Metaphysical Status of Memory in “Philosophy of Life” of Leo Tolstoy and Henri Bergson

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Professor
Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg
Occupation: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Theatrical department, Russian State Institute of Performing Arts
Address: Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg
Journal nameVoprosy filosofii
EditionIssue 12

The article refutes the opinion that Leo Tolstoy's philosophical views is “archaic”; it is shown that in late religious and philosophical teaching he formulates ideas that are very close to the ideas of the “philosophy of life”, elaborated by Henri Bergson. Like Bergson, Tolstoy understands life as a spiritual absolute (God), which only limitedly and incompletely expresses itself in the form of a spatial material world. In man this spiritual absolute is manifested itself as consciousness, its most important quality is considered by both thinkers as memory, which is understood not psychologically but strictly metaphysically. Memory at the level of limited material existence expresses the unity and continuous connectivity of spiritual being, which is divided into independent elements and temporary “slices” (individual moments of the past, present and future) when passing into the form of the material world. Since the consciousness and life of the individual are a limited expression of the spiritual absolute, they are infinite in their existence, death must be understood only as a transformation of the being of the personality from one form of life to another. It is also shown how the basic principles of Tolstoy's later religious teaching were gradually formed in his previous artistic work.

KeywordsLeo Tolstoy, Henri Bergson, “philosophy of life”, memory
AcknowledgmentThe research was carried out thanks to funding of Russian Foundation for Basic Research in the framework of the project No. 18-011-00553a.
Publication date20.12.2018
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