because a philosophy is a [rational] way of looking at things. Within Wittgenstein's logic of language only, can such a claim be made. Not that I think that thought based on a non-objective distinction between sense and nonsense, if there is such a thing, is worthy of the name 'philosophy'.)

Query: why everything is not psychological.

Any phenomenon or idea may be looked at from the point of view of psychology (or, indeed, from many other points of view (PI § 108) [Wittgenstein: "I cannot help but look at everything from a religious point of view"]), but that does not make everything psychology. Ways of looking at things. So you are saying that ways of looking at things is all there is? If there is no absolute point of reference -- for the origin of the Cartesian grid may be placed anywhere -- could it be otherwise. To look at something in a particular way is to select some point of reference and treat that point as if it were absolute. But it always remains a selection, a matter of discretion, never of necessity.

Tolstoy and Death

Everything told me the same [thing]: "There is nothing in life. Death is the only real thing, and death ought not to exist." ... What created me? God, they say. (Memoirs of a Madman, tr. Maude)

Everybody thought I was crying about Sophia Ivanovna [who had died the evening before], but it was not for her that I cried, but that people should die -- that death should exist. I could not understand and could not believe that it was the fate of everybody.

I remember that in my childish, five-year-old soul the questions, What is death? and, What is life which ends in death? then arose in their full significance -- those chief questions which confront all mankind and to which the wise seek and find replies, and which the frivolous try to thrust aside and forget. (Fyodor Kuzmich, tr. Maude)

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Wittgenstein had written:

We do not live to experience death. (6.4311, tr. Pears, McGuinness. Note: Ogden's translation, which was proof-read by Wittgenstein himself, is quite different; it simply notes that death is not an event in life, but is instead life's limit.)

None of them saw in this death that most important moment of a life, its termination and return to the source whence it sprang ... (Hadji Murad, v, tr. Maude)

Question: is that source dust to dust, ashes to ashes; or is death as some say instead a transfer from this place to some other? (Apology 40c-d) "I know not [which]. No more do you," Byron wrote.

Whether he is better or worse off there where he awoke after his death, whether he was disappointed or found there what he expected, we shall all soon learn. (Master and Man, ix, tr. Maude)

Whether Tolstoy himself believed that he knew which it was, I don't know. But if anyone thinks he knows, that is not a philosophical belief, but "belief in" or "faith".

The Death of Ivan Ilych

Query: things we question but life gives us the answer.

Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych, that I have not lived as I should have lived. Question: how should man live his life? Life itself taught Ivan Ilych the answer he arrived at when he was dying (and he forgave his wife and daughter and asked them to forgive him [Matthew 6.12, Luke 11.4], and although they could not hear his words, God did).

Question: but could not Ivan Ilych have discovered the correct way to live his life by reasoning about it (for he certainly had lived "the unexamined life" (Plato, Apology 37e-38a) until he was faced with his own death)? But reason takes account of experience, and even reasoning is not something done once and for all: "I have finished with this question and can now set it aside", is not something one can say very often, if ever, with finality. "God did not choose to save men by their use of reason (logic)" (Non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum) -- Well, Socrates would not have said that. And neither would I. Nonetheless, in Socratic philosophy (in contrast to Platonic) reason is not allowed to float free of experience, and as we grow old learning new things, and as in that light we revise our thoughts, we may see deeper, "put the question marks deeper down".

Of course not for one moment do I think that I could have invented the teachings of Socrates or Jesus myself. Those were gifts I received from thoughtful human beings and scholars, and for which I must be grateful. But one's understanding of those teachings evolves over time, as one lives and reasons about man's life and about one's own life. One can, in any case, only speak for one's present self, not for tomorrow's.

"Why hast Thou brought me here?" ..... And now it is all done and there is only death. "Then what does it mean? Why? It can't be that life is so senseless and horrible.... Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done," it suddenly occurred to him. "But how could that be ...?" he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind this, the sole solution of all the riddles of life and death, as something quite impossible.

"Why, and for what purpose, is there are this horror?" But however much he pondered he found no answer. And whenever the thought occurred to him, as it often did, that it all resulted from his not having lived as he ought to have done, he ... dismissed so strange an idea. (ix)

... he said to himself. "If I could only understand what it is all for! But that too is impossible. An explanation would be possible if it could be said that I have not lived as I ought to." (x) ... the question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life has been wrong?" It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true.... "But if it is so," he said to himself, "and I am leaving this life with the consciousness that I have lost all that was given me and it is impossible to rectify it -- what then?" (The Death of Ivan Ilych, xi, tr. Maude)

For Tolstoy, "the sense of life" (or, life's meaning) is /given/revealed by death. That is to say, from death he reads how man ought to live his life, from that perspective, that man must die. But why Tolstoy believed that at death there is a transfer from this life to another (an afterlife), that I don't know.

Tolstoy's grave at Yasnaya Polyana, V. Malychev, Bureau of Soviet Information, Paris, in Henri Troyat, 'Tolstoy' (1965), plate 24, 58 KB

Tolstoy's grave at Yasnaya Polyana

For what would "life seen from the perspective of death" be for the man who firmly believes that death is an eternal sleep without dreams (oblivion) -- would that man say that death, the fact that we must each of us die, reveals the sense of life (how we ought to live our life)? Describe a way of life in which the picture of an afterlife plays no part at all. Such a view, however, would not be Socratic if it went so far as to think it knew what it does not know. On the other hand, the word 'know' in this case points to a "question without an answer", not to competing hypotheses, and no one must make use of that use of the word 'know'. (I would call such a refusal dogmatic, but someone else might call it philosophical, saying there it is illogical to hold that there can be a question essentially without an answer, because 'question' is nonsense without its antithesis 'answer'.)

Query: is it possible to identify with the aging, selfish, worldly Ivan Ilych, a man of the nineteenth century?

That would be because you and I do not, in essential ways, live as he lived? Ivan Ilych is an example of a man who lived an "unexamined life" before he fell ill and was confronted by his death/mortality -- at which time he asked about life's meaning -- its meaning, not according to the custom's of the community/society he lived in, but according to the point of view of eternity. He, as it were, looked up from his death bed, that is, he looked deeply into his own heart, and saw /the kingdom of/ God /there/. Thus our question is not the query's question, but instead: is it possible for us to see what Ivan Ilych did -- or shall we continue to give mouth honor to eternity while all the while living "selfish, worldly" lives? (As a purely academic exercise, reading Tolstoy's story is, as I see it, idle.)

Query: Ivan Ilych is not everyman.

Are you asking us or telling us. Are you seeking another point of view or only seeking to have your thesis confirmed? Did Tolstoy intend Ivan Ilych to be everyman? I don't know. But if it is not the case that every man awakens from the childish slumber of judging everything by the standards of the community (or sub-community) he lives in, then it seems that Ivan cannot be everyman. I may believe that Ivan should be everyman, as Socrates believed that every man should ("question everything", so to speak) -- but our belief does not make Ivan that.

In the story Neglect the fire and you cannot put it out, the conclusion is the same as the conclusion of The Death of Ivan Ilych seems to be: to forgive and to ask forgiveness is what God demands of men, to forgive one another; just as they are told to do in the Lord's Prayer: to have forgiven those who have wronged us is all that is required for our salvation -- i.e. for our own forgiveness. That is the solution to the riddle of how we should live our life (forgiving each other "7 times 7 times"). The same conclusion is found in the story The Long Exile ("God sees the truth, but waits").

Wittgenstein did later revise his view that "the riddle does not exist" -- i.e. that "there is something problematical about life that we call its meaning". Was his response Tolstoyan?

The way to solve the problem you see in life is to live in a way that will make what is problematic disappear.

The fact that life is problematic shows that the shape of your life does not fit into life's mold. So you must change the way you live and ... what is problematic will disappear. (CV p. 27 [MS 118 17r c: 27.8.1937])

What does Wittgenstein mean by "fit into life's mold"? If Wittgenstein's views were pantheistic (as if the state of the world were God), as I think they were, then they do not seem to have been Tolstoyan. Because prior to his illness Ivan Ilych's life did "fit into life's mold" (just as an animal's life does), and if he had never become ill then it would have continued to fit all the way though to his fitting death. It was only the prospect of his of death at a young age that introduced "something problematical about life" into his life. Otherwise he would have continued to conform to the way of life of those around him, living for pleasure and social position and the acquisition of possessions -- and never seeing any "riddle".

When Tolstoy asks "What do men live by?" the reply is LOVE, but this love is not acts of worshipping God but acts of loving one's neighbor. And anything that distances you from that also distances you from God. Ivan Ilych realizes this only at the very end of his life, but, in Tolstoy's belief, when it is realized is not important, because what is important is not our life in this world but in the afterlife (eternity).

And yet there is something pantheistic about Tolstoy's stories that show the peasants' acceptance or resigned acceptance that they must do as they are told by their employers and their own fathers (Master and Man and Alyosha the Pot), just as a beast of burden must obey his master. Maybe the allusion is to the faithful servant, the servant who obeys the words of Christ, as the way man should live his life. But I don't know that. Earthly masters are not the voice of God [except maybe in the view of Paul the Apostle, whose views in any case Tolstoy rejected (Tolstoy, "Introduction", The Gospel in Brief), certainly not in the view of Jesus], and by "how I ought to live my life" Tolstoy did not mean "as the obedient servant of earthly masters" (He certainly didn't believe that was the life he himself ought to live).

What Do Men Live By?

[A poor cobbler came upon a man sheltering from the snow beside the wall of a chapel. The man was naked and without shoes. And at first, because he was afraid, the cobbler passed by the man. But then] his conscience began to prick him. He stopped short. "What is this that you are doing, Semyon?" he asked himself. "A man is perishing of cold, and you are frightened, and hurried by! Are you so very rich? Are you afraid of losing your money? Aï, Sema! That is not right!" Semyon turned and went back to the man. (What Men Live By [1881], tr. Nathan Haskell Dole (1958), i)

[When the cobbler, whose name was Semyon (Simon), arrived at his home, his wife reproached him, for they barely had clothes to cover their own bodies and here Semyon had given their coat to the stranger to wear. But Semyon said this to his wife.] "God brought him to me, else he would have perished. Now what could I do? Such things don't happen everyday. I took and dressed him, and brought him home with me. Calm your anger. It's a sin, Matryona; we must all die." (ibid. iv)

There is a Bach chorale "All men must die". From that perspective, of what importance is a coat: we must all die, and if it's today or tomorrow, what is worth doing what is wrong for? "God brought him to me ... I brought him home with me." Is it this way: that one hesitates to help the homeless man -- because one is so rich in possessions compared to a homeless man and has so much to lose, not by being robbed -- but one's life is so complicated by the things one possesses and the very cost of living itself that it would cause a great disruption to one's life. For it is not only that one may be afraid and uncertain what one should do, but also that it is very difficult for a rich man to behave as he ought when the gulf between him and his neighbor is so very wide. The rich man has everything, the homeless man nothing: the rich man has a roof over his head, food to eat, clothing to cover himself, books to study -- and countless "so many thing I do not need" (Diog. L. ii, 25). "How hard it is for they who have riches to enter the kingdom of God" (Luke 18.22-24)! But yet it is not only those countless things (and all that is needed simply to preserve them) that create the gulf: for in Tolstoy's story the cobbler is very poor, not so very far away from the condition of the homeless stranger -- but the cobbler's wife, nonetheless, is worried about losing even the little they have.

[The man Semyon had compassion for and brought home was in fact an angel, and the angel was being punished by God for disobedience. And so God sent the angel to dwell on earth until he learned three lessons. The angel told Semyon and his wife what the Lord had told him.] "Thou shalt learn what is in men, and what is not given unto men, and what men life by." [And when the angel had learned these lessons then he would be allowed to return to heaven.] (ibid. x)

[The angel was made a mortal man for the time he would spend on earth. And the angel said what he had seen when Semyon had passed by without stopping,] "then there was death in his face." [But when Semyon came back, his face] "had suddenly become alive, and I saw that God was in his face. He came to me, put clothes on me, and took me home with him." [There was also God in Matryona's face when she changed her mind and welcomed the angel into her home.]

[And this is what the angel said is the meaning of God's first lesson, namely, what is in men.] "And I perceived that Love was in men."

[And then when the rich man came, the one who had ordered boots that must last a year without knowing that he was going to die that very day (The angel knew because he had seen "my comrade, the Angel of Death" standing behind the rich man's back).] "And I realized suddenly the second saying of God: "Thou shalt know what is not given unto men." And now I knew ... what was not given unto men. It is not given unto men to know what is needed for their bodies."

[The third lesson the angel learned when a woman came to the cobbler's home. This was a woman who had nursed the two infants whose mother's soul the angel had been sent to take. The angel had not done this because the mother had begged him to spare her so that she herself could bring up her infants, "because she thought that it would be impossible for children to live without father and mother", but God only sent the angel back to take the mother's soul. And when the angel had, the angel was punished by the Lord for the act of disobedience. But in the event, "another woman, a stranger," nursed the infants "and brought them up". And it was this stranger woman who came to the cobbler's home with the children she had nursed and raised so that the cobbler would make shoes for the children.]

[And the angel told Semyon and his wife what he saw in the woman who had cared for the orphaned children.] "I saw in her the living God, and knew what men live by." (ibid. xi)

"I have learned that every man lives, not through care of himself, but by love.... all men are kept alive, not by their own forethought, but because there is love in men.... I have learned that God does not wish men to live each for himself, and therefore He has not revealed to them what they each need for themselves, but He wishes them to live in union, and therefore He has revealed to them what is necessary for each and for all together.

"I have now learned that it is only in appearance that they are kept alive through care for themselves, but that in reality they are kept alive through love. He who dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him, for God is love." (ibid. xii; the quotation is from the 1 Jn. 4.16)

What was Tolstoy's own view? In Fyodor Kuzmich (1905) he wrote:

All external life, all arrangements of external affairs and all participation in them ... seemed unimportant, unnecessary, and not at all my business. I suddenly realized that none of it was my business, that my business was with myself -- my soul. (tr. Maude)

Was that Tolstoy's own view? Perhaps at times and in some men's lives; he does not seem to disapprove of the eremetic life in his stories -- although how that way of life would be consistent with What Men Live By I don't see. In any case it was the Jewish insistence (This is the sense I myself give to the text "Salvation comes through the Jews") that love of God cannot be divorced from love of neighbor (See Luke 10.25-37, but the author of the Gospel and Letters of John goes even further, saying that it is not even possible to love God without loving your neighbor) that is at the root of all Jesus' teaching about the ethical Kingdom of God. A philosopher might well shelter beside a wall in a storm (Republic 496c-d), but the Christian cannot withdraw into himself like that. (See my remarks below apropos of Tolstoy's story Where Love Is, There God is Also.)

Tolstoy himself held this absurd view about Jesus: "I would like to write something to prove how the teachings of Christ, who was not a Jew, were replaced by the very different teachings of the apostle Paul, who was a Jew." (Letter to Chertkov, 26 November 1906, quoted by Henri Troyat in Tolstoy [1965], tr. Nancy Amphoux (1967), vii, 3, p. 617, 764n3)

Comment: the good is compelling in itself; it requires no authority. And therefore why does Tolstoy place Jesus or "Christ" (but that is only a Greek word for the Old Testament's Hebrew word "Messiah") at the center of his religion -- only to divorce Jesus from history and remake Him in Tolstoy's own image, as if goodness needed His (or anyone else's) authority to lend weight to it? (Schweitzer, although he believed that the ethics of reverence for life was a corollary of Jesus' ethics of love, never put his own doctrine in Jesus' mouth.)

Jesus and belonging to the ethical kingdom of God

Jesus' picture of the ethical kingdom of God, not a kingdom ruled by power (as the kingdoms of this world are ruled) but an ethical kingdom ruled by love, and his willingness to live and die crucified for it. That is Jesus' importance to me.

A kingdom of God, belonging to anyone who does the Father's will, which is live according to the ethics of love Jesus preaches: Paul's "in Christ neither Jew nor Greek" means that the kingdom does not belong to a particular nationality. (The Stoic "society of good men" belongs to this world, a "good society" only to the kingdom of God.)

The Gospel according to Luke seems to me among the very highest points of history.

Meaning of the word 'Christianity'

Three possible meanings of 'Christianity': (1) the frame around the picture (Paul has no interest in Jesus other than as the Christ [2 Cor. 5.16]), (2) the picture without the frame (Schweitzer), (3) both 1 and 2 (Catholic Christianity).

So we can focus on the picture or the frame around the picture, the picture being the story, the Synoptic Gospels, and the frame being the birth and childhood narratives (Incarnation) and the events following the crucifixion (Resurrection and further sightings). It is possible to find importance in one without finding importance in the other, e.g. only the frame, which was what Paul did (2 Corinthians 5.16), or (more or less) only in the story, which is what Schweitzer did and what I would do.

Each of these three ways is Christianity, and each complete in itself. No way can claim that it only is Christianity, neither the Christianity of Paul (the frame alone) nor the Christianity of Catholicism (the frame and the story, i.e. the whole of the gospel text), but each of the three is a Christianity. (There is no Christian religion, although there are many Christian religions.)

"That is Jesus' importance to me." But I would not like to put my own world-picture (or e.g. my thoughts about the serpent in the Garden and father Abraham) into his mouth, as if they were his rather than my own thoughts. And further, I do not see any need to do that. If I talk about Socrates, if I talk about Jesus, it is because they are important to me as a way of life and source of ideas, not because speaking of them lends weight to what I say (as nothing is either more wise or more foolish, or more true or more false or less nonsense because of the person who says it). And the same of course applies to Schweitzer and Wittgenstein (although maybe I often have inadvertently attributed my own thoughts, in various ways derived from Wittgenstein, to Wittgenstein himself).

That goodness, like the truth, is compelling in itself is shown in the example of Gandhi who wrote to Tolstoy from the Transvaal (circa September 1909), calling himself "a humble follower of your doctrine" of non-violence. But Gandhi was not a Christian; Tolstoy said Gandhi's "Hindu patriotism ... spoils everything" (Troyat, viii, 2, p. 662, 665). The point is that it did not matter whose doctrine it was; Gandhi found its goodness compelling.

But if the crucifixion is separated from the resurrection, then what is left of the Christian religion? In Catholic Christianity such a separation is not possible, because the Church has always taught and believed that Jesus is God incarnate who came into the world so that by his resurrection the faithful may be resurrected too. (Critical theology, even Tolstoy's dubious scholarship, with its rational skepticism, is not religion: religion is faith, but Biblical criticism is not. The doctrine "scripture alone" (sola scriptura) opens the path to the death of religion.)

The kinship of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden and Prometheus

Who was the serpent in the Garden? For the Greeks, what separated man from the other animals is: reason. For the Jews it was: knowing good and evil. In the Garden story, Adam is no different from the other animals in this respect: like them he is an eternal child, amoral, innocent. It is by coming to know good and evil that Adam becomes a man. And being driven from the Garden signifies that when man is a child he lives in his father's house, but that when he becomes a man he leaves his father's house to stand on his own -- i.e. obedience in questions of right and wrong is a thing of childhood: "When I was a child, I thought as a child does, but when I became a man I set aside the things of childhood". Ethics -- the responsibility to judge the goodness or evil of deeds (i.e. being able to distinguish for oneself between good and evil) -- is a thing of manhood.

And that is the meaning of "original sin", that because man knows good and evil, he is capable of wrong-doing, that even if, as reflection may show him, his wrong-doing was from ignorance, it was none-the-less wrong-doing. (Another meaning that might be given to "original sin" is Schweitzer's ethics of reverence for life, as it often happens that in order to help one life we must harm another, and that harm is wrong-doing.)

That is my own eccentric reading of the Garden story, of course, that just as Prometheus gave reason to man [Fire as a symbol of mind (not only, as traditionally, the enabler of the crafts of civilization) -- Guthrie writes that Heraclitus intends for his first principle, namely fire, that it be identified with logos, "something intelligent and rational" (The Greeks and their Gods, xii, 1)], the serpent gave morality to man, thereby freeing man from an animal-like eternal childhood.

And that is why Abraham is not "our father in faith", but our father in childhood -- because when in the story his Father tells Abraham to do what Abraham himself judges to be evil, Abraham obeys. Abraham wants to remain in an eternal childhood -- but that is no longer possible for man. Both the serpent and Prometheus were punished, but was Adam -- or is "the land somewhere east of Eden" exactly where it is best for man to be? (The allusions are to Gen. 3.1-24 and 22.2-9)

Thy godlike crime was to be kind;

To render with thy precepts less

The sum of human wretchedness,

And strengthen man with his own mind. (Byron, Prometheus)

Another distinction between Greek and Jewish thought, according to "the non-eccentric reading", is that according to the Greeks man's original sin is not disobedience to God but presumption -- i.e. the presumption (and consequent arrogance, hubris) that he knows what he doesn't know. That is what Socrates, "our father of philosophy", identifies.

The Hebrew word 'Adam' simply means 'a man', for Adam and Eve represent Mankind in the story. (The Gospel according to Luke, having been written in a "neither Jew nor Greek" Christian community of faith, traces Jesus' genealogy back to Adam (Luke 3.38 ends: "... the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."); whereas Matthew's Gospel only traces that genealogy back to David.) In the Prometheus story also 'man' is 'mankind'.

In Milton's Paradise Lost the serpent is Satan continuing his rebellion against God by damaging God's creation, in this case by bringing about the so-called "fall of man". Accordingly, then, man gains his manhood (his ability to set aside the things of childhood), his rebelliousness towards authority, from God's enemy and, as a consequence of that enmity, also the enemy of man .... But does Milton's account of the story stand up to the test of reason?

For it makes no more sense -- i.e. the identification cannot be applied in a thoroughgoing way -- to say that the serpent was Satan ("the Deceiver") than it would to say that Prometheus was Satan. Both Prometheus and the serpent may have been enemies of the gods (anyone who defies is an enemy in the eyes of the gods, the divine rulers), but they were also friends of man. They were both freers of mankind, freers from the state of the animals in which the gods would have preferred to keep man (according to the myths). Both Prometheus and the serpent were punished by the gods, because the gods were more powerful than these friends of man and so could "punish" them for their defiance (for their defying the gods). But Satan had already been cast out of Heaven, and there was no question of Satan's being punished any more (How could he be punished further; he had already lost everything true, good, and (possibly, if this belongs in this list) everything beautiful as well?), and yet the serpent had its head crushed and the rest of it. It makes no sense to apply that to Satan (to try to apply that to Satan), although it does make sense to apply it to the serpent, if the serpent was another creature native to the Garden. (As a further aside: how strange that the Lord-God should not notice Satan's presence in the Garden! nor be aware of the serpent's plans.)

The Jewish identification of man (as distinct from animal) with knowing good and evil is shown also by the explanation of the Great Flood in Genesis 6.5-7, namely, that it was because God regretted having created a creature intent on wrong-doing. Contrast that with another myth, contemporary to it: Men were snoring; the gods couldn't sleep; and so the gods sent rain to drown them all.

Where Love Is, There God is

"Don't you see, brother, [said Martin Avdyeitch, the shoemaker, who had dreamed the night before that Christ would visit him that very day, and indeed He did, three times that day, although the shoemaker did not recognize Him,] I was reading yesterday the Gospel about Christ the Batyushka; how He suffered, how He walked on the earth. I suppose you have heard about it?"

"Indeed I have," replied Stepanitch; "but we live in darkness, we can't read."

And Stepanitch forgot about his tea [which the shoemaker had invited him in for, for the shoemaker had observed the old man through his window; Stepanitch was so worn out with age that he could barely shovel away the snow from the pavement]; he was an old man, and easily moved to tears. He was listening, and the tears rolled down his face.

[The translator Dole has added a note to Tolstoy's story Sevastopol in August 1855, iii n2, that the Russian word 'batiushka' can be rendered 'my good sir', but literally it is 'little father', "a familiarly respectful mode of address".]

Of Tolstoy's stories, "Where Love Is, God Is" (1885) is my favorite, I think maybe because I am like Stepanich and easily moved to tears. But it's a beautiful story nonetheless, the story of the shoemaker who was expecting Christ to visit him that day but did not recognize that He had come until that evening when he read His words in the Gospel.

What I mean by the word 'God'

And why? Not because what I believe -- i.e. how I use the word 'God' -- is important for anyone else to know but only because it is important for me to make reminders for myself both for now and for revision. (And so there are later thoughts on this topic elsewhere.)

Socratic dialog.

Does love contract or expand the heart? And bitterness, which does it do? Then bitterness is a form of hatred?

So it seems.

And with respect to "Bear and forbear", is not the only just reason for having done anything: because that is what love tells us to do?

It is.

Pothinus, bishop of Lyons

Where there is love, God is, but where love is not, God is not found. This story, from the letter of the church at Lyons, concerning martyrs who died in 177 A.D., among whom was Pothinus, (which is quoted in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, which is quoted in Engelbert, Lives of the Saints, tr. Fremantle (1951), "June 2nd" in "The Saints of June", p. 213), is told:

Taken before the tribunal, the blessed Pothinus, bishop of Lyons, an old man of ninety, answered the governor who asked him who was the God of the Christians: "You shall know Him when you are worthy to do so." After having been kicked and stoned, he was dragged to prison, where he gave up his last breath.

If one is speaking with a wild beast that is intent on viciousness (as in Plato's Republic 496d), I don't know what one should say, but I like to think that if he had been speaking instead simply to a man, the bishop would have answered (although I don't imagine that he would have answered) something like this:

God is not very far away, nor hard to find, for those who seek Him. Look into your own heart and there, where you find love, where you find kindness, mercy and whatever is good in you, there will you find the God of the Christians. There and in the hearts of others as well, and perhaps more clearly than in yourself, will you find Him.

[That is the great insight of John's Gospel and Letters, that "no one has ever seen God, that it is only the son who is closest to the father's heart who has made him known to us, and what he has made known to us is that God is love" [John 1.18], and so we find God in our own heart and in the hearts of others who love, when we love [1 John 4.16] as Jesus told us to, namely "to love God with your whole heart, and your neighbor as yourself" [Matthew 22.36-40], which is the ethics of love. And so God is only "absent" or "silent" when we fail to love. And that is why "God is not very far away, nor hard to find", if we wish to find him.

[Pascal: "There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition" (Pensées vii, 430).]

Further, I would say -- (granted that I haven't any use for either religious doctrines nor the speculations of natural theology ("the God of the philosophers and scholars") about things that are beyond what man can know) -- that if you don't find the God of Christianity in your own heart, you won't find him elsewhere either; not "in the greatness and beauty of the things he has made" of which The Book of Wisdom [13.5] speaks ("the starry sky above" of which Kant speaks). Because the God of whom Jesus speaks is a loving father to man: his kingdom is not ruled by power ["the things he has made", "the starry sky above"] but by the ethics of love. [So it seems to me, at my level of religious understanding, that that is what is servicable in Christianity.]

Does it matter whether we use the word 'God' or not; what does it add? The word 'God' points beyond this moment to eternity. It provides context. (From a different direction, from a different context, but arriving at the same end.)

Does it matter whether we use the word 'God' or not; what does that word add? Is it difficult to give an account of the grammar of the word 'God'? (For one possibility, cf. PI § 79: the word 'God' may be defined by various descriptions, no one of which is necessarily defining of the word 'God', as in Russell's "Theory of Descriptions".) But it is not easy to turn that word into a useful tool, one that does some work, either, once we strip away the anthropomorphism of mythology. (If you are going to talk about God in the full acceptation of the word 'God', then I think you are going to be talking about a very queer sort of thing indeed. I would say that it is only when we jettison the picture of God the Creator that we can do anything useful with the word 'God' -- although if we do that, we thereby drop the most commonly recognized part of that word's acceptation, God as the answer to "Why is there something rather than nothing?")

"To follow God and to obey reason are the same thing" (Plutarch, Moralia i, 37 (quoted by Durant in his Caesar and Christ). That amounts to saying that (1) the nature of man is such that the excellence that is proper to man is the use of his reason, and that (2) to live in accord with his nature is the good for man, and that (3) there is some relationship between nature and God.

But that doesn't tell us what useful work to do with the word 'God' other than, as I have said, to use it as a reminder of something or other, in this case to regard man's endowment of reason with reverence (awe and respect), as I believe Albert Schweitzer regarded reason.

There are other ways to use that word as a reminder as well, e.g. as a reminder not to presume on life, for it is not to be taken for granted (presumed) that when I leave my room I shall ever return to it, but only "God willing", or, "If that be God's will".

God and the sense of existence

You could also say that by the word 'God' I mean 'life's meaning', and of course I believe that that meaning is good not terrible. That is my faith.

Faith that it has a meaning. This is the difference between hope and nihilism: to have faith is to hope for something, however indefinite it may be.

... that life has a sense or meaning. According to the Christian that sense or meaning is love. (What does it mean -- "God is love"?)

Although I continue of course to be deeply perplexed by countless things, I cannot say that I am just as confused as I ever was. Because now my confusion is somewhat focused, that is, it is now clearer to me what there is to be confused about (in contrast to things to be self-mystified by, e.g. see from which side is the door of philosophy fastened? above.).

Query: why do we question things that have no answer?

One thinks: because "we are born and you have to die" (Siamo nati e dovete morire) and life is in every respect a mystery to us. "Philosophy begins in wonder", for when man is perplexed it is his nature to seek solutions to his perplexity. "Because that is our nature." But that "because" does not introduce an explanation of why we are as we are.

Uses for the concept/picture 'God'

Note: The following remarks continue the discussion of "the God who does not play god", i.e. of that picture of God, and of what if anything can be done without anthropomorphism.

It is quite impossible to write about the love of God and neighbor ("Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room") if one's heart is full of bitterness. That is why, if love is not in your heart, although God is everywhere, you will not find Him there. It is very easy to say that vice is ignorance (which is a corollary of virtue is knowledge), much harder for me to accept that: "I do want to kick the donkey back" (even when the donkey is myself), and it's very hard for "the stubborn man within" (as Schweitzer called it) to keep saying to myself, "It's a mistake! It's a mistake!" (CV p. 58) to feel that way.

God is not against anyone, but is for everyone [which is an anthropomorphism, like every other statement about God in this paragraph]. The same rain that nourishes the crops of the good man nourishes also the crops of the bad man. God sends His rain to both. Or rather, He does not send it. The laws of nature, God's gift to man, do, for which we should be grateful. Because it is these laws that make it possible for man to live a life that is guided by reason. For a life guided by reason is impossible where there is no pattern to events, no regularity in their occurrence, and consequently where the consequences of an act are utterly unforeseeable, because of course the consequences of the decisions we make are an important part of the justification for those decisions. Question: but are they an essential part? Certainly the good man harms no one nor wishes to do harm to anyone. But if he cannot foresee the consequences of his actions, then he can't know by reason -- i.e. he cannot know -- what will or will not do harm to others.

If the good life for man is the life lived according to reason, then what I just said is true. But if there is some other excellence that is proper to man instead of reason, then it need not be true. For then if the laws -- and this includes not only legislative laws but also laws of nature -- where to disappear, the good man would go on living as he had always done. The philosopher, that is ... although if philosophy is the way of reason, the life of reason, then this is of course either impossible or I simply don't see how it is possible (i.e. I am or am not able to invent a meaning for the word 'life of reason' for those circumstances).

The only meaning I can think to give to "God the Creator" is as the creator of the laws of nature, although despite these laws apparently being discoverable by certain gifted men (working in physics, chemistry, and biology) through the use of their reason, I can see no value in this particular concept or picture 'God the Creator', because the laws of nature have no ethical content. And when we speak of God we must speak of Ethics, and ethics is the result of reflection, that is, of reason applied to experience (to our experience of the world). "God is good" (the gods of the philosophical Greeks are good) because God is the thoroughgoing application of reason, unlike man who is not thoroughgoing and consequently commits wrong-doing through his ignorance.

Who are you? I don't know you!

As I finished reading Tolstoy's story Master and Man tears came to my eyes. Well, tears don't signify much, both because a my age tears come easily, and because according to St. Francis de Sales "many vicious people are sentimental" (The opposite of 'vicious' is 'virtuous'), and in any case sentiments, like most words, are cheap. But these tears were different in this way, that they were not tears for the characters in the story: they were tears for myself. Because I thought of Lazarus at the rich man's gate (Luke 16.19-25), and I thought that I am like the rich man who walked past Lazarus day after day -- because I was in the city the day before and I saw a man sleeping in a doorway, and I saw another -- At first I thought the workmen had left their job site in a very bad condition and then I realized that wasn't a job site: that was someone's home, a old piece of plywood resting against a wall. And so I thought, when I am called before God, that is to say, when I die, will God say to me, "I don't know you. I don't recognize you" (Luke 13.27). Because I saw that the men were homeless -- the orphan men (the human beings whom no one wants) -- but I didn't shelter them; I saw need, but I didn't feed the hungry nor give drink to the thirsty; I did not clothe the naked (Matthew 25.41-43). And so I thought God would say, "I don't know you." Because am I not like the rich man who walked past Lazarus at his gate day after day and did nothing to help him? (Indeed, am I not that rich man, for I am not homeless, not naked, not hungry or thirsty, not ill, not unlettered -- and is having those not to be rich in this world?)

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jas. 1.22; cf. Luke 6.46; and 1 John 3.18)

A Dialogue Among Clever People"

"What then shall we do?" the people asked John (Luke 3.10-14).

"Your desire is a worthy one," said [the youth's] father, "but foolish and ill-considered. Everything seems to you quite easy because you don't know life. How beautiful it seems to us! But the truth is, the accomplishment of this beautiful ideal is very difficult and complicated. It is hard enough to go well on a beaten track, but still more to trace out new paths.... It seems to you easy to break out new paths in life, because, as yet, you have no experience of life."

[Then "an elderly man" spoke] "I will say of myself, I am living now without any responsibilities. I am living, to tell the truth, merely for my belly. I eat, I drink, I take my ease, and it is disgusting and repulsive to my nature. So then it is time for me to give up this life, to distribute my property, and to live the rest of my days as God has commanded a Christian to live." [But his son said to him] "You have lived sixty years in your own habits; it would be impossible for you to change them. You would only torment yourself for nothing." [And the elderly man's niece said] "... you would be in want, you would be out of sorts, you would grumble, and you would commit worse sin." (A Dialogue Among Clever People, 1893, tr. Dole)

Dostoyevsky quotes the saying "He daily hears the words of Christ, but he prefers his own". The rich man is accustomed to a way of life and does not know how to live any other way -- and indeed by setting out on a new path he may fall into worse sin than his present way of life. Jesus said to the rich man, give your riches away to the poor, and come follow in my way. And the young man was made very sad by this (Luke 18.22-24), and were I to do as the Gospel says, I should become destitute and at best not survive for long, at worst become even less Christian than I am (This is the second part of "Know thyself"). The good man is not suicidal (Confucius), nor does he presume he can love his neighbor more than he loves his own self (Mark 12.31).

The title 'Christian' makes little clearer (titles come cheap in our times), as even a "believer" who turns Jesus' gospel of love into a merciless judgment against his neighbor, not only walking past Lazarus ("the unprofitable poor") at the gate but condemning Lazarus for his poverty and illness[*] -- because of course a constant theme of Jesus' teaching was "the deserving poor" (Luke 6.30 and Matthew 5.42) and "you saw me homeless, naked, thirsty and hungry through no fault of my own" -- calls himself that, and indeed in his judgment God is wrong to send the sun and rain to the unjust as well as the just (ibid. 5.45).

'Christian' is a characterization, not an identity; an adjective, not a noun: "Is an action or thought the expression of love of God and love of neighbor as oneself?" is the only question, because that is the spirit of Christ, the spirit that does not set limits to love of neighbor as oneself. (I set this criterion as a standard to judge what I myself am, of whether in me there is a unity of life and thought or I am merely a self-deceiver indifferent to everyone but myself.)

So I think, maybe it is best to try to change the way you live by taking small steps rather than large ones, little by little trying to live a godly life. Schweitzer told his granddaughter, "You can have your Lambaréné anywhere", and I think one must try to do that within one's own limits as an individual human being. But there may be many changes you can make within those limits ... On the other hand ... the truth is that few men are saintly, and even fewer desire to be. Do I truly want to change? ("Know thyself")

Calvin at the rich man's gate

[*] It is not Lazarus at the gate to whom the kingdom of God belongs, but to the rich man of the story (Luke 6.20, 24), for as his riches show God is well pleased with him. Luke muddled the story, got it backwards. That is the gospel according to John Calvin ("the Protestant work ethic").

"A Christian is one who has the spirit of Christ. This is the only theology" (A. Schweitzer)

"Show me your faith without your works", the Letter of James says [2.18]. But we mustn't set the bar too high, or people will think that Christianity requires them to do extraordinary things and they will give up on the idea, thinking it beyond them. But if God is love, as John's Gospel says, then in every unselfish act of love "there is something of the spirit of Christ" (That is a paraphrase of Schweitzer's words, although the rest of these are mine), and if a man can ask and answer himself consistently the question "Why do I do this?" with "Because this is what love tells me to do", that person belongs to the kingdom of God, whether what they do is something quite wonderful (sheltering the homeless and schooling the orphaned), or things that are much, much more modest (a kind response, bearing with inconsiderate demands without impatience or reproach).

"Something of the spirit of Jesus is always to be found in any true work of love ..." I think that idea brings Christianity within reach of an all-too frail humanity. That is, if someone has the humility to accept that condition, to do the things that are within reach rather than be crippled by the thought of what he "should do" but knows himself well enough to know he won't do, not allowing vain notions to stop him from doing the good he is capable of ("not allowing the perfect to defeat the merely good") --. A Christian is not someone who can pray, "I thank thee, God, that I am not like other men", but only "Have mercy on me a sinner" (Luke 18.11, 13) and try once again (and again and again).

The one place you do not want to "have your Lambaréné" is in your own mind only. Schweitzer spoke of what he owed the quiet evenings in Lambaréné. But what I have owed the solitary evenings alone with my thoughts -- often stays in the evenings, being forgotten countless times during the day.

Re: "Blessed are the deserving poor, for they shall be deemed worthy of charity." Engelbert (op. cit., "August 21st" in "The Saints of August", p. 320) states the following about Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641):

... she granted the most inopportune requests of beggars. "My God," she said, "I beg without ceasing at the door of Your mercy; would I myself want to be sent away the second or third time?" (cf. Matthew 5.42)

Ignazio Silone quotes in his essay "Rethinking Progress" the "Seven works of mercy" listed in Catholic catechism:

to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to pilgrims, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, to bury the dead.

And who in these days has the courage to shelter pilgrims or to visit the imprisoned if they are strangers. What if the merciful Samaritan had drawn back in fear. And what if I draw back in fear from Lazarus at our gate. The fearful, the one who is always trying to save his life in this world, does not belong to the Kingdom of God. (But how does saying this help?)

When this year [2012] I went to the cemeteries for Totensonntag it was different from when I went for All Souls Day. Because this time I had no thought of praying for the dead, but rather to ask them to pray for me, as they are infinitely closer to God and the truth than I am, and because I think that I am more in need of help than they are. Death has its own sanctity, whereas our life is full of wrong-doing. (And what do I mean by 'prayer'? I don't know. The Lord's Prayer is the only prayer I ever recite, and that not very often, and if I am alone (rather than at a funeral) the shorter version in Luke [11.2-4].)

Here we come Lent after Lent with litany and penitential psalms and cries for mercy. At this time over and over again have we confessed our sin, always the same, time after time, and we feel if anyone treated us as we treat God we could never forgive them.... In no Court of Law could it be accepted, but in the Court of Love." (Arthur Stanton, "Friday after Ash Wednesday" in Father Stanton's Sermon Outlines, From his own Manuscript, ed. E.F. Russell, London 1917, p. 127)

So we live in hope, if we are religious, in the coming of the kingdom of God, a kingdom ruled by love rather than by earthly powers, that the Lord spoke to us of.

God sees the truth

"God will forgive you; maybe I am a hundred times worse than you are!" And suddenly [after forgiving the wrong-doing (sin) done to himself] he felt a wonderful peace in his soul. (The Long Exile; or, "God sees the truth, but bides His time", tr. Dole)

Often I have thought that, that if I could see myself as God sees me, would I see that I am the worst of men? I would not like to compare myself with someone else, saying that this person is worse than I am, because regardless of what the person is or has done, how would I know what I am through the eyes of God; how do I know how God sees me? This sort of thing. Maybe God would say to me, "Look at how much you were given (and what you have done with it) and how little was given this man whom you judge so harshly. And yet you think that you are better than this man, and yet you are far, far worse than he is." (Saying that is like always saying "God willing" whenever saying what one intends to do. What service do such anthropomorphic pictures of God perform? They call to mind the perspective of eternity; they remind one not to presume on life, not to presume in any way.)

And at the hour of our death

... the proverb runs, "Loss is Gain's bigger brother." (How Much Land does a Man Need, i, tr. Dole)

And so what does this mean in my context, with respect to what I wrote apropos of Master and Man, or, how difficult it is for the rich man to enter the kingdom of God, to do what is right towards Lazarus at his gate; that wealth, possessions drive a wedge between man and man and therefore between God and man, but that the absence of possessions draws man closer to God; that is the blessing of the poor (or may draw man closer to God, because, Dostoyevsky said, "even suffering requires enlightenment"). The gain in possessions of the rich man is in fact his greater loss: for it is a loss of God. "You're going to die some day, too" ("It's a sin, Matryona; we must all die"), and on that day ...

The Two Old Men (Virtue and knowledge)

Elisha ["like his name-saint, Elisha the prophet, he was entirely bald"] got his little snuff-horn. Yefim Tarasitch shook his head at him. "Why," said he, "don't you throw away that nasty stuff?" Elisha wrung his hands. "The sin is too strong for me," said he; "what can I do?" (The Two Old Men, iii [i], tr. Dole)

Question: does not Elisha's reply amount to "This is a small sin and will be easily forgiven", for no one would say about murder "the sin is too strong for me"? Wittgenstein liked that the old man does not make excuses for himself, but admits his sin (Engelmann, Memoir, p. 80). But does he do that? Can one really say, "This is wrong-doing, but I will continue doing it"? In my way of looking at things, what Elisha says is a variation of "I say I know, but I think I know [something] better". "I know I shouldn't (unless I can get away with it, and I think I can get away with it. And so I do what I say I know I shouldn't do)." Can one really say, "I know I shouldn't, but I will anyway"?

The question is: which way of looking at things is the more useful from the point of view of amending your life -- that sin is human weakness or that sin is ignorance? Because how can you amend weakness except by praying for God's grace -- i.e. by trying to depend on something that is independent of your own efforts. But if vice is ignorance, then you may reason your way out of doing what you previously only said (mouth honor) you knew you shouldn't do.

You may be able to do something vicious without consequence to your physical health -- but what about with respect to your soul? Clearly not. Vice [doing vicious things] accomplishes the opposite of "growing in goodness" [or, growing in virtue by doing virtuous things]. Ethics is practical; it is not about "making more or less plausible remarks" [cf. Malcolm, Memoir, Letter No. 9] about ethics [virtue] -- but about living a life of good.

Query: definitions do not answer these questions.

I don't know.

"... there is only one time that is important -- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when you have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!" (Three Questions (1903), tr. Maude)

I wanted to write above, "... and on that day none of your possessions will matter to you, only love." But men die in many ways: some are angry; some are bitter; some indifferent (weary). What is a good death -- i.e. what should one's thoughts be about at that time? (And I want to add: and now and always.)

He thought, if this man could be raised up [from the bed where his dead body lies] now, what would be his foremost thoughts? Avarice, hard dealing, griping cares? ... He lay in the dark, empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child to say he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him. (A Christmas Carol, iv, "The Last of the Spirits")

But what is "written"?

Metaphors. For example, the belief that "It is written". But then I think of Schweitzer's metaphor: Can a goat think a man's thoughts? And so I think that if it is "written", it is written in the thoughts of God, thoughts which man cannot understand. And if it is "written", then whatever is written is something man cannot understand: It is a thought of God's (Isaiah 55.9). So that one should not presume upon God and one should not presume that one knows what it is "written" there or what God's intentions are. It is an intention of God's. (There are remarks that belong to the Philosophy of Religion and there are remarks that are religious remarks: which are these?)

Anthropomorphisms as metaphor -- but can these pictures be restated in prose -- that is, are these pictures metaphorical? How?

When there were vast floods in Pakistan a few years ago I recall a young man, one who was distributing charitable supplies to those who were made homeless by the flooding, saying about the devastation:

For the faithful it is a test; for the faithless it is a punishment.

That is an example of a doctrinaire statement that presumes to understand God's thoughts, God's intentions. I don't know why there is this suffering -- and neither did that young man. And the assertion that "there is nothing operating here but laws of nature" is itself a pseudo-religious statement: atheism is as much a dogma as theism -- i.e. both are ways of looking at life. And what else would we mean by the word 'dogma'? (The picture "It is a thought of God's" is an example of just such a way of looking at life or dogma, if that is the place that picture has in someone's thinking about our life's meaning.)

"Out of shear dullness, -- have to keep ourselves from thinking." (Lost on the Steppe (1856), vi, tr. Dole)

But I don't know if this was to distract themselves from thinking about freezing to death -- The sledge drivers' resigned answer to any query about what would happen if they did not find the path to the station in the snowstorm was "We shall die" -- or something else.

The inner life of another human being - Tolstoy's letter to his wife

... the principal, fatal cause [of estrangement between us] was [one] of which we were both equally innocent: our totally opposite ideas of the meaning and purpose of existence.

As for the fact that you did not follow me in my moral development, which is a unique one, I cannot hold that against you ... for the inner life of any human is a secret between himself and God, and no one else can call him to account in any way. I have been intolerant with you; I was mistaken and I confess my error. (Letter of 14 July 1910, in Troyat, viii, 3, p. 677)

"The mystery in the relations of man to man"

Note that in his letter Tolstoy has not written a psychological analysis of himself and of his wife, but instead an moral analysis -- i.e. a philosophical critique of their differences in ethics. The only psychological part of his critique, if the title 'psychological' is apt (and I don't know that it is), is that he places the foundations of ethics in an individual's relationship with God -- i.e. in the irrational. Tolstoy, unlike Socrates, does not place the foundation of ethics in the excellence (virtue) that is proper to man, namely, reason.

The modesty of the soul

Why does Albert Schweitzer speak of "mystery" (for he speaks of a "secret" that "we cannot" share)? If something is unknowable, then what else is it to be classified as but as a mystery (or, enigma, as the "questions without answers" are). But the logic of language question is: why is it unknowable -- is it only because we have not set criteria for the application of the word 'know' in this case -- or is there something more here? There is nothing more for logic here. But that, based on our experience of the world, human beings incline to classify certain phenomena as mystery, rather than set criteria for the application of the word 'know', shows us a fundamental human way of responding to our life.

None of us can truly assert that he really knows someone else, even if he has lived with him for years. Of that which constitutes our inner life we can impart even to those most intimate to us only fragments; the whole of it we cannot give, nor would they be able to comprehend it. We wander through life together in a semi-darkness in which none of us can distinguish exactly the features of his neighbor ... To this fact, that we are each a secret to one another, we have to reconcile ourselves. To know one another cannot mean to know everything about each other ... (Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, tr. C.T. Campion (1925), Chapter 5, p. 68-69)

I must say of myself, and I imagine that it must be this way with others too, that I am never my whole self except when I am alone. With other human beings I can only share aspects of myself (as either they are unable to comprehend other aspects or I am unwilling with some to share more than I do; and I want to say of myself that no one who has not seen me when I am angry with myself, when I am at my worst -- and very few have -- knows who I really am, that all is not "pretty in there" (CV p. 46)). So "thus play I in one person many people", but only wholly myself when I am alone. But very far from everyone would say that about himself, I think.

A man must not try to force his way into [or, in other words, to analyze, the inner life of a another human being] ... for there is a modesty of the soul which we must recognize, just as we do that of the body. The soul, too, has its clothing of which we must not deprive it. (Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, p. 69)

Site copyright © September 1998. Send Internet mail to Robert [Wesley] Angelo. Last revised: 14 October 2016 : 2016-10-14 (Original revision 27 December 2011)

The URL of this Web page:

Back to top of page

Wittgenstein's Logic of Language - Introduction and Table of Contents | Bibliography | Site Search | Site Map