The Philosophy of History

Leo Tolstoy is one of the most recognized and world acclaimed historian and novelist. He revolutionized the writing of history by introducing a new way of delivering it in a fictional like manner. The critics eyebrows rose because the notion of Tolstoys historical fiction almost appears to be contradicting in its very sense. However, the literal meaning of historical fiction does not jive with what Tolstoy strives to do in the creation of such concept. In this essay, issues regarding the existence of such contradictions within the inner concepts of Tolstoys thesis will be examined through setting it in the background of related issues such as fatalism, labels and greatness. These issues set by the critics of Tolstoy will be answered in this essay through contextualizing the time and work of Tolstoy based on the way he saw things during his period. The issue on fatalism will be thoroughly discussed in this essay through the notions of moral consciousness and free will. The issue of labels relevance or irrelevance to every day of history making will be closely studied through Christianity and the implications of this name. And lastly, the issue of greatness and its validity will be set against the inevitability of events or predestination.

Is everything predestined Is greatness still relevant
Well no one can really tell, but for a man of great stories, Leo Tolstoy until his death completely assumed that everything is predestined from the very start of time. According to Christian, Tolstoys concept of predestination does not completely refer to a draw out inevitable blueprint where individuals are irrelevant to its results and furthermore to the whole process of making history (15). Christian looks and interprets the predestined conception of Tolstoy as the way a novelist would put the dramatic and almost simultaneous series of events that combine all at once to create a dramatic point of time which people now know as history.

Tolstoy justifies his assumptions on predestination as the only path of history through his experiences in the warring decades of Europe. During the lifespan of Tolstoy, he bore witness to the continuing wars of his country among neighboring countries for the common conflicts on resources, power and control. To be able to fuel the machineries of war, a lot of countries made a lot of unconventional actions and crimes almost forgivable when committed for the sake of war. Steiner sited examples of crimes committed in the time of Tolstoy such as pillages, thievery and other war crimes (56). All of these crimes are nothing but few of the unimaginable things committed by individuals who are not built to do these crimes. In a way it can be said that these crimes are committed by individuals without or beyond the moral conscience that they have before the occurrence of war. According to Christian, Tolstoy saw the absence of moral conscience as a clear sign of the absence of free will of those who have committed the crimes during the war times. However, as of today, the personal experiences of Tolstoy are not enough to silence the criticisms that his works continually receive.

Tolstoys perspective on inevitability of the turning events of wars and social turmoil posted a new conflict within his paradigm. In a world where every action and event is predestined, can there be still place for the existence and recognition of individuals who have achieved a certain level of greatness In Christians comprehensive analysis of the criticisms on Tolstoy, it has been assumed that Tolstoy pertains to a deeper meaning of predestination in relation to greatness. Tolstoy does not debunk the notion of greatness, but he completely reiterates that an individuals greatness lies not only in his capabilities but also to the degree of influence and effect that the individual can do to his or her environment (18). The greater the degree of influence and power an individual have, the more complex and compelling his actions would appear to the eyes of his subordinates. But still, his subordinates play a great part in his or her stage of greatness.

The Relevance of Christianity as a Label
Tolstoy until the end of his days stood his ground and position regarding his assumptions that labels such as greatness is not measurable and accountable to those who have the label. Labels are nothing but the mere results of the perfectly timed actions and decisions of other individuals related to the labeled individual. Steiner reiterated this point by explaining that labels for Tolstoy are the results of a predestined history in the perspective of ordinary individuals (98).

In the case of Christianity as a label, the assumptions of Tolstoy still holds true but only to some extent such as its limits on individual merit. To start the discussion, critics should first note that Christianity is a group bounded by a certain notion of moral ascending individuals. It is relevant not because it is a label instead it is relevant to society in general since it represents a truth and realization that belongs to greater law that made it possible to occur.

Is Fatalism a crime for Tolstoy
Fatalism or the belief that there are existing events which are uncontrollable since they belong to a predestined and pre-drawn course waiting to unfold in front of individuals is the most well said criticism on Tolstoy and his works. This criticism would continue to delve the works of Tolstoy unless its critics will find the effort to find a way of contextualizing the nature of Tolstoys works with theirs. As said by Christian in his work on Tolstoy, the fatalistic of Tolstoy is the result of events that transpired in Tolstoys life without the necessity of finding a moral explanation or a conscientious checking system (27).

Exerting efforts to understand these differing contexts is relevant not only to the academic world but also to ordinary individuals. The importance of Tolstoy is beyond neither simple words of a novelist nor the wide recollection of a historian it appeals to a greater nature of understanding time and space.


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